Paul di Resta, Force India, Silverstone, 2013

Why F1 cars keep getting heavier

F1 technology

Posted on

| Written by


Formula One cars have been getting heavier for several years. That trend will continue in 2014 with the minimum weight limit set to jump from 642kg to 690kg – an increase of over 7%.

Weight is the enemy of performance in a racing car but the days of teams be able to run the lightest car they could get away with are long gone. The first minimum weight limit was introduced in 1961.

Its introduction was for the same reason many other changes have been forced upon F1 car designers: safety.

The 1958 season alone saw the deaths of Peter Collins, Luigi Musso and Stewart Lewis-Evans. For 1961 the sport’s governing body reduced engine capacity to 1.5 litres to curb speeds, and introduced the first ever minimum weight limit for F1 cars.

The minimum weight limit in F1, 1961-2014

Here’s how the minimum weight limit for F1 cars has changed since it was introduced in 1961:

The rule makers believed excessively light cars had become an unacceptable hazard to drivers. In preceding seasons it was not uncommon for teams to drill holes in parts of their cars, such as the steering columns, to shave off weight in the pursuit of performance.

Unsurprisingly it was Lotus owner Colin Chapman, whose preoccupation with weight-saving bordered on obsession, who pointed out that light weight and safety were not necessarily mutually exclusive, and that recent fatalities had befallen drivers of the heaviest cars on the grid.

Chapman not unreasonably argued a heavier car is harder to slow down in a crash and dissipates more energy in an impact, making it more dangerous. But it was also true that many of his drivers were concerned his pursuit of low weight went beyond merely putting too little fuel in his cars and resulted in chassis that were too fragile and put them at greater risk.

However the weight limit was here to stay and in 1965 it was revised upwards when F1 engine capacities doubled to three litres. As the drive for safety increased momentum at the end of the sixties and into the seventies further rises in the weight limit were sanctioned to allow teams to incorporate innovations such as roll hoops and mandatory fire extinguishers.

By the mid-seventies most teams were able to get their cars down to the minimum weight limit or within a few percent of it. They were also starting to become more secretive about the weight of their cars.

Dodging the weight limit

Nelson Piquet, Brabham-Ford BT49C, Buenos Aires, 1981As the graph shows, the minimum weight limit has rarely gone in any direction other than up. But during the eighties it was temporarily reduced.

At the beginning of the decade several teams had switched to using 1.5-litre turbo engines. These proved spectacularly powerful but their higher weight and greater thirst for fuel meant the cars did not trouble the minimum weight limit. Rival machines which still used normally aspirated engines were far lighter.

In the early eighties the political clout of the non-turbo teams, most of which were aligned to Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Constructors’ Association, helped them secure some reductions in the weight limit to help them remain competitive.

Several of them were able to build their cars well below this lower weight limit and pursued various rule dodges though which they could do so. In 1981 Ecclestone’s Brabham team were accused of having special lightweight chassis which was only used during qualifying and did not appear on race day.

In Monaco, where Piquet planted his Brabham BT49 on pole position, rival Jacques Laffite told L’Equipe: “The practice car has carbon fibre brake discs which save 12 kilos, and I’m told that the car also has a tiny fuel tank, much lighter than the normal one. The car should be weighed as soon as Piquet stops, before the mechanics can touch it. But no, no one will do anything because it is a Brabham, owned by Ecclestone, and no one can touch him. Everyone is frightened of him.”

Brabham and rival teams took this practice a step further the following year. Taking advantage of a rule which allowed water tanks to be replenished after a race before a car’s weight was checked, they built cars with large tanks – ostensibly for brake cooling purposes – which were emptied at the start of a race. After the car completed the race beneath the minimum weight the tanks were topped up afterwards so the car passed scrutineering.

At the 1982 Brazilian Grand Prix FISA (now the FIA) threw out the winning Brabham of Nelson Piquet and second-placed Keke Rosberg’s Williams, declaring both were beneath the weight limit. In protest several FOCA teams boycotted that year’s San Marino Grand Prix on the fatuous grounds that they needed time to redesign their cars to reach the true weight limit.

Nigel Mansell, Paul Ricard, Williams, 1988But the writing was on the wall for the normally-aspirated runners and one by one the top FOCA outfits switch to turbo power – Ecclestone’s Brabham in 1982, McLaren and Williams the year after.

In an attempt to maintain some degree of parity between turbos and non-turbos, F1 temporarily became a two-tier formula. In 1987 and 1988 non-turbo cars were allowed to run at a lower weight limit. But it proved a vain hope: in these two seasons, as in the three before them, every race was won by a turbo.

From 1989 turbos were banned but the lower minimum limit of 500kg remained. By 1995 it had jumped up by almost 100kg due to a change in how the rule was enforced: for the first time the minimum weight limit referred to a car plus its driver.

Some drivers saw this as an opportunity to gain an advantage. When Michael Schumacher turned up to be weighed before the the first race of the season he tipped the scales at 77kg. That the world champion might have gained eight kilos in weight during the off-season aroused suspicion and led to suggestions Schumacher was trying to gain a performance advantage by having an underweight car. His weight after the race was found to be just 71.5kg, but both he and his Benetton were within the limit.

Heading towards 700kg

Robert Kubica, BMW, Suzuka, 2009The 595kg limit remained unchanged for over a decade. But in recent years the minimum weight limit has risen rapidly and next year it will reach almost 700kg.

Recent increases in the minimum weight limit appear to be less to do with safety. The introduction of mandatory impact-absorbing structures and crash tests have proved highly effective in making cars safer in high-speed accidents. Changes in the technical formula, such as the introduction of KERS in 2009, have prompted most recent revisions to the weight limit.

