The chase is on
Shanghai 2018
Chinese Grand Prix
F1 moves towards a completely new formula for 2013
F1 moves towards a completely new formula for 2013
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Sep 2010   |  10:20 am GMT  |  210 comments

There have been discussions going on all year behind the scenes to frame new rules for the 2013 season and it is beginning to look as though F1 is going to grasp the nettle and make some really exciting changes.

2013 has been a key date on the horizon for some time as it offers the sport a massive opportunity, one it cannot really afford to squander. It amounts to a chance to reshape F1 to be exactly what it needs to be to set itself up for a bright future as both thrilling to watch and relevant to the road car industry and to society in general.

F1 cars will change dramatically in 2013 (Darren Heath)

Between now and then there is also the prospect of another bruising battle between the teams on the one hand and FOM/FIA on the other over commercial rights, share of revenue and so on, but that is for another post.

The current Concorde Agreement expires at the end of 2012 and at the same time the engine formula is due for renewal, away from high powered 2.4 litre V8s towards something more sustainable.

Although a current F1 engine’s ratio of power produced for amount of fuel is allegedly better than a Toyota Prius, to continue down the path of burning up 150 kilos of fuel per car per Grand Prix race, let alone what is used in practice and qualifying, is clearly not sustainable. Of course the real environmental impact of F1 is in the air travel and logistics sending people and freight around the world to 19 Grands Prix and in spectators driving to circuits. But that is broadly the same for any world class event.

F1 can send out the right signals from 2013 onwards by changing the formula. The name of the game now is making the engines more fuel efficient, by harvesting waste energies and changing the aerodynamics accordingly. The key to the 2013 changes is to control the engines by means of regulating how much fuel they can use and regulate the fuel flow.

The moment you do that you are obliged to reduce the drag from the car and that means smaller wings and different floor. At the same time this should make them more exciting to watch as the overtaking opportunities will improve. Overtaking should also be helped by the significant power boost which will come from the energy regeneration systems. We are talking about a boost worth something like 20% of additional power for 20 seconds or more.

Working groups from teams, engine makers and the FIA have been looking at this. On the FIA’s side Gilles Simon, formerly with Peugeot and Ferrari, has been brought in by Jean Todt to oversee this important transition. And the plans are beginning to take shape. The engine will be smaller capacity, 1.6 litre turbos, with plenty of energy regeneration, far more than in F1’s rather half hearted first attempt at KERS last year.

The changes to the engine will mean that the aerodynamics will have to change because if you are regulating the fuel flow, you have to reduce the drag of the cars. There has been talk of going back to a ground effect, in other words deriving more of the downforce from the floor of the car, rather than the wings,

“Any freedom to make the cars have a shaped underside will make them less set-up sensitive so easier to engineer and drive,” says Frank Dernie, a veteran of the ground effect days of the early 1980s. “I would personally be grateful for any freedom to make the underside of the cars less awful and think it can only be an improvement to do so. If we get more ground effect and smaller wings the engine will need to be a fair bit less powerful…”

I’m quite excited about the prospects for these changes and once we get some more clarification I’ll look at organising a fan discussion on 2013, with some engineers to help decode how it will work.

In the meantime, I’ve posted a video at the bottom of this post, of an interview I did a while back with Cosworth CEO Tim Routsis. It was primarily about how Cosworth has diversified as a business into new fields like military applications, clean air technology, but the second part of it, (starting at 2m 22s) is a very interesting take on the 2013 rules and what kind of engine and chassis F1 is heading for.

Featured News
Editor's Picks
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest


Martin Heavens

For anyone that thinks racing with a 1.5 litre engine is going to be boring you have never seen Rene Arnoux and Gille Villeneuve racing in 1979


One of the reasons for the changes in 2013 is so the cars are more ecologically sound, doing less damage to the environment.

Come on !!!

The CO2 emissions and damage to the environment are just a drop in the ocean and changing F1 cars is going to do nothing to help the plight of the planet.

As in anything else the changes are just a few people in high power positions, trying to justify their large pay packets by bringing in rule changes that are not required.

Ultimately all they are going to do in the long run is turn off the great following F1 has around the world both new and old.

Who will pay their wages then ?

If it ain’t broke don’t try and fix it.

Very wise words !!!


