F1 2010 rules: A return to proper qualifying and real Grand Prix racing

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Ayrton Senna won the last refuelling-free race at Adelaide in 1993
Ayrton Senna won the last refuelling-free race at Adelaide in 1993

Surely the best news in the 2010 F1 rules is the confirmed return of low-fuel qualifying and a ban on in-race refuelling:

29.1 b) Refuelling during a race is forbidden.
2010 F1 Sporting Reguations

The needless and uninteresting complication of fuel strategy and and tedious race-fuel qualifying are being swept away. This is a return to proper Grand Prix racing.

F1 2010-style will be about who can manage the changing performance of their car over a 200-mile distance. The cars will start the race heavy with fuel, and be much quicker at the race’s end. It will also make races last longer.

We should see different drivers performing better at different stages of the race, instead of all the cars being optimised to work within a narrow performance window, giving little variation.

And, of course, the skill of the driver will mean much more to boot.

I’ve heard some people object to the banning of refuelling, saying ‘it brings another dimension’ the races. I’ve never felt refuelling brought anything other than a tedious diversion from where the action really takes place: on the track.

A clever strategy means little. But an exciting battle for position, a rapid lap, a bloody-minded defence of the lead for lap after lap – these are what make for great motor racing. I can’t wait for 2010.

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135 comments on “F1 2010 rules: A return to proper qualifying and real Grand Prix racing”

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  1. I know you have made this point time and time again Keith, but this also greatly affects the state of qualifying.

    1. Yeah I make no apologies for being a broken record about refuelling :-)

      1. For sure, I do too. I was but a child with a mild interest in motorsport when qualifying was last like this (as it will presumably be in 2010) so I am very much looking forward to it.

        I just glanced over your article and I must have missed any mention of qualifying, which is impacted more than the race, even if the race itself is vastly more important.

        1. It’s going to be like the qualifying I grew up watching F1 was like. Fastest driver gets pole! I can’t wait.

          …and no more explaining to the wife why the quickest driver on the grid is in 5th place. :)

      2. A clever strategy means little. But an exciting battle for position, a rapid lap, a bloody-minded defence of the lead for lap after lap – these are what make for great motor racing. I can’t wait for 2010

        Well said Keith…. finally F1’s claims at cutting costs will be directly dealt with.

        no refuel ling means less rigs to fly around the world, and less complications during the race.

        now all that is left is Bridgestone offering one type of tire for all the circuits all season round. and F1’s regulation will be a little more closer to putting the driver back squarely at the tip of the fight…

    2. Thank god for the refuelling ban. It seems F1 is returning back to its roots of more exciting racing. I was so sick of “fuel strategy” playing a major part in the GP weekend. Now it will be more about who can manage the car better through a long race. Thats the way it should be. If you look back when there was no refueling (Mansell, Senna years) the racing was more exciting. It was more about the driver and car. Just can’t believe it took this long to ban refueling. Its going to be an interesting season8)

  2. Ayrton Senna won the last refuelling-free race at Adelaide in 2003

    i really wish he were alive in 2003 but.. i’m sure he would have won it though. sigh :(

    1. keith, i think 2010 will separate boys from the men. its a journey back to the golden era.

    2. Fixed it :-)

  3. More time on the track and less time in the pits equals better racing.

    1. Hopefully this’ll stop teams just waiting to overtake in the pits. If they qualify bad they will have to overtake ON TRACK to do well

      1. I hardly think that the teams wait to overtake in the pits. The drivers certainly try to get past if they’re quicker than the guy in front.

        It’s very difficult, even this year with the new aero regs, to overtake on the track, and we’re most likely to see it happen when a driver has less fuel on board than the car he’s trying to pass.

        I fear banning refueling will lead to race results being dictated by qualifying performances even more than they already are. Personally, I’m against it.

  4. I think you mean 1993 in the picture caption, rather than 2003. :)

    1. Ah, looks like someone got there first :P

  5. Prisoner Monkeys
    19th August 2009, 19:46

    I likes what I hears. I’m disappointed that tyre-warmers are still in because I liked the idea that cars would handle differently with different fuel loads, tyre wear and tyre temperature – because it would be impossible to build a car that it always good – but it’s still an improvement. I also hope Bridgestone go back to their policy of supplying two non-sequential compunds the way they did at the start of the year.

