With the upcoming change in the F1’s technical regulations effective from 2022, we are set to observe the heaviest cars in the history of the sport, with their minimum weight currently set at 790kg. The safety improvements such as halo and the switch to a heavier turbo hybrid power units from 2014 onwards have obviously contributed to the change, from around 640kg at the end of the V8 era, to now reaching around 750kg. Due to the current design and the weight of the cars, in the recent few years there has been a lot of talk on how these changes contributed to the fact that race tracks such as Monaco are no longer really suited for the F1 cars, and appeal less interesting for the spectators.
For Lewis Hamilton, somebody who has been outspoken before about the sustainability issues in F1, the extra weight that will be “introduced” next year also seems contradictory to the aim to make cars in general lighter, in order to use less energy. As he said in a recent interview: “I don’t understand why we’re going heavier. I don’t understand particularly why we go heavier when there’s all this talk about being more sustainable – just as the sport is going in that direction.
“By going heavier and heavier and heavier, you’re using more and more energy. So that feels that’s not necessarily in the right direction or in the thought process. The lighter cars were more nimble, were nowhere near as big, naturally, and so racing, manoeuvring the car, was better.”
He added: “On the tracks we’re going to, they’re getting wider. In Baku it’s quite wide in places and of course it’s narrow in other places.
“Monaco was always relatively impossible to pass, but now the cars are so big that it’s too big for the track. And, as I said, as we get heavier and heavier, that’s more energy we’ve got to dissipate – bigger brakes, more brake dust, more fuel to get you to the locations. So, I don’t fully understand it.”
After the Monaco GP there has been a lot of talk about the current design of the cars, and just how hard it is to race and overtake on such a venue, when the cars are so big, especially in regards to Mercedes’ poor performance during that GP weekend. As Hamilton said in regards to that weekend: “This has never generally been a strong track for us. We have the longest car, the longer the car means it is like a bus to turn through corners, so it is not as nimble as the others on a small track like this but it is great elsewhere.”
Although it is every teams priority to deliver a car that performs on every type of track as best as possible, there is a pretty big disconnect between the performance on street tracks and permanent racing tracks, which the Monaco GP definitely visualised in the best way. Do you think that Formula 1 will soon look harder into the problem and decide to change something to improve the quality of racing as well as the spectacle for the fans?