Each year, new F1 rules are issued by the sport’s governing body, the FIA. These rules are set to make Formula 1 more competitive, more exciting for fans, more sustainable and safer for drivers. But with a hangover from the 2021 season still weighing heavy and the FIA promising a rigorous regulatory overhaul of motorsport in general, will the new homologation rules be enough to keep F1 as the jewel in the FIA’s crown?
Gen Gordon specialises in international sports law and heads up the NMA’s Business School, giving post-graduate students a unique insight into the regulatory and governance side of commercial motorsport.
Hal Morgan-Short has a Master’s in Sports Law and is a keen follower of Formula 1.
Following on from the most closely contested Formula 1 World Championship in recent memory, the FIA hope that a regulatory overhaul and new cars, heading into the 2022 season, will continue the trend of close competition and exciting racing into a new era. The recent controversy surrounding the final race, and final lap, of the previous season, remains unresolved, with a verdict from the FIA regarding the release of the back-markers still to be divulged. However, in the wake of this ongoing inquest and the persisting hangover from 2021, there remains potential that the FIA has left itself even further exposed to regulatory challenge and uncertainty amongst teams through the vast swathes of regulatory change.
Central to the new regulations is the introduction of an entirely new car design. Smaller cars, with bigger wheels and less disruptive downforce seek to address the current difficulties in overtaking, and the competitive gap which exists between teams at the front of the grid, and Championship, and those at the rear. Partnered with plans to reduce the expenditure cap for teams and the decision to freeze power units, changing a system which has existed for eight years, the foundation for exciting and unpredictable racing are stronger than they have been for a long time. However, this new landscape is a clean slate upon which teams can innovate and push the boundaries inherent in the sport. From this, and with the sour memories of uncertain F1 rules deciding a storybook title race, a cynic may feel that controversy will be more prevalent than ever during this debut season for the new F1 landscape.
The new regulations are also respondent to pressures beyond any desire for more competitive racing. Improvements in safety remain tantamount considerations. The new cars will be made to withstand more energy upon collision than the previous generation, building largely on the lessons learned from the Grosjean crash in November 2020. To ensure this, each chassis will undergo more strenuous testing in a positive attempt to mitigate unforeseeable harms. Furthermore, the new F1 rules cater to calls for a more environmentally friendly approach to racing. This will be attempted through the adoption of more sustainably sourced fuels.
Nonetheless, at the dawn of one of the biggest regulatory overhauls in the sport’s history, each of these facets presents much for those in the motorsport industry to be excited about, but also apprehensive. Ultimately, new cars, fuels, and formats can be certain to do one thing in reaffirming one of the great adages of the sport: anything can happen in Formula 1, and it usually does.