Formula 1 Racing

The two-gram weight saving that highlights F1’s details obsession

George Russell, Mercedes

But while the near kilogram of mass that engineers have gained in stripping back liveries has been clear to see, there are other less obvious areas where the weight-saving push has been just as extreme but for much tinier gains. 

One illustration of how every element counts in F1 is the huge progress that has been made over the years in bringing down the weight of overalls, boots, and gloves. 

But while drivers have got used to their racewear getting lighter (overalls have come down from around 1.6kg more than a decade ago to now be around 800g), that does not mean racewear firms are resting on their laurels. 

In fact as Puma, which supplies a number of teams including Ferrari and Mercedes, revealed at a special event ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, no stone has been left unturned in it thinking where improvements can be made. 

This has triggered some extreme tweaks – including replacing metal zip pullers for fabric ones and unique Velcro fitments to chase gains that can be as small as 2g. 

George Russell, Mercedes

Photo by: Mercedes-Benz

Puma’s motorsport racewear consultant Maurizio Sicco said: “The Velcro inside the overalls is perforated to save a few grams. It looks crazy, but if you talk about two grams – when it goes through a corner at 4G, that is eight grams. 

“Ross Brawn used to say that you will never find one modification that will make you gain one second, but you can find ten different modifications that will help you gain one tenth of a second. And that’s so true.” 

Such details seem ever more important now because racewear manufacturers have pretty much hit the limit of being able to make big gains in reducing weight thanks to the FIA’s ever more stringent safety standards. 

“The FIA increased the safety two years ago as they realised that the level of safety was not enough,” added Sicco. 

“They asked to increase the performances not only in fireproof terms but also on heat protection, because you can burn yourself just from heat. 

“To reach this protection, you need different layers and the right amount of air in between: as air is the best insulation. So, they ask to the producer to increase the weight of the underwear and the weight of the suits. So now we are at that level.” 

Also, as the result of lessons learned from Romain Grosjean’s fiery accident at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, for this season the thickness of the gloves has also been increased to offer better…

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