Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas believes the black overalls his team have introduced for the 2020 Formula 1 season are to blame for a massive 3kg weight loss he experienced during last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Mercedes switched up its branding this season in support of equality, a decision which was partly driven by World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who is the only black driver in Formula 1.
Before the first race of the season it unveiled a new black livery and black overalls for its drivers, but Bottas suspects the colour is to blame for higher temperatures in the cockpit as it absorbs the heat.
“These black overalls are f**cking hot,” reported Bottas over team radio during the race, which saw temperatures of 34ºC.
“It was really hot in the car,” he said post-race. “This year, it’s been even hotter in the car. Obviously, we had to change the colour of the overalls. And it’s known that black colour takes more of the heat, especially when there’s direct sun.
“I don’t know any number or facts, how much actually black versus white is in terms of temperature difference, but this year, it’s been really hot in the car.”
But that might not be the only reason, with Bottas revealing that the overalls are also thicker this season due to a new regulation.
“Also there’s a new homologation this year for the overalls, so they are thicker, and the underwear is thicker, so I don’t know how much effect that has.
“It was just so hot so I said, ‘Guys, you know that these overalls are way too hot.’ And for sure, white would be cooler in terms of temperature and today for example I lost three kilos in the race, which is quite a lot.
“And that’s where it can start to affect performance. I know that from all drivers I’m one of the fittest if not the fittest, so I can take it, but it’s never comfortable and there’s always things that we can improve.”
There were also concerns the black livery could impact the cars cooling, but Chief Strategist James Vowles denied this, explaining that a heat resistant lining – which is there whether the car is black, white or silver – reflects any exterior heat.
“Inside the engine cover there’s actually a silver lining, a heat resistant lining, and that is in place irrespective of the outside colour,” he explained earlier in the season.
“But we can’t see any difference on our radiator temperatures or other temperatures of core systems within the car as the result of the paint colour externally.”