1. Driver Weight Separated from the Car
We wouldn’t say that any of the race drivers are overweight. But, some are taller and heavier than others.
In fact, the last time we checked… Nico Hulkenberg was the tallest, and hence, one of the heaviest drivers on the grid.
So, why is driver weight important?
Well, previous rules were putting heavier drivers at a disadvantage to their lighter, and less tall, rivals. It meant they could optimise the extra ballast allowed by bringing the balance and car set-up to meet the same combined weight allowance.
But, the rule on driver weight disadvantage changes from 2019. Race controllers will now consider it separate to the car.
Thus, it will no longer be a combined figure (which happened to be 734 kilograms during the 2018 race season).
Let’s take a closer look:
There will now be a minimum weight mandated for a driver. We understand it will be set at 80 kilos. So, a team would need to use ballast to bring the weight of any driver less that the amount up to the minimal allowed.
They would need to place any required ballast next to the driver’s seat. Doing so will reduce the advantage that a smaller, lighter, driver had before the 2019 F1 rule changes.
There is also a safety aspect to this particular change in the rules. It reduces the need for the heavier drivers to cut their calorie intake prior to the start of the race.
Many drivers would reduce calories in a bid to force their weight down. So, the new rules should reduce concerns about the potential health risks of this strategy.
Note: Teams who decide driver line-up late in the day will also benefit from the new move. They do not need to take the driver into account when finalising their car weight.
2. New F1 Biometric Gloves to Improve Safety
It’s fair to say the FIA have a relentless pursuit for improving safety rules and regulations of Formula One motor racing. As such, they mandated a new ruling on driving gloves that take effect from the 2019 season onward.
All F1 drivers now need to wear biometric gloves. The technology inside the special driving gloves transmits potentially life-saving data.
It means the medical team at the track side will get updated information on the driver’s vital signs.
In fact, it was the FIA Safety Department who developed the biometric hand gear for drivers to wear while racing.
The gloves feature a sensor stitched into the fabric that monitors driver pulse rate and oxygen saturation before, during, and after a crash.
Technological benefits such as these would have been particularly useful in a scenario like the one that happened at the 2015 Russian Grand Prix. If you remember, Carlos Sainz crashed head-on into a track barrier at more than 150 km/h.
In case you’re wondering:
Thankfully, the Spaniard was unhurt. But, the point being that it was very difficult for the medical team to assess his condition and communicate with him due to the car coming to rest underneath the barrier.
3. Fuel Allowance Increased to 110 Kilograms
There is no doubt that new generation of F1 cars are a formidable sight to see racing around the track. But, it has come at the cost of several key issues, being primarily:
- Heavier cars with more downforce.
- Extended time on the gas.
- An increased amount fuel being burned.
The 2018 race season saw a fuel allowance set at 105kg. In some ways, it forced drivers to lift and coast at times in a bid to reduce fuel consumption and get to the end of the race. The downside was not being able to push flat out for the full entirety of the race distance.
Many would argue that fuel saving is an integral part of international motorsport at this level. But, the race teams, Formula One, and the FIA all seem keen to make changes for the better of motor racing.
One of the major F1 rules changes for 2019 is an increase of 5kg to the fuel allowance. So, with a new payload of 110kg, the aim is to allow and encourage drivers to use the engine at full power – and at all times.
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The rewards will obviously go to most efficient engines, whereas the changes will punish the thirstier ones. Even so, the overall objective is to ease the need for driver’s to save fuel.
Let’s face it, the Official Rule Book of Formula 1 allows teams to use certain race strategies and tactics. Meaning, they could choose to run less fuel and drive economically during key stages of a race to gain track position.