Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

New crash tests mean further weight rise for F1 cars in 2021

2020 F1 season

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Tougher crash tests are being planned for the 2021 F1 season, which will contribute to a further rise in the minimum weight of cars.

The current minimum weight level of 745 kilograms is already due to increase to 768kg next year. RaceFans understands a further increase of around 7kg is being discussed.

Since the draft 2021 technical regulations were published last year, teams have discussed a range of potential further changes with the FIA. RaceFans understands stronger crash tests at the front, side, rear and underneath of the cars are among the changes being considered.

“The crash tests are under review,” AlphaTauri technical director confirmed to RaceFans. “There’s changes in there regarding that, there’s been a lot of dialogue on that as well.

“Some of the proposals put forward have been more challenging to achieve than others. The content of the latest regulations sits within the two extremes. For the work we’ve done quietly in the background, we’re comfortable we can achieve what we want.”

Changes to the crash tests are understood to have been prompted partly by the rising weight of the cars and consequent increase in energy dissipated in a crash. Input from the FIA’s Serious Accident Study Group which investigates major crashes, such as Anthoine Hubert’s fatal crash at Spa last year, has also been considered.

The increased use of standard specification parts in the 2021 regulations will also contribute to the further rise in minimum weight levels, Egginton explained.

“There’s been a lot of dialogue on where the mass increase will go,” he said. “You’ve got standard supply parts, which could be heavier in some instances. You’ve got more demanding crash regulations, which adds extra mass.”

“At the end of the day, car mass is going to go up and there’s going to be a tighter set of safety requirements,” he added. “The current proposals [are] a challenge, but the rationale is clear why we want to do it, but it will result in a heavier car.”

[smr2020test]The exact dimensions of the wings on next year’s car are also being reconsidered for reasons of costs, performance and sponsor visibility, said Egginton.

“For a while now there’s been a dialogue in TWG [the Technical Working Group] regarding front wing, rear wing. Do the rear wing boxes give you enough adjustment range? There’s been a dialogue there.

“Do we have the right range of rear wing, do we have the right aero balance range? There’s differing of views. Some people might think we’re over balanced, some people under balanced, and you bring into the equation what the tyre wants and, and, and. There’s been a dialogue there.

“Then obviously [in] the Strategy Group meeting there’s been a discussion on the marketing aspect. How much available space is there? And then there’s been a discussion on the rear wing itself, it’s got a lot of roll on the end plate. That’s quite an expensive part. A team went away and looked at the cost of that compared to a conventional end plate. There’s been two or three different strands going on.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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17 comments on “New crash tests mean further weight rise for F1 cars in 2021”

  1. For crying out loud. Everyone’s been asking for lighter, more agile cars, even the drivers themselves have said so. And yet the weight keeps going up and up… This time is because of a noble reason, but can’t the higher safety standards be achieved without adding that much more mass to the cars? They’re approaching prototype-car levels of weight.

    1. I agree and theres surely an increased risk with increased mass? If safety is paramount ditch the batteries and lets stop building these land yachts. I can see one day an F1 SUV at this rate.

  2. Yup they’re getting too big and too heavy, which means they need more power and more aero to maintain speeds… which in turn requires bigger, wider tracks to race properly on.

    I would love them to go back to 90’s levels of size, weight and aero but it simply isn’t going to happen with the need to reduce cost, improve safety and have battery-reliant power units.

  3. Reputable sources state that, to counter the additional weight, technical directives will institute a change to provide for additional power to counter the additional weight. This will involve a”PBP”, ie, a “power boost pole” that extends upwards from behind the drivers head to a height of 10 feet, where it will contact the roof to bring additional power to the batteries of the cars. Also, due to the additional weight making the cars “swing wide” on turns, “BCRB”, or “Bumper Car Ring Bumpers” will be installed at key points around each track.

  4. So who’s designing these heavier standard parts?

    Is there any reason why the teams themselves can’t get together, pool some engineers, and design some of these parts?

    I would think such an idea would benefit *all* the teams, and be almost a no-brainer, but I haven’t heard any discussions about this concept.

  5. ”The current minimum weight level of 745 kilograms is already due to increase to 768kg next year. RaceFans understands a further increase of around 7kg is being discussed.”
    – 740 kg (743, according to some) is the current minimum overall car+driver weight-figure, as well as, was the one for last season.
    For reference here’s how it’s been throughout the hybrid era thus far:
    2014: 691 kg
    2015 and ’16: 701
    2017: 728 (was originally supposed to be 722)
    2018: 734
    2019: 740 (was the original-plan at least)
    2020: The same as last season.

