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What to Know About the 2019 F1 Rule Changes

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Nico Hülkenberg

Nico Hülkenberg, 24 Hour of Le Mans winner and the tallest driver in Formula 1

Though the 2018 Formula One Championship has just begun, teams are already looking ahead to the 2019 season. The sport has always been this way—a game of resource management, where given a set budget, teams must decide how much to invest in the current year and how much in the next.

If a team invests a lot in the present, it can get good results in 2018 and perhaps earn more prize money, but it may compromise its performance in 2019. (As an aside, you can play with that balance yourself with the Motorsport Manager simulation).

This means regulation changes for the upcoming seasons must be set in stone well ahead of time, and at this point we already know most of the changes coming for 2019. These are the major points to know.

Pit Stop: Give your car a free routine maintenance!

Increased fuel allowance

Formula 1 drivers, who want to drive as fast and aggressively as they can at all times, have long complained about the need to save fuel during races. Cars are currently limited to using 105 kg of fuel per race, forcing drivers to perform what is known as “lift and coast” when entering braking zones rather than stay on the throttle until the very last moment.

In a bid to help drivers be able to push flat out for longer, the maximum fuel allowance will be increased to 110 kg for 2019. Still, with teams having to use only three engines throughout the whole year, one wonders whether drivers will push that much harder if they can avoid it.

New biometric gloves

“Is the driver okay?” is the most common question heard after a big crash, but circumstance can sometimes get in the way of obtaining that answer. To help improve safety and clarity, F1 drivers will be required to wear biometric gloves with a sensor that can monitor their pulse rate and the amount of oxygen in their blood before, during, and after crashes, making it easier for the at-track medical team to assess their condition.

This new feature could have entertainment value as well, as it would be interesting to see drivers’ heart rates as they race around the circuit and go wheel-to-wheel with other cars. Most people don’t know that F1 drivers’ hearts beat up to 190 times per minute.

Lift & Coast: How to improve your fuel efficiency

Minimum seat weight

Being tall and thus heavier has historically been a disadvantage in Formula One. Nico Hülkenberg, the tallest driver on the grid at 6’0, is sometimes believed to have been passed over better seats in the past because of his stature.

Currently, the rules do not differentiate between driver and car, which must meet a combined minimum weight of 734 kg. Teams try to get as close to that number as possible to pursue maximum performance, putting those with heavier drivers at a disadvantage; and teams whose car and driver combo fall below the minimum amount can place ballast in strategic locations to optimize the car’s balance.

For 2019, the weight of the car and driver will no longer be seen as a combined value by the regulations. Instead, all teams will be required to meet a minimum seat weight, including the driver, of 80 kg (just over 176 lb), with ballast placed adjacent to the seat if necessary.

The benefit for the drivers and teams will be twofold: first, it reduces the need for them to lose weight and put themselves at a health risk for the sake of performance; and second, it removes a factor out of the engineering equation for teams finalizing their driver lineup late in the year, when the next season’s car is already being designed.