While F1’s engine regulations from 2026 are set in stone, the chassis rules are far from being finalised as series bosses weigh up the direction they want to see things go.
But one key area that F1 and the FIA are in agreement over is that efforts must be made to reduce the weight of the cars, which are heavier now than they have ever been.
For this season, the minimum car weight has been set at 798 kilogrammes, which is more than 200kg heavier than they were back in 2008 prior to the introduction of batteries, energy recovery systems and modern-day safety systems.
The switch to turbo hybrid engines in 2014 led to the minimum weight increasing to 691kg, with the addition of the halo and further improved safety structures prompting a rise to around 740kg by 2019.
But the new ground effects cars in 2022, with bigger wheels and different aerodynamics, triggered a dramatic jump up to the current 798kg level.
As F1 prepares for its next rules cycle in 2026, when new power unit regulations come into play, both the FIA and F1’s commercial rights holder see an opportunity to change things.
Speaking exclusively to Autosport about plans for the future, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: “One thing I would like to see is very clear, we need a lighter car.
Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
“I believe this is better. I come from motorsport, where lighter cars are safer and they won’t use the same amount of fuel.
“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 said that the issue of car weight needed putting on the agenda for imminent discussions about the 2026 rules.
“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.”
The agreement of Ben Sulayem and Domenicali over car weight being something that F1 needs to address will be welcome news to drivers, who have long complained about the issue.
Speaking earlier this year, Mercedes star George Russell, who is a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA), said that heavy cars had actually started to prompt some safety concerns.
“The weight is extraordinary,” he told Autosport. “At the moment, the low-speed performance is not great.
“We keep making these cars safer and safer, 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 weighs 800-odd-kgs or over 900kgs at the start of a race, compared to one 15 years ago when they were at 650kg.
“And I’m sure there’s analysis going on about striking that right balance because I don’t know where the line is drawn.
“If you just keep making it heavier, heavier, heavier, stronger, stronger, stronger – actually you get to a point where you cross over that [line] that too heavy is actually not safer.”2023-06-10T08:15:24Z dg43tfdfdgfd