McLaren, Aston Martin and Williams attended last weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, with striking panels of raw black carbon fiber replacing previously painted areas.
New rules for 2022 introducing larger wheels and increased use of standard parts have meant some are struggling to get to a new minimum weight limit of 798kg.
Each additional 10 kg means about 0.3 seconds lost per lap.
“With the halo, the bigger tires, the longer cars, we were all overweight. I think all but maybe one team,” McLaren boss Zak Brown told Reuters.
“If you’re overweight, do whatever you can to save as much as you can. And it’s all incremental.”
Brown said some sponsorship deals, like McLaren’s with Google’s Android, have sped up the paint stripping process.
“Our engine cover was papaya initially, but that was before we landed Google as a partner. We took the opportunity: ‘Hey, you want black?
“We didn’t modify anything that didn’t match our brand or what a partner wanted. But it saved some weight. Not a lot, but it’s about finding a little bit in a lot of different places.”
Saving weight by using bare metal or carbon fiber has a long tradition in racing.
Legend has it that the original 1930s Mercedes “Silver Arrows” got their nickname when the bare aluminum-bodied cars raced after the team removed lead-based paint to shed a kilo and come under a maximum weight.
According to Alfa Romeo team manager Beat Zehnder, the paintwork on a Formula 1 car weighs around 6 kg.
Aston Martin’s chief technical officer, Andrew Green, said last month that removing some of his car’s green paint saved 350g.
In 2016, McLaren sponsor AkzoNobel said painting each car required six liters of paint and three liters of gloss finish, totaling more than eight square meters of painted surface.
Dave Robson, Williams’ head of vehicle performance, was reluctant to quantify the exact gain from removing paint, but said it was “meaningful.”
“The paint might be light, but to get a good finish you end up having to do quite a bit of spackling and prepping the bare carbon before applying the paint,” he said.
Robson said stripping the paint is the quickest way to remove weight and even if a car is under limit it’s still beneficial to have an extra saving so the team could add ballast to improve the balance to enhance.
“It’s going to be expensive and time-consuming to find the weight (savings) any other way,” he said, hinting that the bare look would remain even if marketing departments were less than happy.
“The car has to have a visible personality, but at the same time it’s in the interest of the sponsors to make it as soon as possible.”
“Beer maven. Creator. Tv fanatic. Internet scholar. Award-winning web junkie. Avid alcohol expert. Friendly writer. Gamer.”