F1 cars are too heavy already, says Hamilton

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Lewis Hamilton has criticised planned rules changes for 2017 which will see F1 car weights rise from 702 kilogrames to 722kg.

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Does F1 really need to change the rules to make cars faster?

I don’t understand the obsession with shaving a few seconds off of the lap times. It will hardly be noticeable to anyone watching the race. Look at Moto GP, which often has more thrilling overtaking and on track battles every two or three races than F1 has in a season: no one there is screaming for an extra few seconds a lap.

What F1 needs is more power than grip (i.e more mechanical grip and less aero/downforce grip. That’s what made the older 1000+ hp cars so much of a challenge for the drivers and more fun for the fans.
Kenny Schachat

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66 comments on “F1 cars are too heavy already, says Hamilton”

  1. if this new qualifying system is brought in i will not be watching qualifying in protest because its one of the worst ideas i have ever seen in f1.

    its almost as bad as that silly 1 lap system they had some years ago. the qualification setup we have seen since 2006 has been fine and there was no need at all to make changes to it!

    1. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
      25th February 2016, 0:15

      This season rule changes are putting me off Formula 1 more and more. When I first watched Formula 1 and it was this confusing, I wouldnt of bothered to continue watching. That’s what these idiots in charge don’t seem to realise.

    2. If you don’t watch then they will defiantly change it back lol

      1. If people don’t watch (subscribe) en-mass, then this nonsense would be cancelled. Those that continue to line Bernie’s pockets deserve what he dishes out. I’m sure he and his mates have a pool as to how far he can push the public and still make obscene profits. Bernie has made is feelings clear many times of his hatred of the paying public, but still the ‘fans’ pay him.

    3. Apparently it is Bernie’s brilliant “Time Ballast” idea of adding extra time to pole sitter and others depending on their championship positions that led to the qualification shake-up. So in order to appease That-Who-Must-Not-Be-Mentioned, this compromise came about. Incredible.

      1. Remember in 2005 when it was Saturday and Sunday aggregated, single lap qualifying? That was seen as too complex and reverted to one session on Saturday.

        This system is so convoluted that I give it until Spain before they change it back.

      2. I think the “ballast for winning” idea is simply an excuse for badly managing the series. F1 is the premier open wheel motor racing series, and so handicapping should be considered an anathema. Every car that is on the starting grid should have the same rules to comply with, and if one car wins all the time, so be it, at least the result is honest.
        The fact is Mercedes won last year because they had the fastest car, it wasn’t their fault that others couldn’t catch up, it was the fault of others. Whether that is the other teams fault or the FIA’s token system is another matter, the fact remains Mercedes should present the best car they can make at a race, and that is exactly what they did, it is the fault of others if other teams can’t do the same.
        All a handicapping system will do is force Mercedes to make their best car, and then tune it down so it is just faster than the competition. In the end you’d end up with rigged races and a rigged championship.

        1. Exactly. Time ballast is ridiculously easy to manipulate and much less flexible than the BoP that works (but is controversial) in sportscar racing (which itself relies on basic designs not changing once or twice a year).

    4. Amen. They just wrecked about the only thing left that wasn’t utterly broken. This farce of a “sport” clearly doesn’t care one lick about what the fans think. Time we all chose something new to watch, permanently. Real F1 has jumped the shark, and it won’t be back any time soon.

  2. So dispiriting, so predictable, drivers talking sense, regulators talking nonsense and Bernie claiming innocence. I couldn’t actually bring myself to read any of the articles.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      25th February 2016, 6:49

      Interestingly @hohum, yesterday I did not even read the articles about the new qualifying rules. And today I’m lost what people refer to when they argue in favour/against it.
      Maybe I should remain ignorant and be surprised come Melbourne.

      The testing is interesting though, and I’m pleasantly surprised what Haas shows so far.

  3. It is insane with the weight going up all the time. Extra 10kgs slows the car by roughly 0,3s so if you see how the weight is increasing lately then no wonder times are ever-slower.

    1. The cars just look faster and more dynamic with less weight in, too. For me right now they look OK in qualifying so long as the tyres aren’t melting in half a lap, in race trim they look bloated.

      It’s rare that I agree with everything Hamilton says, but I think he got it spot on in that article.