In the case of KERS, despite the rise in minimum weight some teams found their units were so heavy that it was only worth running them if their drivers were beneath a certain weight. BMW, for example, used KERS on the car of Nick Heidfeld, who weighed 59kg, but not Robert Kubica, who weighed 72kg.

The minimum weight limit was subsequently raised to prevent driver weight being a deciding factor when it came to using KERS. But even so the fact remains that a shorter driver can weigh less, making it easier to get his car within the weight limit. Any ballast needed to reach the weight limit can be situated in a position which better optimises the car’s centre of gravity.

Getting the balance of driver weight and ballast right is essential as Paul di Resta found out to his cost at Silverstone earlier this year. Having qualified fifth he was excluded from qualifying and sent to the back of the grid after he was found to be too light by just 500g.

Next year’s planned 48kg hike in the minimum weight limit comes as turbocharged engines are set to return, along with a wealth of complicated Energy Recovery Systems. The minimum weight for engines will rise from 95kg to 145kg.

Heavier cars, tighter rules

Paul di Resta, Force India, Silverstone, 2013The restrictions on car weight are getting ever stricter. In 2011 a new rule limited the teams to a narrowly-defined weight distribution limit in qualifying. This was introduced “for 2011 only” yet has remained part of the rules in successive seasons.

Next year teams will effectively be limited to a front-to rear weight distribution of 46% to 54% in qualifying, with 0.5% leeway in either direction.

A little over five decades ago F1 designers had a free reign in terms of the weight of their cars. Today there are minimum weights for the chassis, engine and other parts, as well as a fixed weight distribution.

As F1 cars are being fitted with increasingly tough safety structures, and more dramatic changes such as cockpit canopies are under consideration, it is likely the minimum weight will rise further. Colin Chapman’s maxim of “simplify and add lightness” increasingly seems to be a thing of the past.

Weight limit data sources: FIA Formula One Technical Regulations, various issues of MotorSport, various editions of Autocourse, Formula One: All the Races by Roger Smith, Colin Chapman: Inside the Innovator by Karl Ludvigsen.

F1 technology

Browse all F1 technology articles

Images © Ford, Williams/LAT, BMW, Force India

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories F1 technologyTags ,

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 114 comments on “Why F1 cars keep getting heavier”

    1. the day when f1 car implemented with canopy will be the day i stop watching f1.

    2. A very doom and gloom story….

      1. Not really, road cars have been getting heavier for years with only the very latest generation family cars managing to reduce weight over the previous gen. This is just another way in which F1 will remain “road relevant”.

        After 2020 pretty much every mainstream car is either going to have to have a tiny turbocharged engine or be a hybrid with heavy battery packs. Safety requirements will of course continue to develop which will increase body weight. The only hope is that carbon fibre tech and lighter weight electrical drivelines (capacitors?) will advance enough to stop weight getting out of control.

        1. They would be even more road relevant if they weighed more than a ton and had a windshield. There are plenty of motorsports that are for people who want to see road relevance.

          i still think F1 should be ultimately about performance (with safety in mind). One thing that we are forgetting here is costs. The increase in weight limit over the years is largely due to the FIA trying to reduce costs and keep things competitive. For example by banning exotic materials that as tougher AND lighter. If teams were able to use those materials there wouldn’t be a need to raise the minimum weight. Even by adding additional safety mechanisms on the car, or a heavier engines, teams would be able to reduce the weight of other components by spending more money.

          So it all comes down to money and the need to keep costs down so that smaller teams have a chance. In an ideal world though weight of F1 cars would be decreasing while maintaining the same level of safety. Fuel consumption would reduce, and other technology would be developed that would end up in our road cars, making them lighter and more efficient.

          This is what F1 should be. Not following whatever is happening in road cars, but spearheading R&D and new ideas that will end up in road cars as a byproduct. Unfortunately there is so little sponsorship money nowadays that the FIA has to step in a put a stop to this for the sake of entertainment.

          F1 should be like NASA. Pushing the limits of what is possible. Unfortunately both are short of cash because of the current economy.

          1. F1 is ahead of NASA for ages…

            1. Oh irony, or not?? :-)

          2. @vjanik, here here, we have the ridiculous situation of being able to go into a Chevrolet showroom and buy a Corvette with titanium conrods in its pushrod V8 engine but titanium is not allowed in F1. F1 engines should be made of unobtanium and cantaffordium not iron and aluminium.

            1. The only place it can’t be used is the engine. Gearbox, diff, suspension, steering, all these and many more can use titanium.

              Anyway, who says titanium’s the best material to use in engines?

        2. My problem with hybrid vehicles is that the battery technology/design and battery disposal is far more damaging to the environment than a larger-displacement engine without any sort of hybrid technology. I read a recent study where one need to drive something like 80k to 100k miles (128k to 161k km) for the trade off of hybrid technology to counteract its negative impact on the environment…. I don’t think a battery even lasts that long though.

        3. road cars have been getting heavier for years with only the very latest generation family cars managing to reduce weight over the previous gen. This is just another way in which F1 will remain “road relevant”.

          LOL what nonsense. This is what is known as “bro science”. A blanket statement based on one’s perception of a issue without presenting any evidence (scientific or otherwise) to justify said statement. This one had me ROFL.

        4. Well, but in roadcars in the last year or 2 the trend has been for weight to stop rising as much, as you yourself mention @spawinte, and the trend is now for road cars to get bigger but stay the same weight, or have lower weight, as well as better aerodynamics, to save fuel.

