Mercedes reveal key steps needed to bring lighter cars to F1 grid

Sam Cooper
The start of the Canadian GP from above. Montreal June 2023.

Max Verstappen leads the field at the start of the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix.

Mercedes chief James Allison has urged F1 to stop the “inexorable upward trend” and make cars lighter.

In 2013, the minimum weight of an F1 car was 642kg and yet 10 years later, that figure has ballooned to 798kg. Go back even further and to the year Fernando Alonso won his first title in 2005 and he would have done so in a car weighing 585kg.

The 2022 regulations saw the biggest single rise in a year with cars going up 46kg but now there are calls for that trend to be reversed.

F1 plots weight limit changes to stop boring races

That added weight has made Formula 1 less exciting at certain circuits such as Monaco where the size and mass of the cars makes overtaking near impossible.

Formula 1 wants to stop that and is aiming for 2026, when the next set of regulations changes, come to address the problem.

Both the heads of F1 and the FIA have stated their desire for the cars to get lighter but F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali admitted it is not an easy problem to solve.

“We used to think of F1 in terms of light cars. The weight-to-power ratio has always been a determining factor,” he told Sky Italia.

“It is clear that today, between the hybridisation and the safety systems, weight is an issue that I would like to be able to manage better to give the drivers a lighter car.

“But it will take a great magic wand,” Domenicali admitted.

Mercedes support Domenicali’s call for lighter cars

While safety becomes more of an issue the lighter a car is, the teams certainly seem open to the cars shedding a couple kgs in order to make for better racing.

Mercedes’ technical director Allison said the sport was on an “inexorable upward trend” and it was something that had to be “arrested and then reversed.”

“I strongly agree with Stefano, and he’s not alone in thinking that this sort of inexorable upward trend in weight is something that has to be arrested and then reversed,” Allison told media, including RacingNews365.com.

“Year-on-year, [the cars] were getting heavier. It isn’t super trivial to get the weight moving in the other direction. It is particularly tricky to dream up technical rules that are going to make the car much lighter.”

The 2026 changes will primarily be focused on the power units with suppliers asked to create greener but cheaper F1 engines.

Allison though suggested that the FIA and F1 put the onus on the teams to come up with a solution.

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“The way to make it lighter is to lower the weight limit and make it our problem,” he suggested.

“If cars are over the limit, then it forces us all to make some fairly difficult decisions about what we put in our cars and what we don’t.

“Not everyone agrees with that point of view, but that’s the most guaranteed way to put downward pressure on the weight of the car.”