      1. Lighter cars would be nice but did anyone expect that making them wider would make them lighter? They’re going to be 10% wider so I think we got lucky with a small increase.

        It would be interesting to know where we could loose weight now, the chassis is presumably as light as it can be without compromising strength, fuel has gone up after refuelling was banned so can’t be changed and the power units are now much heavier than the old engines but I guess they will get lighter over time.

        1. Ballast. Every car on the grid has substantial amounts of ballast on at the moment, as the minimum weight for a chassis is considerably higher than the lightest effective car even the least wealthy teams can build. Fuel isn’t included in the “minimum weight” statistics (the only liquid that can be is water, and that’s strictly limited) and the power units themselves have ballast to bring them to the minimum weight required by the rules (with the possible exception of Renault).

          It would not have been difficult to require teams to remove a little ballast to get the minimum weight rule to at least remain the same as 2015.

    2. You know, I have just read that Sainz is completely against low weight of the car. The drivers are getting slimmer and slimmer, and this is really bad.

  4. Quite unbelievable that GPDA were not consulted before the new raft of technical changes were decided upon. If nothing else, their idea on the type of tyres needed to cope with the new regulations would have been beneficial to all.

  5. When I read today that news about quali shakeup and all the ridiculous rules about it, it instantly reminded me of Blernsball! (Futurama fans will know :))

    1. Nice reference.

    2. Love this reference. Blernsball is a great comparison. Ruining a perfectly great sport with gimmicks and non sense. I can genuinely see that f1 would be the same in 1000 years

    3. Boring? F1 wasn’t boring- so they finally jazzed it up?

    4. Blernsball is a very popular sport in the 31st century. It was reformed from baseball, which was deemed too boring.

      Sounds about right.

  6. It’s back to square 1, isn’t it? the same old story. They change something that’s working fine, they don’t ask the drivers, they don’t care about anything but themselves. F1 teams as an organization are useless, so is Bernie and so is Todt.

    They don’t understand anything, they just want profit for themselves.

    We were told that narrow and tall rear wings would aid overtaking. And now we’re back to wide and low rear wings. And of course we need a new qualifying format because, you see, the previous one was working just fine, but we have to change it anyway. And that solves the problem of boring races: by CHANGING QUALIFYING!!! They are geniuses!

    AT LEAST we didn’t get any ridiculous thing like time ballast, or 2 races per weekend or artificial rain, or DRS. Oh, no, wait, that’s still a thing.

    1. You’ve nailed it. Excellent comment.

    2. Next.. Designed to degrade tires…

  7. The ONLY benefit I can see from new qualifying that would have all the teams agreeing to it is that every car is guaranteed a few seconds of tv time. Remember when it was single lap qualifying, every car got its 90 seconds on screen – no exceptions.

    With this new scenario, the two cars battling to stay in will get their exposure, the car excluded from the duel will get a few seconds extra. Considering how little coverage the back of the field gets during Q1 and the race, I can see why this carrot may have enticed.

    1. if they had justified that way, i might have been okay with it, but truth is everything is an excuse to appease a crazy, senile man…

      1. So you believe everything you read? I have a bridge to sell you.

        This is a marketing event, not a sport. Using Bernie as an excuse is equal to convincing yourself this is a sport.

        Neither is true.

        1. ColdFly F1 (@)
          25th February 2016, 6:53

          So what’s the definition of a sport in your world?
          I guess we all should be glad that there is no marketing involved in a major football competition or the Olympics!

    2. What guarantee? To avoid the cut-off, every team is basically obliged to do its fast run immediately before the first cut-off point which won’t knock out a non-runner (such as someone who’s car cannot be readied for Q1). As such, there will be a huge flurry of activity for 3 minutes before the cut-offs start… …and then nothing for the rest of the session, unless we get a very dominant team in Q3 that can wait a bit longer on the strength of its banker lap on old tyres before it sticks on the ultrasofts and sets an unbeatable time due to improved conditions.

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      25th February 2016, 11:33

      @kazinho – I thought that yesterday but on reflection, it’s wrong. Drivers won’t necessarily be on their quick lap when they are eliminated. Do they get eliminated once the clock hits 1m30s or do they get to finish their lap? If so, 5th could be eliminated before 6th….??

