After much arguing, negotiating, and compromising the regulations for the 2021 Formula 1 season and beyond have finally been agreed on.
While there are some new rules that fans will barely notice, there will be plenty of new things to get used to, and for gamers it should create a completely fresh F1 2021.
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After Codemasters & F1 agreed an extension that will see the British developers continue to make the game through the 2025 season, they now have their eyes set on making the necessary changes in 2021 to keep the game as realistic and entertaining as we have come to expect.
So, what changes should gamers get ready for?
More durable front wings
The most frustrating part of most F1 races is clipping off a bit of your front wing and losing grip and turn-in power.
Come 2021 that should change. The front wing, while still being crucial to performance, should be more durable to prevent races getting disrupted by debris.
End plates will be a thing of the past, with the whole wing being one piece that tapers up, which should make it far less fragile.
Some of the bodywork will also be coated in a rubber film to prevent it fully detatching onto the road. As a result while some performance may be lost to damage it should be harder to break your front wing, allowing for a few more aggressive overtaking attempts without totally ruining your race.
Reduced aerodynamic wake
Codemasters have always done a good job of avoiding total realism in F1 games. The best way they have done this is by minimising the affect of aero wake so that players can follow each other without suffering the horrible lack of downforce that F1 drivers suffer currently.
That impact should be even less in the 2021 game, as the primary focus of the regulation changes is to drastically reduce aero wake, and thus make following easier.
The front wing change, along with the deflector over the front wheel and a new rear wing as well as a reduction in barge board aero pieces should all help with this.
How Codemasters use this to inform their model will be tricky, as the game will be in development long before the impact on racing performance is actually known.
Much like their F1 2019 front wings, it is likely they go on FIA guidelines to start with before patching in real life performance, so you can expect to see in the range of 20-30 percent more downforce when in dirty air from 2021, making it a little easier to follow in places like Suzuka’s S curves and Brazil’s middle sector.
The $175 million cost cap will have a big impact on the development of teams during the season, as will restrictions on dyno testing power units and wind tunnel testing of aerodynamic components.
This will force a change to the F1 R&D system we have all come to know. It’s likely that failure rates will increase, while development time will be longer and there could even be an annual cap for R&D Points that could see you run out of budget part way through the season and see yourself reeled in by the rest of the field.
This is a place Codemasters can really get creative, and it will be amazing to see what they come up with to reflect the new cost cap and development restrictions that will come in for the 2021 season.
Finally, the F1 calendar is expected to hit a massive 25 races for the 2021 season, which will smash the current high of 22 that is scheduled for next year.
With the introduction of Vietnam and The Netherlands as venues, and a change of location for the Brazilian grand Prix, Codemasters already have their hands full laying out new circuits for next year.
Quite where these extra races will be is unknown. F1 gamers have been longing for Codemasters to include classic tracks that have fallen off the calendar recently, so it will be interesting to see if F1 returns to places like Sepang, Imola, or Istanbul, or if they find fresh ground in Argentina, Finland, or even Africa.
Adding yet more tracks will really test the Codemasters team, so it will be interesting to see if they have to skimp elsewhere to make sure all 25 are recreated perfectly.
F1 would certainly ease the burden if they were to return to a place like Sepang, which featured in Codemasters’ latest racer, GRID, but given F1’s love of new locations I would be surprised to see too many familiar tracks make a return.