My comment is purely designed to return Formula One to a sport, from the business that it is presently without Bernie & co. losing any precious dollars.

For decades, 99% of the ‘races’ have been processions. Any arguments?

Qualifying times for decades tell me that the racing is going to be unbelievably good, by providing exceptionally close racing, regularly having one second span the first ten or fifteen drivers. Within a few corners from the beginning of the typical GP, one second gaps seperate ALL cars. And then it only gets more processional. Any arguments?


Gordon Murray termed the words ‘wing and slick tyre technology’. A very short 2 or 3 year period from both of these entering F1. Pre ‘wing and slick tyre technology’, qualifying times were not close, but often the racing was.

The reason?

Because gravity alone kept the cars on the ground. There was no ‘one second barrier’. The cars performed as well cornering if they were ten inches behind or ten football ovals behind. Any arguments?

Ban all aerodynamics now!!!

Yes, the cars would be much slower around corners, but the extremely close racing would make up for the speed difference in excitement provided. Strewth, there might even be the ‘holy grail’ – passing!!

So, imagine the starter formula called Formula Ford on steroids being driven by the best of the best; Imagine the present lads actually able to get close enough to each other to actually sort out the men from the boys. They, themselves, must be annoyed (all the way to the bank though) about not being able to actually race.




a lot of people are missing the point. the reduction in engine size is not for green credentials primarily, it’s to bring the manufacturers back with a relevant engine and chance for them to showcase their capabilities and allow them to drive technology in downsize boosted direct injection gasoline engines. there is to be no restriction on turbo size / design / configuration or boost pressure etc – energy recovery devices will be largely free. as long we still have around the same sort of power as we do now, i don’t care what shape or size the engine is. the current v8’s sound rubbish in the metal compared to the v10’s anyway (except the toyota v10 which sounded like a robot)


I’d like to see them open up the engine rules and let them use whatever engines/energy recovery systems they want providing the car doesn’t exceed a certain top speed and bhp on a dyno. I also wouldn’t enforce a restriction on the amount of fuel a car could use, instead it shoudl be an advantage for a car to have a more fuel efficiant car (ie the car can be lighter)

That way we would have a nice mix of lighter more fuel efficient cars. The smaller teams could have the more traditional cheaper engines and the manufacturer teams could run with something more relevant to the car industry and more cutting edge.


In all honesty I’d love to see a return to V10s, 1000BHP and all that wonderfulness but F1 does have a genuine case for going green. All the talk of logistical costs and the carbon footprint of F1 in terms of freight and travel is something of an irrelevance. F1 possesses the finest engineering minds on the planet and as such is uniquely positioned to accelerate the development of green technologies which can be adapted by the vehicle manufacturing industry. The idea is to reduce the carbon footprint of the motor vehicle in general and this needs to be tackled at grass roots levels. Vehicles such as the PRIUS are something of a token gesture towards ecologically sound motoring, F1 provides a great opportunity to get some real innovation taking place. As we all know, F1 has new technologies coming out of its ears and we should be embracing the fact that they have the foresight to share it with the rest of the world for the greater good.

On the other hand, to satisfy the petrolheads i.e. me, it would be nice to see a legends race as a support event at 2 or 3 Grand Prix a year in which a historic season no earlier than say 1990 was chosen prior to the current season and the cars and drivers of yesteryear would be required/invited to re-live say Monaco 1996 or Silverstone 1998. It would be fun to see if the old boys could successfully recreate the bond between man and old steed and pull off a similar result.


I’m not really keen on the ‘Limited Fuel’ direction F1 wants to venture in.

It’s a disaster in Motogp forcing all teams to use 21 liters of petrol per race. With this rule, the later laps become fuel saving laps. The gaps from the leader more or less remain the same since those behind cannot override the ECU when it goes to fuel conservation mode. The race is basically decided after 5 laps, barring crash or any unintended mishaps. THe only saving grace for MotoGP is that the bikes have small footprints, making the tracks relatively larger, plus they don’t rely on downforce, so overtaking and slipstreaming still applies.

With Fuel limits, plus complicated aero, I wonder if it would push F1 to ‘really really dificult to overtake’ to ‘impossible to overtake’…


James, I’m not particularly happy about the direction F1 has gone and is headed from the V10 to the V8 and from the 08 aero to the 09 aero…I fear a golden era is behind us. I will always remember the last of the great V10 era, and a brilliant race to send it off at Suzuka, I can’t forget that final pass and your call of the race “Grand Prix racing at its absolute finest!” when Kimi stormed passed Giancarlo on the last lap. That to me was the pinnacle.

