Why F1 will be better without refuelling

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

With refuelling gone in 2010 we'll see a return to super-quick three second pit stops
With refuelling gone in 2010 we'll see a return to super-quick three second pit stops

In October 1993 the first meeting of the FIA World Motor Sports Council announced that refuelling would be re-introduced into F1 for the 1994 season.

Earlier this week the same body confirmed refuelling will be banned in 2010 – leading to a mixed reaction from fans.

I’ve been surprised how many comments have been posted here complaining that the banning of refuelling will make F1 less entertaining in 2010. I’m convinced it won’t – here’s why.

The wrong rule

Refuelling was brought back into F1 at the beginning of 1994 as the sports’ governing body scrambled frantically to find a way of spicing up ‘the show’. The 1992 season and much of the early part of 1993 saw some decidedly unimpressive racing.

The reason for this was simple: Williams had created a car that was whole seconds faster than the opposition at most circuits. At one race in 1992 the closest car in qualifying to Nigel Mansell’s FW14B was a staggering 2.7s slower. Williams enjoyed a comparable margin of superiority in 1993, though as the season went on McLaren and Benetton began to narrow the performance gap.

It was the norm at this time to see the Williams cars lock out the front row of the grid and disappear off into the distance at the start of the race. This did not make for entertaining racing, and the FIA began pushing for the reintroduction of refuelling in the hope it would cause more changes in the running order.

Bringing back refuelling in 1994 was a knee-jerk reaction to their superiority. As it happened, come the start of the 1994 season Williams’ performance advantage had been completely eroded anyway.

Had refuelling been used in 1992 and 1993, would it have made any difference to the extent of Williams’ dominance? Absolutely not. Their cars were capable of winning races by whole minutes or more.

The death of strategy?

Still, there are many fans who enjoy the strategic dimension refuelling brings to F1. Should they be concerned about its extinction?

I say not – drivers will still have to make pit stops to use both types of tyre, and this will open up some interesting strategic avenues that could also have a positive affect on the racing.

With no fuel levels to worry about drivers will have much greater strategic freedom. We could well see some drivers nursing their tyres throughout the race on a one-stop strategy, while others make two or three changes of tyres. Alternatively, drivers could adjust their strategy on-the-fly, abandoning plans to make extra pit stops in a bid to keep track position.

This was a common occurrence until refuelling killed the practice at the end of 1993. At Portugal that year Michael Schumacher scored a fine second Grand Prix victory at Estoril after deciding not to make his planned second stop for tyres, holding Alain Prost back.

The flying pit stop returns

With drivers no longer taking fuel on board during pit stops we will see the return of ultra-quick tyre changes.

Will any of the teams be able to beat the current record for a four-tyre change? The mark stands at a scarcely-believed 3.2 seconds, set by Benetton on Riccardo Patrese’s car in the 1993 Belgian Grand Prix.

Setup changes

At present drivers have to set up their cars to work between weight of around 610kg (minimal fuel) to 680kg (maximum fuel).

Next year that 70kg spread could double or more. We will in all likelihood see drivers with better-performing cars at different stages during the race. Given the limited setup time drivers have at a race weekend, getting race setup spot-on at the expense of perfecting a one-lap low-fuel qualifying setup could play dividends.

Again, this has produced some wonderful races in the past. Nigel Mansell won the 1989 Hungarian Grand Prix from 12th on the grid in a dry race because he’d nailed his race-day setup. The following year Alain Prost won at Mexico from 13th in much the same way.

Winning on the track

Above all else, banning refuelling places a much greater onus on drivers to overtake their rivals on the track.

They will no longer have the option to delay trying to overtake a rival on the assumption that they can pass them by making a later pit stop for fuel.

Refuelling has provided the odd moment of interest in the 15 years since it was re-introduced: Schumacher’s win at Hungary in 1998 for example. But I have seen far more races rendered dull by drivers ‘passing in the pits’ instead of on the track, or ruined entirely by faulty refuelling rigs.

I’m delighted to see a return to real racing in 2010. As ever I’d like to know what you think and it would be particularly interesting to see if those who started watching F1 before 1994 see things differently.

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97 comments on “Why F1 will be better without refuelling”

  1. Jonesracing82
    3rd May 2009, 1:25

    i think it’s a massive plus, tho i dont like 4wd (goodbye powerslides), the 1st gp i saw was ’89 imola, as i have found some of those ‘era races online, and as i recal drivers had planned to go full distance on one set of tyres, they had worn s had to pit! the big plus as u say is that drivers will have toi overtake on track, and this year cars can do that (tho i fear that double diffusers may hurt the racing, just a hunch i have). another point, in a sport that is obsessed with safety and rightly so, refuelling is the most dangerous part of the sport and we are lucky that with many fires over the years, we have not had serious injuries.

    1. I agree, yes to refueling and no to 4wd.
      What we need are SIMPLE rule changes that are reasonable and practical, like the refueling ban.
      No one can see 4wd on tv – why have people work on this expensive ghost ?

  2. At least we won’t see drivers drive off with the refueling hose attached to the car anymore!

    I have a wait and see approach… I used to watch races prior to 1994, but I was too young to remember details or appreciate strategies and what not.

  3. Spot on, Keith. and I think you agree with me that the artifice of the use of two types of tires during a race is more FIA folly. It used to be possible to make a tire that can go more than half-distance. This required a driver to adjust their driving to preserve the life of his boots. Watching a driver like Prost adjust his driving during the race to account for fuel and tires was purely awesome.

    Forcing drivers to adjust to changing conditions will separate the men from the boys and I support anything that returns racing to as pure a form as possible.

  4. Arun Srini
    3rd May 2009, 3:00

    When I read about the history of F1 (my first race was 1996 Monaco), I’ve always thought how uninteresting the refuelling has made f1, like you said, the change of positions for a bad pitstop, or overtaking inside pits just becoz the team made a better one. Thanks, finally some synapse is workin in FIA’s brain.