          1. @bascb

            I can’t find a shred of statistics anywhere for or against this, where are you getting your information? :D I’m having cravings for data. (I feel bad)

            1. its in a lot of information about the automotive industry @mike

    3. Its very similar to why road cars keep getting heavier, safety and technology.

    4. So no wonder Charlie said: F1 CARS will be 2-3 seconds slower next year..

      1. not really. Because of the electrical motor they can have better drive out of corners, accelerating faster to their top speed. And the lower fuel consumption and limit on 100 kg of fuel for the race (compared with about 135-150kg now) means that at the start they will be about the same weight as cars have been this year.

    5. Michael Harries
      20th August 2013, 11:19

      Is the minimum weight for the new V6 artificially high as per the current V8 and previous V10s?

      1. There may be some artificiality, but most of the extra weight will be the turbos and intercoolers.

      2. Yes. On the one hand theres the extra weight for the turbos and intercoolers @raceprouk mentions. But just as with the current engines, its also to stop engine manufacturers looking for exotic materials and intricate solutions to get down in weight, because the block could be built with lower weights if they wanted/could.

    6. But higher weight allows for higher downforce and better mechanical performance as well.

      Why else do you see tightly sculpted rear-ends of F1 cars. The weight saved there is then used as ballast at the appropriate points on the car so that the centre of gravity remains low. I remember reading somewhere that titanium endplates on front wings are used by some teams only because they are heavy and hence give high downforce at low speed and also help in reducing the cente of gravity.

      1. If you give the choice to any team (lighter car or heavier with ballasts) no one would use ballasts, yes the centre of gravity is lower but mechanical performance (I guess you mean grip) is worse when going around the corners because you still have to move that mass around, unlike the grip obtained with downforce.

        1. I imagine they’d still make the basic structure as light as possible & still use ballast to optimize weight distribution: that is very critical to the setup.

      2. LOL another example of “bro science”.

        higher weight allows for higher downforce

        Why else do you see tightly sculpted rear-ends of F1 cars

        what nonsense!

        1. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend

          I’m not sure that his claim that they shave of weight in some areas to boost it in others is “Bro science”. Seems legit to me.

      3. @sumedh, virtually everything you said is the opposite of reality! Do some research, learn some physics.

    7. I think it makes sense – reducing weight comes at a very high cost(money wise) and if they set the minimum weight high enough then smaller teams are closer to top-teams.
      Just look at the suspensions of the back markers – if they don’t do the minimum weight thing Marussia and Co would be nowhere.

      1. @tmf42, there is nothing “inexpensive” about carbon-fiber suspension, if cost reduction was so important the FIA could regulate Aluminium or steel for suspension as they do for engines, this would also improve safety ( reducing carbon shards ) and have an infinitessimally small effect on lap times.
        After safety the only good thing about higher minimum weights is a slight reduction in the advantage smaller drivers like Vettel have over larger drivers like Webber.

        1. @hohum

          I do believe that steel wishbones on the suspension have a bit of a bad record when it comes to safety in F1.

    8. Minimum weight for the turbos was 540kg, if I remember corectly…

      1. As shown on the graph.

        1. Sorry, I didn’t see that in the article. Weight minimum in 1989 was 505kg if I remember corectly?

    9. It’s interesting to note that, pre-WWII, the Grand Prix formula actually prescribed a maximum weight.

      1. Yes – that was famously the cause for Mercedes to race in silver. Although apparently that’s a myth…

    10. It surprised me in the recent interview on the F1 site with engineers from Caterham and Force India, I believe it was, that the Force India guy stated that it was going to be a challenge to keep the cars at minimum weight.

      Nevertheless, I dislike the continuously increasing weight limit. Safety is important, obviously, but all the crash tests should ensure that a light car is still safe. I especially don’t understand minimum weights for the engines power units. Wouldn’t F1 be more relevant if it develops lighter engines and energy recovery systems?

      1. Yes it would, but it opens a chapter called: The balast!

      2. @adrianmorse – One of the reasons for having a minimum weight is to prevent a situation arising where one set of teams gets an advantage because they have a lightweight engine. The engine freeze limits development for several years, so anyone with a lightweight engine would have an advantage for the foreseeable future.

        Furthermore, less weight is not automatically a good thing. When Adrian Newry designed the Red Bull X2010, he was give the freedom to do as he liked with the design. He deliberately made the car heavier than it needed to be so that he could fins the ideal power-to-weight ration.

        1. Your last paragraph really needs revision.

        2. There’s no ‘golden’ power-to-weight ratio – you make it as big as you can. So why would you deliberately make something like the X2010 heavier?

          1. Because it gives you the chance to play around with the centre of gravity.

    11. within a few years, the F1 car will be heavier than my first roadcar (opel kadett, <800kg) :p

    12. Hold your horses! Did anyone notice that in 2014 the cars will take on 50 kg less fuel?

      1. Yes, so at the start of the race the cars will be about the same weight, but at the end of the race and in qualifying the cars will be 50kg heavier.

        1. @adrianmorse, not in qualifying.

          1. OK you mean, 50 kg heavier in qualifying trim than current car in qualifying trim, not at race start.

    13. Personally I think it’s a good thing. I’m glad we no longer see the days of parts engineered to be so flimsy that they often failed just from the stresses of the race, endangering the lives of the drivers. I’m also glad we don’t see the likes of Mark Webber being penalised for their greater body mass, or see drivers on extreme diets to get their weight as low as possible, risking their health in the process. If they hadn’t increased the weight limit in order to accommodate the heavier new engines, then weight would need to be pinched back from other parts of the car, making them weaker and more likely to break. All for no real gain. If you look at how fast the cars were when the weight limits were lowest, they were nowhere near as they are today. While weight is ultimately a factor in performance, it’s by no means the only factor. As evidenced by the much heavier turbo cars being quicker than their lightweight naturally aspirated counterparts. All other things being equal, the heavier car is going to be slower, but in F1 all things are far from equal, and the increase in weight limit is to accommodate a raft of technical changes. The end result is likely to be that the cars will be broadly the same speed as they are now, although perhaps faster or slower at various points on the track. To simply say that heavier is worse is nonsense, or at best a massive oversimplification.