      1. The FIA statement on the new system said:

        Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag


        The final elimination in each session occurs at the chequered flag – not when time is up.

        So they only get to finish their lap if it is the last elimination in Q1 or Q2.

  8. So F1 cars have finally reached Indycar weight. Sigh.

  9. I guess Hamilton wants to go back to the days when F1 was actually at its peak- the early 90’s, with those jaw-droppingly pretty cars with V8, V10 and V12 engines. One particular car that fits Hamilton’s description perfectly is McLaren’s ’91 championship winner, the MP4/6. Wow, that was an awesome car. Honda V12, manual gearbox, jaw-droppingly beautiful shape.

    1. The problem is, you can’t go back. Technology has moved on.

      Frankly, I think at this point a manual gearbox would be just silly.

      1. No, you can’t go back. A manual gearbox these days wouldnt just be silly, it would be stupid. I just wish technical regulations were as free as they were back then.

    2. Wowza… Well on paper, manual gearbox would do more to spice up racing than DRS…

    3. The gearboxes are manual these days as well. They just don’t have to drive one-handed while up and down-shifting like back in the day, which is the far safer way to change gears at those speeds, but the gearbox itself is manual nevertheless.

  10. Agree with Hamilton.

    Consider this as well: IndyCars weigh 714 kilograms.

    Shouldn’t F1 be the pinnacle?

    1. I personally think WEC took over almost 4 years ago. Perhaps in the end, F1’s leadership will lead to something positive, people seeing how futile it is to create rules to solve problems.

    2. Any time now the Hybrid-lobby will succeed in making F1 cars as heavy as the LMP1 cars. The current 702kg + fuel is already putting it within striking range.

  11. A bit of an oversimplification from Lewis. Aren’t the current power trains a big part of the weight increases? Haven’t we been complaining about weight restrictions lately as it concerns larger drivers like Button and Webber, prior to his F1 exit? I’m sure he understands all of this much better than myself, this just seems like an odd thing to call out given the current climate (halos are only weightless in heaven). Mechanical grip, mechanical grip, mechanical grip.

    1. The weight increase does nothing to help the heavier drivers because the driver is still fully excluded from the weight. Had the rule been something like “802 kg + tyres + driver and/or cockpit-located ballast to total 80 kg” (the equivalent weight expressed in terms removing downside of being tall), it would be another matter. Besides, cars run with so much ballast to bring them up to the minimum weight that it would be pretty straightforward to swap out some of it in exchange for a lighter total car.

  12. Now the qualifying change makes sense. Bernie brings a lamb to slaughter, but the teams convince Bernie to only give it a good shave.

    1. I was surprised by the sudden unanimous decision by the teams to o this rule change. Should have figured it was to block bernies stupid ideas.

      The lack of understanding of sporting values is worrying me. Someone should tell Bernie this is not wwe

  13. @COTD

    I don’t understand the obsession with shaving a few seconds off of the lap times. It will hardly be noticeable to anyone watching the race.

    Watch an onboard from 2004. Please.

    1. +1

      This looks way faster than what we have today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5Qy6cOua2I

      1. Looks so fast.. and it is… People dont understand 7s a lap is amazing difference in corner speeds. Even 3s per lap will be greatly different.

  14. So wait, the FIA did not read any of the responses from the GPDA survey we took last year? Who would have known.

    Still I am all for the rule changes for next year, except the increase in weight. Bring it down for 2018 please.

  15. They are just increasing the weight now for 2016 so they can decrease it for 2017 and then say they found 3 seconds per lap, eyoooo…

    Now please put some people in office who know what fans want and how racing should be for the drivers…

  16. Re the COTD – While I agree that the difference of a few seconds in laptime is hardly visible to the spectators, I think it has a very important psychological difference in the minds of fans and drivers alike.

    For all the technology and expense that goes into creating this generation of cars, they would all be absolutely trounced by a car from over ten years ago. The simplest, most obvious measure of how ‘good’ a racing car is, is how fast it goes. In that sense, these cars are not as good as the ones from over a decade ago. Over years of ‘progress’ and we have cars which are much slower. How are they any better? They use less fuel. Who really cares? They have complicated hybrid systems. Ditto, who cares when they’re slower and heavier than supposedly outdated racing cars from a generation ago.

