In order to wrestle a modern Formula One car around the track, you need to be in peak physical condition, right? Well, that's usually the case, but this season is seeing that notion turned on its head as some of the drivers are forced to undertake drastic weight-loss measures.

Why this season more than others, you ask? Because of changes in the regulations. While the new cars have smaller engines, other changes to the formula (like larger batteries) mean that the cars are heavier overall. Yet the minimum weight limit has apparently not been adjusted proportionately, forcing teams to look even harder to trim excess weight. And when everything's already made of carbon fiber, there's not much more weight to cut, so the onus falls on the drivers.

Those drivers (like flyweight Felipe Massa, who reportedly weighs just 130 pounds without his helmet and gear) already at the lighter end of the spectrum have an advantage, but those who are physically larger are undertaking drastic and potentially dangerous measures in order to keep up, let alone get ahead. Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne, for example, is larger than his team-mate Daniil Kvyat. So to keep up with his lighter wingman, Vergne undertook a drastic weight-loss regimen that he has now revealed forced him into the hospital between the grands prix in Australia and Malaysia. Meanwhile Adrian Sutil, who at 165 pounds is one of the larger on the grid, has been forced to race without a water supply on board in order to cut weight.

That's why some of the drivers are petitioning to have the weight limits changed. Some of the lighter drivers, however, have reportedly been blocking the efforts, keen to hold on to their advantage. If action isn't taken soon, we can't imagine it will be too long before teams start dumping larger drivers in favor of physically smaller ones, leading Formula One down a path that would, not unlike horse racing, value smaller stature and lower weight over skill and experience in their drivers. But even before that happens, we could be looking at a situation where some of the larger drivers still on the grid, forced to lose weight and forgo drinking water during the race, could easily lose concentration or even consciousness behind the wheel, with potentially disastrous consequences given the speeds involved.


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  • 26 Comments
      RetrogradE
      • 8 Months Ago
      This is why I didn't make the final cut for F1 racing. . .I lost the necessary weight, but my junk is just too big. Can't lose that weight, you know?
      jebibudala
      • 8 Months Ago
      Great, now all I need to do is convince my gf to become an F1 driver.
      Ducman69
      • 8 Months Ago
      Before this turns into horse racing where only malnourished midgets can be competitive, simply put in a rule that compensates for differences in rider weight, to where there is no advantage in having a sub 180lb weight.
        Georg
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Ducman69
        thats the way to go give them a minimum driver weigth including helmet and gear... if the driver is lighter the extra weight to fill up the gap to the minimum weight must be added ABOUVE the drivers shoulder high or a high point abouve the ground... that would stop them to use underweight drivers to place the extra weight somewere at the cars floor
      Demeisen
      • 8 Months Ago
      Or, it even begs the question, are the margins in winning an F1 race so slim that a 10 lb (or more) difference in driver weight, despite a 'car' that is powered by insane horsepower and gear ratios going to make a that much of a difference? Sure, a 300 lb driver would be at a slight disadvantage, but if all the drivers are are pretty much around the same weight, this whole topic is just dumb. I feel dumber for commenting on it. Stupid F1....
      davebo357
      • 8 Months Ago
      Well that's just unhealthy what they're doing. What's funny is when you see 250lbs guys spending thousands of dollars to lose 50lbs from their street cars, instead of just doing some sit ups.
      Israel Isassi
      • 8 Months Ago
      Starting to look like horse racing jockeys and teenage gymnasts will have new career opportunities.
      duck_echo
      • 8 Months Ago
      Bring on the amputees !
      BipDBo
      • 8 Months Ago
      Why don't they just have the drivers control their cars through remote control? Car mounted cameras and various sensors could feed info back to big simulator style controllers with 360 degree, 3D screens, hydraulics, speakers, etc. Drivers might even be more daring. Mount a dummy head on top of the car, maybe even a robotic hand that can wave, and the fans won't even know the difference. Solve this problem as well as driver safety. The sport would be open to anyone, even a 350 lb gamer. Of course, I'm joking. (mostly)
      imag
      • 8 Months Ago
      This is ridiculous. Top tier automobile racing should not be about driver weight. It should be about the driver's skill and the machine's performance.
        Jaclock LaGlock
        • 8 Months Ago
        @imag
        Well, the machine performs better with a lighter driver... I'm just messing with you (even though it's true). I think it's stupid too that some drivers are doing this to themselves but, until some sort of rule change is applied, teams will always do whatever they can to get that slightest edge.
      John Ralphio
      • 8 Months Ago
      So... Should we be expecting a driver to pass out from dehydration during a race and smash into a barrier at full clip? Killing himself can who know how many other track officials and race fans? *Siiiigh* Stop the MADNESS!! You cannot stop the teams determination and expect them to govern themselves in the name of their personal safety. THey are SPECIAL breed who's only goal in life is to win at ANY cost. These stupid ******* regulations are terribly transparent attempt to limit the human condition. And it's doing a piss-poor job. Let these teams COMPETE in a PINNACLE format. Don't claim to be something you're not. That's today's F1, and it's a joke.
      KingTito
      • 8 Months Ago
      "In my day, the driver's were fat and the tires were skinny" Foilan Gonzalez - Ferrari Team driver in the early 1950s
      johnnythemoney
      • 8 Months Ago
      You're missing the point here, even if there is a problem with drivers loosing weight indeed. The minimum weight of F1 cars is 682 kg including the driver and his gear. Back in the pre-hybrid days cars were much lighter than the minimum weight (600 kg back then) and ballast could be used in strategic parts of the car to balance it perfectly on each specific track. When the 2014 rules were implemented the weight was raised to 692 kg, but according to most it wasn't enough, therefore reducing the quantity of ballast a team could use to balance the car. Eventually the attention turned to drivers. Every kg they can ditch is a 1 kg of ballast to be positioned in a more convenient place. Does it make sense from a performance point of view? Yes. Does it make sense period? No.
        johnnythemoney
        • 8 Months Ago
        @johnnythemoney
        Sorry, for some weird reason the article didn't load completely and I couldn't read the fact you already mentioned what I've just said. Mr bad. The weight is 692 kg btw, not 682.
        RocketRed
        • 8 Months Ago
        @johnnythemoney
        Actually the fore-aft weight distribution was fixed in I think 2011. It's been that way for a while. Which took away the main benefit of getting lighter. The game now is to get the weight down low. Even if you have a skinny driver, you still want him skinnier to get that weight down low. The only way to get rid of this terrible situation is to fix a minimum weight of driver+seat, thus CoG will not be at issue---unless one driver has a big bottom or a very big head.
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