Verstappen: Anticipating Much Lighter F1 Cars Is “Implausible”

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The last twenty years have seen a 200kg increase in the weight of Formula 1 cars, culminating in a record 2023 minimum weight of 798kg for an unoccupied car.

The substantial weight of present-day cars, which hampers their performance in slow-speed corners, has raised concerns. Plans are underway to initiate weight reduction from 2026.

Earlier this month, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem told F1 that he personally supports the initiative to lighten F1 cars, a move he describes as universally desired.

Despite the drivers’ unanimous support for lighter vehicles, Red Bull’s Verstappen highlighted the difficulties posed by the current hybrid engines and safety improvements in significantly reducing weight.

“To be honest, this goal may be a bit ambitious. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have such heavy cars, right?” he responded to F1 when asked about the plan.

He added, “In 2026, the bigger battery is expected to add considerable weight. So, I’m not certain if we’re moving in the right direction.

“However, I’m always supportive of lighter cars. The ’21 car was more enjoyable to drive due to its agility. Now, the low-speed performance feels more like sailing a boat.”

Fernando Alonso, European Minardi PS01

Photo by: Sutton Images

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, who started his F1 journey in 2001 when cars weighed a mere 600kg, also supports the idea of lighter cars. However, he expressed his concern about the vehicles’ excessive size hampering the races.

The width of the cars was increased to 2m in 2017, a dimension not seen since 1997, and the present generation of cars has reached a maximum length of 5.63m.

Alonso said, “I believe it’s more the size than the weight of the cars that complicates matters. It has become difficult to position the car in the initial corners of a race, due to its size, not the weight.

“Therefore, achieving significant weight reduction will be challenging, given the inherent weight of the hybrid engines and the enhanced safety measures.

“However, there’s some interest in exploring this direction. Any progress would be welcome, as driving lighter cars is always more enjoyable.

“Ultimately, though, it’s the size that complicates racing.”

George Russell, Mercedes

Photo by: Pirelli

Mercedes driver and GPDA director George Russell echoed these sentiments and added that the current weight could potentially escalate safety risks due to increased forces in crashes.

“When you’re driving at 100 miles per hour and collide with something in a vehicle that weighs as much as a bus, compared to a smaller car, the former is bound to cause more damage,” he explained.

“Therefore, F1 engineers and the FIA must strike an optimal balance.”

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Lighter F1 Cars

Q: What is the current weight of Formula 1 cars?

A: The current minimum weight for an empty Formula 1 car is 798kg, which is a record high and represents a 200kg increase over the past two decades.

Q: Why are the drivers in favor of lighter F1 cars?

A: Drivers, including Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso, express a preference for lighter cars because they are more agile and enjoyable to drive.

Q: Why is reducing the weight of F1 cars challenging?

A: Reducing the weight of F1 cars is challenging due to the presence of hybrid engines, which inherently add weight, and the need for enhanced safety measures that also contribute to the overall weight of the cars.

Q: Are there concerns about the size of F1 cars?

A: Yes, there are concerns about the size of F1 cars. Drivers, like Fernando Alonso, believe that the increased dimensions of the cars make it more difficult to maneuver and position them accurately, particularly in the early corners of a race.

Q: Is the weight of F1 cars a safety issue?

A: According to George Russell, the weight of F1 cars can be a safety issue as collisions involving heavier cars can result in increased damage and forces compared to collisions involving lighter cars.

Q: Are there plans to make F1 cars lighter in the future?

A: Yes, there are plans to make F1 cars lighter again from 2026 onwards. FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is personally backing the project of reducing the weight of F1 cars, which is widely supported by the drivers.

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F1Fan69 June 17, 2023 - 3:20 am

verstapen is right lighter cars r more fun to drive its obviouse less weight means more agility! Safety is imp but they shud find balance #F1weight

GPracer88 June 17, 2023 - 3:57 am

russell is spot on safety is a big concern esp with heavy cars in high-speed crashes hope they can find a solution #safetyfirst

AlonsoFan93 June 17, 2023 - 6:27 am

I agree with alonso its not just weight its the size of the cars too its like driving a big truck on the track #F1size


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