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We need lighter F1 cars, admits Ben Sulayem

NEWS STORY
11/06/2023

As F1 cars reach almost 800kg, FIA president, Mohammed ben Sulayem admits that moving forward the weight limit must be reduced.

As Michael Masi was making the fateful decision in Abu Dhabi in December 2021, the cars of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen weighed around 752 kgs.

At Montreal next weekend the Mercedes and Red Bull will be considerably heavier as the minimum weight is now 798 kgs, making these among the heaviest cars in the entire history of the world championship.

Hard to believe but the Mercedes and Red Bull are around 203 kgs heavier than their 2008 counterparts - the year before KERS was first introduced - and 156 kgs heavier than in 2013, the year before the sport went hybrid.

Last year, following the rules overhaul, which included the introduction of 18-inch wheels, new safety structures and heavier standard parts, the teams struggled to meet the minimum weight, and among other things, drivers warned of safety concerns.

"We keep making these cars safer and safer," said George Russell, "but obviously the heavier you make them when you have an impact it's like crashing with a bus compared to a smart car.

"You're going to have a greater impact if you're going the same speed with a car that weights 800-odd-kgs or over 900 kgs at the start of a race, compared to one 15 years ago when they were at 650 kg," he warned.

Looking ahead to the next rules overhaul in 2026, Ben Sulayem admits that reducing the weight of cars must be a major consideration.

"One thing I would like to see is very clear, we need a lighter car," he told Motorsport.com. "I believe this is better.

"I come from motorsport, where lighter cars are safer and they won't use the same amount of fuel," he added. "It will be hard to achieve, but everybody wants it. So I am pushing because I come from rallying, where nothing is worse than having a heavy car."

F1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali agrees.

"One of the points that has always been a debate has been the weight," he said. "As you know, with the hybrid engines, with the batteries, the weight is getting higher and that is something that is not really in the nature of F1. So, it's a topic for discussion for the future."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Superbird70, 12/06/2023 20:29

"Fun fact, Ram 1500, F1 car, Indy car, NASCAR car, all approximately same area on pavement. Biggest difference is mass, and...target audience, and tires, and engine, and fuel."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by JamesD, 12/06/2023 13:24

"@Superbird70 My beloved BMW isn't a bus but I understand where you're coming from"

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by TokyoAussie, 12/06/2023 3:11

"How about decreasing the size of the cars. That would automatically reduce the weight. These F1 cars are closer in size to buses than cars."

Rating: Positive (6)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by kenji, 12/06/2023 1:53

"Simple quick fix....bin the batteries. Guaranteed weight loss...eat less. Same principle. "

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5. Posted by The Hubris Of Man, 12/06/2023 0:31

"Getting the cars to be lighter should be Job #1 followed by them getting smaller. I'm sure I'm going to upset some but to get these 2 goals accomplished the turbo/hybrid formula needs to be binned. The amount of fuel savings is nothing compared to the amount of fuel required to fly the circus around the world. Go back to ICE and run them on efuels. Efuels are about as much of joke as battery electric power but at least it will look like they are trying."

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6. Posted by Superbird70, 11/06/2023 19:25

"I am also a little confused by George's comment about the mass of cars when there is an impact. Everyone is driving buses, and I thought the buses are designed to dissipate the energy of a crash by breaking apart leaving the driver safe in their coccoon. If that's not happening then yes something needs to be done. Full disclaimer I stopped taking physics in 3rd year university."

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7. Posted by ToeKnee, 11/06/2023 15:27

"I second that Superbird70, not just because I am a MOPAR dude either. Street course races are almost un-watchable for this reason. "

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8. Posted by Superbird70, 11/06/2023 12:29

"They also need to get smaller. A Ram 1500 pickup truck takes up the same area as an F1 car. Why?? No wonder the street courses are a demolition derby."

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