FIA, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Strategy Group to discuss separating car and driver weights

2018 F1 season

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The Formula One Strategy Group will discuss plans to remove driver weight from the minimum weight limit for cars in a meeting tomorrow morning at FOM’s offices in London.

The minimum weight limit has been increased to 733kg for the 2018 F1 season. However the increased weight of impact structures needed to accommodate Halo this year means some teams, particularly those with taller drivers, are struggling to reach the new minimum.

Paul di Resta, Force India, Young Drivers' Test, Silverstone, 2013
Why F1 cars keep getting heavier
Driver weights have been included as part of the minimum weight limit for F1 cars since 1995, when the rules were revised to increase the minimum weight limit from 515kg excluding the driver to 595kg including the driver.

The approval of 10 of the 18 Strategy Group members is required in order for the rules to be changed in time for this season. The proposal would then need the unanimous approval of the F1 Commission, unless it is considered a matter of driver Safety. The F1 Commission will meet tomorrow afternoon.

Other points up for discussion at the Strategy Group meeting include the positioning of the drivers’ names and numbers on their cars. These were enlarged last year ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Further discussion of the post-2020 power unit regulations will also take place as well as plans to simplify aerodynamic components and the potential creation of a working group focused on aerodynamics.

The Strategy Group will also discuss restrictions on FIA and FOM staff moving to teams. This will include the possibility of specifying a fixed period of gardening leave, following complaints from teams last year over Renault’s hiring of former FIA employee Marcin Budkowski.

F1 Fanatic understands a possible further discussion point may include how the race weekend schedule can be made more flexible in order to accommodate promotional activities and support races.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 38 comments on “Strategy Group to discuss separating car and driver weights”

    1. I really hope they do it. It is only fair because people can not choose their height and trying to get rid of too much weight is just unhealthy. You can never get the effect of driver dimensions perfect so that everyone are perfectly equal but the weight is easy thing to balance.

      1. Wouldn’t this have the opposite effect though?

        Separating driver weight would actually hand an advantage over to whichever driver is the most light weight, putting increased focus onto being as lightweight as possible.

        1. @saint-jay True. Taking the driver out of the minimum weight won’t be enough; unless some sort of equalising ballast is used, then expressing it as “blob” + driver instead of “blob+splat” including driver will still force drivers to be as light as possible.

          1. @alianora-la-canta, it doesn’t seem to be a particularly big problem in sportscar racing though, even though the minimum weight has always explicitly excluded the weight of the driver: I am not aware of any demands in the WEC for equalising ballast or the sort of extreme measures that others have talked about.

        2. It would have a negative effect. If driver plus car was 580kg no weight advantage only by ballast placement for smaller driver. If they are separated and and car set to 500kg, 60 and 80 kg drivers will have a 20kg difference in package weight. An overall weight disadvantage will be worse than the current ballast advantage for lighter drivers. A minimum driver weight could be introduced but would be the same as now as lighter driver will have to add ballast. Only change they need to make is a specified area for ballast that gives minimal to no advantage.

          1. As someone else suggested, driver plus seat = same weight. The seat does not change position and adds weight where a driver has more weight.

            1. I thought this was obvious. Without saying where the extra ballast has to be this would not change anything at all. Minimum driver weight = weight of the driver+weight ballast in the seat.

            2. I really don’t see how the strategy group has yet to come to this conclusion.

        3. Then Danica Patrick will move to F1 and dominate!

      2. Yeah, except this will have opposite effect. This will penalize heavy and tall drivers even more.

      3. @socksolid The BBC pre-race-show to the ’90 Monaco GP has an interview with Gordon Murray, where he estimated Gerhard Bergers height-disadvantage against Senna at about 3-4 tenths. This was before driver-weight was included in the minimum weight. However, even after driver-weight was included, small and light drivers still had an advantage, as any weight that was not the driver himself could be distributed within the car in order to achieve a favourable balance and a low center of weight.
        Now, we have teams struggling to stay within minimum weight, so the situation is sort of a mix of both ways it previously was.
        The solution I can think about would be two separate minimum weights, one for the car, and another one for the driver, where the ballast added to meet the minimum driver-weight would have to be added at a pre-defined height/place within the car.
        For anyone who physically grows tall, the majority of the “damage” is done years before any professional motorsports, though. You need to go through karting first, and when your body decides to grow 30cms within one year and be 190cms tall at the age of 14, there’s nothing that can be done on a kart to make up for it.

        1. @crammond Exactly, when you do this, do it right. Lower the minimum weight of the car with, say, 80 kilos and make the minimum weight for the driver plus seat 80 kilos. Anyone below that weight should add weight to the seat.

        2. “You need to go through karting first, and when your body decides to grow 30cms within one year and be 190cms tall at the age of 14, there’s nothing that can be done on a kart to make up for it.”

