When F1s race below regulation weight

By 1982, turbocharged single-seaters were already dominating Formula 1, and for the first time in history this type of car had won the constructors’ championship. Keke Rosberg and his Williams the atmosphere was certainly established among the pilots, but the days of this architecture were numbered. The famous Ford Cosworth DFV lived. But the naturally aspirational teams, most of which aligned with Bernie Ecclestone’s FOCA, were not so easily abdicated.

In response to the rise of turbos, these manufacturers decided before the start of the season that they needed to make up for their lack of power by making their cars as light as possible. Among the turbo teams (meaning Jean-Marie Balestre’s FISA members), Ferrari and Renault had already managed to reach a minimum weight of 580 kilograms, leaving the FOCA teams in a dead end.

Finally, the answer was found in brakes and how to keep them cool.

Williams FW08 hydraulic ballast system

Some FOCA teams have installed a large water tank inside their single seater pontoons. They were inflated before the race to meet the 580 kg limit. The water then disappeared in the early laps, giving the cars a huge advantage over their turbo-powered rivals.

Technically, these teams ran under regulation weight during the race, but because refueling was allowed “coolants” their cars were not considered illegal before they were inspected. A clever interpretation of the rules, true, but above all it’s a colossal deception that FISA is quickly trying to dispel.

In the framework of the second round of the championship in Brazil Nelson Piquet he placed himself upon it Brabham Rosberg ahead of Williams. Both teams had water-cooled brakes and, under increasing pressure from the turbocharged teams, FISA disqualified them a few weeks later.

Only Brabham and Williams were penalized by FISA, other teams miraculously flew under the radar by using similar cooling systems. So with that in mind John Watson was “only fourth”, his naturally aspirated McLaren unchallenged and unscrutinised, and the Northern Irishman moved up to second place behind Renault.Alain Prost new winner.

The case obviously caused a lot of ink to flow and prompted most FOCA teams to boycott the San Marino Grand Prix. But in the meantime, FISA had closed the loophole. After that, the post-race weigh-in took place without allowing the mechanics to interfere with the cars.

In his first season in F1, Martin Brundle scored eight points with Tyrrell before being disqualified.

In his first season in F1, Martin Brundle scored eight points with Tyrrell before being disqualified.

Tyrell, the last team to use a naturally aspirated engine in the early 1980s, also broke the rules. In 1984, the British team used a water injection system in which droplets were sent to the intake pipes to improve power. A perfectly legal system in appearance, but Tyrrell took advantage of the democratization of pit stops to fill the second tank with a mixture of water and lead.

Therefore, the drivers were sent to the track with a car that was too light, and after the pit stop, they suddenly returned to the nails. Tyrrell was finally unmasked when some of the water/lead mixture escaped and flowed into a nearby garage. FISA had evidence that Tyrrell was in possession of an illegal sinker, but the governing body wanted to investigate further. Samples were taken and analysis revealed aromatics such as toluene, which is commonly used to increase the octane level of fuel.

Tyrrell was therefore charged on several fronts: taking extra fuel during a pit stop, using an extra fuel hose and having moving ballast. The British team was kicked out of the last three races of the season and all their results from 1984 were erased.

Stefan Johansson in the Tyrrell 012 pit

Stefan Johansson in the Tyrrell 012 pit

Observers then had to wait two decades to witness the weight hoax again. Ironically, Tyrrell’s successor stable, BAR, has been at the center of controversy. The British American Tobacco outfit had an excellent campaign in 2004, finishing second in the championship behind Ferrari, but its start to the 2005 season was cataclysmic to say the least.

A glimmer of hope appeared in the fourth round of the year at the San Marino Grand Prix with a podium for Jenson Button and a fifth place for his teammate. Takuma Sato. However, after the race, the FIA ​​decided to disqualify the two men because their car had a second tank of 6 kg of petrol, which allowed them to run under weight during the race. BAR management unsuccessfully argued that this 6 kg was the minimum weight required for the engine to work… The FIA ​​not only upheld the disqualification of Button and Sato, but also banned the team from both Next Grand Prix.

Also read:

FIA technical representative Jo Bauer inspects Jenson Button's BAR at Imola

FIA technical representative Jo Bauer inspects Jenson Button’s BAR at Imola

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