    Yes, I know that these cars are measurably better in terms of the technology, and that the speed they achieve is determined not by the quality of the car but by the regulations. But you can’t get away from the fundamental fact that they are much slower than F1 cars used to be, and that lower classes of racing car are nearly as quick.

    When you watch most sports, there are records to be broken. I was there at Le Mans last year when Andre Lotterer broke the all time lap record, and remember the shock that ran through the crowd. People want to feel like they’re seeing something unprecedented, with new boundaries being broken. Every Olympics you see new World Records being set. It’s part of the sport. But F1 isn’t like that, F1 has gone backwards.

    No, I don’t think it would fix all the problems in F1, but it might just make people more excited to watch, and it might make drivers more excited to participate when they have a genuine chance of setting records.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      25th February 2016, 8:30

      Agree @mazdachris – When people watch the 100m sprint they won’t appreciate the exact speed either and are mostly interested in who wins that race (be there a headwind or even a small incline).
      But let’s not fool ourselves, the biggest news is a new world record, more than anything else.

      1. @coldfly Exactly. People want to feel like they’re seeing the fastest cars in the world racing. But they’re not. The fastest cars are sat gathering dust in museums.

        1. I think this line of thought is, just, silly really.

          The only way to make it true is have the cars be faster every year, eventually, there’s got to be a limit surely?

          1. In an ideal world you’d have, maybe, one or two track records broken each year, but some years where no track records would be broken but the cars would still be more or less on the same sort of performance level. How you’d ever achieve that through rules, I have no idea. I suppose through stability thanks to diminishing returns – keep the rules the same for a long time period and as long as you start at a performance level that’s just beloe that of 2004, after a year or two the times will drop thanks to development.

            I agree, F1 cars can’t just get faster and faster forever. There are two limiting factors – safety, and the car being controllable by a human being. The cars in 2004 weren’t considered to be hugely unsafe, and safety has come on leaps and bounds since then. The cars are getting safer, and yet at the same time they’ve got slower. Not by tenths but by several seconds. As I say, psychologically that counts for a lot – ask the question, what is good about these F1 cars? They’re slow, they’re ugly, they’re expensive, they’re so complicated most are uncompetitive, drivers don’t enjoy driving them, they sound rubbish. So we have bad races, unhappy drivers, bored spectators, and a perception that the cars are nowhere near as good as they used to be.

            And at the same time, you can’t help but feel it’s such a wasted opportunity. I genuinely feel that we have some of the best drivers who have ever graced the grid at the moment. The quality up and down the field is at a level almost never before seen. F1 should be enjoying a golden age, but instead everyone just harks back to how much better things used to be. How has F1 measurably progressed over the past decade? The cars are part of the problem. Not the only problem, for sure, but a big part that needs to be acknowledged.

  17. Why can’t they try out these new ideas in Formula Gimmick first? Run elimination qualifying in Formula E and see if any more people watch the qualifying for that.
    Then we could avoid 2016 becoming The Year With Elimination Qualifying (add it to the list of shame with Sunday morning, aggregate, single-lap, fuel load, race-tyre and fuel burning qualifying, races with no tyre changes etc)

  18. Fudge Ahmed (@)
    25th February 2016, 10:00

    How on earth is that comment of the day? It’s very plain to see the speed difference even from 2008 to 2015 where I believe Malaysia was one of the more pronounced lap time differences of 5 seconds or so.

    5 seconds quicker would have been lovely, but 3 is still a good step.

  19. I can see sessions fizzling out in an anti-climax under the new qualifying system.

    Take Q3 everyone will do a lap in the first 5 minutes. Then cars that used up all their option tyres getting to Q3 will not run again after using the “free” set (no point as they won’t improve). Those who have a set of options left will do one more run, starting with those with the slowest times who are at the greatest risk of elimination. The resultant domino effect will cause others who fear being jumped to do their 2nd run early as well, especially if the time gaps between cars are small (similar the undercut in a race). Q3 could be done in 10-12 minutes, leaving us watching any empty track as the clock ticks down to the chequered flag with all the grid positions already fixed.

