If you've watched a Formula 1 event before, you may have noticed that the drivers are weighed at the end of the race. If you're not very familiar with the rules and regulations of the sport, however, you might be at a loss as to why this happens.
There are two reasons drivers are weighed after a race. The first is to make sure the drivers haven't lost too much weight, and the second is to confirm that no cheating has taken place during the race.
In this article, we'll be going over all the details concerning the weighing of drivers after a race and explain why exactly this practice occurs.
The first reason drivers are weighed after a race is to ensure that the drivers are in good physical condition. You might think that it's not very physically taxing to take part in a Grand Prix; after all, aren't the drivers just sitting there turning the wheel and pushing the pedals?
In actual fact, driving a Formula 1 car is significantly different from driving the average road car. While a Grand Prix might only last a couple of hours at the most, during that time the drivers are subjected to intense g-forces as a result of all the high-speed braking and cornering they have to do.
Not only that, but it gets a lot hotter than you'd think in the cockpit of a Formula 1 race car. Even though the cockpit is open to the air, the driver is fully encased in a race suit and helmet, and the more layers you wear on a hot day, the hotter you're going to feel.
There's also the fact that the cars generate massive amounts of heat when they're running. The engine produces most of this heat, but the brakes and tires also generate a considerable fraction of this heat as well.
Considering the driver is pretty much right in the middle of all these heat sources, it's no wonder it gets so hot in a Formula 1 car. In fact, it's not uncommon for temperatures in the cockpit to reach 112 degrees Fahrenheit (44 degrees Celsius).
Being that the temperatures in a Formula 1 car's cockpit can get so high during a race, it's no surprise that drivers tend to sweat a lot. In fact, drivers sweat so much during a Grand Prix that on average, they often weigh 2-4 kg (4.5-9 lbs) less after the race than they did when they started.
While some weight loss after every Grand Prix is expected, a driver that loses too much water weight could be at risk of severe dehydration. That's partially why drivers are weighed after a race, to ensure that they haven't lost too much moisture during the event.
The other reason drivers are weighed after a race is to ensure that no weight-based cheating takes place. As you may know, Formula 1 cars have minimum weight requirements. These weight requirements frequently change with the years; the minimum weight requirement in 2021 was 752 kg, but this requirement will go up to 795 kg for the 2022 Formula 1 season.
This 752 kg weight requirement is for the dry weight of the car and the driver, meaning the weight of the car and driver without any fluids like fuel added. Obviously, adding a full tank of fuel increases the weight of the car significantly. The 752 kg requirement needs to be met or exceeded by the end of the race, or the driver will face a penalty.
Of this 752 kg requirement, 80 kg (175 lbs) of that has to be the driver alone. If the driver weighs less than this, ballast has to be added to their seat to make up the difference.
You might think that a few kilos more or less wouldn't make that much of a difference, but in a car that's already this light, saving a few kilos makes more of a difference than you'd think. Plus, having a minimum weight requirement helps ensure that the drivers remain healthy.
In previous years, there was no weight limit for drivers specifically. As we're sure you know, being as light as possible is beneficial to a race car; it improves handling and acceleration since there's less mass for the engine to move around. However, this meant that drivers would often engage in somewhat unhealthy practices to keep their weight down.
Even though there's less pressure on the drivers of today to try and remain below a certain weight, it's still an advantage in Formula 1 to be a smaller, lighter individual. Obviously, all drivers still have to meet the minimum weight requirements, and ballast needs to be added if they're below the minimum weight.
However, if a team does have to add ballast to their car, they can do so by mounting it as low as possible in the cockpit, which can potentially improve the car's center of gravity slightly and improve handling by a small margin. Formula 1 rules are designed to make things as fair as possible, but teams will always try and exploit whatever advantages they can to gain an edge.
As such, most Formula 1 drivers are relatively lean guys of about average height; the tallest driver in the 2021 season was Esteban Ocon, who stands at 6'1". Based on the drivers who took part in the 2021 season, the average weight of a Formula 1 driver is around 65 kg.
The heaviest Formula 1 driver of 2021 was Antonio Giovinazzi, who weighs 75 kg; the lightest driver of the year, on the other hand, was Yuki Tsunoda, who only weighs 54 kg.
It's important for all drivers to meet the minimum weight requirements in order to conform to the rules, but no team ever wants their driver to be significantly over the weight requirement. While there's no maximum weight limit for cars or drivers, anything over the minimum requirement is going to hamper the performance characteristics of the car to some degree.