In a sport like Formula 1, where the margins between success and failure are so fine, every numerical advantage counts, including the weight of the drivers. Drivers are weighed after every race, leaving many to wonder how much F1 drivers weigh and why their weight is so important.
F1 drivers and their racing equipment must weigh a minimum of 80 kg. If they fall underneath this weight, ballasts must be added to the cockpit to increase the weight. The heaviest driver on the grid is currently Alex Albon weighing 74 kg, while the lightest is Yuki Tsunoda, weighing 54 kg.
Drivers can lose between 2-4 kilograms per race, due to the heat inside the cockpit and the forces they must battle against while speeding around the track. In the article below, we’ll discuss the weight of F1 drivers and their cars and look into whether heavier drivers are at a disadvantage.
Why Is Weight So Important In Formula 1?
Weight is so important in Formula 1 because heavier cars mean slower race times. Since a lighter car can usually be faster around the track, teams are always searching for ways they can reduce the total weight of their cars to maximize their speed. There is a minimum weight limit of 798 kg/1760 lbs.
F1 safety regulations have caused a substantial 170+ kg increase in the minimum weight of cars versus the 2000s, with cars in 2022 weighing a minimum of 798 kg, compared to 625 kg in 2000. This increase comes as no surprise when you consider cars are now longer and wider than they have ever been, as extra length provides more protection for drivers in a frontal crash.
Some extra weight is added through larger fuel tanks installed in F1 cars since the FIA introduced a ban on refueling during races at the end of 2009, after a string of fuel-related incidents deemed it to be unsafe. Other safety improvements also made them heavier. Although they are safer, heavier modern cars appear slightly more sluggish around the track than their early-millennium counterparts.
To combat the defects provided by added weight, F1 introduced amendments to the front wings of the cars to reduce the issue of “dirty air” and increase the downforce that cars can produce. Changes were also made to the undersides of the cars going into the 2022 season, implementing underfloor tunnels that allow more air to pass through.
The Benefits Of Lightweight Cars
Manufacturing a car to be as lightweight as the regulations will allow has both performance benefits as well as economic benefits for F1 teams. Teams will often find loopholes around weight restrictions. For example, when the aerodynamic benefits of exhaust-blown diffusers were discovered, all the teams used them before they were quickly banned by the FIA.
Lighter F1 cars can accelerate and brake quicker than cars that carry more weight. This helps with both entries and exits from corners, offering lighter cars added advantages around notoriously bendy tracks. Heavier cars will also require more effort to control from drivers as the shifting of weight from one side of the car to the other will be stronger.
The economic benefit to lighter cars is substantial. The lighter the car, the less energy it uses to accelerate, meaning it will be a lot more fuel efficient. This means that teams don’t have to put as much fuel into the car at the start of a race, further lightening the car and shaving off more time around the track.
How Much Do F1 Drivers Weigh?
Current F1 drivers weigh between 54 and 74 kg, with Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri being the lightest, and Alex Albon of Williams the heaviest. Williams is the overall heaviest team on the grid, with a combined weight of 147 kg between Albon and his teammate Nicholas Latifi.
It’s important for a driver to maintain a weight that not only keeps to the weight restrictions, but also that can withstand the physical intensity of a race. As drivers can lose up to four kilograms in a single race through sweat, it’s vital that their weight is kept in proportion to their height. Taller drivers tend to weigh more than the shorter drivers, although there are exceptions.
F1 2022 Driver Weights
|Alex Albon||Williams||74kg / 163lbs||1.86m / 6’1”|
|Nicholas Latifi||Williams||73kg / 161lbs||1.85m / 6’1”|
|Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||73kg / 161lbs||1.74m / 5’1”|
|Max Verstappen||Red Bull||72kg / 159lbs||1.81m / 5’11”|
|George Russell||Mercedes||70kg / 154lbs||1.85m / 6’1”|
|Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||70kg / 154lbs||1.82m / 6’0”|
|Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||70kg / 154lbs||1.77m / 5’10”|
|Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||69 kg / 152lbs||1.80m / 5’11”|
|Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||69 kg / 152lbs||1.73m / 5’8”|
|Kevin Magnussen||Haas||68kg / 150lbs||1.74m / 5’9”|
|Fernando Alonso||Alpine||68kg / 150lbs||1.71m / 5’7”|
|Lando Norris||McLaren||68kg / 150lbs||1.70m / 5’7”|
|Mick Schumacher||Haas||67kg / 148lbs||1.76m / 5’9”|
|Esteban Ocon||Alpine||66kg / 146lbs||1.86m / 6’1”|
|Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||66kg / 146lbs||1.80m / 5’11”|
|Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||64kg / 141lbs||1.78m / 5’10”|
|Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||63kg / 139lbs||1.75m / 5’9”|
|Sergio Perez||Red Bull||63kg / 139lbs||1.73m / 5’8”|
|Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||62kg / 137lbs||1.75m / 5’9”|
|Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||54kg / 119lbs||1.59m / 5’3”|
Are Heavier F1 Drivers At A Disadvantage?
Heavier drivers are at a disadvantage if they weigh over the minimum of 80 kg. This weight, along with the weight of their seat and driving equipment, would make their cars slightly slower than their potential if they were at the minimum weight. All current drivers weigh less than 80 kg.
