Why Are Formula 1 Drivers Weighed After Races?

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Although we may be accustomed to seeing boxers/MMA fighters weighed before a match, it may seem strange for the uninformed viewer to see Formula One drivers weighed after driving sessions. However, there are some very important reasons that Formula One drivers are weighed.

The reason why Formula One drivers are weighed after a driving session is that FIA regulations require drivers to be at least 80kgs in weight and to determine how much weight a driver has lost through sweat during a race, and how best to hydrate them as a result. 

To understand why FIA regulations have recently changed to require that a Formula One driver must weigh a minimum of 80kgs, how this weight is policed and monitored concerning other FIA weight regulations for Formula One cars, and the importance of post-race hydration, these will all be discussed in greater detail below:

Why Is A Formula One Driver’s Weight Important?

Formula One drivers have to be in peak physical fitness to operate a Formula One car; therefore, weight loss is an important part of their fitness regimes. Weight loss allows for ease of mobility in Formula One cockpits which are notoriously compact and uncomfortable.

However, because the weight of a driver affects a Formula One vehicle (see below for further details), this meant that Formula One drivers and teams would employ extreme methods to gain a competitive advantage over the competition.

An example would be drivers deliberately overtraining and undereating to be as light as possible before qualifying sessions and race day. This proved to be dangerous to the health of Formula One drivers, but it also proved to be an unfair advantage to the weight restrictions of Formula One vehicles between different teams.

For example, a Formula One team with a driver that weighed 50kgs vs. a Formula One team that had a driver who weighed 80kgs would have an extra 30kgs of weight that they could use to adjust the shape; structure, and composition of their car! 

A Formula One car’s overall weight is essential to grip the track. Increased weight allows a Formula One vehicle to take corners faster without fear of losing grip or oversteering.

Because weight is an essential part of Formula One, the FIA mandates a minimum weight rule for all competing vehicles. The weight rule extends to regulating drivers’ weight to keep the regulations fair across different teams and maintain Formula One drivers’ well-being.

However, a Formula One car’s weight influences various factors; although a heavier car can improve grip and control, a lighter car is more fuel-efficient, faster, and presents less of a challenge in tire management and degradation.

Consequently, it is evident why a Formula One driver’s weight was such a crucial part of Formula One before introducing weight restrictions by the FIA.

What Is The FIA’s Driver Weight Regulation?

Because weight is an essential part of Formula One, the FIA mandates a minimum weight rule for all competing vehicles. The weight rule extends to regulating driver’s weight to keep the regulations fair across different teams and to maintain the well-being of Formula One drivers.

At writing, a Formula One car’s minimum weight (including the driver) is 798kg. Therefore the FIA regulations stipulate that 80kgs must be from the Formula One drivers. If the driver’s weight is below 80kgs, a ballast is secured to the driver’s seat to reach the 80kg requirement.

A controversial strategy employed by teams involves Formula One drivers picking up rubber from the track, which will stick to the tires and increase the car’s weight, ensuring it meets the required minimum weight at the end of the race.

Although this is a risky strategy, as underweight cars are subject to disqualification, some teams consider this a worthwhile risk as FIA stewards are seldom seen to punish drivers for supposed weight increase strategies during a race.

Why Are Drivers Weighed After Qualifying And Races?

Due to sweat, formula One drivers lose between 4 to 7 pounds of weight by the end of a race or qualifying session. The loss of sweat is because of the physical exertion spent by Formula One drivers to combat the g-forces while racing and external heat conditions.

The heat situations experienced by F1 drivers depend on which track they are racing, the design of their car, the design of their equipment, and the weather conditions. All of which can contribute to temperatures over 122F!

Outside of weather and track conditions, the compact nature of an F1 car results in immense heat being generated by the engine and the cockpit.

To combat these conditions and the loss of fluids, drivers will drink upward of 1.5 liters of liquid before a qualifying session or race.

Furthermore, drivers are seldom seen outside of their team’s cockpit in-between races, with further safety measures taken to limit sun exposure before starting a race when drivers exit the pits and make their way onto the track.

Despite pre-race precautions and advanced hydration strategies, many teams will install and utilize hydration systems in their Formula One vehicles to allow for continuous hydration during a race.

After a race, Formula One drivers need to be weighed to determine how best to hydrate them. The act of hydration is not a guessing game but an exact science that requires the expertise of doctors and nutritionists to use various methods such as rehydrating or ice baths to make sure a driver is fit and healthy following an intense driving session.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are very important reasons that Formula One drivers are weighed after driving sessions, with the FIA doing so in the name of fairness and driver safety.

References

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https://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2022/03/19/why-f1-drivers-are-weighed-after-qualifying-and-races/

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https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.i-was-completely-gone-says-perez-after-lack-of-drinking-water-put-him-in.2TZgY6EH7EGtEbStjqax1f.html

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