  5. ILoveVettel
    3rd May 2009, 3:00

    Keith, I thing you are missing one thing.. With the advance of Aerodynamics, its incredibly hard to overtake nowadays.We have heard from Vettel in Baharin how hard it was to closely follow Hamilton and Trulli because he was suffering tire graining. Now that they changes tyres at least twice on an average they can afford tyre degradation a little bit. But with refuelling gone, they would be requiring saving tyres even more. So might see most drivers racing each other keeping a safe distance. Apart from that, with increasing number of street races(Monte Carlo, Valencia, Singapore) I don’t know how will they overtake.

    I am just worring that the races will become alarmingly boaring with the departure of refuelling. I just hope your wishes are true Keith. Because at the end of the day we all want wheel to wheel racing.

    1. Maybe Vettel just isn’t very good at overtaking cars? Button got past Hamilton just fine and Vettel’s car was faster than Button’s.

      The drivers might save their tyres initially. Or they might not. There is more emphasis on overtaking on track so they might want to get it over with quickly.

      At the end of the race you will also have drivers with worn tyres and others who have been saving their tyres. So there might be overtaking opportunities coming from that too.

    2. This is a point I fully agree with. The fact that an overtake is the exception, rather than the rule is simply down to aero and brakes. The overtaking window is incredibly small and tight. Sometimes opportunist, sometimes strategic.

      For me this is what makes F1. Indeed the relatively low number of on track passes make the actual passes all the more anticipated, exhilarating and skilful.

      If you want non-stop who’s going to pass who next action then other racing series offer this, of which there are many.

      F1 is the way it is because it’s meant to be bleeding edge, every step of the way – including overtaking.

    3. But they still will have to pit because of the tires.Learning of tire degradation will be the winning key for drivers.

  6. It’ll be brilliant.

    It was always terribly disappointing to see your favourite driver catching up, getting ready to overtake at the end of the race, and then having to pit because they needed more fuel (e.g. Barrichello at Bahrain this year, on the 3 stop strategy.)

  7. I think it will make the racing better. I know when they required refueling I thought it was dumb and dangerous. It was dangerous, but not the disaster I feared.

    Race setup will be a huge factor. Having pace when both heavy with fuel and light is not easy. The driver’s ability to manage tyres will be a huge factor. Speaking of which get rid of the dumb two tyre rule!!! If they do have two tyres to select from make them run the race on their qualifying tyre.

    KERS and passing is an issue. If they keep KERS then they should make all the energy in the system be from recovered energy. Not plugging it into the mains to charge it up!!! That is so fake!! where is the recovered kinetic energy when they allow charging from mains before the start.

  8. As I’ve said before, I believe it will be harder to overtake with all cars running with a heavy fuel load.

    I hope I’m wrong.
    Only time will tell.

    1. well, they’ll only be heavy for so long, won’t they?

  9. Ideally, I would like to see the rulemakers stay away from pit stops entirely – let the teams decide whether to pit for fuel and/or tyres, just as they did in the old days, before the Brabham team, Nelson Piquet and the BT50 introduced the idea of establishing a big lead on light tanks and then pitting quickly for fuel (1982, for those who think the strategy is new).

    Banning re-fuelling is, at least, a step in the right direction since it reduces the influence of strategy, leaving the drivers to fight it out on track. All this talk of processional races is nonsense, however. It has always been difficult to overtake in F1 and the ability to do so in spite of this is what sorts out the great drivers from the merely competent.

    We were moaning about the difficulties in passing throughout the ground effect era and then through the turbo years; the nineties produced some of the most processional races ever seen. That is F1, folks – if it were easy, anyone could play.

    The point is that there are always those drivers who can overtake in spite of it being “impossible”. Every year we are told that no one can pass at Monaco and then, come the race, it happens! Some of those drivers must have their mojos working all right… ;)

    Who is old enough to remember the Monaco race that Mansell had wrapped up in a massively superior Williams only to stop for fresh tyres a few laps from the end? Senna managed to get past him during the stop and the final laps became a nail-biting drama as Mansell tried everything he knew to get past the Brazilian. He failed because Senna could not just overtake like a hot knife through butter, he could also keep far faster cars behind him for lap after lap.

    That is F1 – a competition that attracts the finest racing drivers in the world, of whom a tiny handful are so gifted as to be called great. It’s not easy because, if it were, the same guy would win every time and then we’d all lose interest. Sure, it has always been difficult to overtake; but then, there have always been those who can do it.

  10. scunnyman
    3rd May 2009, 3:55

    I agree totally with Keith here.

    I feel we may have a somewhat two tier fan system here with pre 94′ fans agreeing with Keith (mostly) and vice-versa with the post 94′ fans.

    I agree that the aero may make the overtaking harder but not impossible.

    And as Keith pointed out there have been boring races when there was no re fueling, but i’d say far more have been boring since 94′.

  11. Maybe they could also get rid of that other horrid gimmick, the silly qualifying style. Just look at that ridiculous incident with Sutil and Webber…. they need to go back to having an open session.

  12. In the last 30 odd years of F1 the strategies have evolved into a fine art, usually around whatever regs are in place at the time, coupled with gifted designs of cars, this has led to one or other team having a superior design, leading to that team using the optimum strategy, followed by everyone playing catchup, nowhere was that more obvious than the one minute advantage Williams had with Mansell, and Patrese. Tyre changes then became moot. When all the cars are fuelled up to go the distance, the start will be critical, and as anyone who has been in any kind of motor race will tell you, a good start can often dictate the rest of the race, the slightest of delays in the first corner horseplay, will offer an advantage to anyone who escapes unscathed, then as the cars settle down into a tyre-saving, heavy fuel mode,probably slipstreaming as much as possible, the race will be a small procession, until the cars reach an optimum weight, where the drivers will attack, and the all important start will come into play. The opportunities for overtaking, will still be there, but if you are way down the field, even in the best car, it may be difficult to capitalise, if you have’nt the fuel, or the tyres. So we actually might see fewer changes to the racing than we think.

