As we say hello to the halo and goodbye to the T-wings in 2018, the FIA are already looking at ways to improve the sport for 2019.
Last year, the FIA introduced us to the idea of a new driver cockpit halo device that would be made a mandatory part of the 2018 cars.
Then we were told that the current ‘t-wings’ and ‘shark fin’ styled engine covers would be outlawed for the same season.
Now, we’re being told of what to expect next year when the 2019 season kicks off.
The FIA is finalising plans to introduce a new ‘minimum drive weight’ rule for 2019, to ensure that heavier drivers aren’t getting a disadvantage.
The idea emerged from an F1 Strategy Group meeting, where discussions had been made about ways of improving the sport in a way that doesn’t penalise heavier drivers.
The new rule will see a number off changes, including a minimum weight of 80kg being established for the driver and his seat, including special ballast that will sit underneath to add to the total weight for drivers under the minimum requirements.
The proposed changes will also see the total car/driver combined minimum weight total increase a further 6kg to 740kg. Meaning, when considered on its own, the car will weigh 660kg.
A detailed proposal will be drawn up for final approval at the next Technical Working Group meeting.
Driver weight first became a major talking point in Formula 1 back in the V8 era, when most cars were edging the limit. This was due to heavier drivers being told to slim down by their teams, which grew concerns for driver health.
Despite the FIA wanting to stop heavier drivers from being ‘penalised’, introducing the new rule isn’t going to be easy for teams to adjust to.
For 2018, car/driver weight was further increased to 734kg, to allow for the introduction of the new Halo device. However, the Halo and its mountings can add up to an additional 15kg in weight, meaning it could actually create more problems for heavier drivers as it takes away any leeway they would previously have had, to run with ballast.
Perhaps that’s why the FIA is planning the new minimum driver weight rule, to allow for the extra overall car/driver weight once the new Halo is in use after some drivers have already been told they may need to work on losing some extra weight to prevent exceeding the current weight limits.
The new rule would mean a driver weighing 70kg would require a 10kg seat ballast, whereas a driver weighing 75kg would only require 5kg of ballast.
The announcement of the possible weight changes also means that teams now know they will need to achieve a new goal when working on their cars for 2019, knowing they will have that 660kg car weight limit.
But, car/driver weight isn’t a fresh talking point in the F1 world.
We’ll see the new weight rule changes in 2019, but the Halo will make its debut at the Australian Grand Prix on March 22, when the 2018 season kicks off.