      The weight increase is being made to facilitate technical changes which ensure that F1 remains at the technological cutting edge. It has never been a no-holds-barred unlimited formula where you literally build the fastest car you can. If that were the case you’d have cars lapping circuits in half the time, with drivers having G-suits, and spectators having to watch through binoculars from half a mile away, in case anything goes wrong. It would be ridiculous. Maybe that’s what some people would like to see, but that isn’t, and never has been, Formula 1.

      1. Uffa Fox said “Weight is only useful in steamrollers”, I agree with some of your points, especially on safety, but F1 as it is now is far from cutting edge. We could allow more “cutting-edge” development and keep speed and G-force levels as today by reducing some weight and making smaller capacity engines.

    14. Getting heavier and (hopefully) more eco-friendly one day maybe…Who knows?!

      1. You obviously forgot that next year there’s (again) a fuel flow limit. Therefore, the engines will have to be more environmental friendly already. So, see you in 2014 treehugger!

    15. Why do I find all of this quite frightingly bad for the sport? I mean if the V6 Turbo sounds good enough with those lousy 15 000rpm, then I’ll accept that and get on with it but the cars are already getting slower and now heavier and before I forget that ERS is going to weigh a bit extra too doesn’t it? F1 is starting to look more idiotic in my view, I just hope that one day we can go back to either a screaming engine like the V10 and V12 that is enviromentally acceptable for the treehuggers.

      F1 doesn’t need to be astronomically fast but if a Le mans car starts being faster on a straight line then an F1 car, that’s a sign something isn’t going right. Keeping in mind that without DRS that is absolutely going to be the case

      Who can convince me otherwise?

      1. There was an article in Motorsport magazine with an old Jaguar Group C driver called Win Percy and there was nice little snippet about this subject.He said when he was in the Jaguar testing at Paul Ricard Alain Prost was also there in a Mclaren F1 car. He said he’d breeze past the Mclaren because it’d only do about 190mph whereas the slipperier Jaguar could hit 210mph. Bit he also added he stayed well wide to let Prost through going into the next fast bend because the high speed cornering of the Mclaren was so much better.

      2. The McLatren F1, Koenigsegg CCX and Bugatti Veyron are all faster than an F1 car in a straight line. Yet they are hardly a match for the current crop of F1 racers.
        Similarly at Le Mans, LMP1 cars hit 210-220 on the Mulsanne. Yet an F1 car would dance round it through the bends.

      3. @force-maikel, MotoGP bikes are already faster in a straightline!

      4. @force-maikel
        LMPs were always faster than F1 in the straight line because F1 has more downforce and therefore more drag. Moto Gp and some production cars also, and WRC cars have faster acceleration. Hovewer, F1 has highest cornering speeds, and because of that fastest lap times.

    16. There are several issues the fia blatantly ignores when raising minimum weight:
      -teams still develop the lightest chassis possible; from there they work to the minimum weight.
      -Teams get to that minimum weight by partly by adding high density material ballast pieces. Wolfram is used alot. It is very expensive to use that in such quantities.
      -The ballast is placed wherever closed to the ground, like in front wing endplates. If they hit something at high speed, chances are the ballast comes loose and “shoots” into a given direction, potentionally hurting people. It’s very unsafe.
      -It still ignores a minimum and healthy weight for drivers. There are enough reliable calculations to determine that for each individual driver. So why not choose one and make life for drivers better?

      1. @turbof1 +1 – I’d prefer the weight limit to be reduced and the crash tests/component tests made more stringent, not the other way round. Theoretically, if in tandem with an effective cost-cap, that could fit perfectly with F1’s recent “environmental” trend.

        As long as there was a way of prevent unfair penalisation for bigger drivers (perhaps a method of weighing them before the race and then the smaller drivers being ballasted up to that weight) then I’d fully support a downward trend, not an upward one. It goes against the most fundamental way of increasing efficiency, from cornering ability to braking performance to acceleration to fuel efficiency.

      2. I would agree that it would be smart to have ballast only in places that cannot theoretically break and go flying. Banning depleted uranium for ballast was probably one of the best environmental moves the FIA has made in recent years, though tungsten is not very cheap and easily attainable either.

      3. @turbof1, +1, it is ridiculous for exotic metals to be used as ballast but to be banned from engines. Re ballast, it should only be allowed at or above axle level.
        Re cost, exotic metals if used in engines are re-cycleable at seasons end.

    17. mostly KERS is to blame… KERS is the most stupid thing that got introduced in F1. The specific output (hp per kg) is so low, the the only way to make the teams wanting to run them is because they won’t get any weight advantage by not runing them…
      KERS only makes the car slower, spoiles the balance of the car, and only is in F1, because the minimum weight is so high, that teams don’t get the advantage of not using it to reduce weight…

      If there wasn’t minimum weight rule, nobody would use KERS… The car would be faster not carrying all that KERS weight, despite the very small power advantage… That’s why kubica didn’t use it…

      When they introduced KERS, a lot of teams didn’t used it because it was rubish, so FIA tried to make KERS more relevant increasing the power output, wich would mean even heavier electric sistem, wich means they had to bump the weight of the cars again, so that the teams would be forced to use that…

      Ask Adrian newey what he thinks of KERS…

      1. and more…. if F1 want a Green F1, get rid of KERS (that increases the costs a lot and doesn’t save any fuel), let the cars run 150kg lighter, reduce engine power… and they would consume way less fuel, and still be as fast due to still having a great power to weight ratio…

        F1 is starting to get too close to road car weight with airbags, aircon, 2 seats, windows etc… (the brand new alfa romeo 4C is a 2 seater with all the luxuries like aircon, stanav, bunch or arbags and 2013 safety standards…. and weighs at 895kg… F1 is geting lose to that…. it’s so wrong…

        1. Dude, there is no such thing as a green F1 or ever will be. The pollution produced by the cars is irrelevant to the ecologic impact of the transport, use of windtunnels and so on.
          A green F1 is a non-existent F1.