  13. I don’t care either way.

    Both refuelling or not refuelling have their advantages and disadvantages.

    I do hope Bridgestone can come up with better tyres. Or at least that the FIA allows them to bring the tyres the drivers really need (as opposed to tyres that are wrong in an effort to spice up the show).

    1. I think the point about tyres is extremely important here. Having just one tyre supplier is absolutely not good for competition.

      Some would say this levels the field because they all have to use the same tyres on the same track. But as I’ve said before to extrapolate this – why not have them all driving identical cars with identical engines?

      That’s just not F1…

  14. How about going back to drivers having to actually pass the cars they’re lapping rather than the slower guys having to move over for them?

  15. Billy7766
    3rd May 2009, 9:07

    See the random buggeration factor of a refueling rig going tits up or really well, the variable length of a pit stop etc – all these do spice up the show. And lets be clear it is a show, that’s not a dirty word, if the racing is technically brilliant but utterly unintresting (I’m thinking Herr Schumacher’s dominance in 2002, probably the worst F1 season ever) no one wants to watch. The lack of refueling means that drivers could wind up doing a Mansel, and there’s no way for them to be stopped. Moreover, working out who’s heavier / lighter and what strategy thier adopting, thier relavtive performance to a team mate – all of this is going to dissapear, and I for one think this is going to damage the sport…I mean show.

    1. working out who’s heavier / lighter and what strategy thier adopting, thier relavtive performance to a team mate – all of this is going to dissapear

      I think it’s brilliant they’re getting rid of that. I really could not give a damn. I just want to see a motor race.

  16. I think it’s a step in the right direction at least. Personally I’d like to see it go to one tank of fuel and one set of tyres for the race as I think it should be more about the driver and not about team tactics bgut thats just me…

  17. Keith, as you are clearly more of an expert than me and have been watching F1 far longer, I will take your word for it, and watch 2010 with interest re. the refuelling ban. As for the £40m cap and 2 tier system proposal, I think that is absolutely wrong and disastrous. I wish they wouldn’t keep tinkering with the rules. F1 must be one of the most unstable sports in the world, if not THE most unstable.

    1. Make that $40m.

  18. How about going back to drivers having to actually pass the cars they’re lapping rather than the slower guys having to move over for them?

    Worst idea ever.
    I would hate to see backmarkers deciding who’ll be the race winner.
    “I like Hamilton, so I’ll let him pass me easily, but I don’t like Massa so I’ll make it hard for him”
    NO, THANKS!

    Instead of a great battle for the win, you’d have Alonso comfortably leading races because Buttons and Vettels would be stuck behind Piquet doing the dirty job.
    No, thanks.
    ___________________________
    I love to see the refuelling go. I’ve been watching F1 since 1993, although I’ve been really into it since 1994.

    No refuelling will spice things up a lot.
    As of now, if there is Button leading in front of Vettel, and they’re on different fuel strategies, then one will go to the pits on lap 17, the other one on lap 26 – all according to how much fuel they’ve got, all predictable, all boring.

    And now: without refulling. Imagine that Button is in the lead, but Vettel, who is in the 2nd place, is actually faster than Button.
    What will happen when the Red Bull guys prepare for a pitstop?
    The moment the Brawn guys see it, they will also immediately prepare for a pitstop and call Button to come in at the same time as Vettel, as to keep him behind.
    This kind of spontaneity (yeah!) brings so much more dynamics, unpredictability and improvisation into the race, it gives the feel of a head-to-head battle.
    And also – in my example – Vettel would be forced to eventually pass Button on the track by on overtaking manover!
    In the present time, different fuel strategies would split the two guys apart after the first round of pitstops, Vettel would make faster laps when having a clear track, and they wouldn’t have met again on the track.

    I’m really pleased with the new rules.

  19. I agree with Keith, but why not go all the way? They managed to make tyres that could go the whole race distance in 2005, why not reintroduce them and ban pitstops altogether? That would put the focus entirely on track. Tyre management would be important and I’m sure it would produce great overtaking.

  20. It is absolutely the right move to ban refuelling. I have been following Grand Prix racing since 1962 and is happy to be able to see proper F1 races again. The refuelling reduces races to a series of short stints whereas real Grand Prix racing is about both speed, endurance and overtaking on the track. Whith the buget cap also coming in I think we are at the beginning of seeing better and more exiting Grand Prix racing than ever in its history.

  21. I think Keith Collantine must have been cloned from my brain tissue.

    He and i seem to have exactly the same thoughts on a variety of motorsport issues, and have been watching F1 for almost exactly the same amount of time.

    I Promise I am no **** kisser lol

  22. My first reaction to the ban on refueling was anger, that the FIA is changing what makes the sport interesting. However, after reading a couple of articles (including this one) I realised that it will make things much much more interesting. We will see actual racing again, and there won’t be any problems anymore with refueling (no more Singapore disasters for Ferrari). This, combined with the budget cap means that F1 will return to its roots, as a much more simple but much more exciting formula.

  23. @ S Hughes: Wow, you made a clear concise point about F1 and nowhere in your comment did you mention Lewis Hamilton…..BRAVO!!!

    1. It was hard, but I did it!

  24. I wonder Keith, if you’d be interested in a proposition????

    Would it be possible to ask some of the major players in formua one, such as Martin Brundle to start with to join in on a blog.

    You could do the same as you did with the codemasters blog where you asked us for comments and questions to put to the codemasters team for the 2009 f1 game.

    You could get us to post some questions on formula one and ask these people in F1 to come on your site and answer them for us. Maybe one person a month. And start with Brundle.

    It would be nice to get his and others insight into the stories we comment on all the time and the thoughts we have.

