Minimum driver weight rule planned for 2019

2019 F1 season

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The F1 Commission has agreed a plan to adopt a new minimum weight limit for Formula One drivers from enxt year, F1 Fanatic understands.

The topic was among several points discussed by the Formula One Strategy Group in London yesterday. The plan lacked the unanimous support necessary to change the rules in time for the start of the 2018 F1 season.

Paul di Resta, Force India, Young Drivers' Test, Silverstone, 2013
Why F1 cars keep getting heavier
However unanimous agreement is not required to change the rules for the 2019 F1 season. The proposal was therefore put to the F1 Commission which agreed to adopt it for next year.

The minimum limit will be set at 80 kilogrammes. Drivers who weigh less than that will be required to carry ballast taking them up to that level.

The new rule will allow driver weights and car weights to be handled separately by the regulations. This has been deemed necessary because a series of rules changes has increased the minimum weight of F1 cars, meaning taller drivers are increasingly at a disadvantage. The addition of Halo to the 2018 F1 cars has significantly increased the weight of the safety structures around the cockpit.

Driver weight was not included within the minimum car weight until 1995, when the minimum car weight was increased by 80kg to 595kg including the driver.

The Strategy Group also discussed further changes to the size and position of driver identifications and numbers as well as revisions to the race weekend programme but no changes for the 2018 season were agreed.

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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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  • 54 comments on “Minimum driver weight rule planned for 2019”

    1. Is the driver ballast’s placement constrained when compared to the car ballast? e.g. the driver ballast must be beneath the seat.

      1. In all logic, it should be ballast the driver can take in and out the car since the weighting of the car can still be done at any time during the race weekend (except the race itself) if I am not mistaken.

        Thus the car should be weighted without ballast and the driver with ballast to fulfill the new rule.

        While this doesn’t specify where it can be put, it limits the options. And anyway this is a move for the better…

        1. @jeanrien I’m not so sure it’s for the better. It’s removing yet another ‘human’ element from the equation. Forcing all drivers to be the same weight (with ballast) removes this as a potential advantage. Something a driver may pursue to gain an advantage. It’s not like the drivers could go all anorexic in a quest for minimum weight either, as they still need physical strength and stamina to maintain their performance.

          1. Yeah, I really admire F1 drivers for their weight loss.

          2. That’s ridiculous. People come in all different sizes even if that group is at the peak of physical performance. How is that not obvious?

          3. Should small drivers really be at an advantage over drivers like Hulkenberg?

            1. Steve Mitchell
              19th January 2018, 18:01

              Do short high jumpers get a box to jump from cos they are at a height disadvantage?
              Do swimming get flippers if they have smaller feet (ie Ian Thorpe’s size 17 feet!!)
              Do the lighter cyclists have to carry ballast up the mountains in the TDF?
              Do the weaker World’s Strongest Men get a pair of scissors to tear the Yellow Pages (ask your dad!)

              Every single other sport you are either at an advantage or disadvantage due to your DNA. Why should F1 be any different?

            2. Every single other sport you are either at an advantage or disadvantage due to your DNA. Why should F1 be any different?

              Because it can be Steve. All those other sports you mentioned are as much measurements of physical stature as they are on skill. Motorsport is a test of mental capacity and fine motor function, so you have the opportunity to focus purely on skill and take the driver’s physical build out of the equation, within reason. See for example Alex Zanardi, in any other sport he would have to compete as a disabled person (and he did), but in WTCC and Blancpain he was able to compete against anyone, all it needed was some flexibility from the governing bodies.

          4. I’m afraid I disagree. The only ‘human element’ that should be pursued is how skilfully one can drive a motorcar, and today’s beasts are such that a base level of physical fitness is required to do that anyway.

            The ‘potential advantage’ of which you speak is only really available to drivers who are physically small enough to pursue it.

            There’s also a difference between ‘going anorexic’ and being underweight. Many times in the past 20 years I’ve thought certain drivers looked unhealthy due to their weight. David Coulthard and Mark Webber being two that spring to mind. It was also widely reported in march last year that because the VJM10 was overweight, Perez and Ocon were ordered to shed mass despite both already being at the bottom of the healthy weight range for men of their respective height and build. In my book that’s the literal opposite of healthy competition (if you’ll pardon the pun).

