F1’s Symonds says 2019 regs were a mistake

I was reading Jonathan Noble’s piece over at Autosport and it struck me as good example of why I have never been the biggest fan of pragmatism. I tend to favor prudence and measured approaches. I am sure that F1 technical chief, Pat Symonds, would favor a measured approach as well but in this article, he was lamenting the hurried 2019 regulations changes.

“When asked if there had been lessons learned from the 2019 aero rules, Symonds, who was speaking on-stage at Autosport International ’20, said: “In shaping these ’21 regs, probably not as much as I would have hoped for.

“They were done in a bit of a hurry. And, you know, with the benefit of hindsight, I wouldn’t have done them.

“In terms of what they did to the wake of the car, relative to what we’ve done for 2021, it is miniscule.

“And, in fact, we had never run exactly the sort of configuration that the rules came up with.

“We’d done a lot of research by that time [when the 2019 rules were issued] in mid-’18 and we were starting to understand critical areas, but we hadn’t run the configuration we had to actually get some rules out for.

“So I think we could have done that whole exercise a bit better.

But I don’t regard that in any way as a precedent for what we’ve done into 2021.”

It’s a tough lesson that half-baked plans can lead to some unintended or relatively neutral outcomes. If queried, most businesses would favor a measured approach that reaps positive results in performance and cost reductions. It sounds as if the 2019 regulations achieved neither of those outcomes.

My day job is with a company that favors solutions and positive outcomes for our customers and I have always appreciated that dedication and one can assume that the big 2021 changes are going to see F1’s more measured and fully-baked concept that will make an impact because they care about the outcome for their customers.

In an interesting followup comment, Pat said he believes the start of the 2021 car designs will favor the dominant teams in 2020.

“If there is domination at the front, then that dominant team, whoever it may be, can probably afford to switch a little bit earlier,” he said.

“But I think there’s not going to be domination in front. I think there’s going to be a good fight to the front.

“And that I hope will stop the teams from sitting back and just getting on with the 2021 cars.

“Some of the teams towards the back may be able to have a little bit more effort on the 2021 car. So, we should see a good season this season.

“And even though change generally will initially separate the cars before they start coming together again, I hope that in 2021 we’re going to see good racing as well.”

A couple things strike me here. One, Pat is addressing something we’ve been speaking about which is the unlimited budgets to create 2021 cars by big teams which may neuter the intended impact of the regulations changes.

If Pat is right, the dominant teams will have to focus on the balance of the 2020 season in order to win races while small teams can switch development funds to the 2021 car. I am not sure I am 100% convinced that will be the case.

I also am struck by the second thing he said which is that he hopes 2021 will be better racing. Not to get cheeky but you’ll have to do better than that, Pat. You’ve spent two years explaining how radical regulation changes and cost caps will revolutionize the sport for your customers and now you’re just hoping?

Hat Tip: Autosport

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Wait, I thought he said that about the 2009 rules. Did I miss something somewhere?