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F1

Why F1 can't solve critical driver complaint

The weight increase of F1 machinery in the past decade has led to complaints from competitors up and down the grid.

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F1 drivers' complaints over the heavy weight of current machinery continue to be aired with the sport only in the second year of its new technical era.

Cars now are just under 200kg heavier than they were at the start of the 2000s, where drivers could be seen slinging the front end into corners and where the agility of the machinery gave the impression the sport was faster than it actually was.

Mercedes driver George Russell suggested the increasing weight would become a safety issue for drivers when crashing, yet reducing weight isn't the easiest feat to accomplish.

Here are the key areas stopping weight from being taken off F1 cars.

Technology

The technology within F1 cars has radically evolved since the 2000s, not least in the engine compartment.

Gone are the days of 'simple' V10s and V8s, with the complex power units nowadays comprising a number of components. The Internal Combustion Engine, Turbo Charger, Energy Store, Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic and Hybrid and Control Electronics are all pieced together as part of the V6 turbo-hybrid regulatory era introduced in 2014.

Further changes are to come in 2026 which are expected to add to the weight even further and, no matter how much complaining will be done, F1's sustainability goals cannot be messed with.

It's worth noting the change to more 'aggressive' aesthetics in 2017, with cars longer, lower and wider, increased weight compared to the narrower, shorter predecessor in 2016.

The current cars are well over half a metre longer than in the 2000s, and extra material will always equate to extra weight.

Tyres

An obvious area of mass inflation, F1's tyres have increased in width and circumference in the past decade.

Wider tyres, particularly at the rear of the car, added weight before taking into account the larger wheel rims needed to connect tyre-to-machine.

A move from 13-inch wheels to 18-inch wheels came as part of F1's newest technical regulatory era, again ramping up the weight. Extensive research went into creating the tyres – which are easier to translate technology towards road cars – and would not be something the sport nor Pirelli would be willing to reverse in a heartbeat.

Wheel covers have also been added in the modern era and whilst this is not an egregious weight increase, every little helps.

Safety

F1 and the FIA have dedicated so much effort to safety measures to ensure drivers are not put in undue danger when racing.

As such, a number of safety innovations have been added to cars which all add weight.

The Halo is an obvious example, with the vital structure already being proven to save lives across motorsport categories. This cannot be removed.

Crash structures aren't seen underneath the bodywork of F1 cars but are vital in protecting drivers from impacts at various angles.

Mercedes' now ditched zeropod concept demonstrated these structures effectively, with the undignified knuckle at the front of the 'sidepod' dictated by the homologated crash structure.

Roll hoops have been consistently evolving in order to protect drivers when cars flip, with the latest strengthening to the component coming after Zhou Guanyu's frightening British Grand Prix crash last season.

Red Bull Chief Technical Officer Pierre Wache explained: "The most important aspect [is] the safety [which] improved a lot for the drivers and we would not like to compromise that."

This is ultimately the biggest stumbling block for F1. The cars are some of the fastest produced in the sport's history, yet look visibly slower than two decades ago purely because of how the weight portrays reaction between driver and machinery.

The lack of agility cannot force F1 to sacrifice safety and the technical regulations have only recently been overhauled, so unfortunately for the drivers, the heavier cars are here to stay.

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