    Especially on this subject of banning refuelling for 2010. It would be nice to get a professional like Brundle to give his thought to specific questions fro you keith and us on this kind of subject.

    I’d like to know your thoughts on this keith please.

    1. I think it’s a great idea – I’ll see what I can do…

  25. It’s quite amusing to see everyone so optimistic that people will pass each other on the track. Forgetting that F1 introduced these measures only because there was so little action on the track to begin with.

    Maybe the optimism stems from the OWG changes, but has that really changed much? One of the most talented young drivers in one of the best cars this season (Vettel, Red Bull) couldn’t pass a slower car on a track with two long straights followed by hairpins (Bahrain) and we’re all talking about how cars will be forced to duke it out on the track.

    If the field was full of racers like Montoya, Schumi, and Hamilton, then maybe we’d see something. With the current crop, prepare to be disappointed.

    In principle, this is a good idea. On the track it will be a veritable procession. And it’ll be back to people hoping for rain and other such interferences to spice it all up. I also predict a lot of whining.

    1. hitchcockm00
      3rd May 2009, 12:23

      I’m all for the ban, but I’m fully expecting to be disappointed by a lack of overtaking next year. I just hope that those who are against the ban don’t then jump on it and call it a failure.
      That’s a major problem with the rules in F1, you can’t just introduce a rule then change it the next year if it doesn’t work out. You’ve got to give it a few years for everything to settle down and for all the teams to get their designs right etc.

    2. Forgetting that F1 introduced these measures only because there was so little action on the track to begin with.

      Which, as I said in the article, was nothing to do with the fact that there wasn’t refuelling, and entirely down to the fact that Williams had built one of the most dominating cars F1 has ever seen.

  26. Accidentalmick
    3rd May 2009, 11:59

    @ Keith. Great article – good summation.

    @ Clive. Agree 100%

    Slightly off topic. You get “processional races” because the drivers are putting lap times that never vary by more than tenths of a second (slightly reducing as their fuel load goes down) for two hours. That is not boring it is awesome. Overtaking is exiting but appreciate these guys for what they can do.

  27. Sush Meerkat
    3rd May 2009, 12:29

    I’m in support of banning refuelling, although doing such will put an end to the likes of Massa driving in Singapore refuelling air tanker style and the hilarious Christian and his Spyker car with an extra tonne of weight bolted on because he felt his car just wasn’t slow enough.

  28. Kurtosis:
    It’s quite amusing to see everyone so optimistic that people will pass each other on the track. Forgetting that F1 introduced these measures only because there was so little action on the track to begin with.

    Well, just think about it, in 1998 grooved tyres were introduced to make cars less mechanical grip dependent and more aerodynamical downforce dependent – and all of that in order to enable more overtaking.

    Yet, in 2009 all of this was reversed – slicks came back and wings got limited… – in order to achieve exactly the same goal. Woah?

    Now, only 1 of those contradictory solutions may be right. After seeing four races this season, we may all agree it is the second one.
    The changes made in 1998 did nothing to serve the cause, but actually on the contrary – they harmed the sport.

    It is the same with refuelling. In 1993 the lack or refuelling was blamed for something it wasn’t responsible for, and wrong steps were taken.

    1. I’m not sure, but I think grooved tyres were introduced as a safety measure because cars were getting too fast and operating outside the safety parameters of that period.

  29. I have hated refuelling since it came in and I’m glad its being scrapped.

  30. Been doing some more reading around this and stumbled upon this great letter in Autosport the week after the first race where refuelling had come back (Brazil ’94):

    I wonder whether Max Mosley was watching the Brazilian Grand Prix. If he wasn’t, he may like to know that Michael Schumacher finished a lap ahead of everyone else. Nice to know the new rules work, isn’t it?

    With or without refuelling, the top three would have been the same. If Max wants to see Grand prix racing in its purest form, he shouldn’t falsify the results by handicapping the ‘major teams’.

    If you are reading this Miax, I would like to suggest that you ban refuelling immediately, saving the teams a considerable amount of money, as well as allowing the spectator to keep up with the race. There were so many pit stops on Sunday that for most of the race I didn’t know the top six, the gaps between drivers or whether a driver had pitted once, twice or three not at all. And I was watching it on televiision with the aid of a commentary…

    Steve Baker
    Maidstone, Kent

    I especially liked the reference to how expensive it is, given that they’ve gotten rid of it now on cost grounds.

  31. I began watching F1 in 1994 at the tender age of nine so I am too young to remember what Grand Prix racing was like without in-race refuelling.

    It seems like a more sensible idea than many of the bs that the FIA have spouted in their time so why not throw it in?

    The best recent news is the return to real qualifying, no more phantom, low-fuel pole positions a la Fernando Alonso in Spain last year.

  32. I think that they should just re-set the rules to 1993 before Mosley started mucking around with them ;)

  33. Which, as I said in the article, was nothing to do with the fact that there wasn’t refuelling, and entirely down to the fact that Williams had built one of the most dominating cars F1 has ever seen.

    @Keith,

    How do you know?

    1. Again, as I wrote in the article, it was up to three seconds per lap quicker than all the other cars. Races were never going to be very interesting as long as that was the case.

    2. Again, as I wrote in the article, it was up to three seconds per lap quicker than all the other cars. Races were never going to be very interesting as long as that was the case.

      *Sigh*. I meant how do you know that was the sole reason for which the FIA introduced refueling?

      I’m sure there were a combination of reasons, tradeoffs done, etc. You make it out to be so simple. I’m sure it was much more nuanced than that.

      Apologies if I’m being a pain :).