          1. I know mate… but that’s the image that FIA want’s to sell…

        2. What you and others above have failed to consider is that F1 is one of the best platforms for developing technology. Instead of looking at current or previous factors of KERS, F1 designers and their suppliers are looking at ways to spend their millions on technology that can reduce battery weights and improve efficiency of hybrid systems. Redbull(I believe) has supercaps instead of traditional battery’s for their KERS, hence the regular failures because they are pushing the envelope, but are in essence developing a technology that can be on-sold to road cars, or high speed trains etc. I believe Williams sold their Flywheel tech for KERS for a substantial amount, and have a whole side of their company dedicated to selling their technology and recouping their development costs.

          The flow on effects of cutting edge development with a real world testing environment, puts F1 in a prime position to improve all our lives and amaze us with ingenious engineering marvels, instead of being stuck in the 80’s reliving your favourite times like it’s groundhog day.

          1. Sorry mate, but I think you’re wrong…

            The battery and electric engine, has been used for decades in the industry… You seem like some of the guys that believe that batterys are going to see a bump in development just because cars started to using them… The Battery is one of the things that has suffered relentless development in inumerous aplication (the same with electric engine…), they are only puting them in cars, that’s about it…

            Adding electric motors and battery’s to a car simply makes it go slower (but use less fuel), simple… So it shouldn’t have place in F1 because F1 is about going fast, not slow…

            F1 with all these reducing cost, would never be able to spend the budget to develop storage energy devices (especialy when they are as crap as KERS is), they outsource it… The ones that are pushing the Battery to develop are companys that develop batterys for Laptops, mobile phones, etc…. Cars only use the technology already available… (from where came the Lithium batterys in cars?)

            You’re reversing story… F1 used to be the test be when F1 technology was after implemented in road cars…. Now is the reverse, they are implementing road car technology in racing cars… and that’s wrong, that’s totaly the oposite fo what it should be

            1. Your ignoring the fact that the only reason KERS is so limited is because the regulations restrict it to a set power output for a set # of seconds per-lap.
              If KERS was less restricted they would be getting more power output for more time per-lap & it would be less ‘crap’.

              Also consider that were moving away from KERS next year & moving to ERS, A system thats been used in Sportscar racing & a system more like what you get in road cars.
              Drivers will no longer push a button to activate ERS, It will be part of the engine’s power output, will boost engine performance & give them a lot of extra torque which many are saying will be a real handful out of the corners.

              The engine manufacturer’s want technology like this in F1, They want Turbo’s in F1 & thats why were going in that direction for next year & why other manufacturer led series around the world are also heading that way.

            2. @Dizzy: The problem is that they will be using technology that has been already there. There is nothing new there, and the materials F1 uses are exotic: you are not going to find that in any normal street or city car; perhaps in high end sport cars. Anything F1 develops will either be rediscovering the wheel or too expensive to put in your average volkswagen golf.

            3. @turbof1 I think you are wrong here and @dizzy does have a point.

              Really battery technology is what holds back electrical drive most. Easy availability of petrol stations is what made the petrol engines rule, and as the network is well established, and at the same time its no problem for a petrol/diesel engine to go up to 1000 km on one filling, that is hard to compete with.

              The way hybrid is used in sportscars (and the use in F1 will be more like that from next year onward too) they use the electrical engine there where the combustion engine lacks (at low revs) and indeed make the cars faster – as proven by the e-tron cars.

              Back to the limiting factor – the batteries. This is very much true for F1 as well. Batteries are heavy and big and need cooling (they also need to be replaced fairly often, but that is a cost problem F1 can deal with it seems). We have already seen the battery packages used halve in size and increase capacity from the focussed attention (and money) put in their development. Red Bull has most likely been using capacitors instead of part of the battery pack, etc. Its very likely that using the technology in F1 will help push development forward to make for better use in normal day appliances.

            4. The simple fact is…. Nothing wrong with electric propulsion… The problem is that it is very heavy, so if it’s heavier than “normal” internal combustion, is worst for racing and makes the cars slower… therefore it shouldn’t be in F1 wich are suposed to be the faster cars in earth, the display of technology to “GO FAST” not to save fuel, or to look technological or to please the manufacturers… If you want something to show of your road cars go to WTCC or some kind of GT racing…

              F1 should be all about the best tech to go fast, and electrical engines conected to battery’s are heavy and still with a very specific power output (hp per KG) compared to a regular internal combustion engine…

            5. @oliveiraz33 – Yes, let’s make F1 even less appealing to manufacturers.

              An electric motor is, for the same power level, as light or lighter than an internal combustion engine, mainly because it’s a lot smaller. Most of the weight is in battery packs, and even that won’t be a problem down the line. Smartphones have already pushed battery technology faster than ever before, and top-line motorsport (of ALL forms) will only accelerate that development.

              Besides, NASCAR racers weigh more than twice as much as F1 cars, and NASCAR is the most popular spectator sport in the US. A typical touring car (e.g. BTCC, WTCC) is nearly twice as heavy as an F1 car, yet they often have more action in one lap than an entire F1 race.

          2. One of the best platforms? You must be joking. The technology behind kers has been there for decades. They are being constructed with materials way too expensive for road cars.

