The big two stories of the year are yet to erupt and they are the FIA’s decision on allowing new entrants into Formula One. The second will be the fall out from any cost cap breaches.
Once again the FIA are late in announcing their ‘compliance certifications’ for teams who met the regulations for the spending limit in 2022.
Andretti F1 approval “imminent”
Meanwhile Andretti seem confident their application will get the green light and according to Mario it is “imminent.”
Yet during the summer break another dispute is beginning to emerge within the paddock and it is over the final specifications for the new power units.
Christian Horner has revealed Red Bull’s analysis suggests the cars will be super heavy given the threefold increase in the electrical store (battery) and that the combustion engine at times will merely serve as a generator for creating electricity.
Mercedes and Ferrari have resisted the Red Bull suggestion that the power ratio from the battery be dropped from 50% to 40-45%, yet it appears there may be a back door by which Red Bull will see their rule tweak approved.
Russell complains F1 cars too heavy
George Russell recently complained about the weight of the modern Formula One cars which are now over 200kg heavier than they were 15 years ago and some 900kg at the start of the race.
“The weight is extraordinary,” said the Mercedes driver. “At the moment, the low-speed performance is not great… We keep making these cars safer and safer, but obviously the heavier you make them when you have an impact it’s like crashing with a bus compared to a Smart Car.”
Now FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has weighed in on the matter.
“I drove in rallies myself. Give me everything, but please no heavy car!” He said to Motorsport Total. “That always bothered me. Lighter cars are better and I know what I’m talking about.
FIA president backs lighter cars
“If the weight is heavier, the suspension will be compromised, the brakes will not work as well, the tyres will wear out faster. And more weight is more dangerous in a crash.”
Of course the improved safety of the modern F1 car design has added considerable weight over the years, but the length and width of the cars means their current footprint is at an historic high.
“I’ve already spoken to my team at the FIA,” he added. “We want lighter cars and we want a better sound. That’s ultimately up to the FIA.
“If Stefano [Domenicali] wants that too, fine, then we agree on that point. But the FIA has to decide. We’ll implement it. Not , because the FOM or a team wants it that way. It’s because it’s the right thing for the sport.”
Weight loss opportunities explained
The FIA representative who runs the day to day business of Formula One recently gave an interview to the Race and explained how the weight of the new 2026 cars was shaping up. And there were targets to “reduce the dimensions” and “reduce or contain car mass.”
However, Nikolas Tombazis reveals the FIA and teams’ decision not to revert to a V10 or V8 with 100% sustainable fuels means that around half of the 200kg increase is baked into the V6 hybrid power unit.
The additional 100kg Tombasis explains is from the following:
“About 50kg-odd are for safety. So halos, much stronger chassis, bigger protections and so on and so forth. So again, nobody would want to compromise that.
“Then there’s where the opportunity is, and there’s about 15-20kg because of more complex systems on the cars and there’s about 30-35kg on car dimensions. So cars being much longer and wider, bigger tyres and so on.”
Savings offset by bigger battery
However, the cars should become shorter and more narrow because this is the area in which the FIA can make a win.
“And we believe in the car dimensions there lies an opportunity. We would want 2026 cars to be quite a lot shorter and probably maybe a bit narrower as well and all of that is going to contain the weight increase.”
Yet even that saving will be offset by an increase in weight due to the threefold more powerful battery component.
“On the other side, there is a battery increase because we are going more electrical which is adding a bit of weight. So the net effect I hope is going to be a bit lighter, but not a massive amount.”
Red Bull proposal reduces weight
This hardly appears to be a satisfactory response to George Russell or Mohammad Ben Sulayem’s wishes.
Of course were the Red Bull suggestion that the battery be toned down by 20% be accepted by the FIA, this could provide a weight saving equal to that of the reduced dimensions of the car.
Tombazis believes the dimensions could save “30-35k” which is a mere 3% of the current weight. Doubling that to 6% still sounds small but may get the FIA out of a hole given the expectations of the Formula One fans who have been promised smaller lighter cars.
Fernando Alonso, full-time race driver, part-time race strategist, engineer & side quest completer? 😆
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 15, 2023