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F1 star Vergne hospitalised after ‘starving himself’

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Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne of France (R) leads teammate Daniil Kyvat

Formula One driver Jean-Eric Vergne has admitted he had to be hospitalised after the Australian GP as new weight restrictions forced him to starve himself.

The minimum weight limit for car and driver has increased by 50kg to accommodate 2014's new hybrid V6 turbo engines, but many teams have struggled to get down to that limit, putting pressure on heavier drivers to lose weight.

You can read more about why the rule changes have been so significant in regards to weight in a blog post from last November from our Formula One expert Will Gray, but the key point he makes it "every kg of added weight counts for around 0.035 seconds per lap."

Gray notes: "It doesn’t sound much, but with a weight difference of 10kg that makes 0.35s – enough to drop several grid positions in a tight qualifying session and when added up enough to cost almost 25s – the time for a whole pit stop – over a 70-lap race."

Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Vergne is listed as 6ft and weighing 69kg (just under 11 stone) – so far from chubby at all, especially considering all the arm and neck muscle strength needed to race an F1 car for two hours.

However, his team-mate Daniil Kvyat weighs in at under 61kg and Vergne said he had to go to desperate lengths just to try and keep up with him.

"The weight difference between myself and my team-mate was making me lose four tenths (per lap)," he told said.

"I did a diet this winter but you get to certain limits that the body can no longer take.

"Actually, I was in hospital between the Grand Prix in Australia and Malaysia because of a lack of water and a little bit of lack of everything. I was very weak."

Vergne's got little sympathy from Jean Todt though, with the FIA president dismissing the concerns.

"I think normally you can do a good diet and not to have to go to hospital because you have been losing so many kilos.

"I don't think you go to hospital because you are on a diet."

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Vergne walks with a team official

The new rules of course help smaller driver likes Felipe Massa (5'5"), Fernando Alonso (5'7"), and Lewis Hamilton (5'9") but bigger men Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button are at a disadvantage.

McLaren even considered not signing Hulkenberg because of the new weight rules.

F1 teams have agreed to raise the minimum weight limit by 10kg for next season, to 701kg, because of the driver weight issue.

However, talks to bring that change forward for this season failed late last year because of a lack of unanimous agreement.

Sauber's Adrian Sutil, one of the tallest and heaviest drivers on the grid, has criticised smaller drivers for blocking moves to raise the limit.

"We have to lose so much weight and there is not so much we can lose anyway," he said.

"It's a difficult situation at the moment. You have to be careful. I lost 3-4kg compared to last year and I tried to be very light last year already.

"This extra weight I'm losing, it's getting to a critical point. But I'm trying to control it and always be in the shape to finish a race.

"You feel already before the race that you haven't got the ultimate power.

"The cars are a bit slower so you don't have to be in superb shape, but still it's like you go for a run for 1.5 hours and you don't eat enough before, then you have a sugar hole where you are almost getting in an area where you don't work well.

"This is the danger we are facing. The season is long and the longer we travel is all taking energy off you. The more substance you have, the longer you last."

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