            Current F1 isn’t a platform for developing road car technology. None of concepts used in the sports can be found in road car tech. At best you’ll find a kers-derative inside a high end sports car. The same with the engine.

            1. and the materials F1 uses are exotic: you are not going to find that in any normal street or city car; perhaps in high end sport cars.

              And some manufacturer’s in F1 produce high-end sports cars.
              The latest Ferrari ‘La-Ferrari’ for example is using a KERS system thats been developed straght from the F1 car.

              They have been putting F1 style gear shift systems, Differentials & engine technology in there road cars for years. McLaren have done the same with there road cars as have BMW, Mercedes & Honda/Toyota were doing the same when they were involved.

            2. And how many of us is going to drive a car like a laferrari or a mclaren? I laugh when people think that is road relevant. And again: the technology was there before it entered in F1.

          3. Williams their kers are being found in porsche race cars. Those aren’t road cars. F1 kers is simply way too expensive for simple road cars.

            1. “too expensive for simple road cars” like traction control, developed in F1 and now mandatory in new road cars.

            2. Traction control comes from a different era. The current and next era aren’t bringing anything new to the table. I agree that in the past, decades ago, F1 had some impact on road cars.
              F1 KERS however isn’t something however we’ll see in road cars. What is for example a toyota yaris going to do with a 8 seconds boost? How is that going to help them in traffic or otherwise? To say the least about the costs. For that same money you can turn it into a hybrid.

            3. Similar comments were almost certainly made about carbon/ceramic brakes, active suspension, aluminium engines, and carbon fibre bodywork. Yet all these technologies are filtering down through road cars. OK, so your Fiesta may not have these items, but neither are they limited to million-dollar hypercars.

      2. Needless to say that it revs whole engine losing plenty of energy on engine friction. One of the dumbest ways of application :-S

    18. I’d not care about cars weighting nearly 700 kgs if the power balanced it out…

      But less powerful and heavier cars? and with rubbish tyres I suspect. And DRS… the list goes on, and on, and you quickly remember those simpler days (which were complex enough) when everything seemed so straighforward…

      I miss 1997.

      1. The cars will be quite a lot more powerful next year

        1. Totally WRONG… the current V8 are believed to have around 750hp, the new turbo V6 will be well under 700hp…

          1. No, they’re currently predicted to be pushing out around 700bhp. But then there’ll be an additional 150bhp coming from the ERS, meaning the peak power for 30 seconds per lap will be 850bhp. Significantly more than there is at the moment, in other words. And that’s before you factor in the change on torque curve – the current high-revving, smallish displacement formula means that peak torque on the current spec engines is actually quite low. It’s torque, ultimately, that propels a car down the road and shifts that weight. The new engines will have masses more torque, especially at lower rpm, meaning they’ll get out of corners much quicker and achieve decent speeds down the straights. Effectively they’ll be faster and more powerful than the current cars. The only thing is with the smaller wings, corner speeds will be a little lower. But this will be offset to an extent by the tyres next year, which will be more durable than they are currently. Meaning that over the duration of a race the cars will be about as fast as the current ones. While using a third less fuel, and using fewer engines through the year.

            1. I still strugle to find a font that says that the V6 wil have more than 700hp, especialy with the cut in fuel that FIA prepared for 2014…
              Can you post here the font of the article you read?
              All I saw is the combined power output would be at around 750hp-800… KERS will have 120kw (161hp),

              This is from ferrari official website: “A current F1 engine has around 750 horsepower, and you have 80 horsepower more from the KERS. Next year, with an engine having somewhere between 600 and 650 horsepower and an additional 160 horsepower coming from the KERS”

              So you’re talking about a 100-150hp increase on their claim… wich to me is impossible that they make the same power of the V8’s with quite a bit less fuel… That won’t happen mate

              With the very close gearing that F1 cars have, you won’t have have any advantage with torque… You are some of those that distort law’s of physics… Aceleration is dictated by hp, not torque, doesn’t matter the weight or if is uphill or downhill.
              Power = rpm x torque

              So saying that a car is faster because has more torque is the same as saying that’s faster because has more RPM…
              Higher torque torque at lower RPM’s makes a car faster because if it has more torque, it means more power, therefore, better aceleration. Once you’re in the powerband, the incresed torque in the low RPM’s is meaningless, and let’s face it, in F1 they never go in low RPM’s in less they are in 1st gear, but with actual V8s, they still spin the wheels in first, so there’s no real gain in speed with the bump in torque…

              the usual engine in a normal road car produces maximum torque at around 3500rpm, and max power at around 6500rpm…. when you want maximum aceleration, you rev it to the 6500rpm (where is more power and less torque)… not to 3500rpm (where you have less pwoer but more torque)… So what makes the car acelerate is power, rpm multiplied by torque, not just torque or RPM… In this In fact, by redline, most engines already lost between 20%-50% of torque, but they acelerate quicker

            2. Hm, @oliveiraz33, I think you are right about the combined output being an expected 750hp-800ph.
              But really when Ferrari expect to have up to 650 from their engine and 160 from their KERS, than we are really at 810hp, which is significantly more (8%) than what their current engine has as stated (+/-750hp).

              So it might not be a 100hp, and its likely that there will be only a difference after about mid season, when they have ironed out the last issues. But its still at least the same, not well below what we have now.

              As for torque – that is where the ERS and HRS things combined with the turbo kick in. Because you do not need to get any rpm from the V6 if you drive the car with the electrical engine. And they can use that to boost the turbo up as well, making it a definite advantage under acceleration for the combination as @mazdachris mentions.

