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GP Week : Issue 192
lOTus WEIgHs up HulkENbERg Lotus team principal eric Boullier has made it clear that talent and not weight will be the overriding factor in the team’s decision to hire a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen next season, giving Nico Hulkenberg’s chances of driving for the enstone -based team a boost. Hulkenberg was at the centre of a major discussion at last weekend’s Korean Grand Prix surrounding the impact a driver’s weight could have on performance next year amid concerns that heavier drivers like the talented German could struggle to find a seat on the grid with the introduction of bulky 1.6 litre V6 turbo power units mated to energy recovery systems. Ahead of that race, Mark Webber – who has also had to shed a lot of weight over the years to put him on more of an even footing with lighter team-mate sebastian Vettel – tweeted that the ideal driver weight stood at between 60 and 65 kilogrammes. That would put Hulkenberg, one of the tallest and – at 78 kilos – heaviest drivers in the sport well beyond that limit. “We're more interested in the talent and potential of a driver rather than the difference of a few kilos,” Boullier said when asked about the impact of a driver’s weight on their chances of a seat with the team. In an attempt to accommodate the bulkier powerplants, the rules have been tweaked and the minimum weight limit – the lightest that a team can run a car- driver combination – has been raised by 50 kilogrammes, but the new engines have turned out to be heavier than expected and are set to use up most of that extra weight allowance. As a result, with teams seeking to run as close to the absolute minimum weight as possible so as not to leave any lap time on the table, there were concerns that outfits could opt to put shorter and lighter drivers in their cars, with McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh admitting that drivers like Hulkenberg were less attractive from a technical point of view. However Boullier – who is also considering Felipe Massa as a replacement for Raikkonen – said it was up to the team’s technical boffins to build a car that would competitive irrespective of the driver they chose to hire. Hulkenberg, one of the most talented drivers on the grid today and fresh from a fighting four th-place finish in Korea, for his part said that he hadn’t given the whole debate much thought. “This whole discussion, for me, is not worth having because I am what I am and I can’t change it,” he said. F1 >>> nEWs 6 GPWEEK.com // 6 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: