The introduction of standard gearboxes to Formula 1 is “not off the table” for the future as teams have started to come around to the idea, according to the sport’s chief technical officer, Pat Symonds.

F1 scrapped plans to introduce standard gearbox cassettes as part of the new technical regulations for 2021 last May after teams argued that performance had converged enough to offer little benefit in making the change.

A handful of standard parts are set to be introduced for the 2021 season, such as fuel pumps and wheel rims, in a bid to reduce costs.

Speaking at Autosport International, Symonds said that while he had hoped to take standardisation further under the 2021 regulations, he found teams were already beginning to change their tune in some areas.

“One of my slight disappointments with the 2021 regulations is that we didn’t exploit that as far as Ross [Brawn] and I had anticipated we could do when we looked at it in 2017,” Symonds said.

“We went through a very big exercise to have a standard gearbox cassette, and a lot of people put a lot of work into it, and ultimately the teams really were so against it that we felt we had to come back off it a little bit.

“And interestingly, just in the seven or eight months since that happened, already the scene has changed and some of those who were against it are now saying ‘oh yeah, maybe it wasn’t a bad idea’. So it’s not off the table. Some of these things will come back.”

One positive Symonds took out of the recent push for standardisation was the fashion in which teams had been working together to design parts.

The former Renault, Benetton and Williams technical chief hoped it could set a precedent for when the sport comes to outline future technical changes, such as the next set of power unit regulations.

“We’ve standardised some parts, and we’ve actually got the teams working together designing those parts. So for example, the wheel hubs, the wheel nuts, the wheels, they’re all standard from 2021, but they’re designed by the teams working together,” Symonds said.

“That’s what is happening in the motor industry. We’re getting a lot of cross-platform sharing.

“Our next big project is the 2025-2026 power unit, and what I’m trying to do with that is to see if we can get something similar going on.

“Probably within F1, within my organisation, I don’t think we put together a group in the same way we did with aerodynamics, because it’s a very different thing.

“But I’ve spoken to a couple of the power unit manufacturers already about would they be prepared to do some cooperative research in certain areas, and the answer is yes.

“So we are seeing some sea changes not just in Formula 1 regulations, but perhaps more importantly in the way people think.”

 

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