SPA, Belgium — The sanctioning body for the international Formula 1 racing series is planning to modify the rules governing the design of F1 race cars for 2021 to reduce downforce, in part to allow tire supplier Pirelli Motorsports to continue using the 2020-spec tire next year.
The Federation International de l'Automobile (FIA) said the move is necessary because the design regulations as written would allow teams to keep increasing downforce, which would lead to increasing cornering speeds and thus increased dynamic load on the tires.
Originally, Pirelli was supposed to introduce an 18-inch rim diameter race tire for F1 next year, but the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a four-month delay to the start of the current F1 season and the decision by the FIA to postpone the shift to new car and tire regulations until 2022.
- This article appears in the Oct. 12 print edition of Tire Business.
As such, Pirelli will supply teams in 2021 with a tire based on the one being used this year, thus sparing the Italian tire company the additional expense of having to develop a new 13-inch tire for one season, while at the same time developing the 18-inch version for 2022.
The decision was disclosed recently by Nikolas Tombazis, the head of single- seater technical matters for the FIA, who outlined three changes set to decrease aerodynamic loads by about 10% for next year.
"We feel that downforce has increased a bit too much," Mr. Tombazis said, adding that the goal was for downforce levels to end up "somewhere between that of last year and this year."
The FIA's decision comes in the wake of a series of tire failures at the British Grand Prix in early August, including one on winner Lewis Hamilton's car on the final lap.