Any Formula One fan knows that the cars zip around the track at lightning speeds. But did you know that the drivers themselves are also subject to some pretty intense scrutiny?
That’s right, in addition to making sure their cars are up to snuff, F1 drivers have to worry about making sure they’re the right weight, too.
Why the Weigh-In?
The FIA, Formula One’s governing body, introduced the driver weigh-in back in 2010. The stated reason for the move was to help ensure that drivers were not presenting an “unsafe” car to compete.
In other words, if a driver was significantly overweight, it could potentially throw off the balance of the car and put them (and their fellow competitors) at risk.
How It Works
Now, you might be wondering how exactly the process works. After all, with all those miles per hour flying around, it’s not like there’s time for a leisurely stop on the side of the track for a chat and a weigh-in. Instead, things happen a little bit differently.
F1 drivers are weighed at random during pre-season testing, practice sessions, and qualifying races (but not during actual Grand Prix races).
They’re typically given about 10 minutes’ notice before they’re required to step on the scale wearing only their race apparel—that means no shoes, helmet, or gloves.
What Happens If You Fail?
So what happens if a driver doesn’t make weight? Well, fortunately, it’s not quite as dire as you might think. If a driver is found to be over the limit, they’re typically given two laps to lose the excess weight by returning to the pits and shedding some layers of clothing (or whatever else might be adding extra bulk).
Of course, that’s not always easy—or practical—to do when you’re driving at 180 mph! If shedding clothing isn’t an option—or if the driver can’t lose enough weight in time—they may be given a penalty that will be applied to their qualifying time.
In other words, they’ll start further back on the grid when the race finally begins.
All in all, then, it looks like drivers have to watch their weight just as closely as they watch their lap times! Who knew being an F1 driver was such a demanding job?
Next time you’re watching your favorite driver zip around the track at breakneck speeds, remember: they had to pass a weigh-in before they even got behind the wheel.