            3. @bascb Current V8’s are 750hp WITHOUT KERS, the engine only mate… with kers of course they are more than 800hp ;)

            4. Yes, you are right @oliveiraz33, my mistake. The current engines are 750 hp but that is without the KERS.

              But currently KERS is only 6 seconds / lap and its maximum 80 HP boost, so the cars can have up to 830 but only for 5-8% of the lap.

              Next years engines will have up to about 810 (according to the numbers you cited from Ferrari) but they will be able to use that for 25-37% of the lap. I would say that means they are pretty much as powerfull as this years engine+KERS combined.

        2. That’s without KERS involved*

          1. Right, but given that ERS WILL be involved, you can’t just pretend it’s not there. The peak horsepower of the car with engine and ERS will be in excess of 850bhp – more than right now, and with most of the torque coming lower in the rev range, making them much faster out of corners.

            1. You can’t just ignore ERS though because remember that from next year it will no longer be just an engine, It will be a power-unit.
              ERS will be part of the power-unit & therefore has to be included when talking about overall power output.

            2. A Red Bull KERS failure will be far more damaging to them from next year onwards.

            3. Forget the 750hp V6 mate… Ferrari already had dinoed them… they say it’s between 600 and 650hp… You can’t produce the same power of the V8’s with way less fuel…

              Smaller engines with turbo work on road cars because a lot of time they are runing out of boost, but when you’re on boost, the comsumption is as high as a NA engine if not higher to produce the same HP… again physics

      2. @fer-no65 Pirelli have said they’ll make proper tyres (huzzah!) so that shouldn’t be a problem. I’d actually rather have degradable tyres than DRS though if an artificial “sweetener” is needed due to the aerodynamic effect.

        @oliveiraz33 as has been said though, ERS will be an integral part of the power train and will supply an extra 160bhp for 33 seconds per lap. By your (I would assume largely inaccurate) figures, that would mean for 33 seconds per lap (around a third of the lap in most cases) the cars would be 100bhp morepowerful than currently.

        It’s also important to consider torque as @mazdachris has mentioned – torque is what is important in acceleration events. As such, considering the new powertrains will produce significantly more torque – especially in the lower rev ranges – the cars it is only logical to presume will be better in terms of performance regarding the engines.

        If what you’re worried about is laptime, complain about the new aerodynamic regulations…

        1. read my previous post about the torque/power….

          1. an engine that produces 200NM of torque at 8000rpm has exactly the same aceleration of an engine that produces 400NM at 4000rpm…. both produce the same power, and both acelerate the same, either if it’s uphill, donhill, towing a caravan, etc…

            Look at this 2 cars… exactly same chassis, both 6 cylinder turbo
            A BMW 335i has 306hp and 400nm of torque
            A BMW 335d has 286hp and 580nm of torque

            Gues who’s faster? the 335i… despite only having a 20hp, but a amazing 180NM of torque less, the 335i, is quite a bit faster than the big torque of a diesel… Tell me how 180NM of torque can’t compensate only 20hp advantage…

            1. Because you fail to mention that the torque is available at a certain lvl of rpm from the COMBUSTION engine.

              The trouble is, if you decide to ignore the fact that these cars will have their ERS as an integral part of the drive-train, then yes. They are less powerfull. But the ERS makes the complete package far better because it offers superior acceleration (by using the electrical power where the combustion engine is sub-optimal – at lower revs) @oliveiraz33

            2. @bascb I keep my point, you keep yours…. neither of us has seen any laptimes to see who will be faster, but I think so far my point is way more valid, simply because FIA already stated that they fear that the new cars could be up to 5 seconds slower… Charlie Whiting also pointed that he expects cars to be 2 or 3 seconds slower…
              So if you say that cars will have superior aceleration, I wonder how will they do in the corners, they will be even slower during cornering that 2013 cars that already are slow as ****

            3. Well, yeah, they will be a tad slower in cornering, because DF is reduced a bit for next year too. But that is not about the engine. The whole drivetrain will help them getting out of the corner faster and get up to speed faster, but its likely they will hit their top speed earlier on the straights, and its possible that it will be lower.
              Sure, we all know what Whiting mentioned, and I fully expect them to be noticably slower at the start of the year, but they will catch up pretty fast.

    19. The minimum weight was 600 from 1997-2006, and for 2007 changed to 605.

    20. How much will the tracks safety barriers have to change in order to keep these heavier cars contained away from spectators and drivers inside them safe? I hope that it will not take a bad incident to come to the realization that there needs to be an according change.

    21. F1 fanatic is the most F1 critical publication I have ever encountered. Here, everything is wrong with it. DRS is bad for F1, the rules are bad, KERS is bad, tyres are bad, the stewards are bad, & what else? Ah, the weight too is a bad thing now… I guess progress is hard to adapt to. Oh and Vettel is king (apparently).

      1. I think I’m better placed than most to tell you your characterisation of my views is, for the most part, wildly inaccurate:

        tyres are bad


        the stewards are bad


        the weight too is a bad thing now

        Kindly point to the part of the article above where I said that.

        KERS is bad

        I like KERS, I was disappointed when it was temporarily dropped for 2010, I was glad when they brought it back and I’m looking forward to it being more powerful next year.

        the rules are bad

        What, all of them? I would say the vast majority of them are fine, but I can think of a few examples which aren’t – the mandatory pit stop rule springs to mind, and I’m hardly in the minority when it comes to criticising that.

        DRS is bad for F1

        Of course it is, wretched artificial nonsense.

        My view on F1 today is nothing like as negative as you paint it to be. Of course the garden is not all bunny rabbits and roses, there’s the occasional thorn in there too.

        And while I never restrain myself from pointing out when F1 gets things badly wrong – like Bahrain or costs – I also like to celebrate what I love about the sport. For example, here are ten ways F1 has improved in ten years and 50 things that made the last season great.

