Formula 1 has switched to completely new regulations from 2022. In addition to a completely new concept designed to make it easier to drive into and overtake, the weight of the cars has also increased significantly. The minimum weight would actually be 795 kilograms, but after lobbying by some teams, the weight has increased to 798 kilograms. This means that the minimum weight in 2022 is almost 200 kilograms higher than in 2009.
It’s a development that’s taking Formula 1 in the wrong direction, says Adrian Newey. The Red Bull Racing designer sees this mainly as a disadvantage. “We are all working like crazy to reach the required minimum weight. In short, cars have gotten bigger and heavier. They are also not very efficient from an aerodynamic point of view because they have a lot of drag,” explains Newey Motorsport Magazine† In his view, the situation on both fronts is not ideal: “Light weight and aerodynamic efficiency are the two most important properties.”
The increased weight of F1 cars is often related to the improvements made in the area of safety. In 2018, for example, the addition of the halo has added weight, while the chassis has also become more solid and heavier over time. However, Newey disagrees that improved safety alone is responsible for the higher weight: “Some of the safety problems are self-reinforcing: the heavier the car, the stronger it needs to be.”
According to Newey, the higher weight of Formula 1 cars is not alone, but fits in with the path that the entire automotive industry has taken with ever larger and heavier cars. He sees another disadvantage in this: higher fuel consumption. “The biggest problem is the amount of energy it takes to get the thing moving. In that sense, it doesn’t matter where that energy comes from, from fuel or batteries,” he says. Newey’s wish list for future F1 cars is therefore not long but clear: “In my opinion, we need smaller, lighter and more energy-efficient cars.”