          Thanks! This is great excuse for me not becoming a top class driver.

    2. Very simple, minimum driver weight + minimum car weight.

      They should set it around 80kg helmet included. Maybe even 85kg. I am tired of watching fashion models race… I wanna see sportsmen.

      1. “Maybe even 85kg […] I wanna see sportsmen.”

        I watch F1 to see a race, not to see big manly men, but to each his own ;-)

      2. ‘very simple’ is not having a minimum weight requirement at all.

        As per Meagain’s Law: for every new rule to solve an inequality issue you create two new issues.

      3. I’ve been saying they should do this for years. 80kg would be perfect, any difference should be made up with weight built proportionally across the seat, and not in a fixed low position that would give an advantage.

        The minimum car weight is currently too high. You sometimes hear of teams having to add weight to the cars because they design them to such a low weight. Without the issue of driver weight becoming dangerously low, they should lower the minimum car weight significantly, so that teams are pushing their development. Just as long as they don’t compromise the safety of the cars

      4. @jureo, no offence, but this sort of uber machismo comes off as a slightly desperate desire from somebody wanting to vicariously live out their fantasies through a distorted vision of reality.

        I mean, there have been complaints by heavier racing drivers that their lighter compatriots have had an advantage since the 1890’s, although even then the earliest example of a minimum weight limit (the 1900 Gordon Bennet Cup) evidently thought that a “fashion model” was perfectly adequate given they set the minimum driver weight at 70kg (and I doubt that you could say that driving those early racing cars wasn’t strenuous).

        There have been a great number of great drivers, such as Moss, Stewart, Prost and Senna, who were pretty light and small (Prost, for example, was lighter than pretty much any driver on the grid right now) – were they “fashion models” because they weren’t the sort of big burly blokes that you want to see on the grid?

    3. “A few of the teams have taller drivers and are struggling to engineer their packages down to the minimum weight, so what we’ll do is take the driver out of the minimum weight. That way when the teams do manage to engineer their car down to the minimum weight, their taller-drivered car will have an absolute unavoidable permanent weight disadvantage compared to the other teams.”

      A driver’s skill at getting the car around the track should not be negated by someone else being several kilos lighter. For this reason it is fundamentally sporting to have the driver included in the minimum weight. Racing a package of 745kg against a package of 735kg gives the competitor a disadvantage which isn’t necessary in motorsport. There’s already an advantage in having a smaller driver because then you have more ballast and packaging options. They should just increase the minimum weight if they feel they need to do something.

    4. I don’t know what the ideal solution is but I still think the cars need to go back down to 650kg minimum weight, they are approaching 2000 lbs right now.

      An interesting point to add is women weigh less than men, according to the internet Danica Patrick weighs 45kg, Simona de Silvestro is 63kg, Pippa Mann is 58kg, etc.

    5. How about forcing the teams to use ballast ?

      For example driver + ballast must weight a total of 90 kgs,

      So a 70Kg driver must use a 20kg ballast and so on, or does this give an unfair advantage ???

      1. I was going to write the exact same thing. Use ballast (preferably as part of the seat, not stuck elsewhere in the car), otherwise this makes no sense at all. Heavier and taller drivers will be penalised as always.

        1. +1
          Yes, this is the perfect solution. Driver + ballast weigth is X kg. It would be absolutely fair.
          OR driver + seat is X kg. It is important where the ballast is.

          1. I’d like to see the issue of some of the drivers going out on track during a race, especially the ones where the ambient and track temperature is high, without the drink bottle. That should be something that is mandated. If they want to not run with a drink bottle to save what little weight they can, then they should eat it on the ballast weight.

            They can use the fact that the drink bottle will get emptied during the race to quantify what little time they may gain at the end of the race despite the driver is still “holding” onto that fluid.

        2. Ah yes ballast on the seat, that just sounds perfect, not only reduces unfairness but only will be easier to monitor for the FIA.

      2. Mattias Hammer
        17th January 2018, 21:53

        I Think DTM is using a minimum weight for the driver and seat. In the biggest Swedish f1 podcast they said that Marcus Ericsson are lobbying for a similar solution in F1. The Sauber and him have had long time problem being overweight, more than his smaller teammates.

      3. Yeah, nigel mansell and myself are arguing for this for years but i presume this bunch of dingdongs won´t come up with the decent and reasonable sollution. Altough decent and reasonable isn´t the argument thats going to work. Safety hazzard because of saving muscle mass is the only thing they´ll gonna pretend listening to.

      4. Lewisham Milton
        18th January 2018, 9:35

        They could make the drivers’ names and numbers out of ballast, so it’s positioned in the same place on each car.

        (Why is the Strategy Group discussing numbers again, when they fixed it last year?!)

