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The suspension termination - Have drivers gained from the loss of FRIC?

Published by Christine

The removal of front-and-rear-interconnected suspension (FRIC) was big news following the British Grand Prix, but when the various components were taken off the cars, viewers barely noticed a difference. Just because there were few visible changes, however, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t had an impact. Lewis Hamilton, for one has revelled in his new style car, despite admitting that it doesn’t feel significantly different to drive.

Initially, it wasn’t clear how removing the suspension technology would affect front-runners Mercedes, with speculation that theirs was the most sophisticated design and would therefore be both harder to remove and result in greater performance loss. However championship contender Hamilton believes his title fight will be even better without it, for one specific reason. It makes the cars lighter.

Out to lunch

Since the start of the season, questions have been raised about the health of the current crop of drivers, following reports of fainting fits and extreme dieting. Hamilton has cut a very lean figure but with FRIC removed from cars, and with the benefit of a summer break looming, he was happy to indulge in a decent-sized pizza, sharing photos online.

Lewis Hamilton portrait

Discussing summer plans Lewis said, "I am very, very light, but the car is lighter so I can put a little bit of weight on over the break. That will be muscle and not fat, so I can come back stronger both physically and mentally." Naturally, no driver will want to simply pile the pounds on, but if it eases pressure on them a little that can only be a good thing.

Larger than life

Adrian Sutil admitted back in April he was crash dieting and contemplating driving without a drinks bottle to help his team bring their car down to a more optimal weight. Unfortunately for Sutil, it is not clear whether Sauber ever had a fully functioning FRIC system in place, and thus the driver who would most likely benefit from a slice of oven-baked flat bread this summer may be denied such opportunity.

F1 weight limits are being eased slightly for 2015, and concerns about the state of the driver’s health has lifted over the past few weeks. FRIC may not have made much impact to the relative performance of the cars out on track, but if it allows them to live more comfortably, it’s probably a good thing the FIA recommended its withdrawal.

Ditching FRIC made little difference to the championship, was of some benefit to drivers and presumably has made mechanics jobs easier too. Cars are perhaps a little more tricky to drive and theoretically cheaper to design and develop. Despite early concerns with the mid-season regulation change this has worked out well for the sport. Imagine what other positive change the governing body could instigate this winter if only they were to put their minds to it.