The oil economy will not last forever though, and racing as it was back then is not something we can do forever, even as beautiful as it sounded and looked. Your enthusiasm about the next batch of changes makes it easier to move on, cheers!


I think that the FIA, FOM and FOTA are making moves in the right direction. I think everyone can agree that the costs associated with the sport need to be kept under control and that the racing needs to be exciting. Simple right?

The problems being faced now are that the FIA have painted themselves into a corner with their current aero-focused regulations. There is no way out without re-writing the rule book. The FIA have created rules which result in aerodynamic marvels that are boring. The teams have reached a plateau with what can be achieved. Sure there are gimmicks and tricks to be found here or there, but nothing revolutionary or ground breaking is left to be found in the current rule book. Certainly nothing relevant to the automotive world at large. Even with the double-diffusers, blown-wings and blown diffusers the top cars are only separated by a tenth of a second per lap.

What the FIA need to do is shake up the rule book completely. The “Formula” is not etched into stone, so why not change the direction? Why are the cars open wheeled? Why are they open cockpit? Aren’t these just vestiges of simpler days when fenders and roofs were removed to save weight?

I say, specify displacement and the amount of fuel per race. The displacement can stay fixed for a number of seasons, but the FIA can reduce the fuel amount to keep the performance in check. Also, I say no wings and a flat floor with no diffuser. I can’t stand watching the teams spend countless millions on the tiny aerodynamic details of a front wing end plate. If we take the money spent on ridiculous aerodynamic doo-dads and apply that to engine power and fuel efficiency then we will have great racing and great engineering developments. By only specifying the displacement, the teams will be free to use any engine configuration they want.

Also, allow any and all regenerative technologies. The argument that it is “push to pass” is only valid under the current regulations. Allow the engineers to have full control over torque application. The driver still controls the amount of torque with the gas pedal, but where it comes from should be up to the engineers. The teams with the best torque management and regenerative technologies will win. In my view, that is far better than the team with the best wind tunnel and CFD computers winning.




Bring back fat tires & ground effect aero and simplify front & rear wings instead!

Regenerative breaking is a great innovation but the idea of having a push-to-pass button diminishes the whole art of overtaking. It should not be easy, it should be down to the driver, not aids – increasing mechanical grip and adding ground effect while modifying the wings will help in this area.

I’m all for being more environmentally conscious but don’t touch those engines any more. F1 is a sport, it’s entertainment first and foremost. Wants to reduce total carbon footprint? Let’s focus on road vehicles where it will make the biggest impact! In the grand scheme of things F1 cars don’t contribute much to pollution.


Dear James,

I’m don’t recall whether I set this to your site or Keiths, but I’m pleased that FOCA and the FIA are heading in this direction.

In regard to noise generated by turbo engines, they siound great. I was at Long Beach for the last F1 race and my only onw, and was thrilled with the sounds. People that are dissappointed in the direction f1 is going, should realize that if it doesn’t go in this directionans soon, that the Green folks will sooner or later probably get it banned, if it doesn’t fail entirely by itself through irrevelance. As it was, it took 5-10 years for most of the technology to hit road cars. Now it’s 1-2, or f1 copies and improves existing automotive technology, which is then absorbed by the manufacturers.

My post fromm a few months ago;

“This is one of my favorite races of all time, an I post it to reinforce a point I’d like to make.

I would be interested in knowing if the rest of you think I’m missing the point.

I feel that some of the best looking cars and the best racing was during the era of ground effect.

So, in stating that, I’d like to give my wants or hopes for the future of F1.

First and most importantly, I’d like to have the classic tracks at least every other year.

I’d like the promoters to have a chance to make enough money to want to host the races.

I’d like ticket prices to be lower, not cheap, but more reasonable, so we the fans can afford to attend a race occasionally I’d like F1 to be viewable on the internet at a VERY reasonable cost, as it is I can’t watch but very few races , and living in the US, (West coast) makes the hour unbearable for all but a few races. You guys in Europe have it easy compared to us.

I’d like to see the drivers , not telemetry and software be in control.

