Nine of the ten Formula 1 teams currently weigh more than the minimum weight of 795 kilograms with their cars – some teams are even double digits above it. Apparently only Alfa Romeo is on target, and McLaren not far off. The rest would probably welcome an increase of this limit. But is that possible three weeks before the start of the season?
The spiral keeps turning upwards, as reported by German magazin Auto Motor und Sport. 20 years ago the weight limit was still 600 kilograms. The minimum weight of the cars is now 795 kilograms. The 2022 cars, with their bigger tires and improved safety, are up 43 kilograms compared to last year. Formula 1 is approaching the 800 kilogram mark.
Drivers want lighter cars so they don’t have to steer trucks around slow corners. Engineers want even heavier cars so they don’t have headaches anymore. Word in the paddock is that nine of the ten teams are over the minimum weight. Some even in double digits. Only Alfa Romeo should have no problems. The McLaren MCL36 is said to have just a little bit of extra weight.
U-turn in Barcelona
Every kg too much makes the car slower. On a race track like Barcelona, ten kilograms cost around three tenths of a second of performance. That’s why efforts are being made in the paddock to raise the minimum weight again before the start of the season. Five to ten kilograms more are circulating as numbers. But that’s not entirely conceivable. Formula 1 should at least not want to go over a minimum weight of 799 kilograms. An 800 should not be in the technical regulations for image reasons alone.
The subject is covered by the apparent touchdown of the cars. But it is no less exciting how the FIA deals with it. An attempt by teams during the test drives in Barcelona to have a higher car weight stipulated failed. “First it was said that the weight was going up, then there was a turnaround,” says Red Bull sports director Helmut Marko with a slightly angry tone.
Red Bull belongs to the teams that are clearly above the limit. On the other side are Alfa Romeo and McLaren. And the two of them naturally have no great interest in building a bridge for the other. And why, if you don’t have any major worries yourself. They do not accept the argument of the high costs associated with any weight saving. The budget is limited by the cost cap. The budget limit is just over 140 million US dollars.
The problem could be solved with lighter components. Then, however, there would be a lack of development budget elsewhere – for one or the other upgrade during the season. This makes it even easier to understand why the top teams, in the course of the discussion about sprint races, campaigned for an increase in the budget cap by 2.65 million dollars. Doing it in one go, with new and at the same time lighter parts, might take too long.
In order to correct the current minimum weight of 795 kilograms upwards before the start of the season, eight of the ten teams would have to agree. Plus the FIA and Formula 1. That’s what the Concorde Agreement requires. Arguments must be heard and evaluated. What would be fair in terms of sport?