Wind tunnel restrictions explained

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Vietnam, Hanoi steet circuitvn

With the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the key players of Formula 1, teams, the FIA and the governing body had no other choice than introducing a set of restrictions regarding car development to mitigate the financial challenge caused by the ever-changing situation.

On March 19, the governing body, the teams and the Commercial Rights’ Holder arranged a video conference to discuss the urgent measures that had to be taken to protect the existence of the sport and the outfits. As a result, the technical revamp for 2021 has been delayed until 2022 while the controversial cost cap has been kept with further financial restrictions expected to be introduced.

In the end, the sport’s ten outfits voted unanimously for delaying the new technical development and introducing a development freeze regarding their 2020 chassis that will be carried over into 2021, although Ferrari wanted to vote against it at first. The delay means that the Scuderia puts itself at a disadvantage this year and next season after its car, the SF1000 proved less competitive during the pre-season tests, showing a number of issues, including its low-fuel performance and a lack of top-end speed.

By delaying the technical rebirth, but retaining the financial limit, teams would be required to take up arms, regrouping some of their resources for the development of the 2022 cars immediately. With smaller teams already facing serious financial issues amid the coronavirus crisis and fighting for dear life, top teams could have built up an even bigger competitive advantage by injecting countless money in the developments of their 2022 machines.

On March 31, the governing body issued an announcement in which it communicated the decision of the World Motorsport Council that imposes a ban on the aerodynamic development for the 2022 Regulations. The ban came into effect on March 28 and will only be lifted in February 2021, meaning that teams will have around 12 months’ time before their brand-new and revolutionary cars can hit the track for the first time in 2022.

The FIA has already worked out how it will monitor teams to prevent them from carrying out any development in the wind tunnel that is aimed at their 2022 cars. The governing body be will entitled to require video recordings and pictures of the wind tunnel any time they consider it as necessary.

As at least ten people are involved in every team in the work carried out in the wind tunnel, it would pose a huge risk to the outfits to circumvent rules. In fact, with teams as the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes renting their wind tunnels to Haas and Racing Point respectively, the risk of carrying out work on the aerodynamics of the 2022 cars until February 2021 would be even bigger.

As for next year, teams will be required to use their 2020 chassis while discussions are ongoing about the development freeze on several other components including suspension parts. Most of the teams are keen on imposing a development ban on the power units and the gearboxes as well, while Ferrari, Red Bull, and Mercedes are reported to be against that drastic measure. Aerodynamic development will be, however, open, providing teams with the possibility of working on the front wing, rear wing, bodywork, sidepods, floor, diffuser and barge boards.