It's commonplace for Formula 1 's lawmakers to enforce changes between seasons, but one particular tweak ahead of the 2022 campaign could have a significant impact on next term's title chase.
Red Bull 's Max Verstappen will put his title on the line as Mercedes adversary Lewis Hamilton seeks vengeance following the controversy that saw his four-year championship streak end with the 'Decider in the Desert'.
The F1 rules—or at least how they're interpreted —led to major controversy at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, stressing the need for clarity on every minute detail when the 2022 term begins in Bahrain on March 20.
And in a bid to build the best car ahead of his title defence, Vestappen has already returned to work testing in Abu Dhabi.
Drivers will have to race with Pirelli's larger 18"-inch tyres, reintroduced wheel covers and over-wheel winglets, while re-designed front and back wings have the potential to cause the biggest shift in performance.
However, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) has now confirmed new technical rules to increase the minimum car weight limit a substantial 43 kilograms in a change that could take that mantle.
Race Fans reported the new legal limit a car must weigh will be upped to 795 kilograms (excluding fuel), roughly six per cent higher than the minimum allowed in 2021.
It was previously expected that the 2022 limit would be capped at 775 kilograms—an increase of 23 kilos from this past campaign—but organisers have since decided to almost double that difference.
That represents the largest increase in the car weight quota since 2014 when the minimum jumped by 48 kilograms following the introduction of the V6 hybrid turbo power units.
Hamilton, 36, has pointed to energy conservation and sustainability as being among his priorities in the past, which he highlighted in June 2021 amid mention of more weight increases.
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“I don’t understand why we’re going heavier,” said the seven-time F1 world champion.
“I don’t understand particularly why we go heavier when there’s all this talk about being more sustainable—just as the sport is going in that direction.
“By going heavier and heavier and heavier, you’re using more and more energy.
“So that feels that’s not necessarily in the right direction or in the thought process.”
The sport has changed substantially from the origins of F1, and cars had a minimum weight limit of just 450 kilograms at its genesis 60 years ago.
Manufacturers are now working with almost double that capacity, with the weight minimum having grown by 190 kilograms since 2009 alone.
A five-inch increase in wheel size—from 13 inches to 18—is one major factor in why the cars need to be heavier.
Still, there are concerns heavier cars will naturally lead to greater risk in regards to collisions if car weights continue to escalate.
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