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Rules pertaining to the minimum weight of cars in motorsport (600+ kg in F1) were introduced to prevent manufacturers from producing dangerous designs for the sake of being lightweight. However, we do know that manufacturers still try to keep their designs as lightweight as possible and then bring up the weight to the minimum weight using ballast as they have the freedom to choose where exactly to place them for maximum gain.

So, since the aim remains the same - design as light as possible, does the rule really make cars safer?

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closed as off-topic by mac, Gabriel Mongeon, Nick C, Rory Alsop, Bob Cross Nov 19 '13 at 18:30

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This might be off-topic as it it's not asking about maintenance or repair. I don't know where else you'd ask it tho... –  vlsd Nov 2 '13 at 17:46
    
Yes, I felt that way too while I was posting, but as you say, this was as appropriate a place as I could find. –  Tik Nov 3 '13 at 10:40
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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about race regulations and race car design, not motor vehicle repair. Also, I would add that the minimum weight is not necessarily solely (or even primarily) directed at ensuring safety. It may be about leveling the playing field, as lighter is faster. There are minimum weights in sailboat racing, bicycle racing, etc. –  mac Nov 4 '13 at 17:36
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1 Answer 1

The obvious (though not necessarily right) answer is no, the rules don't make the cars safer if ballast is allowed. But I would add that that doesn't mean the guys at Red Bull will deliberately make a car unsafe. If they kill their star driver, they won't win any more races. Materials are lighter than ever and engineers have the benefit of experience, but the weight limits are much the same as they were a couple of years ago, so while the logical answer is that weight restrictions and ballast don't make cars safer, the practical answer is that F1 cars are safer than they ever were.

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So is it safer today because of the rule or because of a change in thinking? I mean, even in earlier days, you simply could not afford to have your star driver killed, but they kept stretching the "we can get away with this" limit. –  Tik Nov 3 '13 at 10:38
    
I honestly don't know. As I said, the logical conclusion is that ballast is counter-productive. But I simply don't know enough. –  Juann Strauss Nov 3 '13 at 18:54
    
@Tik I'm not sure I agree that "even in earlier days, you simply could not afford to have your star driver killed." Driver safety was not historically that big a concern to the vehicle engineers or the race track designers. This gradually changed I think it's fair to say that safety has steadily become more important in racing, especially F1. –  mac Nov 4 '13 at 14:03
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