  34. I have mixed feelings about the refueling ban, I quite liked the fact that with a great strategy and good driving, a driver in an inferior car could make it high up the grid on the saturday and then fight it out for the win on sunday, when, if that driver had been on the same fuel load, he would have had no chance. Strategy was always part of what I loved most about formula 1 (and admittedly hated at times, take for instance Ferrari’s recent cock-ups this year). Keith makes an interesting point on this not being the death of strategy, however with the current rules for tyres, having to run both sets of tyres during a race, and the FIA purposefully making such a performance difference between the two sets, it further reduces the actual strategic freedom you have. Often this season the fuel strategies have been set because one of sets of tyres could only last 10-15 laps, so most of the strategies set this season seem to be less about fuel and more about tyre strategies. My suggestion is to bring two good types of tyres to each race and let the teams fit whichever they want at any time and not impose which ones you must run during a race.

  35. Tyre change of 3.2s will be hard to beat. It takes some time to add that wheel nut clip.

  36. @Dwp, concerning KERS. I saw a link on here to a video, where Mercedes says it take only half a second to get their Batteries fully charged. So I doubt they need to even bother charging it in the garage.

  37. Finally!!! I am all for it.

    1.harder to set up cars for the whole race
    2.heavier load = longer braking(more room to overtake)
    3.drivers must overtake not knowing whether others will stop at all

    They should ban 2 tyre rule.

  38. I think rather than resetting the rules back to 93′, they should just transport us all back in time to 1990 and give us a vote so we could stop Mosley from becoming President of the FIA.
    ANd maybe we could forget some of the crap in formula one we’ve had since he took over.

  39. Thanks for mentioning the quick tyre stops – I’d forgotten how spectacular they used to be. And how some teams were always better at them than others.

    With fuel stops, the tyre crews’ efforts somehow get lost – you’re left waiting for the fuel to go in, wondering why Ted Kravitz or whoever is so excited, why they’ve cut away from the race to show this, and why they bother putting a stopwatch on it.

  40. Maverick_232
    3rd May 2009, 19:46

    Im sorry but ill never agree with this.
    I read all pros and cons extensively and considered what everyone considers exciting about F1 and i really do think that banning refuelling is a massive step in the wrong direction.

    Heres why…

    Lots of us love the strategy element such as different fuel levels and pit stop times. We believe that tracks like Monaco, Hungary and (if we have to have it) Valencia, the strategies are a big positive in a relatively negative race.

    We still want the excitement of lighter cars catching heavier cars (its a lot easier to defend when on same fuel loads) I dont know about anyone else but incidents like Rosbergs pass on Trulli at Singapore last year literally had me on my feet applauding. But still in the back of my mind knowing that Trulli still may have the strategy to be in the mix later in the race.

    At tracks where overtaking is difficult, the qualifying grid surely will be very similar to the order the race ends in- Its easier to defend on same fuel loads especially at these tracks. Amount of tyre stops is irrelevant as others are going to copy others and dive in a lap later. Fuel loads make the race interesting and force cars to pass others or the strategy is over.

    I just believe that with the modern F1 car, on the same fuel loads for the whole race, with the drivers abilities closely matched, pit stops approx 4secs, rubbish tracks with no genuine overtaking for an F1 car and teams all trying to incorporate KERS that 2010 qualifying will be more watchable than the race.

    But saying that, I didnt want any changes apart from slicks and KERS from 2008…

    1. Only 1 thing i will say about the overtaking.
      Look back to hungary 1989. A well known non overtaking track. NIgel mansell sets his car up for the race instead of qualifying well. He ends up 12th on the grid.
      He then overtakes in a brilliant race to end up winning.
      What more can you ask for in a race. I’m sure the polesitter (can’t remember who) didn’t think mansellwould come through to win from 12th.

    2. Lots of us love the strategy element such as different fuel levels and pit stop times.

      OK so fuel levels are gone but different pit stop times will make a difference – in fact they could make an even bigger difference than before. When you’re changing tyres in three seconds flat a moments’ hesitation could double the length of your pit stop.

      We still want the excitement of lighter cars catching heavier cars (its a lot easier to defend when on same fuel loads) I dont know about anyone else but incidents like Rosbergs pass on Trulli at Singapore last year literally had me on my feet applauding.But still in the back of my mind knowing that Trulli still may have the strategy to be in the mix later in the race.

      I’m sure you’ll like the excitement of drivers on fresh tyres passing drivers on worn tyres just as much. Or, indeed, drivers on worn tyres somehow keeping drivers on new tyres behind against seemingly insurmountable odds.

      Amount of tyre stops is irrelevant as others are going to copy others and dive in a lap later.

      I don’t agree – I can quite easily imagine a driver who’s hard on his tyres (say, Hamilton) opting for more pit stops than one who isn’t (say, Button). Why do I think this? Because that what used to happen before we had refuelling.

      I just believe that with the modern F1 car, on the same fuel loads for the whole race, with the drivers abilities closely matched, pit stops approx 4secs, rubbish tracks with no genuine overtaking for an F1 car and teams all trying to incorporate KERS that 2010 qualifying will be more watchable than the race.

      I think you’re looking at the entire problem backwards. “rubbish tracks with no genuine overtaking for an F1 car”? We have a generation of circuits designed for overtaking – Bahrain, Sepang, Shanghai, Istanbul – all these Tilke tracks were designed with zones to facilitate overtaking. The reason the cars haven’t been passing each other is down to their aerodynamic sensitivity and, now they’ve begun to address that this year, I believe we’re already seeing progress.

      If for whatever reason F1 cars are struggling to pass each other on track then let’s fix that problem. But I don’t want artificial refuelling ‘races’ where the object of the exercise is to avoid being near any other cars so you can race as quickly as possible.

      Let me put it this way: Mansell won at Hungary in 1989 going from 12th to first mainly by passing a load of cars on track. It was a great drive.

      Then think of Schumacher at Imola in 2005. Started 13th, finished second, on a track where overtaking is just as difficult. Is that remembered as a comparably good drive? Is it hell – Schumacher made up most of those places because he pitted later than everyone in front of him.

      A pass in the pits is a pass on paper. A pass on the track is tangible, real, memorable. And even if we only get one per race it’s better than a hundred passes in the pits.

