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Out there in the real world, on the Thursday before the Monaco Grand Prix, American documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock died from what were described as “complications related to cancer”. Spurlock’s most famous work is the 2004 doc Super Size Me, in which he exposed the fast-food industry’s profit-driven push to encourage poor nutrition… by charting the effects on his own body of only eating at McDonald’s and never turning down the ubiquitous offer to ‘Super Size’ each meal. Among those effects are lethargy, palpitations, depression and alarming weight gain.

Formula 1 has indubitably been lethargic in recognising, or at least addressing, the competitive issues wrought by the cars piling on the pounds in recent years. Getting them to hit the minimum weight limit has perhaps induced palpitations among the engineers – and the leaden effect of the super-sized machinery on the spectacle has been rather depressing, to say the least.

30 years ago the minimum weight of an F1 car was 515kg (albeit not including the driver). It’s now 798kg, roughly analogous to the situation 100 years ago where grand prix cars had to observe a minimum of 650kg ‘dry’, plus two occupants. As noted above, getting a modern car to that limit is fraught with challenges, as evinced by the predominance of unpainted surfaces on the grid.

With that in mind, we should cautiously applaud the putative 2026 technical regulations (see p18) in which lower weight and improved agility were high on the list of priorities. While much has been made of the width of the current cars, most recently and loudly after the processional Monaco race (by those who forget or are ignorant of the fact that this is by no means the widest generation of F1 machinery), narrowing them may help a little. What must be attacked is the weight, which makes them cumbersome and sluggish in changing direction.

So is a drop of 30kg really worth getting excited about, or is it just a case of fiddling around the margins? Certainly the work done so far is clever in terms of the solutions found to cut weight around the chassis without compromising safety, but much of the bloat remains – and is baked in thanks not only to the retention of the hybrid powertrain, but also the increase in battery size required to fulfil a separate commitment to rebalancing the contribution of combustion and electrical power in the performance mix. It’s not cynical to view the chassis regs as essentially a fudge to accommodate the shortcomings of the power unit.

And since no less an eminence than F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has been openly mulling a return to combustion-only, facilitated by sustainable fuels, perhaps this small step is just
that – a grudging shuffle in the right direction.

Inside the issue

This month's features include

Lewis Hamilton’s greatest hits
Four of Lewis’s best British GP weekends by those around him

The Silverstone challenge
The compromises needed to set up a car to be quick at Silverstone

Classic Silverstone
Drivers past and present explain why Silverstone is so special

Yuki Tsunoda
How the RB driver he has raised his game and exceeded expectations

A race weekend with...
Haas race engineer Gary Gannon

Now That Was A Car
The McLaren MP/7, a multiple winner that just fell short of glory

In Conversation With…
Formula 1’s newest winner, McLaren’s Lando Norris

How to unravel travel
Otmar Szafnauer has used the break from hands-on F1 work to help launch the logistics app

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