Formula 1 stakeholders will meet virtually on Thursday to vote on a number of changes that could have major ramifications for the sport.
Formula 1 management including motorsports director Ross Brawn and new CEO Stefano Domenicali, will be joined by the FIA and representatives from all 10 F1 teams, forming the F1 Commission.
They will be voting on a number of changes that will impact not only the 2021 season, but also the future of the sport.
One of the key votes will be on the push for the introduction of sprint races at select events this season. Brawn and Domenicali are keen to trial format changes which might spice up the race weekend and aid in creating more unpredictable results.
The plan for reversed grid races was dropped after teams opposed the move, but a fresh push for a Saturday sprint race at three grands prix – Canada, Italy and Brazil – is up for discussion.
The plan would see a qualifying session taking place on Friday which would determine the grid for Saturday’s sprint race. This would be in the form of a 100km race – equal to 23 laps of the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit – with that result forming the grid for Sunday’s main event.
The reversed grid idea fell apart after Mercedes voted against it and under the rules at the time it required unanimous backing to get the green light.
However under the new Concorde Agreement, such unanimous support is no longer required. Now a ‘super majority’ rule applies, which means 28 votes out of 30 are required. F1 and the FIA each hold ten votes, with each of the teams holding one vote.
Portugal and Bahrain
A vote that is expected to get the green light is the inclusion of Portugal on the ’21 calendar. Currently slated for May 2, the race at the Portimao circuit would bump the calendar up to 23 events.
However there remains an issue in that Portugal is listed on the UK’s ‘red list’ of countries which require travellers to quarantine on return and as elite sports have not been granted an exemption like they were last year, teams would have to adhere to this rule.
With the majority of F1 teams based in the UK, it would mean getting a commitment for team staff to travel directly to Spain for the following event.
This isn’t a major issue as the Spanish GP is on the following weekend and with Spain not listed, teams could then return to the UK before the Monaco GP on May 23.
Meanwhile a second race at the Sakhir Circuit in Bahrain is to be discussed. This would see another race take place on the Outer Loop on the following weekend after the Bahrain GP.
A vote that Red Bull will be hoping gets support is that of an agreement to freeze engine development at the end of ’21.
Red Bull is pushing for this to happen because it hopes to take over Honda’s intellectual property (IP), which would allow it to continue running Honda’s engines after the Japanese manufacturer quits the sport after this season.
However Red Bull wouldn’t have the necessary budget or resources to continue development of the Power Unit itself and is therefore pushing for the engines to be frozen, meaning development would only be allowed for reliability reasons.
If a freeze doesn’t happen, it’s likely the Honda PU would fall behind its rivals and could lead to Red Bull following Honda out of the door.
F1 and the FIA both support the move as it would not only save costs, but would allow it to bring forward plans for a new Power Unit in 2025.
Matters might be complicated by the introduction of a greater use of sustainable fuels, whilst a manufacturer that finds itself on the back-foot in terms of power when the freeze takes hold, would suffer until a new engine is introduced.
These matters will likely be the main sticking points and although Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari have shown some support for the idea, they have all shown some resistance.