Lance Stroll, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

New 2019 rules will “almost eliminate” tall drivers’ disadvantage – Lowe

2019 F1 season

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New Formula 1 rules specifying a minimum driver weight limit from next season will make the competition fairer, says Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe.

From the 2019 F1 season, the combined weight of a driver plus ballast must equal 80kg, and will be considered separate from a car’s overall weight.

At present taller drivers, who tend to weigh more, are potentially at a disadvantage compared to smaller, lighter drivers.

Lowe pointed out that until the early nineties driver weights were not covered by the rules, which put taller drivers at an even greater disadvantage.

“If we go way back, the driver wasn’t even in the weight of the car prior to the mid-nineties,” he said. “Bringing the driver in was a good help to the bigger driver.”

The new rule takes that change a step further, said Lowe. “We’ve now gone the final stage with the driver weight limit where the detriment of a heavy driver is almost eliminated. And I think that’s good.

“This is a sport where you’re combining competition equipment, the car, and the driver, the sports man, and to me it’s right and fair that weight shouldn’t be a factor, at least within some limit.”

The aerodynamic changes to the cars which have been agreed for 2019 will have little effect on overall car weight and weight distribution, Lowe added.

“Weight distribution isn’t a particular concern, you can trim that and adjust that as long as we know where were heading.

“We have some changes, for instance the front wing’s a bit bigger, the rear wing is bigger, we’ve got a bit of loss on the bargeboard area. Various things, we take all of those into account.

“Your biggest [weight distribution] controls are where we put the axles. The front and rear axles are where you can land your weight distribution where you need to be in and there’s a one percent window for that.”

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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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35 comments on “New 2019 rules will “almost eliminate” tall drivers’ disadvantage – Lowe”

  1. Why has this taken a decade to implement?

    It’s been a common sense suggestion since I started following F1…

    1. @Calum It’s only common sense if your mind works in mysterious ways.

    2. Indeed. I hope they’ll implement that also in feeder series, like they did with other things like the halo. Otherwise new talents will still be the shortest/lightest ones.

  2. Being tall is good for playing basketball and volleyball… a 5’5 will always be at a major disadvantage, no matter how good he is. In horse racing it’s the same but in reverse: the jockey needs to be short preferably. Why is this a problem in F1 exactly?

      1. 5’5″≈165cm @panzik

    1. taller= heavier + higher center of gravity

    2. @jeffreyj

      Its a problem because getting the best drivers into the sport and not just the best small drivers means more talent on the grid and better racing.

    3. @ Jeffery. It’s only a problem for the taller narrow minded shallow thinkers of the world. Hey, let’s increase minimum weight of jockeys to 100 kg’s so that the heavy weight boxers can also compete, screw the horse.
      How about we increase the minimum height of dwarfs so that the tall people don’t feel left out.
      Some sports benefit tall people and some short people. Lets even it all out with silly rules and mess up all the sports. Sometimes there is no logic in the way that the FIA don’t think.

      1. Sometimes there is no logic in the way that the FIA don’t think.

        Quite ironic, going by what you just said.

    4. Are you really trying to compare a man riding a horse to a man driving a car?

    5. @jeffreyj this conversation has already been exhausted, but I’ll just explain again. In F1 it is so competitive that Sutil once starved himself, Rosberg quit cycling to lose leg muscle by an amount that got him on pole the next race, drivers have gone entire races without a drinks bottle and nearly passed out, those are just a few well-known examples.

      I’m sure most would agree that some of these are pretty stupid things to do, but such is the competitiveness of F1 that drivers are doing it regardless and it would be negligent of the FIA to continue to ignore the matter

  3. Teams with the taller drivers will still have a small disadvantage since there will be less weight from ballasts.
    In conjunction the teams with smaller and less weight drivers will be able to put more Ballasts in lower places and this gains something for sure.

    1. @bluechris – I could have sworn I read somewhere that the driver ballast (to bring the driver’s weight up to 80kg had to be placed on/in the seat (thereby restricting their ability to tune the car’s balance by this), and teams only had free reign on where they placed the car ballast.