I, personally think that the re introduction of ground effect in the cars would :

1. Give us better looking cars

2. Give us more exciting racing, as turbulence wouldn’t cause as big a problem in regard to passing, or running nose to tail.

This also has a benefit for road cars to an extent, in that it deals with adhesion and drag, an in turn fuel economy.

When it was banned, the reasons were primarily safety in relation to tire failure, and suspension failure.

These are still considerations , I admit, but speeds in turns could be controlled by tire width and diameter, and minimum ride height.

Wings would be somewhat reduced in importance, and could also be regulated in area, camber ,aspect ratio, chord, and thickness. They would wind up being trimming devices more so that down force devices. They could also be cockpit adjustable.

The safety of the cars and tracks now , and the ways I think the cars could be regulated, diminishes the causes for ground effects banishment. I also think that after the design and development phase of the season was finished and the racing season started, cost of mid-season aero development would be greatly reduced and other areas of development would take priority.

There are probably other things I would like to see brought into F1, but I’m sure the rest of you will bring them up, and I’ll wish I’d thought of them myself.

I hope that with FOTA members seemingly able to live together in accord, that we as fans can learn to do so as well. We can all have our favorite teams or driver, but I’d hope civility will play a part as well.”



Is it really so wrong of me to want to watch the fastest cars in the World driven by the best drivers in the World.

I understand that people think F1 needs to change, but really, does it need to change so drastically.

The next step will be give the drivers the same car… Boring! I want to see the Best driving the Best…


James – any chance of getting your video`s in high definition?


If F1 wants to be seen as energy-efficient, then one key enabler will be to fair in the wheels. A very large percentage of the drag of an F1 car is the open wheels.

Rather than reverting to old-style solutions such as ground effects, cast iron brake discs etc. why does F1 not look at the DeltaWing concept? Sure, it is very different from what F1 has today, but the looks of F1 and open-wheel cars in general have been pretty static for over 30 years. If you’re going to shake up other aspects of the formula, then let’s examine the looks of the cars also.


“Of course the real environmental impact of F1 is in the air travel and logistics sending people and freight around the world to 19 Grands Prix and in spectators driving to circuits…”

“But that is broadly the same for any world class event.”

What a load of utter BS. A recent statistic showed that the F1 cars only account for less than 1% of the sport’s co2 output. So how on earch does completely changing (ruining?) their engines count towards making the sport more sustainable?! It’s a joke.

Who here genuinely wants to see the best drivers in the world flying round monza or spa in an overgrown prius?! Give me a V10 or V12 please, otherwise I’ll switch off to BTC/DTM.

If you’re genuinely worried about the environmental impact then start flying to every race together in convoy.


If the motivation is indeed to make F1 greener there are alternatives to emasculation. The statistics are not mine but are from a somewhat cynical, and even more despairing friend. But they seem, on the face of it, to have some justification.

The ‘savings’ by reducing fuel consumption are manifold. Not only is there the fuel consumption itself but the transport costs as well. Then there is the fact that the storage containers can be smaller. And that is, I feel, about it.

But there are many other ways of cutting emissions. The most interesting and simple is to limit the amount of car parking at, around and near the circuits and have a requirement for a year-on-year increase in the percentage of spectators who park and ride.

If there is a 40-mile exclusion zone then, I am assured, around 70 bus loads of spectators will save more than the proposed change in regs would. This takes into account the possibility of some spectators living nearer than 70 miles to the circuit and having to drive a greater distance than they normally would. Not to mention the distance the busses would have to travel to get to the park and rids spot.

The figures also take into account that fact that with the ‘new’ venues, such as China, there would be a negative effect on emissions, to the level of, one would assume, 70 busses.

But we don’t want public transport do we. How about limiting the number of helicopters landing at a circuit and replacing them with fixed wing aircraft? Massive savings there once the emissions from construction of runways has been worked off.

Another one is to have on-line WMSC meetings. Not only are travel costs lowered considerably but there’s all the staff who also have to attend to serve food and to wait at hotels, etc.

Or, perhaps, have the races near to one-another. Start in the east and then work westwards until Britain and then fly to the USA and Canada.

Or maybe, very radical this one and probably so off the wall that few would consider it: how about not having races in countries where spectators can’t be bothered to turn up. Instead we could have them in Europe where there will be a queue.