    3. Maverick_232
      3rd May 2009, 23:12

      Kieth,

      R.E- I’m sure you’ll like the excitement of drivers on fresh tyres passing drivers on worn tyres just as much. Or, indeed, drivers on worn tyres somehow keeping drivers on new tyres behind against seemingly insurmountable odds.

      Yes, i would. Even more so when there on different fuel levels…

      I understand why Tilkedromes when designed, thats not my point. But why then give us Valencia? And what do you think is going happen at Monaco? Overtaking? Of course not. And the Monaco GP is never going anywhere?

      You say lets fix F1 if theres an overtaking issue, I dont think it needs fixing at all. Sure theres an issue with the economy and i can understand fixing that, but ive watched F1 for years and years too and i can honestly say 2008 was the best season ive seen.

      I also think that the due to the amount of overtaking we have presently, we do find it more exhilarating when one is attempted. Im not sure we would if there was 100-200 overtakes a race.

      You mention Schumacher in 05.. That was a great TEAM performance. An opportunity where a team decision can influence a race. For me, a great drive is one where the team decision cannot influence the race, only the driver can. ie. Vettel-Monza, Hamilton-Silvi

      Basically, i just dont want to see drivers conserving there Tyres, i want drivers racing the rims off them.

    4. Your line of argument is getting harder and harder to follow. For example:

      i just dont want to see drivers conserving there Tyres, i want drivers racing the rims off them.

      So you don’t want to see drivers backing off to conserve their tyres, but you’re happy to see them backing off to conserve fuel?

    5. Maverick_232
      4th May 2009, 9:08

      Again, i dont think ive ever said that either. How often do we see conservation of fuel? Hardly ever.

      Another point i will add though is that drivers currently start on different fuel levels which instantly makes the show watchable from the start. How long into the race will it take to get to see
      “the excitement of drivers on fresh tyres passing drivers on worn tyres just as much. Or, indeed, drivers on worn tyres somehow keeping drivers on new tyres behind against seemingly insurmountable odds”.

  41. I will say that Nigel Mansell’s dominating season of 1992 seems to me to have been less boring than the dominating seasons of Schumacher’s 2002 and 2004.

    That could be down to me being a Mansell fan and not a Scumacher fan. I don’t think so though.

    1. Maurice Henry
      4th May 2009, 1:25

      I think both were as dull as each other. I recollect a major US broadcaster not bothering to cover the Monaco GP in 1992, because of Mansell’s domination, for the first time in twenty odd years. Mansell only pitted because he thought he had a puncture near the end of a complete snoozefest. My fear is we’re in for more of the same with the odd exciting race here and there. For goodness sake even Le Mans has turned into a full on sprint race over 24 hours for the last seven years. Who wants to see conservation in Grand Prixs? Oh, and as for wildly varying strategies read the piece on James Allen’s blog. The brightest minds tend to find the one best way to run a race so you get predictability.

  42. Gwenouille
    3rd May 2009, 20:09

    I’ve got mixed feelings about this rule…
    I quite enjoy the strategical side of F1 right now. At least it offers the slowest teams a mean to gain positions in an alternative way.

    Of course I’d love to see more implication from the drivers and wheel to wheel action, but are the new tracks really well suited to overtaking ? I can’t imagine a GP in Monaco without strategical pit stops.

    Maybe they could try to recompense overtaking with some kind of bonus ? Like, say, each overtaking gives you a 2 sec (or 5) bonus at the end of the race. (I haven’t thought that one through more than 2 minutes, so the idea is probably crap…)
    Also,I don’t like the fact that they have to use both types of tyres…

    Anyway, I’d better like to see this new rule than the new way of attributing championship !

  43. I’m not agree with keith.Refuelling means diffrent strategies from start of the race.some care choose one others two or three pit stops.I think with no refueelling we will watch boring races.Why don’t you put a poll about these subject.

  44. Instead of getting rid of re-fuelling, why not give some kind of bonus to a team after a race that use up the least amount of fuel. I only started watching F1 a couple of years ago, so I don’t know what it was like prior to ’94 but I just have a bad feeling about most of the rule changes for next year. I have been pretty happy with the excitement level so far plus we will have 26 cars on the track next year which will make things better. I just wish that along with Aston Martin, one of the three new teams would be Lamborghini.

  45. Nick Caulfield
    3rd May 2009, 23:26

    I’m pretty happy to see the end of refueling but I’m really really happy to see the return of low fuel qualifying.

    This year I’ve found myself seeing the qualifying session finish and then getting frustated that it’ll be hours before it becomes meaningful (like if 4th on the grid with 20 laps worth is so obviously better than the 1st 3 who have 12-15 laps worth). Still better than last year when I did not bother watching it at all.

  46. @Oliver

    I saw that video too and don’t believe they can take a battery from dead flat to fully charged in half a second. If they can I want that technology in all my battery powered tools! What I do think is if they start fully charged then they can restore the enegery released per lap in half a second.

    I disnlike these battery KERS because they require a throwaway resource, the batteries. I like Williams flywheel KERS and hope they get it going soon and clean house with it.

  47. Jay Menon
    4th May 2009, 1:04

    I’m already looking forward to next season!

    I really like the idea of the amount of freedom the capped teams are gonna get. 4WD in F1 will be great eh? Wonder if Audi and the rest of the folk at Volkswagen AG are reading this.

    I hate the whole pit strategy nonesense, have to agree with Keith, drivers will have to pass on track. I guess we will be seeing a lot more action then!

    Bring on the new rules!

  48. If all these new rules and the cap means that we lose Ferrari, it will a be for nothing. I’m not a Ferrari fan but it wouldn’t be the same without those sleek red cars on the track.
    I really don’t like the idea of the driver with the most wins taking the championship. what if one driver wins 5 races but then finishes outside the top 8 in all the other races? Does he really deserve to win the championship? I know that is not likely to happen but what if? Bernie is going cenile and as proof, think about this: Its hard for cars to pass on street courses and yet they want to add more street courses! How is that supposed to make any sense? Its time for Bernie and Mosley to retire and let two younger people take over. Because right now a couple of Grid Girls could do a better job then they are.

  49. Maurice Henry
    4th May 2009, 2:07

    In addition to Hungary Keith can you tell me about the other thrilling races in 1989? I watched the 1989 British GP last week and found it a hard watch when a great driver is in a superior car (Prost + McLaren) and our Nige struggled to keep up in the Ferrari. Both lapped the entire field and the only excitement was Senna spinning off early in the race and Prost stuck in the pits for 20 secs with a jammed wheel gun. What I got was a sense of dread. We are having a good season so far. Varied competition, different teams and drivers to the fore, good racing. As F1 has stumbled from one PR gaff to the next in recent years I’m now worried pundits will be endlessly explaining how we have come to a point where there is a two tier system in place. Then to add to it, drivers are going to have to carry at least 160kg (Monaco) – 200kg (Turkey/Monza) of fuel and we could end up with the world’s fastest moving procession. And as for drivers not passing each other on the track I’m baffled by people’s memory loss when it comes to some of Hamilton’s moves on top flight drivers (Alonso, Massa and Kimi). Alonso on Massa to win the race at Nurburgring 07? Heidfeld on Alonso Bahrain 2007? Massa and Kubica fighting tooth and nail Fuji 07? Kimi passing Coulthard Fuji 07? Kovy v Kimi Fuji 07? Heidfeld on nearly the whole field Belgium 08? Hamilton and Kimi on each other several times in a crazy lap Belgium 08? The whole Italian GP 08 loads of on track action? In fact, I think that since I started watching this sport in 1982 (I was twelve), 2008 was probably the best season I’d seen in all that time.

    1. Maverick_232
      4th May 2009, 8:52

      Hear, hear!

  50. I agree with the post and see many positive aspects in not having refueling. Most of all, it will put greater emphasis on the driver and on-track action.

    1. Maurice Henry
      4th May 2009, 9:15

      See my post regarding overtakes on the track.

  51. i appreciate the views of clive that it should be decided by teams weather to pit for re-fuelled or change for tyres

  52. HounslowBusGarage
    4th May 2009, 9:55

    Dunno Keith.
    I’ve taken a lot of thought about this issue, read all the posts and I’m really not sure.
    I understand your and everyone else’s viewpoints about ‘pure racing’ from flag to flag an’ all that. But I’m not sure that banning refuelling will acheive this.
    It certainly won’t be acheived if teams still have to think about tyre-changes.
    I still rmember some of the races in the turbo era when cars sputtered to a stop, out of fuel a lap or two from the end. And others where cars did not race with each other at all because they dare not risk using too much fuel. Good racing it certainly was not.
    I’m sure that fuel-rate technology has improved to the point where the teams will know much better how much fuel; they have left, but I still think there is a danger that what should have been improved racing will turn out to be economy-run snoozefests.
    I wonder if the teams will produce different versions of the cars? A small-tank, short wheel base version for Monaco and a long wheelbase car with a huge tank for Monza etc.

  53. For those who think the ban on refuelling will make the beginng of races boring because of cars having same fuel loads, well think of this.

    Just one example.

    Suzuka 1990 and Senna wanted revenge on Prost so he went on the inside of the first turn to goalongside Prost, who had been in front of him, and took them both out and won the championhip.

    Well what i am getting at is both cars had the same fuel load yet Senna was able to make up ground on Prost.
    He didn’t need a lower fuel load to pull of this maneouvre.

    People who are good at getting away when the lights go out will do so on full fuel as well as they can do on low fuel.

    1. Maurice Henry
      4th May 2009, 11:34

      Senna made up the gground on Prost because, as was confirmed by photographers standing at the first corner, Senna didn’t lift.

  54. Is there any way we can get some sort of petition made that can be sent to FOTA to show that most fans would back a change of series for the teams?

    Maybe they are too scared to go down that route because they think we fans would be against it?

  55. Keith, you mention: “Above all else, banning refuelling places a much greater onus on drivers to overtake their rivals on the track.”

    That would be true if the cars could overtake. But if they can’t, they end up sitting behind a train of cars for 30 odd laps with no one overtaking anybody. This is exactly what happened in 2005.

    1. Now if i remember rightly 2005 had refuelling.

      People who can overtake with refuelling will overtake whatever.

      And people have been saying the design of the cars have made it difficult to overtake, well i agree to a point, there has been quite a lot of overtaking in the last few years and i doubt there has been a major difference in fuel loads between the cars involved.
      For example Lewis Hamilton has overtaken cars with only one lap difference in fuel, like his team mate. So same car.

      No something else i have just thought about is even in the same car with the same fuel load team mate usually have different setups, because they have different driving styles. So the cars handle differently and one may overtake easier than the other.

  56. But hang on…….the only reason the different tyre compounds have been introduced is to add more spice to ‘the show’ as well, so by Keith’s arguments, shouldn’t we now start campaigning for a more sensible ‘choose your tyres for the weekend’ scenario instead of the current false ‘two tyre’ setup?
    I welcome the end of refueling as I agree with Keith – its safer, its more interesting, and the both the cars and drivers will have to become more economical during the race – which actually does still see a use of strategy, especially if both drivers have different styles of driving.

  57. I like it! With this in place, drivers will have to adopt the The Professor’s judgement. Takes a lot of experience and feel to achieve a perfect race. For sure, some will cross the chequered flag and cars will halt 3 metres away and others might not even complete as fuel runs out. Thrilling for very swift tyre changes. Most of all, safety will improve. No more chinese dragon dance, remember Ferrari in Singapore? Tyres will be a concern too, hope cars don’t have to pit after 7 laps, as it’s not professional at all.

