As the latest Formula 1 Mexico City Grand Prix kicks off today, Sunday, Nov. 7, racing fans might want to know: Why do F1 drivers get weighed?
After one Reddit user asked that very question in the Formula 1 subreddit several years ago, others chimed in with answers.
“Extra weight obviously would be a disadvantage in car performance terms, but you can’t be under the [minimum weight limit],” one said. “It’s also why lighter-weight drivers tend to be a more appealing choice to teams. A lighter driver gives the team more opportunity to distribute ballast in and around the car to alter or improve a lower center of gravity, e.g. to improve car balance/performance. … It’s a balancing act with car weight, ballast (depending if and how much) and driver weight.”
F1 introduced a minimum driver weight in 2019.
As Motorsport.com explained in 2018, F1 decided to establish a minimum weight of 80 kilograms — about 176 pounds — for drivers and their seat ballast. The total weight for cars and their drivers rose to 740 kilograms, up from 734 kilograms in 2018, 728 kilograms in 2017, and 702 kilograms before that.
The 80-kilogram minimum for drivers and their seats meant that a 70-kilogram driver would need 10 kilograms of seat ballast below them, the site explained.
“It’s been a common topic over many years; actually, it’s not a fresh point,” Paddy Lowe, then the technical chief for the Williams Racing team, told Motorsport.com at the time. “If you go back many years, actually, the driver weight was not in the car weight at all. And then it became added somewhere in the mid-‘90s to the total weight. But it’s still left, as some perceive — including many of the drivers — a problem around their management of weight. Sometimes that can affect them personally in quite a big way.”
He went on: “I think particularly with younger drivers it can even lead to health problems, because of this constant drive to lower the weight, to possibly unhealthy levels. Personally, I think it’d be a good thing for the sport, something that many drivers have been asking for for many years, to take that element away, within reason.”