F1 drivers shedding weight for new season

Updated: March 18, 2009, 2:34 PM ET
Associated Press

MADRID -- Formula One's new rules are forcing even the drivers to adopt a more aerodynamic profile for the 2009 season.

With the biggest changes coming to the world championship in more than 25 years, it may be a racer's weight that decides the title.

The brand-new Kinetic Energy Recovery System, a hybrid technology that gives drivers an extra boost for overtaking, will take up approximately 77 pounds, while car weight limits have not been increased. That leaves teams with only one variable -- the driver.

"(Weight's) always been an issue in F1, but particularly this year because of the KERS -- all the weight is in the back and with this year's rules it's beneficial to be a bit further forward," said Nico Rosberg of Williams, who said he lost several pounds to get down to 154 pounds. "So that's definitely something where the weight has become more important than ever, so I've watched that over the winter."

BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica may have started the trend last season when the Polish driver dropped 13 pounds to be lighter in the seat. He's had to make sure he didn't slip up this winter either because of KERS, which is not mandatory for teams to use this season.

"As I am a tall and relatively heavy person I have disadvantages regarding the weight and consequently the weight distribution of the car," Kubica said. "But on the other hand KERS could be a big advantage because of the boost."

Fernando Alonso and Rubens Barrichello have dropped about 4.5 pounds each going into 2009, when at least half of the drivers expected to fill the 20-car grid have lost weight ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 29.

Even Kimi Raikkonen, well known for enjoying the night life, reportedly gave up alcohol over the winter in a bid to rebound from a sub-par 2008, when as defending champion Ferrari driver didn't win a race after April.

"I think you can change the car a lot to how you like it and of course now the rules are slightly more difficult, with the weight and everything. It depends on the weight of the drivers how much we can change it," said the Finn, who was coy about how much he weighs.

"I don't know. I haven't got scales," Raikkonen said. "I am happy as long as we are OK with the overall weight, that's all that matters."

The Formula One Teams Association, which represents all 10 F1 teams on this season's starting grid, will petition governing body FIA to increase the minimum weight limit as a result of the changes.

"The KERS system has added weight to an F1 car that engineers have been forced to meet the same weight, which leaves few options for reducing weight, aside from getting drivers to shed pounds ahead of the upcoming season," BMW Sauber team principal Mario Theissen said.

The 36-year-old Barrichello managed to keep trim despite not having his seat confirmed until earlier this month when Ross Brawn bought out Honda to form Brawn GP. The former Honda team is looking like a surprise contender.

"I went to the gym not because I wanted to show my body on the beach, it was because I knew I was driving the car," the Brazilian said. "Nobody told me I was driving the car, it was a case of being good within myself and to keep on working. I went every day to the gym thinking I had to keep my body strong, my neck strong, because at some point somebody would call and I would have to drive."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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