Teams ponder weight limit change

Formula One technical chiefs are set to discuss raising the minimum weight of cars from the start of next season, amid concerns about the impact of the new Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS)

Teams ponder weight limit change

Work at all teams is progressing hard on developing KERS, which will allow drivers to use stored energy to deliver an extra boost of power during races.

But with the first evolution of the systems set to add a significant amount of weight to cars, some teams have voiced concerns that their introduction will push them over the minimum 605-kilogramme weight limit.

Should that happen, then it will compromise a team's ability to use ballast to help the weight distribution of their car - something that could take on increased importance next season with the introduction of slick tyres that will likely require a revised balance.

The matter is now likely to be discussed in F1 think tank the Technical Working Group, although there does not appear to be universal support to make a change.

Some teams feel that part of the challenge of running KERS next year should be in making the devices as light as possible - and therefore keeping the current weight limit would be a major incentive to achieve that target.

Honda Racing team principal Ross Brawn, when asked about his feelings on the matter by autosport.com, said: "I think we are happy to discuss it, but part of the challenge of KERS is to do it low weight.

"Road car systems are not as attractive if they are heavy. We want to introduce technologies that have very high energy-density storage, so for a small amount of weight you get a high amount of energy storage. That is part of the challenge of KERS.

"To just push the weight limit up is a concession that needs to be thought about carefully before we go there. It would certainly make our lives easier in some ways, but I am not sure it maintains the challenges of KERS.

"Next year there is a lot less bodywork around the cars so there are already areas where we are saving weight."

Red Bull Racing's Geoff Willis said his team still needed convincing about the positives of increasing the weight limit if they were to agree to it.

"I am not sure how many cars will end up overweight, but one of the problems will be whether or not they are able to package the system to get the right sort of weight balance for next year's tyres," he explained.

"There are already some pushes from some teams to increase the minimum weight of the car, and we will have to see if that comes up on the agenda of the next TWG.

"We would like to see the arguments on how good a reason there is. We are certainly working on the assumption that there will not be a weight increase."

BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen was certainly less resistant to a change, saying his team would be happy with whatever was decided.

"I would be open either way," he explained. "If the weight limit stays where it is, it will be quite tough to get there with no ballast. If it is raised, it is the same situation for everyone, so you can put ballast on the car again."

Although teams are likely to face a big challenge in developing their KERS, Theissen is adamant the move is right for F1.

"In my view KERS is something very exciting for F1," he said. "As opposed to some people in the paddock, I really support it for several reasons on the technology side.

"You can be sure that we will pioneer a future hybrid road car technology through KERS, as we make such rapid progress through development.

"The design targets are way beyond what you see in today's hybrid road cars and we will certainly benefit in a good way from that.

"On the other hand, it will give F1 a very different image from what it used to have and this will stabilise F1. It will attract new sponsors as well, so it is in my view a big expense but worth the effort."

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