Why F1 cars in 2022 will be the heaviest in the hybrid era
JAY LAWRENCE AT FORMULA ONE MANAGEMENT LTD
- Formula 1 is entering a new era of cars in 2022, and these cars will be the heaviest cars we’ve seen, at least in the hybrid era.
- The minimum car weight in 2022 is set at 1,752 pounds (795 kg), an increase of over 440 pounds (200 kg) from 2008
- Formula 1 chefs realize that heavier cars are a problem, but in fact reducing weight is far from an easy task.
As recently as 2008, the year Lewis Hamilton won the first of his seven world titles, Formula 1 cars had a minimum weight of 1311 pounds (595 kg).
For 2022, the minimum weight is set at 1,752 pounds (795 kg), an increase of over 440 pounds (200 kg) from 2008, and even a considerable increase from the 2021 minimum weight of 1,657 pounds. (752 kg). It continues the trend of the 2010s in which Formula 1 cars got bulkier, heavier and lazier, while also setting new track records.
The weight of 1,752 pounds (795 kg), including 176 pounds (80 kg) for the driver’s seat, does not include the 242 pounds (110 kg) of fuel needed for a race distance, which means cars Formula 1 cars will be a whopping 1,995 pounds (905 kg) at the start of the Grands Prix. During the days of race refueling, which was banned in 2009, cars typically weighed around 1,443 pounds (650 kg) with the lights off.
Why the increase?
A major increase came at the dawn of the hybrid era of sport in 2014 due to the additional weight involved in the complex 1.6-liter V6 turbo hybrid power units compared to their 2.4-liter V8 predecessors. There had already been an increase, to 1,411 pounds (640 kg) in 2011, when the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) was widely adopted.
A partial overhaul was performed in 2015, shifting the minimum limit above 1,543 pounds (700 kg), while in 2020 another 2.2 pounds (1 kg) was added to facilitate a second flow meter. of fuel, to help the FIA measure fuel consumption. This follows never-proven suspicions that the standard fuel flow meter was being exploited for performance gains.
As part of the technical regulations, the power unit must have a minimum weight of 330 pounds (150 kg), and within which the MGU-K must weigh at least 15.4 pounds (7 kg), the MGU-H at least 8.8 pounds (4 kg) and the energy store at least 44 pounds (20 kg). There are also minimum weights relating to the crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons assembly. The decision to have minimum weights of certain components was motivated by a desire to ensure that manufacturers do not enter an expense war if the performance reward is minimal.
In the early years of the hybrid era, some teams struggled to meet the minimum weight limit. Taller and heavier drivers were at a disadvantage. F1 driver Adrian Sutil even tried to fast for two days before a race on an experimental basis in 2014. This was alleviated for 2019 when a minimum seat weight of 176 pounds (80 kg) was set; indeed, any driver (plus equipment and seat) under 176 pounds would have added ballast in the cockpit area to even the field. This has contributed to an increase of 15.4 pounds (7 kg) in total weight for this season.
The increase in the size of Formula 1 tires is also a factor. The switch to wider tires in 2017 resulted in an increase in weight, while this change coincided with an overhaul of aerodynamic regulations which resulted in wider and more aggressive Formula 1 cars – which were therefore heavier. . For 2022, Formula 1 changes from 13-inch to 18-inch tires, which also feature hubcaps, and the revised product is 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) heavier for each front tire and 6.6 pounds. (3 kg) for each of the stands, bringing a total increase of just over 24 pounds (11 kg).
Safety is also attributable to gain. The FIA Safety Department continually researches and understands methods of protecting drivers from injury. This means that over the years the frames have become stronger to withstand more stringent demands.
Most of these safety features are hidden or underrated items, but the fundamentally obvious change was the introduction of the HALO halo head protection device in 2018. It must withstand a force of 125 kN (kilonewton) (equivalent to approximately 12 tonnes) for five seconds without compromising its integrity. This resulted in an overall weight saving of around 13.2 pounds (6 kg), while the chassis also had to be adapted to accommodate the additional structure above the cockpit area.
Minimum weight of F1 cars of the hybrid era (2014-present)
2022: 1741 lbs (795 kg)
2021: 1,657 lbs (752 kg)
2017: 1,604 lbs (728 kg)
2014: 1,521 lbs (690 kg)
Formula 1 chefs realize that heavier cars are a problem, but in fact reducing weight is far from an easy task. The series and the teams are tackling this for F1’s next major evolution in 2022.
“Some of the main goals are: can we gain weight? F1 sporting director Ross Brawn said in a media roundtable last November. “It’s a challenge with a hybrid car and the safety initiatives we have these days. Can we have a lighter car? Sure, can we have a smaller car? We believe we can. There is a very real chance with what evolves to 26 we can have a more compact car.
But for at least 2022, Formula 1 will be competing with its heaviest machine of all time.
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