    More importantly, though. I again, don’t really understand why the same outcome couldn’t be achieved with the same, unchanged minimum overall weight figures, not to mention lower ones? Why parts designed by a third-party would ‘have to’ be heavier than parts designed in-house by team x, and the same with crash-tests, PUs, and else.

    1. @jerejj since you ask, the minimum weight was originally set at 740kg in the draft regulations published in Oct 2018: however, the FIA then changed that to 743kg in the final regulations published in March 2019.

      With regards to 2020, it seems that the Dec 2019 version of the rules listed the minimum weight as 745kg, a 2kg increase compared to 2019.

      As for 2021, the change to the new larger wheel rims is one contributing factor, as most of the tyre manufacturers bidding for the 18 inch contract conceded that the greater quantity of metal required to construct the wheel rim would result in an overall increase in weight.

      With regards to your comment about “Why parts designed by a third-party would ‘have to’ be heavier than parts designed in-house”, I believe that part of that was ascribed by some teams to the fact that a third party is going to be designing those components to a specification that seems to put more of an onus on the affordability of the component, rather than on the technical performance.

      With that in mind, the expectation is that third party, who will be designing the component to that price target, is likely to be substituting lower cost materials which enable them to produce the component at a lower cost, but may have to trade that off against increased weight. It doesn’t necessarily “have to” be heavier, but the way that the contracts have been set up are likely to push those third parties towards prioritising the more economical solution over what may be a lighter, but more expensive, solution.

      There have been some questions, though, over how much of the weight increase is necessary – some have wondered whether the increase in minimum weight may have been partially used as an indirect method for the FIA to keep some of the increased performance of the cars in check.

  6. Luke Longnecker
    28th February 2020, 15:16

    Look at this comparison between Lewis’ 2007 and 2018 cars…

  7. Changes to the crash tests are understood to have been prompted partly by the rising weight of the cars and consequent increase in energy dissipated in a crash.

    This reminds me of “the tyranny of the rocket equation” in spaceflight (link) – to get a rocket into space you need a certain amount of propellant. To get that propellant itself lifting off with the rocket, you need a certain amount of additional propellant. And so on.

    Likewise, the rising weight of cars necessitates better safety structures, which adds further weight, and so on.

    I think we have to accept that between the three tenets of hybrid engines, no mid-race refuelling so large tanks and improving safety norms, the weights would continue to rise.

    I would ask the FIA to see what are the amounts of car ballast that teams are using, and use that as a guideline to lower the weight of a car. So, if the car ballast used ranges from 30 – 60 kg, the FIA could consider dropping the minimum weight by 20 kg or so.

    1. I doubt any of the cars are running any significant ballast (over a few kgs max). If they’re underweight, they’d just strengthen certain parts that are known to be a bit on the fragile / weak side of things. The drivers are always talking about having to trim down (almost dangerous amounts in previous years) to stay light enough to keep the car at its target weight.

  8. And again I say we are watching the end of F1 and the beginning of F1ndycars. A spec car series that has a cap of its popularity simply because all the cars look the same, not to mention the best teams, even in Indy, have the best drivers and the fastest cars. The only reason Indy has multiple winners each year is the bizarre use of full course yellows that randomly select a winner.

  9. Why is the minimum weight going up …?
    Yes there may be needs and wants from the safety side of things, but why does this translate into an increase in the minimum.?
    Yes all the teams will strive to achieve the minimum, but to impose additional weight on teams that can achieve the minimum is akin to “Success Balast”. Be that success measured as technical or financial capability. Likely it is there to give the less affluent teams more wiggle room to get close to the minimum weight.
    I understood that there is a minimum weight and a CG location identified for the Power Units and that the manufacturer’s are capable of getting under this. If F1 is supposed to be a pinnacle of excellence in design, engineering and management of running racing teams and the series, then Liberty and its hangers-on should get the heck out of the design business and stick to more basic specifications and let the teams design the cars. They are much better at it anyway.

    1. Min weights and ballasting have been a feature of F1 well before Liberty arrived in the scene, it’s a bit harsh to target them. Also, it is the FIA who writes the technical regs (granted, with input from Liberty and others).

  10. What is the point. If F1 cars ever hit a ton it will be already way too late.

  11. Why spend so much really inventing the wheel when they can easily be racing trucks.

  12. 163KG… F1 cars used to weigh 605KG when I started watching them, including the driver, these fat cars weigh an extra 163KG’s before you even add a splash of fuel to them.

    163KG’s is about a 5.5 seconds a lap disadvantage around Barcelona, over 6 minutes slower per race distance.

    1. And yet they’re setting lap records. So maybe there’s something to be said about the power density of these cars?

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