          5. It’s not like the drivers could go all anorexic in a quest for minimum weight either,

            did you see Mark Webber before he left F1? Who was the driver that passed out for lack of food a couple years ago trying to get his weight down?

        2. @jeanrien – Good point around the need to weigh the car in isolation 🖒

      2. Exact rules to be framed, but I would imagine so placement parameters will be incorporated

        1. Thank you, Dieter.

          1. So if I understand correctly, Esteban Ocon gets about 70kg of ballast with him in the car??

            1. @ NeverSummer
              I understand that Ocon already weighs over 70 kilos, making him one of the heaviest drivers on the grid.
              In other words: I have no idea what you’re trying to say.

    2. ”revisions to the race weekend programme but no changes for the 2018 season were agreed.”
      – Good to know that. The current race weekend format is fine, so no need to alter it. ”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    3. 5kg and I’m ready to go

    4. i’m still too fat for the sport :-(

      1. @zad2 – you (and I) aren’t fat – we just come pre-equipped with car ballast.

        1. And you could fill the cockpit with helium to get back to the prescribed weight. Tsallab it’s called I believe.

    5. Providing all the detail work about where the ballast has to be positioned is done correctly, this looks like a sensible rules change and one F1 could have done with sooner (particularly in 2014).

      1. I agree, for sure. Paul Diresta might still be in the sport if this were implemented when he was driving. And maybe the whole Button vs. Hamilton thing would have been a bit different.

        1. The h@te towards Hamilton in this blog is deep

          1. @liko41 How can you say that when it’s clear that Hamilton’s removable ballast will be his wallet? ;)

            There’s no h@te here pal. Move along now..

            1. Feel free to be the first to move on. H@ters gonna h@te, after all.

          2. @liko41
            One thing that will never cease to amaze me is the willingness of Hamilton fanatics to feel offended in his stead.

            1. nase,

              Before I even read your comment, I though that the one above was just an over reaction to something that isn’t even saying anything negative towards Hamilton at all.

            2. You british people would really deserve to only have drivers like Chilton to represent you in racing for the next century.

      2. sensible and F1 together in a sentence without a negative connection between the two words, I don’t remember the last time that happened

      3. As an amateur kart racer weighing 65kgs I often wish karts could be adjusted with ballast to nullify the weight differences. I’m not happy when winning against a friend that has 20kgs more. So, sensible decision indeed! Looking forward to this, could be a game changer for some drivers!

        1. Actually you can ask for it at some places. We did it with some friends but they could only compensate up to 20kg. We had a bit more range than that but was a lot of fun and it did change the outcome…

    6. It’ll be interesting to see how low they’re allowed to place the ballast. It’ll also be interesting how they’re allowed to distribute the ballast front to back (I assume they’ll still have to keep the stationary balance of the car and driver within the ranges already set). The heavier drivers could end up getting an advantage with the restrictions on the height of the balast or the moment if the balast has to be further away from the centre of the car than the driver.

      1. That’s a good point. If they have the ballast be in the chest, for example, it could benefit heavy-butt drivers, as it were. But I think if the ballast is but around the abdomen, it shouldn’t be much of an issue.

        1. Heavy-butt drivers?
          Is F1 on its way to conquer new target audiences?
          (Inevitable youtube link)

    7. Lennard Mascini (@)
      19th January 2018, 11:50

      Great. A sensible decision for once. Looking at driver weight is very interesting, putting some qualifying performances in perspective. Looking at each driver’s average weight comparison to their teammate and their average qualifying difference in time, and then correcting for the weight comparison, there are only two teammates who change whether they were on average faster or slower than their teammate: Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon. Compensating for Perez being just over 4 kgs lighter than Ocon, Ocon is actually on average 0.049 s faster than Perez in quali, instead 0.073 s the other way. Nevertheless, this is still a very close partnership. Other interesting things to note are that Hamilton/Bottas, correcting for weight, the difference decreases from 0.285 s to 0.094 s, while Verstappen/Ricciardo decreases from 0.313 s to 0.231 s (both in Verstappen’s favour). The difference between the Ferrari (by 0.041 s) and McLaren (0.095 s) teammates increases, while the comparison also shows that Ericsson was flattered by the comparison to his teammates his delta being corrected from 0.032 s to 0.120 s. Full table for 2018 drivers in link (I couldn’t find weights for Hartley and Leclerc, while Gasly is not corrected due to him racing only twice against a teammate with a known wait, while Sirotkin obviously can’t be compared to anyone.