F1 drivers train with the same sort of physical exertion as athletes in other disciplines, making sure they meet the weight requirements set by their teams. In this regard, shorter drivers should have an advantage, with their minimum healthy weight being naturally lighter than their taller colleagues.
However, the 80 kg minimum weight has certainly ironed out any sort of advantage that could be gained by smaller, lighter drivers, since no matter how light a driver may be, the cockpit will be weighed down with ballasts to reach the minimum weight. But if a driver is already over that minimum weight, they would be at a disadvantage.
The Lightest F1 Drivers
The current lightest driver in F1 is Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri, who weighs just 54 kg (119 lbs). Tsunoda is the lightest driver by a long way, no doubt due to his shorter stature of 5’3”. The second lightest out of the current drivers is four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who weighs 62 kg (137 lbs) and stands at around 5’9”. Sergio Perez and Zhou Guanyu both weigh 63 kg.
Although weighing considerably more than Tsunoda, Esteban Ocon dispels the “taller means heavier” statement by weighing 66 kg and standing at 6’1”. While he may not be one of the lightest drivers, he is still well under the weight of many shorter drivers.
The Heaviest F1 Drivers
While Ocon may challenge the fact that being taller makes you heavier, Alex Albon of Williams reaffirms it. At 74 kg (163 lbs) and 6’1”, he is both the heaviest and one of the tallest drivers on the grid. Although he is the heaviest, he still falls well under the 80 kg minimum, meaning he won’t be at a disadvantage because of his weight.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and Latifi both weigh 73 kg. This is perhaps the most surprising weight out of the grid, with Hamilton displaying a stature of 5’7” to go along with his slim figure. Current world champion Max Verstappen is among the heavier drivers weighing 72 kg, which proves that weighing more than most of the grid doesn’t mean you will drive any slower.
Why Are F1 Drivers Weighed?
F1 drivers are weighed after a race to check whether their weight is in line with the FIA’s minimum weight rule, where the driver and their seat must hold a combined weight of 80 kg. If a driver is found to have raced below this limit, they can face disqualification.
Another reason drivers are weighed post-race is for health reasons. Due to the immense G-force that drivers feel when speeding around the track, as well as the heat generated inside the cockpit, drivers will lose quite substantial amounts of weight during a race through sweat. It’s not uncommon for drivers to lose four kilograms in one race, especially when racing in high humidity.
Weighing the drivers post-race ensures that they haven’t lost an unhealthy amount of weight that requires any medical intervention. It also gives teams a better idea of how to structure the driver’s physical training and conditioning during the following week.
How Heavy Are F1 Cars?
F1 cars must weigh a minimum of 798 kg without fuel, or around 1760 lbs. While this weight requirement has disappointed some fans who enjoyed the nimble, lighter cars of the past, it has certainly improved the safety of drivers thanks to a few tweaks in the cars’ mechanics and size.
The weight of the car is measured with the weight of the driver included, as well as with a set of dry-weather tires fitted. Cars are measured with empty fuel tanks, meaning that teams won’t be able to try and trick the FIA by adding in a full tank of fuel. Many teams’ cars are considerably over the minimum weight.
Besides the minimum weight for the car in its entirety, F1 teams must also consider the minimum weight requirements for the individual parts of the cars. The minimum weight for the engines is 150 kg for example.
The engine is the heaviest individual part of the F1 car, which is understandable considering it’s responsible for moving a further 650+ kg around a track at over 200 mph. Current F1 cars run on 6-liter hybrid engines, which cost around $13.5 million to make.
The Weight Of A Full Tank Of Fuel
F1 cars are allowed a maximum of 110 kg of fuel for a race. Teams don’t have to fill their tank up with this much fuel, and often prefer not to, in order to reduce the weight of the car. They will be wary of putting enough fuel in to last the entire race, as refueling mid-race is no longer permitted. This fuel allowance was upped in 2019 from 105 kg to allow cars to push harder for longer.
It’s likely that Formula 1’s attitude towards fuel usage will change in future years due to the global push for a greener planet, which may well reduce the amount of fuel permitted for a race.
The Weight Of The Wings
The front wing is one of the most iconic features of an F1 car, giving it its famous streamlined appearance. A front wing weighs around 10 kg, with the restrictions surrounding it more focused on lengths than weight. The rear wing of the car also weighs around 10 kg.
Other Aspects Of The Cars
The gearbox of an F1 car weighs around 40 kg. Gearboxes are bolted to the back of the engine, and they heat up to very high temperatures. To withstand this heat, the gearboxes are constructed out of carbon titanium, a low-density metal compound, capable of resisting temperatures of up to 600 degrees.
One of the lightest components of an F1 car is the steering wheel, weighing around 1.3 kg. Steering wheels are made from several materials including carbon fiber, titanium, and copper.
In 2018, the halo feature of the car was introduced to protect drivers from large debris entering the cockpit. There are three separate companies that manufacture and supply halos, each weighing around seven kilograms. They are made from titanium, which offers a great strength-to-weight ratio, allowing for protection with no real loss of speed.
Current F1 drivers weigh between 54 and 74 kilograms, or 119-163 lbs. Since the 80 kg minimum weight rule was implemented, the weight of a Formula 1 driver has become less significant than it was in previous years. Any advantage that a smaller, lighter driver may have had was wiped out.