    If the gaps are larger and two teams feel safe from behind, the drivers in 3rd or 4th place will still need to do their 2nd runs earlier than the ideal time to try and get in to the top two, if one of them succeeds in bumping 2nd, the driver in 1st is now guaranteed pole (the new 2nd place diver has no new options left) and so doesn’t need to run again. Even if they go 1st the, previous provisional pole sitter will then have the advantage of the best track conditions to try and take pole back, rather than both drivers going for it at the same time at the end of the session.

    I think all that will happen is that the action will be moved to the earlier part of each section, rather than building to the crescendo that Pat Symonds mentions, and then get progressively less interesting as fewer and fewer cars are still running. Teams and drivers will sometimes make mistakes and be eliminated earlier than they should, but the quickest cars will still be able to set a time fast enough to get out of Q1 and Q2 in one run. It may even help any dominate car as you will need a bigger performance difference to be able to risk trying to get out of Q1on the primes (due to needing to set the time in the first 7 minutes), giving those that can an advantage for the race.

  20. Unless the advent of graphene in racing cars happens or energy-recovery is ditched entirely, Formula 1 cars won’t be getting lighter anytime soon.

    Heavier than IndyCars next year and not far off latter day Group C cars.

  21. Well… Lewis is right…

    595kg of car + driver… was just dandy.

    They should make it 85kg is driver + balast max… and car 510kg max

    Every year they should drop 10kg until they reach 500kg on crat + 85kg driver.

    At some stage Red Bull will say.. “WE dont need KERS kick it out…” and gain 60kg :P in any case weight should drop by default every year a bit. Forcing teams to be ever better.

    I am 100% most 700kg + balast on the floor. For sure!, but some teams might struggle and be overweight. So they just push weight to 722kg so nobody is overweight…

    Where is incentive to make cars lighter?

    1. The problem is that engineers demand from racers to do some really strange stuff to “remove redundant weight”. Driver’s health is the key point. The authority must increase the weight of the car to let drivers gain some normal weight.
      Besides, taller guys are disadvantaged because they are 10+ kg heavier than shorter guys, so they are slower by default.
      Think of Hulk vs Perez, Button vs Alonso, Vettel vs Kimi.
      This is F1, every kilogram seems to be excessive. So, the drivers should look like a bag of bones?

      1. FIA should set a minimum body fat % for drivers @sviat. Totally agree their health is key. After that, I don’t see why F1 should be the only sport not to suit some physiques more than others? There are plenty of sports – most, even – where it’s an advantage to be bigger.

        Then I agree with @jureo, they should weigh the car separately. Car weight was just a safety issue, originally. I think they should allow any weight, but make the crash tests more severe.

  22. I love F1 so much, but it really hurts so bad, reading all this nonsense about rule changes and everything that Lewis said, that I think I might just have to give it up. When I was young I was in awe of the drivers and the cars they drove (early 2000’s). Up to today F1 is basically ruined. Yes the engines and aero are all supremely high tech and green and all. But that is not gonna make a 12 year old boy fall in love. The cars look heavy, can’t be pushed, sound like my grandpa’s Golf and are overall too tame. To add to that you’d pretty much need to take a course in F1 if you are not an avid fan or new to F1, to understand all the rules and regulations.

    The rules need to be simple and clear. Teams have to have freedom to develop and design. And most importantly the cars have to be made spectacular and brutal. This in itself would make the drivers that can tame these beast the stars thay deserve to be.

    People will come to see something that is spectacular, something otherworldly, like the screaming beasts of the 90’s. Very few old and not enough new fans want to see these wimpy cars pay drivers parading around in a circle not daring to put on a move because a) the aren’t able to overtake b) if you do something daring, you will be penalised so hard your stomach will ache.

  23. I am curious, what will happen in Monaco with this new qualifying rules?

  24. No One Better (@)
    25th February 2016, 20:42

    And yet every single one of you will tune in for all 21 races. Bunch of whiners! You guys haven’t even seen the new format in practiced yet you’re all so certain it has ruined qualifying! Just remember, no one is going care what you have to say if you keep screaming fire all the time. If you’re looking for a stable racing series where nothing ever changes, perhaps look into NASCAR or Indycar. F1 for you.

    We all know by now the F1 fan moaning is disingenuous. What they really want is to see Ferrari winning. They don’t really care how its done because once the boys in red are winning, the sport will finally be “fixed” in their eyes.

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