Formula 1 bosses are strongly taking into consideration the possibility of scaling back the amount of telemetry that can be gathered by teams starting with the 2021 F1 season, in a bid to give more control to drivers and allow for greater unpredictability as part of the push to improve the sport.
As reported by crash.net earlier today, team officials were informed during the meeting with F1 bosses in Bahrain that a severe limit on the level of telemetry and data acquisition allowed was planned for 2021, when the next shake-up of the technical regulations is planned. The move is fuelled by a desire to place a greater onus on the driver behind the wheel in races, taking some control away from the engineers and the virtual race control centres back at teams’ factories, as well as creating more room for errors and mistakes.
The proposal was part of F1’s wide-ranging blueprint for 2021 that was unveiled in Bahrain. The plans also include a cost cap of $150 million per year, a change in prize money distribution and a simplification of the existing power unit specification. One of the objectives of F1’s plans was to allow for greater unpredictability and make the outcome of grands prix more random. While the cutback on telemetry would likely increase the failure rate of cars and make races harder to predict, it would not come at the expense of keeping safety standards to a high level.
The move also aids F1’s push to make the sport easier for fans to understand and consume, which was another key focus point in the Bahrain meeting. An effort to give drivers greater autonomy was made in 2016 when F1 restricted the information that could be supplied by team radio, only for the rule to be removed mid-season following confusion and outcry from fans.
Reactions to the proposals for 2021 have been mixed up and down the paddock. Williams deputy chief Claire Williams said she wanted to “crack open some champagne” in reaction to the plans, while Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was more reserved, calling the plans a “starting point” that needed to be built upon. F1 bosses are set to spend the coming weeks discussing the plans in greater detail with teams, having set a target of finalising the engine regulations for 2021 by the end of May.