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Drivers under KERS to slim down

FORMULA One's new rules are forcing even the drivers to adopt a more aerodynamic shape for the 2009 season.

And with the biggest changes coming to the world championship in more than 25 years, it may be a racer's weight that decides the title.

The brand-new Kinetic Energy Recovery System, a hybrid technology that gives drivers an extra boost for overtaking, will take up approximately 35 kilograms, while car weight limits have not been increased. That leaves teams with only one variable to change ?? the driver.

"(Weight's) always been an issue in F1, but particularly this year because of the KERS ?? all the weight is in the back and with this year's rules it's beneficial to be a bit further forward," said Nico Rosberg of Williams, who said he lost several kilograms to get down to 70kg. "So that's definitely something where the weight has become more important than ever, so I've watched that over the winter."

BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica may have started the trend last season when the Polish driver dropped 6kg to be lighter in the seat. He's had to make sure he didn't slip up this winter either because of KERS, which is not mandatory for teams to use this season.

"As I am a tall and relatively heavy person I have disadvantages regarding the weight and consequently the weight distribution of the car," Kubica said. "But on the other hand KERS could be a big advantage because of the boost."

Fernando Alonso and Rubens Barrichello have dropped 2kg each going into 2009, when at least half of the drivers expected to fill the 20-car grid have lost weight ahead of the season-opening Australian GP on March 29.

Even Kimi Raikkonen, notorious for his party ways, reportedly gave up alcohol over the winter in a bid to rebound from a sub-par 2008, when the Ferrari driver didn't win a race after April as the defending champion.

"I think you can change the car a lot to how you like it and of course now the rules are slightly more difficult, with the weight and everything. It depends on the weight of the drivers how much we can change it," said the Finn, who was coy about how much he weighs. "I don't know. I haven't got scales. I am happy as long as we are OK with the overall weight, that's all that matters."

The Formula One Teams Association, which represents all 10 F1 teams on this season's starting grid, will petition governing body FIA to increase the minimum weight limit as a result of the changes.

"The KERS system has added weight to an F1 car that engineers have been forced to meet the same weight, which leaves few options for reducing weight, aside from getting drivers to shed pounds ahead of the upcoming season," BMW Sauber team principal Mario Theissen said.


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