A rendering of what a Formula 1 race car will look like in 2021. [credit: FIA ]
On Sunday afternoon at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, Lewis Hamilton sealed his sixth Formula 1 world championship. Unquestionably one of the sport's greats, he wowed fans even during his debut with McLaren in 2007, winning his first title for that team the following year. The rest of his titles have come at the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG, and all since 2014.
The year 2014 happens to be when F1's last big rule change happened, ushering in the current era of complicated and expensive turbocharged hybrid V6es. During that time, the cars have gotten faster than ever before—even if they are approaching Le Mans prototypes in weight. They have also become even more ruinously expensive to design and operate, with little to no effect on the quality of the racing. But starting in 2021, that will change thanks to a new set of technical rules and more equitable sharing of the proceeds among the teams.
At least, that's what Liberty Media hopes. The US-based entertainment company bought the commercial rights to F1 in 2017, and since then it has been trying to fix some of the huge structural problems with the sport. That's easier said than done; a more equitable sharing of the pie means the well-funded, politically powerful teams will get less, and politically powerful turkeys rarely vote for Christmas. But that's what happened—the FIA World Motor Sport Council just voted unanimously to approve Liberty's intended changes, despite worries that Ferrari would exercise its veto.