How F1's new aero handicap system will work

After weeks of talks between Formula 1's stakeholders over steps to safeguard's the series' future, the final green light was received on Wednesday evening for some important changes.

How F1's new aero handicap system will work
Listen to this article

The World Motor Sport Council voted to approve the planned changes to the sporting, technical and financial regulations for 2021 and beyond, pushing to cut costs and pave the way for a more sustainable and competitive F1.

The budget cap has been the biggest element of these discussions, dropping from $175 million to $145 million for 2021 in a move that will not only reduce spending, but also aims to create a more level-playing field and help remove some of the big performance gaps between teams.

An additional, more immediate measure, is a clampdown on the amount of aerodynamic testing teams will be permitted to do in their wind tunnels, coming into force from 2021. It is the first time a weighted system aimed at balancing performance will be used in F1.

Teams are currently allowed to conduct 65 runs per week in their wind tunnels, but this figure is set to be cut to a rough base level of 40 runs per week from 2021.

Read Also:

The sporting regulations split the year into a series of Aerodynamic Testing Periods (ATPs), each of week are around eight weeks long.

In each ATP, there is a base level of 320 runs during 400 hours of wind tunnel occupancy, with 80 hours of 'wind on' time.

This equates to 40 runs per week in 50 hours of occupancy, and 10 hours of wind on time.

However, the base level will only initially apply to the team that finishes fifth in the constructors' championship in 2020. The teams ahead in the standings each lose 2.5% of that time, leaving the champion with 90% of that total - or 36 runs per week.

Each team finishing lower than fifth in the standings gains additional time and running, again in 2.5% increments. The team that finishes 10th in the standings will have 112.5% of that base figure, equalling 45 runs per week.

The weighting will be based off the previous year's constructors' championship until the end of June. At that point, it will be shifted to reflect the order of the championship, meaning a team dropping a position year-on-year would gain 2.5% of running.

The cuts for the leading teams are even greater for 2022-25. The constructors' champion will only receive 70% of the current base allocation, equivalent to 28 runs per week.

This then rises in 5% increments per position, leaving the seventh-placed team with the current full allocation of 40 runs. The team finishing last in the constructors will have 115% of the allocation, or 46 runs per week.

Based on the 2019 constructors' championship, the new rules mean Williams would receive nine more wind tunnel runs per week than Mercedes in 2021, and 18 additional runs per week in 2022-25.

The hope is the additional development time will give the teams lower down the order an increased opportunity to cut the performance gap to the frontrunners.

Constructors Pos

% of base runs per ATP in 2021

Average number of runs per week 2021

% of base runs per ATP in 2022-25

Average number of runs per week 2022-25

1st

90%

36

70%

28

2nd

92.5%

37

75%

30

3rd

95%

38

80%

32

4th

97.5%

39

85%

34

5th

100%

40

90%

36

6th

102.5%

41

95%

38

7th

105%

42

100%

40

8th

107.5%

43

105%

42

9th

110%

44

110%

44

10th or lower

112.5%

45

115%

46

shares
comments
The unavoidable pain forced by Formula 1's better future
Previous article

The unavoidable pain forced by Formula 1's better future

Next article

How F1 has stopped "insane" engine spending war

How F1 has stopped "insane" engine spending war
Load comments
What the FIA must do to restore F1's credibility Prime

What the FIA must do to restore F1's credibility

OPINION: The first stage of the 2022 Formula 1 pre-season is just over a month away, but the championship is still reeling from the controversial results of last year’s finale. The FIA acknowledges F1 has had its reputation dented as a result, so here’s how it could go about putting things right

The six subplots to watch in 2022 as a new F1 era begins Prime

The six subplots to watch in 2022 as a new F1 era begins

As Formula 1 prepares to begin a new era of technical regulations in 2022, We pick out six other key elements to follow this season

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2022
Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1 Prime

Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades.

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2022
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up Prime

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. We break down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems Prime

Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway, but instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Prime

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Prime

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022