Mercedes: F1 should make car weight a team problem

Mercedes technical director James Allison believes the best way to reduce the weight of Formula 1 cars in the future is to make it a team problem.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

As revealed by Autosport, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem are eyeing a reduction in car weight for the next rules cycle in 2026.

F1's current generation of cars has a minimum weight of 798kg, which is the highest they have ever been in the history of the world championship.

With F1 braced for the potential for larger batteries in 2026 as a consequence of a greater contribution from electrical power, there are concerns that cars could get even heavier, which is why efforts will be made to bring things down.

But with the mass of the cars being so high now because of necessary safety devices and the hybrid components, there is some scepticism about how much of a step change can be done to bring the weight down.

Allison has suggested an alternative approach, however, is not trying to mandate specific areas of the car that can be made lighter.

Instead, he suggests that if the FIA simply reduces the minimum weight of the cars, then teams will naturally be forced to find ways to make the cars lighter.

Asked by Autosport about the best way to bring car weight down, Allison said: "I strongly agree with Stefano. He's not alone in thinking that this sort of inexorable upward trend in weight is something that has to be arrested and then reversed because year-on-year they have been getting heavier.

"It isn't super trivial to get the weight moving in the other direction, but it is particularly tricky to dream up technical rules that are going to make the car much lighter.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23, out of the pits

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23, out of the pits

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

"The way to make it lighter, I think, is to lower the weight limit and make it our problem. If cars are over the limit, then it forces us all to make some fairly difficult decisions about what we put in our cars and what we don't.

"Not everyone agrees with that point of view. But that is I think the most guaranteed way to put downward pressure on the weight of the car."

Aston Martin's Dan Fallows agreed with Allison's assessment of the situation but said F1 had to make sure that efforts to reduce weight did not end up compromising safety.

"I think there are things that we can probably do in the rules to help," he said. "I think certainly putting the weight limit down is one way of achieving it, but we have to make sure that we don't look to compromise safety in any way by doing that.

"Maybe there are things architecturally we could do that would help. But there certainly is going to be a challenge, and I think there's no doubt that, with the power unit regulations being set the way they are, that makes the challenge even bigger."

Red Bull technical chief Pierre Wache is sceptical that much can be achieved to reduce weight though, as he suggested that indications pointed towards the 2026 power units being much heavier.

"I'm not sure that we will have a significant change, in terms of weight," he said.

"I think the power unit that is defined now is already massively heavier than what we currently have. I think to make it significantly lighter, as mentioned by Stefano, it will be very, very difficult."

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