Starting for the 2021 season Formula One is going to be maintaining a strict cost cap on the ten teams involved in the sport. Traditionally the teams that spend the most are the teams that perform the best, and by reducing that max spends the series hopes to close the gap from the frontrunners to the backmarkers. This dedication to a reduction in costs for teams has the potential to change the sport from top to bottom. Or things will remain exactly as they are.
One of the new regulations for 2021 includes a move from 13-inch wheels to a comparatively massive 18-inch wheel package for the cars. This comes with its own engineering problems to solve, obviously, and testing is really the best way to get the data. This is all a given, but it seems wild that each of the ten teams has agreed to produce a “mule chassis” expressly for the purposes of a 3-day 18" tire test at Abu Dhabi following the conclusion of the 2020 season.
These mule cars will be based on 2020 chassis designs but modified to work properly with the larger 18" wheel and new shorter-sidewall Pirelli rubber. The regulations for the test require teams to run the 18" tires at least one day and a young driver candidate at least one day. There will be no in-season testing across the 2020 season, so that is one consolation these teams will have in terms of expense. Disregarding, of course, the fact that the F1 season now holds 22 races, more than it ever has before.
“We have a busy plan for this year,” Pirelli Motorsport head Mario Isola told Autosport. “It is very positive that all the 10 teams confirmed they are going to make a mule car for testing this year.
“Also because that means that in Abu Dhabi [at the] end of the season, we will have three days of testing and all the teams are supplying the car with 18-inch tyres. [That is] a good validation of the product that we are planning to introduce in 2021. Because Abu Dhabi is the end of November, beginning of December. So if there is any adjustment [needed], we have a bit of time. Not a lot because then Australia is the middle of March and the test in Barcelona is February.
“It’s very positive that we have all the 10 teams running the mule car so they are all on the same level - no advantages to anybody.”
Surely the expense of this test will help put everyone on equal footing as we roll into the 2021 season. Williams thanks you for your consideration in reducing these costs.