    2. @bluechris – here you go:

      If a driver weighs less than that, a team will need to use ballast to bring them up to the minimum weight.
      This ballast will be placed adjacent to the driver’s seat, therefore reducing the advantage a smaller, lighter driver has previously had over his heavier rivals.

      1. thx man, this is good that they thought it.

  4. Hulkenberg :)))
    His disadvantage for his height and weight has been diminishing each year since 2016, when he was a larger disadvantage, so he’s gonna be even stronger next year, yay!

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      16th June 2018, 13:54

      @hugh11 yeah, it’s hard to believe that Hulkenberg is at a disadvantage because he’s so fast.

      I’ve always believed that Nico is one of the fastest drivers on the grid but I’m beginning to suspect that he’s the fastest driver of the last decade.

      Anything that can help even the field for him would be great.

      1. @freelittlebirds
        Yeh Hulk starts to look impressove if you consider his weight handicap.

      2. @freelittlebirds, then, given that there are some sources that say that Bottas weighs just as much as Hulkenberg does, are we to conclude that Bottas is one of the faster drivers on the grid when compared to, say, Vettel (who is 8kg and 5cm shorter than Bottas is)?

        Furthermore, does that mean that we should now be saying that Sirotkin’s performances are underrated because he has an even bigger handicap than Hulkenberg does (he is just as tall and weighs slightly more than Hulkenberg)? Should we ease up on criticising Stroll given he weighs as much as Hulkenberg and is only fractionally shorter (2cm shorter, which makes him the next tallest driver on the grid after Hulkenberg and Sirotkin)?

        1. Yeah, that’s more or less the right conclusion. However, I would double check those data sources, because I’ve read that Vettel is actually taller than Bottas.

          1. @alonshow We can also conclude once and for all that Felipe Massa is worthless

          2. No way that @alonshow‘s list is correct. Ric is taller than Ver for instance.

          3. @rethla: Nope. But you are missing a part of the picture if you ignore the advantage he used to have thanks to his size.

            @krxx: I don’t know, Ricciardo seems to be taller, but it might be a visual effect created by their hairstyles. No idea if the list is correct, but a bit of googling keeps showing those data: Ric 1.78, Max 1.80. Go figure.

          4. @rethla

            And if you remove that advantage what do you have left? The only current drivers i would rank below him are ironicly the ones who replaced him.

            Hes always grumpy and has worse wheel to wheel racing than Rosberg.

          5. @rethla: First off, you mentioned yourself, not me! XDDD

            I thought your commentary was sarcastic. Since it’s not, I mostly agree with you, yeah. Massa never impressed me, and if you factor in the advantage he had thanks to his size, he might as well have been at the bottom of the pack in terms of talent.

          6. @alonshow
            Well with all due respect, every time I see them standing next to each other, totally upright, for example on the podium or in a double interview, I see Ric being taller, ignoring their hair if necessary. I too saw the 1.78 and 1.8 figures passing by, but also others. Same goes for weights. But I don’t trust any of those figures as they are all just copied or made up, and the weight figures are even subject to change by nature.
            But all in all, there’s no much difference between the two. The list though is certainly not correct. For instance, Ros certainly isn’t as tall as Ric (or Ric must be wearing some kind of heels). The difference between Ros and Ham is about the same as Ric and Max, ie about 2 cm or less.

    2. Too late for Webber.

      1. Webber and Coulthard looked ill when Newy was their designer.

  5. I think the biggest issue is drivers forced on stringent diets, loosing even muscle mass to stay underweight essentially. Ski jumpers faced very similar issue they then mandated minimum BMI, but still for F1 we want fastest most skilled drivers, not fastest most skinny drivers…

    1. +1
      Just this.

  6. Somewhat related… Sponsored by Burger King.. :)

  7. There has not (yet) been any comment on …. PL’s statement.

    “Your biggest [weight distribution] controls are where we put the axles. The front and rear axles are where you can land your weight distribution where you need to be in and there’s a one percent window for that.”

    Could this be some of the issue that Williams is dealing with currently.??
    Resolving it would take months as it would require a new tub and all the aero bits forwards of the rear axle.

  8. Nico the Hulk should be pleased. He may even get a chance to drive one of the competitive cars.

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