The Cult of Cars, Racing and Everything That Moves You.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

What Formula One Cars Will Look Like In 2020

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

F1 cars will undergo a more radical change by 2020 than they did in the previous decade according to former Renault engineering boss Pat Symonds. Saddled with 3D cameras and a new efficiency regulations, here's a peek into the future.

In an article in the issue of F1 Racing out this week, Symonds lays out his vision for the F1 car of the future. Here are some of the highlights.


The FIA has already demanded that F1 teams cut their fuel consumption by 35 percent by moving to a new 1.6-liter turbocharged engine for the 2013 season. A return to the use of kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) — F1 hybrid-drive — is a given, but by 2010 Symonds says they'll be producing more power — up to 250 hp from 80 hp in 2009. By then fuel consumption in F1 could drop by as much as 50 percent.

By next decade, the rules will go even further to emphasize efficiency over power, requiring teams to make more drastic changes to the aerodynamic package as well. Attempts will be made to reduce cars' lift-to-drag ratio from 3:1 currently to 4:1. One way they will do so, will be to standardize on a non-downforce rear wing (mainly for advertising space), Symonds says, in favor of the more efficient, but long-banned, ground effects. With the downforce occurring centrally, cars will be less sensitive to pitch changes and will thus run a more balanced suspension stiffness.


Sidepods will be fitted with driver-controlled openings to reduce drag on long straights

Sadly, Symonds says, because downforce affected by the bodywork is more susceptible to the wake of a leading car, overtaking may suffer. That's an area where perhaps the more powerful KERS can step in, or the FIA may have to take action to keep fans interested.

To lower the lift-to-drag further, cars will get retractable membranes on their sidepods that will open on long straights (see above). Oh, and that top air inlet on today's cars? Unnecessary on the four bangers of the future, which will take their air from lower down.


Open-wheel, open cockpit will remain the construct of F1 cars, despite some talk of going closed cockpit after Felipe Massa's head-to-debris collision. But expect the new cars to have larger wheels and lower-profile tires.

And, let's not forget, a 3D camera atop, because by then we'll all be watching in the third dimension.