F1 trying to break rules with 2021 tests

Formula 1 chiefs have revealed they have been trying to break their own ruleset while running 2021-focused tests, in a bid to close off any loopholes.

F1’s Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds and the FIA’s Head of Single Seater Technical Matters Nikolas Tombazis have been running a 50 per cent model in the windtunnel at Sauber Motorsport's facility in Switzerland, testing their designs for the 2021 technical regulations.

The tests were performed in conjunction with Sauber's independent consultancy group in order to prevent any advantage being handed to the Alfa Romeo Racing team, which is run by Sauber.

After spending many months researching and testing their designs, the team is now searching for loopholes to help improve their designs further, while also finding ways to prevent teams from exploiting the intended direction of the new regulations.

Symonds mentions his experience of the 2009 regulation change and how it's inspired him to conduct thorough research ahead of time before the 2021 rules are released.

“We are trying to see where the rules we have written are robust and where they might be a little weak,” says Symonds, who worked for Benetton, Marussia and Williams before joining Formula 1's technical team.

“There are certain areas we know already where you can add performance but in doing so you damage the wake, so we have been quite prescriptive in those areas because we’ve been trying to break the rules. There are other areas where we feel the design is robust so we’ve been less prescriptive in those areas.

“We’re trying to look for the loopholes, look for the unintended consequences. That’s actually a difficult thing to do when you have written the rules. That was my experience when we were working on the 2009 cars.

“Because I had been involved in writing the rules, I found it difficult to think of the loopholes as I knew what was intended. That was a lesson learned, we have taken it on-board. We’re trying to forget what the intention was and looking at what we have actually written down and see if we can put our team hats on.”

Tombazis, who has previously worked for Ferrari, McLaren and Benetton, says it is up to him and Symonds to unearth as many potential loopholes in order to 'safeguard' the 2021 regulations, ensuring the anticipated wake performance levels are preserved.

“We are trying to find things that make the car go faster, ” he added. “These are things a team would do, you would want to put them on your car, but they might make the wake significantly worse. If the team makes the car faster but the wake doesn't get any worse, we don't have any problem with that.

“But if a team makes the car faster but hurts the wake, then clearly they will do it because if the rule permits it and we can't ask them to be benevolent. But we want to know about it so we can see if there's any fundamental weaknesses in the rules, any loopholes.

Photos copyright FOM, via YouTube