Mark Webber has criticized Formula One’s current weight restrictions in support of his fellow ‘big’ drivers.
Webber, who weighs 22lbs more than his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel, has added his voice to those of other tall drivers, such as Jenson Button and Paul di Resta, who have criticised the current minimum weight limit in Formula One, which they believe unfairly disadvantages those drivers that are naturally larger and have already lost all the weight that they safely can.
The issue of drivers weight reared its head earlier this week in Korea, after reports surfaced that Nico Hulkenberg had missed out on a 2014 seat with McLaren because at 11st 9lb and 6ft tall he was deemed to be too big.
Webber, who is set to retire from Formula One at the end of the season, has been critical of the minimum weight limit, which in recent years has forced him to cut his weight to an uncomfortable level.
“Since KERS arrived it has been a challenge for the heavy guys”, Webber explained, “Everybody asks me why I look so skinny, but it’s in your advantage to be as light as possible.”
Taller drivers such as Webber are disadvantaged by their added weight, whereas smaller drivers, like Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa, have the benefit of being able to strategically place extra ballast around the car, as well as naturally profiting from a lower centre of gravity.
“People say that the weight distribution is fixed but there’s still 1% which is a big number that you can move around and also that you can put the ballast where you want”, said the 37-year-old. “It’s not an advantage to be Nico’s size or my size, Paul di Resta’s size or any of the taller guys.”
The weight of drivers is set to become even more crucial in 2014, with the sports switch to the new, heavier turbo-charged engines, which will leave taller drivers at a severe disadvantage, as Nico Hulkenberg has reportedly found out to his disadvantage.
However, Webber has explained that despite this, the minimum weight limit is unlikely to be raised any time soon, with some drivers acting in their own interest by refusing to come to a consensus on the issue.
“But you do the best with what you have. I don’t want it to change now because I’ve done the last five years with these rules, but they should look at trying to help the bigger guys in the future.
“We asked a few years ago and we got a no. The lighter guys should be pushing as well but they don’t because obviously it’s nice for them.”
Nico Hulkenberg was another driver affected by the weight issue. When asked what he thought of Webber’s comments he said “I’m glad I’m not the only one!”
While now down to 74 kilograms, Hulkenberg believed there maybe a kilo left to lose, but admitted that if he was to lose any more to make up the performance deficit to smaller drivers then “it could become a health issue”.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic.