MANAMA (Reuters) - Adrian Sutil will be racing in the Bahrain desert without a drop to drink on Sunday after deciding to remove the water bottle from his Sauber Formula One car in a bid to shave off weight wherever he can.
The German is one of the biggest drivers on the starting grid and has also complained his car is overweight compared to others.
After slimming down as much as he can, he is now resorting to other measures.
"No drink bottle in the car is one thing for Bahrain," he told reporters at the Sakhir circuit, where daytime temperatures can soar to 45 degrees celsius although the race will be held in the evening under floodlights when conditions are cooler.
"So Bahrain is one and a half hours with no drink.
"Normally you have one liter, or even one-and-a-half liters in Malaysia, so you can drink during the whole race," added the driver.
"But in this situation now we are talking about 300-400 grammes and you also have to count the bottle that has an empty weight of 0.5kg."
The bigger drivers are at more of a disadvantage than previously because the new V6 power units and energy recovery systems are heavier than the old V8s but minimum car weights have not been increased significantly to compensate.
While Sutil, who is 1.84 meters tall, started the season weighing around 77kg - three or four kg less than 2013 - he is up against drivers such as Brazilian Felipe Massa who is a mere 1.66m and 60kg.
"All the tall drivers, it's not just me here, have to lose so much weight. There's not so much you can lose anyway, you can't even train because you don't want to lose the muscles you have," said Sutil.
"It's a difficult situation at the moment and I don't think it's fair. Small drivers can eat whatever they want, get a belly, and we are just naturally heavier and we get a penalty, which is like 0.5 seconds a lap or more.
"It's not because the other ones are better drivers, just because they are lighter. This is not as it should be in Formula One because I still see it as a sport."
Television commentator Martin Brundle said at the Malaysian Grand Prix that he had heard of a driver, unidentified, fainting at a sponsor event and Sutil said there was a clear safety concern.
"You feel it before the race that you haven't got your ultimate power. The cars are a bit slower so you don't need to be in superb shape...but still it's like if you go for a run for one and half hours and you don't eat enough, you have a sugar hole," he said.
"You are almost getting in an area where you don't work well up here," added the German, tapping his head. "This is the danger we are facing. The season is long and the longer we travel the more you are taking energy off you."
Drivers are sometimes forced to race without water when the bottles malfunction, and in the heat of Malaysia it can be more like sipping hot tea even when the system does work.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso told reporters he had not used a water bottle in Malaysia this year because the new cars were slower and did not demand as much effort to drive.
In any case, Sutil's concerns fell on deaf ears as far as Massa was concerned.
"If you have a team with a heavier engine or a heavier car then it's up to them to do a better job," said the Brazilian. "This is part of the situation now.
"I am light and I'm happy to be light, but if I am 10kg heavier than I am I would not have any problem with the car for my weight.
"It's related to the rules and how each team did a better job to be light as possible in the car. It's not just the drivers, it's different things."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Lovell)