The justification of cutting fuel consumption at races is a farce. It is an insult to intelligence, and a breach of the new Direct marketing Association code of practice as it applies to greenwashing as well. If it was indeed a concern of the sport, instead of just a desire to polish the image, then massive cuts could be made.

I think any publicity to the effect that F1 is turning eco-friendly will not only be unconvincing but will lead to negative publicity as well.

There is little doubt that a change in infrastructure of the circuits in order to ensure more spectators use public transport is by far the most efficient way of cutting emissions at individual events and the FIA/FOM should ensure that the calendar is designed to limit travel of the circus for equally large savings. Lev eth racing alone until there is a need to cut a fraction of 1% of emissions.


I’m outta here, Guys, but b4 I go I wanna ask a question——Why the hell should Formula One racing cars be “green/eco-friendly”??? I would have thought it to be more important that the long-distance touring car/Le Mans/Sebring/Datona/Bathurst/Nascar/Indy 500 etc type racing to be more efficient. I mean they race for a lot longer time/distance, and they’ve got much bigger/inefficient engines than F1, not to mention there’s a hellova lot more cars in the races! In my opinion someone’s stuffed up!!!!


(But that’s only my opinion!)


Sorry, I couldn’t read all the posts but it seems, from the ones I did read that we, the punters, are getting to a point when the prospect of what is virtually a spec series is filling them with gloom and despair.

As you say, James, it is the flying that uses the fuel and CVC need the top dollars from new circuits but to promise great racing is a bit far fetched!

Just a thought, and not for this discussion, but why would the manufacturers want to bother with this watered-down version? Long live the break away and lots of time to sort it now!



Hay, James, I’m quite chuffed about the idea of smaller wings and a higher degree of ground effects for the future! You might remember some months ago I was ranting on about just those things being advantagous to following and passing, and from memory I got shot down in flames for suggesting something so stupid. Oh well, we’ll see what happens in the end.

Regarding turbo/non-turbo, if I was regulated to a certain minimum amount of fuel to go a certain distance in a certain time,(as quick as possable of course), I’m not sure whether I’d build a little turbo or a bigger naturaly asperated engine. (Assuming total freedom of cubic capacity). Are they talking about all engines having to be blown or will the choice be open? Interesting times ahead, that’s for sure!


Scarlet Pimpernel

Someone very wise once said that we should never look… And this is doubly true of motorsports. Turos back then were an effort to produce gobs of power. Today we think it will help us hide our wastefullness by being green ! Well it won’t work: F1 will be the butt of jokes for running 4 cylinder turbos when we only recently ran 10 and 12 cylinders. F1 IS NOT and WAS NEVER mandated to be the experimental lab for road cars. That was a crude attempt by the FIA to make itself look relevant in a very Green-obsessed political and media landscape. This will be the final nail in the coffin of serious F1 unless reporters like you call out the FiA on these ridiculous plans ! You have a voice in the media that the average fan doesn’t. I suggest you use it quickly !


Regarding the reform of F1’s regulations over the next few years, I think there are only really four things that people are concerned about.

1: The cars should not be slower than they are now

2: The engine note should be pleasing to the ear

3: The regulations should allow for exciting racing

4: The ‘Big Four’ tracks’ should stay

Anything else, go nuts.


Great. Weeny little cars with turbocharged sewing machine engines screaming like little girls at about a million rpm. And probably being outrun by IRL-spec cars.

2013: The Year I Quit Caring About F1.


Too bad they won’t turn @ “a million RPM”. They limit revs even now. 🙁


James, can you please explain why we went back to normally asperated cars? My memory of the Turbo days and gound effects of the late 70’s early 80’s is and was very exciting racing…But I can’t recall why the change, only to say that Murray during race calls used to bang on about it as it drew nearer. Cheers


I don’t particularly care what the changes are, as long as we have some! Not because there’s anything inherently wrong with the current format, but because this is a sport for engineers as much as drivers. Rule changes create design problems, design problems create opportunities. Let’s see what these geniuses can come up with when the rules are changed yet again!!

On a different note, did anyone else think of the old ‘Group C’ sports cars when restricted fuel, lower drag and more ground effect were mentioned? If F1 is half as pretty in 2013 as the ‘carpet sweepers’ or the late 80s and early 90s, I don’t care what sound it makes.

Top Tags
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!