Drivers grapple with weight issues as new regulations come into force

Heavier v6 turbo engines in 2014 will PUT ONUS ON drivers TO become lighter as TEAMS strive for advantage.

Written by Associated Press | Yeongam | Published:October 5, 2013 3:42 am

Formula Formula One teams say next year’s weight rules for cars could push taller and heavier drivers out of the sport,but the chances of it being revised are unlikely because that would require consensus within the notoriously divided group.

The combined weight limit for car and driver will be raised from 642 kilograms to 690 next year,but the 2014 cars – which require radical changes to accommodate V6 turbo engines – are likely to be more than 50 kilograms heavier than existing models so,in effect,the allowance for drivers will fall.

While the car-driver combination can legally be above the limit,teams try to keep as close to the mark as possible,as every kilogram extra costs about three-hundredths of a second per lap on an average circuit.

Some reports have suggested that highly-regarded Sauber driver Nico Hulkenberg missed out on a seat at Ferrari next season and is being viewed skeptically by other top teams because,at 78 kilograms,his weight could be a liability under next season’s rules.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the Hulkenberg situation provides a strong argument as to why the limit “is something that should be looked at.”

“Theoretically it is not a factor for us because we have got two drivers that are of a reasonable weight,but it does penalize a driver like (current Red Bull driver) Mark (Webber),who could have driven for us,or someone like Hulkenberg,” he said.

“It would be a factor in signing a driver like him,which cannot be right. He shouldn’t be penalized for being more than six foot.”

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said the hyper-competitiveness of F1 teams and the realpolitik of the sport meant a united front in arguing for an increase is unlikely.

“The teams now will have,and are working hard,to meet the weight limit and the team’s self-interests will prevail,” Whitmarsh was quoted as saying by Autosport. “The team that thinks it is OK will block any change,and that is how things will work I’m afraid. Momentarily,maybe for one or two years,a heavier driver is going to be disadvantaged. That it not what was intended but that is how it has happened.”

Taller drivers like Webber and McLaren’s Jenson Button are in a constant battle to keep their weight down. Webber was concerned that the new regulations will provide an even greater barrier for tall drivers making it in F1.

“The lighter drivers should be pushing as well (for an increase in the minimum weight) but they don’t because obviously it’s nice for them,”’ said Webber,who is leaving F1 at the end of the season to move into sports-car racing with Porsche.

Ferrari unhappy

Ferrari has slammed next year’s proposed calendar,saying the schedule is “almost impossible” and has urged authorities to reduce the number of races by at least two. The draft calendar for next year includes 22 races,though South Korea,New Jersey and Mexico are listed as provisional. Ferrari team manager Massimo Rivola said the mid-season sequence of Monaco,New Jersey and Montreal — with only one week’s break between each — would cause a major logistical headache.

Hamilton the fastest in Korea

YEONGAM: Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton got the better of runaway Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel by setting the fastest time in Friday’s practice for the Korean Grand Prix. Saturday’s qualifying shapes again as being a shootout between Mercedes and Red Bull,with Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg and the Red Bulls of Vettel and Mark Webber all within two-tenths of a second of the leading time.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso,who is in second place in the drivers’ standings was seventh fastest,seven-tenths of a second off Hamilton’s time In the morning session,several drivers ran wide off the unrubbered and dusty surface,with the major incident seeing Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen make heavy side-on impact with tire barriers just as the session ended. — AP

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