x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Whitmarsh disagrees with 2014 F1 regulation over weight

Martin Whitmarsh has called for common sense to prevail while framing rules with regard to driver weight. Paul Gilham / Getty Images
Martin Whitmarsh has called for common sense to prevail while framing rules with regard to driver weight. Paul Gilham / Getty Images

Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren team principal, has called upon Formula One to ditch its self-serving interest when it comes to the debate over driver weight for next season.

The suggestion is the taller, heavier drivers could be putting their health on the line in 2014 as teams adapt to the weight restrictions when it comes to the new powertrain regulations.

With the introduction of the 1.6-litre V6 turbo-powered units, allied to the new energy recovery system as well as Kers, the weight for car plus driver is to rise from 642kg to 692kg.

But given the complexity of the packages, and the additional weight involved, teams such as McLaren face being handicapped.

Jenson Button, along with Force India’s Paul di Resta, are already on the limit when it comes to their weight, the latter revealing last week he was four kilogrammes below what he considers healthy.

On this particular subject, Whitmarsh feels common sense is required, but unfortunately does not believe it will be applied.

“The situation we’ve got is not good as there’s been an increase in the weight limit, but it isn’t enough,” said Whitmarsh.

“It’s a disadvantage to some drivers and teams in terms of having to have the resources to design it down to the new weight, but it costs more money.

“It means there is a temptation to erode margins of safety in the equipment as well. I’m sure we’ll work our way out of it and correct it in time.

“Sadly, as a race team, everyone gets locked into a mindset at this time of year. You all convince yourself you can design down to it.

“Therefore, if someone is complaining they must be disadvantaged the racing spirit comes in which is ‘I won’t help then’. That’s what happens.

“There is inevitably a competitive self-interest. In my experience people tend to take a very short-term view.

“They tend to believe – often incorrectly – if someone else is pushing for a change they must be more greatly disadvantaged than themselves, and that makes them dig in.

“We need unanimity to change this, but I rather doubt we’ll get it.

“In time we will fix it, but will people now agree to increase the weight limit? I doubt, personally.”

Button feels the situation, as it stands, is “crazy” and is hoping the likes of Whitmarsh and his counterparts can push for change, in particular with an eye on emerging talent.

“I’m sure we are all going to be turning to our team principals, even though Martin has said he doesn’t think it will happen,” said Button.

“With so many rule changes, obviously the weight limit has gone up, but for a driver to have to worry about his weight that much is wrong.

“We should have the most talented drivers in Formula One. Obviously that isn’t always the case with the way Formula One is at the moment.

“But this is something that could be solved very easily, and it should not stop people looking at heavier drivers, especially if they are tall.

“For younger drivers coming up through the ranks that are tall, it’s really going to hurt them if this continues in the future.

“That’s because people won’t look at them for race seats because of their weight and size.”