Renault technical chief Pat Fry says Formula 1 teams will not hold back in making as big a change as possible to the 2021 cars despite the chassis freeze restrictions.
In response to the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic, F1 and the FIA agreed to an effective carryover of cars from 2020.
It means the major components of each team’s challenger from last year must be frozen, with 2021 changes limited to aero parts and areas covered by a token system.
While that appears to limit the scope for modifications, Fry is clear that there remains a lot of areas that can be exploited which his team will look at improving.
“Although various chunks of the car are homologated, so you can’t change them, there’s still quite a lot that’s open and up for grabs,” said Fry, Renault’s chassis technical director.
“You can’t do a whole new car, but you can definitely do half a one. We’re working our way through what we think is sensible there and trying to do as much as we can.”
Fry said that with Renault having made good aero gains this year, it was important the team built on that throughout 2021.
Asked where the focus for the team’s new challenger would be, he said: “Other than nose, chassis, engine and gearbox, we’re looking at reviewing most of it. I think it’ll be the same for everyone.
“I think the aero development direction we’ve been having, in terms of the philosophy of what we want from it, it has been sound and we need to continue down that route. The floor changes, it changes the flow structures fairly dramatically, but again it’s the same for everyone.
“We just need to do the best we can, dealing with it. But fundamentally, we’re still just trying to build on the philosophy that we’ve had. There’s still quite a lot of scope for what you can do within the rules.”
Fry believes that teams will have their work cut out getting on top of the 2021 regulation changes that have been introduced to try to cut downforce.
The biggest of these changes is new floor dimensions, with a key area ahead of the rear tyre having been cut away completely.
The new rules are aimed at cutting downforce by around 10%, and early tests of the new floor design have shown the tweaks have a big influence.
“The floor change, although it looks quite a small and insignificant change, how it actually changes the aerodynamics at the back of the car is quite dramatic really,” said Fry.
“It will be down to who actually manages to cope with that the best, to see how it actually upsets the order.
“I guess McLaren can change more than most because, obviously with a power unit change, that allows you to change a load of other bits of the car outside of the normal homologation side of things.”