Mercedes driver George Russell, who is also a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, has highlighted a potential safety issue with the current generation of Formula One cars. In an interview with Motorsport, Russell pointed out that the weight of the cars could be a major concern.
“The big one [issue] is the weight. The weight is extraordinary. At the moment, the low-speed performance is not great,” Russell said.
He went on to explain why heavier cars aren’t necessarily safer. “We keep making these cars safer and safer, but obviously the heavier you make them when you have an impact it’s like crashing with a bus compared to a Smart Car,” he said.
Russell said that the heavier cars could have a greater impact in the event of a crash, and render them unsafe. “You’re going to have a greater impact if you’re going the same speed with a car that weighs 800-odd-kgs or over 900kgs at the start of a race, compared to 15 years ago when they were at 650kg,” he said.
He concluded by saying that striking the right balance between safety and weight was crucial. “I’m sure there’s analysis going on about striking that right balance because I don’t know where the line is drawn. If you just keep making it heavier, heavier, heavier, stronger, stronger, stronger – actually you get to a point where you cross over that [line] that too heavy is actually not safer,” he said.
The safety of Formula One cars has always been a priority for the sport. Over the years, there have been numerous innovations in safety technology to protect drivers in the event of an accident. However, as Russell pointed out, the weight of the cars could have unintended consequences and could make the sport less safe.
Russell’s comments have sparked a discussion among the F1 community about the safety of the current cars. While many agree with Russell’s concerns, others argue that the cars are still safer than ever before, and that the weight is necessary to accommodate the new hybrid power units and other safety features.
As the F1 community continues to debate the issue, it is clear that safety will remain a top priority for the sport. The FIA and the teams will need to work together to find the right balance between safety and performance, to ensure that drivers are protected while still being able to compete at the highest level.