      1. I’m not sure you can make these sort of distinctions for the top 3 teams. Whilst some of them don’t have a lot of ballast to play with I can’t imagine any of them not being able to meet the minimum weight. The cars centre of gravity will differ from one to the next but that’s about it.

    8. I also feel this is a sensible change and one that is probably long over due. What I would also like to see is them moving the weighing of the drivers to before the race, as I believe it’s one of the reasons they don’t allow drivers to immediately go celebrate with their teams or get out of the car on the warm down lap. If liberty are keen to improve fan interaction I can’t think of a simpler start than allowing the type of scenes we see after a Moto GP race where the riders can stop out on track and go celebrate with the fans in the stands.

      1. @yossarian – I presume the reason they do it at the end is because they want to ensure that the minimum weight of car+driver is met. Due to sweating, drivers lose weight during intensive races. So if they were weighed before, with them pre-loaded with water, they could end up increasing the measured weight.

        1. I think you’re probably right @phylyp, but my counter-argument would be “so what?”. As long as all drivers are weighed at the same time it would be fair and all teams would have equal opportunity to game the system. With the existing method we see drivers go off-line and pick up rubber which apparently adds several kilos, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a car was under the weight limit when it crossed the line but still passes the check. Is this really any different from a driver pre-loading with water?

    9. Lennard Mascini (@)
      19th January 2018, 12:35

      The only two reasonable places they could easily place the ballast, as they would have to easily be able to remove it from the car, as mentioned by @jeanrien, would be headrest or seat, with headrest probably not possible due to safety (you have to be able to get it off as easily as possible), so that leaves just the seat. I wonder if teams will, instead of simply making them heavier, will try different seat materials to make the seats more comfortable, as comfort might improve driver performance…

      1. I’ve seen Alonso testing one of those heavier and more comfortable seats.

    10. This is another point, that shows teams cannot agree on anything. We all know this is good, yet it will come in 2019 because teams block it at expense of their drivers health.

      1. @jureo
        This is nonsense. The earliest date for the introduction of this change is 2019 simply because the development of the 2018 cars has reached its final stage. Crash-testing will begin soon, and changing a fundamental aspect of the weight distribution of a chassis takes a lot more effort than just flicking your fingers. The teams were already unhappy with the introduction of the Halo (and that was in July), and that’s by no means comparable to the change in question here.
        Additionally, the details of that rule change haven’t been worked out yet. Without careful planning, even a rule that was introduced with good intentions could result in the opposite of what it was intended to achieved.
        So, no: This doesn’t show that the teams are to blame for everything and anything. In fact, what it actually proves, is that some fans will always complain, no matter what, because they simply do not understand the complexity of F1.

    11. How about having a maximum height limit in Basketball to give short racing drivers a fair chance

      1. Best comparison why we shouldn’t t try to compensate/equalise everything.

      2. I’m not sure it’s height that’s holding back short racing drivers from making a name for themselves in Basketball…

    12. a series of rules changes has increased the minimum weight of F1 cars, meaning taller drivers are increasingly at a disadvantage.

      Umm, why? In fact, heavier the minimum weight, higher is the amount of ballast required to reach the minimum weight, and hence, in percentage terms, the lesser ballast penalty of a heavier driver becomes lesser.

      1. It means that drivers can have a healthy diet and allows for taller (and therefore heavier) drivers to compete as their addition healthy weight wouldn’t disadvantage the team.

    13. The last time I was so happy and in total agreement about a rule change was when they shifted to fatter tyres.

      Great news.

      1. @neilosjames, Fatter tyres, hurrah !……and then they screwed it all with bigger wings, enjoy your happiness while you can.

    14. I believe the idea of minimum driver’s weight came to the minds of these dimwits after watching ‘Nutty Professor’ movie.

    15. If the driver weight should be the same why not have the same bhp…

    Comments are closed.