Refuelling rig fires and failures hit race

Several drivers had their Hungarian Grand Prix spoiled by problems with the refuelling equipment – which worryingly caused a number of fires.

Sebastien Bourdais, Rubens Barrichello and Nico Rosberg were among the drivers affected. But what was the cause of the problems?

Sebastien Bourdais was the first to suffer a problem when he pitted on lap 31. Fuel leaked from the vale and caught fire, and the team doused the car with extinguisher foam before sending him back on track again. It happened again at his second stop as well, as he explained afterwards:

It all went to hell at the first pit stop, as the guys had to use the fire extinguisher and I got a lot of foam on my visor.

It happened again at the second stop and this time I had foam inside and outside my visor and couldn’t see a thing so had to make another stop to get it cleaned.

Rubens Barrichello also suffered a fire when he pitted and the team had to switch to the reserve fuel rig to get fuel into the car.

Team boss Nick Fry suggested the problem was caused by the heat at the Hungaroring causing leftover fuel in the system to expand, causing the valve to malfunction. But although the temperature was above 30C, it’s not unusual for F1 races to be held in hotter weather.

Honda had a problem with their fuel rig in the British Grand Prix as well, and afterwards Ross Brawn said Barrichello would have finished second that day (instead of third) without the delay.

Nico Rosberg was also delayed by a problem with his refuelling rig, although there was no fire.

I’ve never been a fan of refuelling – I think it brings nothing to F1 except for an added expense and safety hazard. To me this is just another good reason to get rid of it.

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35 comments on Refuelling rig fires and failures hit race

  1. Polak said on 5th August 2008, 16:18

    Sush: I would expect the teams to use fuel that has a high flash point allowing for higher cylinder pressure and temperatures.

    A fuel with a low flashpoint would be unstable and could ignite before the desired ignition point.

  2. Steven Roy said on 5th August 2008, 16:52

    Re-fueling should be banned as it stops cars trying to overtake on the track. Re-designing cars to have bigger fuel taks is simple we used to have them before pointless pit stops were introduced. Max wants to cut downforce well guess what happens to downforce if you stick a bigger fuel tank in the middle of the car.

    I would dispute the assumption that a smaller tank is necessarily more fuel efficient. If both cars are driven the same way that is the case but that isn’t what happens. Drivers push much harder because they know they have to build a gap before the pit stops. If you ban re-fueling and ban tyre stops drivers have to preserve their tyres so don’t burn as much fuel.

    I want F1 races to be sorted on the track by the drivers not by a pit crew or by someone like Ross Brawn operating a driver by remote control.

    Gilles Villeneuve’s legendary win at Jarama in 1981 is revered because he kept 4 much faster cars behind him for the whole race and gave us a facinating afternoon we still think of 27 years later. Had there been tyres and fuel stops he would have been fifth at best after the first stop and would have been lucky to be in the to ten at the end.

    I believe the only way a driver should gain a place is by taking it from the driver in front by better driving(or mechanical faults etc). I don’t elieve that a driver should ever lose a place to a driver who is racing on another piece of tarmac due to some clever strategy. At Imola one year Schumacher went from 12th to 2nd and overtook one car. That is not how F1 should be. F1 should be about two drivers disputing the same piece of tarmac like Villeneuve and Jones did. We have great cars and great drivers now. Lets have them settle things on the track not in the pits.

  3. Sush said on 5th August 2008, 19:36

    Polak, while I thank you for the reply, i already know that… i’m not actually as stupid as I seem.

    what I would like to know is, the teams with the problems,
    do their fuels reach flashpoint quicker? do those cars generate more heat? is the biofuel mixture aiding the process? also would this have happened 10 years ago before rory byrne introduced exhausts above the engine as apposed to in the diffuser like years gone by?.

    i say i’m not stupid but I ask alot of questions to a fuel expect would be childs play, lol, so i am stupid.

  4. Polak said on 5th August 2008, 21:17

    Sush, in that case I’m afraid you will have a hard time getting an answer. You are looking for secrets hehe

  5. Sush said on 6th August 2008, 7:18

    indeed, i’ll go investegate, surely there is something on the internet !

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