  58. I have mixed feeling about the change. While I agree with the points in the article I will miss the strategy element of refuelling, 3-stop sprints versus a 1-stopper.

    One thing I think should be changed when refuelling is banned is the need to use both compounds of tyre in a race as this could mean some drivers could try to go the whole race on one set of tyres.

  59. WhisperingWind
    5th May 2009, 14:41

    >> Above all else, banning refuelling places a much greater onus on drivers to overtake their rivals on the track. <<

    Hmmmm …. Not quite. The drivers would have still have to make pit-stops for tyre-changes. Though the duration of the pitstop(s) wud come down, thanks to no-refuelling, I doubt that it wud make the drivers push any harder to overtake. A faster driver, stuck behind a slower one, would in all probability wud think “Hey, I can make my tyre 4-5 laps longer than the guy in front, so why dont i wait till he pits, and then I could gain the position” !!!
    If he is a driver whose mindset prefers overtaking, then refuel or no-refuel, he is *anyway* going to attempt!!!

  60. WhisperingWind
    5th May 2009, 14:43

    Well, I dunno about the positive effects, but I do know one downside. I cant help feeling sorry for atleast 3 mechanics in each time, who will be given the marching orders :-(

  61. WhisperingWind
    5th May 2009, 14:43

    Well, I dunno about the positive effects, but I do know one downside. I cant help feeling sorry for atleast 3 mechanics in each team, who will be given the marching orders :-(

  62. I enjoyed the history lesson and I like your optimism. Indeed this may well initially be the case in the first few races until the teams advance their software and strategies to compensate and we will be bored to death by the usual predictable precession…

  63. I am old enough to remember how refuelling has ruined the racing. Trust Keith, he knows what a difference this will make. The whole forced pit stop thing is artificial and dull now….just an uneccessary danger.

  64. Maurice Henry
    6th May 2009, 11:54

    And now we just have the artificial pitstops for tyres. As they’ve taken this decision it’s a shame they didn’t have the balls to leave it up to the teams to decide on whether to pit or to run non stop. In some ways the FIA’s decision has given us, by default, a minimum 2-pitstop window series. I think the other point to make is that the teams are running such sofisticated simulations now that many will have a good handle on how to proceed with pitstop strategy well before they even get to the first race next year. With modelling software as sophisticated as McLaren’s tyre model I think they may have a rocketship for next year like they did in 2007, when within a couple of months of switching back to Bridgestones from Michelins they had a car on the pace.

  65. In 2010,ferrari cant make any pitlane miatakes

  66. There will be pitstops for tyre change and there will be again passings during pitstops.There will be again pit stop strategies.If you don’t want any passing during pitstops ever car must pit at same lap by rules.Where are f1 going.doing so much rule change.Why they don’t create another race series and leave f1

  67. I strongly disagree with getting rid of refueling. F1 is the ultimate Team sport. To win, the driver must be quick, the car must be perfect, the race strategy must be right etc. Getting rid of refuling limits the strategic options and team skills, and consequently gets us just one step nearer racing the cars in a straight line to see which is quickest.

  68. I strongly disagree with getting rid of refueling. F1 is the ultimate Team sport….

    To me it is not a team sport but a test of who is the best driver. That includes not just the ability to go fast but the ability to extract the maximum from the car. There are many instances where driver skill prevailed over what would be considered superior cars.

    The origin of F1 was not a team sport where pit crews made the difference. If anything the only team aspect was where team drivers were ordered to block and inhibit other drivers advance through the field.

    So I say it’s not the “ultimate team sport” but the ultimate test of driver and machine. I look forward to 2010 and seeing more racing and less “strategy”

  69. having watched F1 for many years (over 23), this is my view…

    it is impossible to get a car setup perfectly for the start of the race and the end of the race, when the fuel levels will be maximimum and then, almost 0…. so, teams will need to adjust and find a balance somewhere…
    the ban on refuelling is a good thing…

    what now really needs to happen is a massive simplification of aero, so that the cars look (in some way) similar to the cars in the early 90’s….., the cars are still hyper sensitive and getting rid of the double-diffuser (yes no?), and the wheel covers (yes), is a good idea…

    the front wing must be further simplified as well as the aero around the sidepods….

    the other issue is, the crap circuits, Tilke seems to have no idea how to build a corner with two lines into and out of it…. or to give the outside line at a fast sweep 1-2 degrees of camber to help guys stay on the outside….

    but these boring street circuits have killed more than any rule IMO

    take care

    Steve

    contactable on

    steven28@webmail.co.za

    1. what now really needs to happen is a massive simplification of aero, so that the cars look (in some way) similar to the cars in the early 90’s….., the cars are still hyper sensitive and getting rid of the double-diffuser (yes no?), and the wheel covers (yes), is a good idea…

      the front wing must be further simplified as well as the aero around the sidepods….

      The double diffuser isn’t much more the problem than the diffuser. Either way there is a huge wake of turbulent air behind the car making overtaking hard because of loss of aero.

      Regulating the diffuser will, I think, be really hard. Maybe a better approach is to make the plank thicker and thus force a change in ride height. That will diminish the effect of the diffuser and may force a different aero approach.

      I don’t think the front wing is a big player in the turbulence behind a car. It would take pages of regs to control it unless it’s a spec wing.

      the other issue is, the crap circuits, Tilke seems to have no idea how to build a corner with two lines into and out of it…. or to give the outside line at a fast sweep 1-2 degrees of camber to help guys stay on the outside….

      but these boring street circuits have killed more than any rule IMO

      Boy do I agree with this. The big problem is that countries and cities pay big bucks to bring a race to them and the money talks. For street circuts keep Monaco, too much tradition, and bin the rest. For the Tilke crap get another designer and rip out one Tilke design and see how the new boy does.

  70. Not sure about this refueling rule, I mean is that a serious fire hazard if all cars are heavily fuelled up?
    What do the cars have which would prevent any chances of a fire explosion from a (let’s say..) first corner collison?

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