The cost-cutting plans: refuelling ban

Refuelling will be gone in 2010. Three cheers!

Refuelling will be gone in 2010. Three cheers!

Two months ago Max Mosley rubbished FOTA?s suggestion that refuelling during F1 races could be banned.

Now a refuelling ban is on the cards for 2010. What has brought about the happy change of heart at the FIA?

As with tyre warmers I think banning refuelling will both improve the F1 spectacle and reduce costs.

Adds nothing to the spectacle

Since 1994 the FIA has clung to a notion that refuelling somehow adds to ‘the spectacle’ of F1. I don’t see how – in fact, I think it shows a complete failure to understand what is truly spectacular about motor racing. If you want to go to a race and see something stunning, watch the drivers brushing the barriers at Monaco, or twitching through Eau Rouge in the damp, or slipstreaming each other at 200mph. Watching a couple of guys pump petrol into a car isn’t spectacular. You don’t get crowds of people standing around filling stations.

I don’t want ‘interesting strategies’ I want pure, unadulterated, heart-pumping racing.

The FIA doesn’t seem to understand this. Back when it surveyed the fans on what they wanted from F1 in 2005 and 2006, it never even bothered to ask whether anyone liked refuelling. When FOTA first raised the possibility of banning refuelling Max Mosley said rather sniffily that he would not consider proposals that threatened to change ‘the show’.

Either he has been convinced that refuelling will not affect the show, or it will improve it, or FOTA have got the better of him politically.

A worthless cost

I expect the decision to drop refuelling isn’t about spectacle, it’s about cutting costs. At present each team has two refuelling rigs, meaning a total of at least twenty that have to be flown and driven around the world. They only make races interesting when they fail (and they do that too often – remember all the fires at Hungary this year?) so they are not worth having around.

More good news: at a stroke it would make qualifying better by removing the confusing, excitement-sapping ‘race fuel’ element. And it would largely solve the problem of drivers having to pit for fuel during pit lane closures and getting penalties.

The FIA has also said it will conduct research into whether F1 races should be shorter. There is no reason why Grands Prix would need to be shorter if refuelling were banned – race were not made longer when refuelling was introduced in 1994. The teams would simply have to use larger fuel tanks in 2010, and there’s plenty of time for them to factor that into their designs.

Getting rid of refuelling would be worth doing even if it cost money. As it is, this is a win-win scenario for F1, and I looked forward to refuelling-free racing in 2010.

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62 comments on The cost-cutting plans: refuelling ban

  1. Manatcna said on 13th December 2008, 0:03

    Robert – According to the ITV website…

    A ban on refuelling stops is the headline announcement, meaning that from 2010 cars will have to run on the same tank of fuel for the entire race distance for the first time since 1993.

    The change may also lead to a reduction in the distances or duration of races, a proposal on which the FIA says will be submitted following market research.

  2. Oliver said on 13th December 2008, 0:42

    Keith, isn’t this going to increase cost for the teams. What it means is that all the design process going into building the 2009 cars will be wasted as new cars have to be built for 2010. Does this help the smaller teams in any way?

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th December 2008, 0:49

    Ccolanto –

    they’ll be so heavy and bloated to do anything it won’t even be funny.

    Ayrton Senna had a full tank of fuel during the first lap at Donington Park in 1993, and he did alright. Racing drivers are still racing drivers even with a heavy fuel load.

    Solid –

    swapping position because a longer fuel stop isn’t racing!

    Exactly.

    Manatcna – The statement from the FIA lists the refuelling ban and potential shortening of the races as two separate things. Given that one has been decided and the other is being given further thought, I don’t think it follows that a refuelling ban must lead to shorter races.

  4. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th December 2008, 0:57

    Oliver – Surely given that practically every team builds a new car design each year it wouldn’t make a difference?

  5. Steve K said on 13th December 2008, 1:03

    This gives the better teams an even greater competitive advantage on the track if its pure performance and no strategy. There will be even less passing and fewer variations at the top since all will be on the same strategy.

    I might be the only one, but I do not like it. Underdogs stand no chance as is in this sport, no wonder Honda quit. Get ready for an even smaller car count. The sport might be getting less expensive, but who on earth wants to sponsor a car with no chance?

  6. ajokay said on 13th December 2008, 1:43

    Hurray for this decision.

    I don’t know why people complain about the cars being heavy with fuel and slow. They won’t be slow… they’ll still do 200mph in a straight line, and they’ll only get faster and faster during the race.

    Plus like Ratboy mentioned, you get thrilling finishes to races where one or two might start to slow or drop out due to empty tanks.

    Plus it means the pit crews can wear their t-shirts and shorts for the tyre changes again.

  7. I wonder what tyre options there will be under the new rules. Will there be a super hard tyre that is predicted to last the full race distance, a medium that is predicted to last 75% and a soft that will go to 50%? this would add an interesting strategy element no?

    Could we have a situation where a driver in second place opts to stop for new tyres because that should make them much faster, but a pit stop in time behind, and with him having done so the driver in first place can’t stop because the time it would take to pit would mean he would then be second place?

    I still think there is the potential for strategy here.

  8. I have never seen races of the ‘good old times’; so seeing everyone excited about this ban seems a little amusing to me.

    Ban on re-fuelling would mean lesser overtaking at the start of the races;isn’t it?

    About the end of the races being exciting.. by that time; haven’t all drivers moved atleast 20-30 seconds adrift of each other by then? (Like we see now)

    Plus; cost of developing a radical new design again for the cars.

    Anyways; I will reserve my judgement till I watch a race with all these new rules enforced

  9. Shahriar said on 13th December 2008, 6:47

    naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!
    i lub the stategy portion in the game :(
    i will keep my fingers crossed the whole 2009, i hope its not finalized

  10. Is there a potential risk of F1 becoming too much of an ‘economy formula’ with the absence of refuelling? It solves a lot of problems (especially Q3 and the safety car rules) but it places a huge emphasis on fuel and tyre conservation. Surely that will encourage drivers to take it much easier than they do now because there will be an advantage in doing so. Personally, I’d like to see the fastest driver win the race, not the driver who looked after his fuel and tyres the most.

  11. antonyob said on 13th December 2008, 7:44

    its not about refuelling its about pitting. ban that. It might kill Kimi’s career at a stroke but tough. Single lap qualifying killed Coulthard. I largely applaud the new rules. F1 had gone down a cul de sac with incremental changes the order of the day. Id like to see the spiritual successors to Chapman & Murray come back to F1 where we’d have cars appearing with crazy changes that pulversie the opposition before being banned.

    Whisper it quietly but Max has got it right.

  12. Chris Y said on 13th December 2008, 7:47

    MartyP – In my opinion, the winner should be the driver who can conserve his fuel and tyres and be extremely fast at the same time. That is true skill to me.

  13. antonyob said on 13th December 2008, 9:04

    its A skill but f1 needs more giles vileneueve’s than it needs more alain prosts

  14. Nice to hear about the refuelling ban. But how will this affect the plank wear? Before 1994 the cars used to drag along the ground because of all the fuel they had + the low ride height. Or am I missing something?

  15. I forget how long I’ve been watching sometimes. Guys and Gals, seriously, full tanks barely affect anything. The V12 was still viable in the old days; and to the viewer there is no noticeable difference in the speed of the cars, or their ability to overtake. Alain Prost said his FW15 was better on a full tank through Eau Rouge than when it was light, as an illustration.

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