    6. In my opinion rules should be:
      Principles F1 should follow: 1. safety 2. close racing 3. world’s fastest cars 4. efficiency 5. optimizing 1-4 points.The most fans want to see close racing among the best drivers in the fastest cars. How can we solve it? This is, decision makers and engineers should work for. I think it isn’t impossible.
      Some possibilities we have to consider:
      1. Less differences between cars in lap times.
      Some teams are better in PU and others in aero but we need less differences in lap times. I think we should introduce +weight/point system in short term (for example +20dkg/point or ~+0,5 pound/point, less or more) because it is a simple, cheap, fast, effective solution to decrease dominance and differences and we don’t need unification or freeze development. Smaller teams get the same PU (hardware, software, etc) as manufacturers. Decrease money/revenue allocation differences and decrease costs. I think it would be ideal if cars are close to each other in lap times but some cars are faster in straight and others are faster in corners. The slower teams get more test days.
      2. Less dirty air in corners but fast cars: more mechanical grip, less or same aero downforce, the sport needs make it easier for cars to follow each other closely during races
      A, simpler front wing B, (more effective diffuser) C, better tyres D, more powerful and effective PUs (natural development) without token system E, slight changes in technical regulation year by year (differences will naturally decrease) and more freedom in development until regulations allow F, DRS? (open DRS time/race and drivers manage it) G, refuelling? (Cars can be faster and drivers could push harder during races but there would be less safety and more ’overtaking during the pit stops’) H, narrow cars I, less weight
      3. Increasing the role of drivers: A, drivers make decisions on strategy B, less radio instructions from engineers to drivers during races (maybe only safety reasons) C, minimum weight for drivers (for example 90kg with ballast less or more) but no limit for cars D, push on the limit as long as possible, and save (fuel, tyres, PU etc.) as short as possible -> faster lap times during races E, It should be more challenging to drive physically and mentally F, drivers manage ERS instead of a program (like they used KERS earlier) G, so more challenge physically (drivers own strategy) and mentally (more G force until it is safety) as well for drivers.
      And what else…?
      Let’s see the advantages and disadvantages of +weight/point system in short term. (+20dkg/point, less or more. It means if a driver has 10 points he has to carry +2kg as a minimum weight for the car.)
      Advantages: 1. Less differences between cars in lap time and close racing. 2. Fast, cheap, simple, effective solution. 3. We don’t need unification or freeze development 4. Finally the best team wins.
      Disadvantages: 1. Unfair? I don’t think (or partly) because finally win the best and if you have the best team and car you have to work harder to remain the best.
      Optimizing them!

      + If F1 need more head protection it would be a good option.
      A closed cockpit has to be: (like a jet fighter)
      1. “self-cleaning” from rain, dirt, vapor etc in order to visibility (or use windshield wiper)
      2. as strong as possible (at least bulletproof)
      3. easily removable from inside and outside in case of accidents or pit stops: brake, dent
      4. light
      like this: http://imgur.com/a/DF5Ra
      or this Red Bull X prototype: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Bull_X2010

      I think Ross Brawn is a good person to change rules to the right direction.

      1. Rules of all motorsport:

        1 Be the fastest
        2 be the fastest
        3 be the fastest
        …..
        ……

        Any other consideration find a loophole to remain the fastest where possible

    7. Easy, Driver + driver’s seat must weigh “x” amount – added ballast must be above the driver’s shoulders and fastened to the chassis, not the survivor’s cell.

    8. Driver and seat weight – minimum 84kg, with ballast located within 100mm horizontal of centre of mass.

      But they will stuff it up i’m sure.

      Back in the 90’s MS had a lead lined helmet when they weighed in to take ballast measurements, before my time but I read about it somewhere……

    9. It’ll work providing there is a set car weight and a set combined driver and seat weight that is more than the heaviest driver. I think that’s about as fair as you can make it.

      You can’t totally get away from the idea that being small is beneficial for drivers just as being tall is beneficial for basketball players. It’s not fair but that’s life.

    10. Like the idea of a minimum “driver + seat” weight as mentioned in the comments. Too sad that FIA isn’t considering that though.

    11. Lighter drivers have to use heavier Halos so its fair

      1. Lighter drivers have to become fat for road relevance and in the interests of fairness. Being fat is a disability and should not be discriminated against. Fat is safer as well as the extra squashy nature of the fat body acts like an airbag in a crash.

    12. ”F1 Fanatic understands a possible further discussion point may include how the race weekend schedule can be made more flexible in order to accommodate promotional activities and support races.”
      – The race weekend schedule as of now is fine. There’s already enough room for promotional activities and support races. ”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

      ”The minimum weight limit has been increased to 733kg for the 2018 F1 season.”
      – It’s 734 kg to be precise. Initially 733, yes, but for some reason, it got one kg added to it.

    13. joe pineapples
      18th January 2018, 19:29

      Sounds like the door has opened for Montoya to make a comeback.

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