We need lighter F1 cars, admits Ben Sulayem


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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Published: 11/06/2023
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