      2. Bjornar, I guess you live in Utopia where everything is always perfect.

    22. A Ferrari 458 weighs 3,274 lbs. A Ford Motel T, 1,200 lbs. I’m too lazy to look up the numbers but I’m sure a Eurofighter Typhoon weighs a lot more than a Sopwith Camel.

      You could probably say that “All else being equal, lighter weight leads to better performance”, but there is much more to the first part of that claim than is apparent. All else very rarely is equal.

      Some older driver (Prost I think) was driving a modern F1 car and the biggest difference he noticed between it and the machines he drove in the 1980’s was the rigidity of the chassis. The older cars flexed under acceleration, under braking, and under cornering loads. Modern F1 cars are much stiffer. Of course there is a weight penalty associated with that

    23. Minimum weight (as of 2013) for various forms of racing from least to greatest. All weights without driver unless specified, not sure if LMP weights are with or without driver though.
      GP3 (with driver): 630kg
      IRL Indylight: 684kg or 693kg
      GP2 (with driver): 688kg
      IRL Indycar: 709kg
      LMP1, LMP2 & LMPC: 900kg
      Grand-Am DP: 1,009kg or 1,031kg
      NASCAR Euro: 1,179kg
      NASCAR Modified: 1,199kg
      NASCAR Mexico: 1,215kg
      NASCAR Canada: 1,360kg
      NASCAR K&N: 1,428kg or 1,462kg
      NASCAR Nationwide: 1,451kg
      NASCAR Cup: 1,496kg
      NASCAR Truck: 1,542kg

      All that being said though preformance is more about Power to Weight Ratio and Weight Distribution then it is just weight and a decent chunk of that weight (I’m gonna say atleast 180kg) in pretty much every one of those cars is from the engine alone & that’s probaly a conservative number.

      1. You left out a lot of much lighter formulae like F Ford, Clubsport (caterham etc.) F Vee and so many more, many lighter than F1.

        1. Yeah but at the same time a lot of those are sort of glorified-overgrown go-karts more-so then proper cars (if that makes sense lol).

          For example a TQ Midget is only around 400kg with a 125ish HP inline 4cylinder engine giving it a monstrous power-to-weight ratio, yet they’re relatively small cars as well (about 9ft long & 4.5ft wide)

      2. For LMP cars, the ACO’s regulations state that the minimum weight is without the driver or fuel on board. That is supposed to drop to 850kg for the manufacturer teams in 2014, whilst the privateers will be allowed to run at 830kg if they are not using any energy recovery systems (which they won’t – Toyota has said that it currently can’t find any customers due to the cost of their systems whilst Audi are outright refusing to sell their system to anybody else).

    24. They should have a system where the minimum weight is increased at the beginning of new regulations then decrease it each season as teams find ways to make their components lighter. For example at the start of 2009 with KERS the minimum weight was increased. For the next 4 seasons they should have decreased the minimum weight by 5-10 kg per season since the rules stayed relatively the same. By this season the minimum weight could have been at least 20-40 kg lighter. I’m sure its pretty reasonable from a cost perspective to be able to cut 5 kg out of the car each year.

      Perhaps they should have a rule where regulations must be stable for at least 5 seasons before they make a radical change such as V6 turbos. I think 2009-2014 is a perfect example.

      1. I get your idea, but I think that doing so would go against the targets of the FIA in cost (lighter morstly means more expensive materials and more complicated production methods) and safety (more rigid parts, etc. Although crash tests should prevent that)

    25. I enjoyed the article and thought it interesting about the BWM running KERS for one driver and not the other.

      I am not sure if this has been said before (probably) but isnt the weight include the driver as well. As lean a Webber is he is quite tall, 6ft or maybe 6ft 1 and Vettel is short and quite a slim build, about 10kg ligher. Could the ongoing KERS issue that Mark always seems to get that Seb rarely does (he has a bit yes, but Mark so much more frequent) be based around the weight of the KERS system?

      Assuming I am correct in the weight being net car and driver, not net weight PLUS driver Webber’s need’s to give somewhere!!??

    26. 2014 it is possible that formula Nippon is the fastest racing series of the world.

      1. I’m pretty sure they’re not gonna be faster then the NHRA anytime soon. Top Fuel car goes 0 to 515.92 km/h in 3.986 seconds.

    27. There’s a pretty obvious an solution that I’ve very surprised has not been looked at yet.

      Separate the car and driver weights.

      Have a minimum weight for the car that does not include the driver or seat. Cars are designed to that weight, full stop.

      Then have a separate minimum weight for the driver and seat combination – say, about 10kg heavier than the heaviest driver on the grid. Every driver and seat combo must be at least that weight at the start of the race. Then teams just add ballast to the seat to bring it up to the specified weight. Every driver/seat combo is then the same weight, with the weight distributed in roughly the same way (at least more homogeneous than it is now). No one gains an advantage by having a heavier or lighter driver, the car can stay the same between drivers, and just the seat ballast is modified.

      I emphasised the weight being taken at the start of the race because, as most of us know, drivers can lose a lot of water during a race. Take this as a given, measure the driver at the starting weight in, and then the FIA can prescribe the ballast to be added to the seat. Then, at the end, only the seat needs to be weighed.

      Yes, there will be variances in the amount of water lost. Also visits to the little boys room (or hopefully soon, little girls) will have an effect. Just suck these up and make them part of the variety of racing. If a particular driver is able to save his number 2 to occur just after the weigh in, all power to him – everyone else has the opportunity to do this too.

      What this would do would be to level the playing field for drivers of any weight, and still retain the minimum weight for the car.

      P.S. What about having the minimum weight exclude the wheels/tyres? This practice of weaving over the track to insure pick up is absurd – it’s basically an admission that the car is underweight.

    Comments are closed.