Renault: F1 set for ‘game of chicken’ in 2020

Formula 1 teams will face an intense “game of chicken” this year in terms of when to abandon development of their current car and instead switch all their focus to 2021, reckons Renault.

With F1 set for an all-new rules era from 2021, teams know that they need to devote as much resource as they can to the future design in a bid to ensure that they don’t get left behind.

However, they are equally aware that they still need to push on with the current cars as much as possible because otherwise there is a risk of them falling down the order if they stop development too early.

Renault executive director Marcin Budkowski admitted that how to balance out the development programmes for 2020 and 2021 was especially tough.

“I think it is going to be a big dilemma,” he said, when asked by about the challenges teams faced on the issue. “I think it is going to be a big dilemma for everybody.

“We have a plan, I am sure everybody has, and that plan is to shorten development into the season. It is not less development it is just more concentrated development.

“It is easy to say this now because the season hasn’t started, but at the front it could be quite interesting if the top three are fighting for the championship and it’s going to be a close fight. It is going to be interesting seeing who pulls the plug first and jumps to 2021. Are Ferrari, for example, willing to switch earlier and take a risk that another team will win?

“To be honest it is the same throughout the field. If it is a close fight for fourth, it is going to be a game of chicken about who blinks first, and who transitions first. But I think it is important we don’t get distracted because 2021 is such a big challenge and the margin of progression on the new set of rules is big.”

Budkowski reckoned the benefits of making an early start to 2021 were so high that if you missed the right window on work then you could end up well off the pace.

“There has been a lot of talk about ‘are these rules too restrictive?’, and yes, they are more restrictive than now and I think that is intentional to make sure that the championship is more competitive,” he said.

“At the start of a new set of regulations your development rate is massive and we are seeing this. We see a lot of opportunities to gain performance, so if you transition too late you are going to be in trouble for 2021.

“The reality is we will have to understand, by doing more 2021 development, how much potential there is and where we sit in 2020. I think every team will assess this and make their own choices. It can be interesting to watch.”

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