    Ayrton Senna won the last refuelling-free race at Adelaide in 2003

    Wow! He’d been dead nine years and he was still winning races! Spry for a dead fella.

    1. LOL made my day

  6. Something to look forward to. This really soes sound like a good package. Now, if the FIA can just keep their hands off of the rules for a few years.

  7. Keith, see section 34.1 of the sporting regulations for definite proof that we are returning to proper qualifying.

    “(During post qualifying parc ferme) fuel may be added or removed…” :D

    1. Yeah it’s one of those odd things – it’s more useful to see what they’ve removed rather than what they’ve put in. This section that was in the 2009 rules is not in the 2010 rules:

      b) Fuel may not be added to nor removed from any car eligible to take part in Q3 between the start of Q3 and the start of the race, unless any eligible car was unable to take part in which case c) below will apply.
      c) Any competitor whose car is eligible but unable to take part Q3 must, prior to the start of Q3, inform the FIA in writing what quantity of fuel they wish to add to the car. Any such refuelling will take place when the car is released from parc fermé on the day of the race.
      d) Other than under c) above or when a fuel breather and an external fuel pressurising device for starting the engine (in which case only fuel on board the car may be used for running the engine), no connection may be made to the fuel system of any car eligible to take part in Q3 between the start of Q3 and the start of the race.
      e) Other than a fuel breather and an external fuel pressurising device for starting the engine (in which case only fuel on board the car may be used for running the engine), or when race fuel is being added, no connection may be made to the fuel system of any car between the end of qualifying practice and the start of the race.
      f) If a race is suspended refuelling is forbidden unless a car is already in the pit entry or pit lane when the signal to stop is given.

  8. Keith, I’ve noticed in the last few months your level of proof-reading drop significantly. It’s disappointing when, in general, your articles rival major networks.

    1. I know Elliot, standards have slipped a bit. I’m aware of it and am trying to get better.

    2. nope, this site is as good as its ever been.


      Mr James Allen’s blog is nowhere yo be seen.

      keep up the great work keith.

    3. actually keith is brilliantly up to date and informing on everything. f1.com used to be my first stop for f1 news, now its here.

      1. Ditto, you’re doing an awesome job Keith. F1.com is as bland as Bernie. Even some of the stories inbetween races are good. I really liked the ones about drivers looking like others. Had me laughing on the floor when barrichello was compared to kelsey grammer.

        1. This is the best F1 website I have come across. Now I only use F1.com for live timing of Friday Practice while I’m at work!

          Keep up the good work.

    4. Elliot are you from mars? :)

      1. Never ever have i come across anyone criticizing such a great blog. we all owe it to Keith, Journeyer,Gman igor & the others guest writers, who make this blog the best place on the net.

      2. I’ve gotta agree with Elliot, Keith’s blog is fantastic but unfortunately I’ve noticed quite a few errors littering his articles now.

        Some people might not notice, but unfortunately I proof read as a hobby so stuff sticks out like a sorethumb!

        1. Are you from the james allen club?? This blog is a country mile ahead of all the formula 1 sites, including formula1.com & jamesallen blog. Keith is a human being & has a social life too. hope these criticisms do not demoralize him. keith, you are doing a wonderful job, infact this blog if one of the reasons i have subscribed for internet on my phone :)

          1. This is a remarkable site. The growth in number of readers really amazes me. I also think that many F1 journalists must learn from keith, from a humble beginning, this site is now the most popular f1 site in many countries . But some choose to be jealous. should i name them? i don’t think it would be appropriate though.
            Just stop criticizing keith. if you really wish him well, i think it would be more appropriate for all the critics to do it via a private mail.

    5. Nope, this site is a fantastic addition to other “rival” networks. Anyone noticed that sometimes Keith has posts about news before Autosport?

      I’ve only been reading this site since the beginning of the year and it already is my first stop for F1 news. Some errors just make the sight feel it is run by a real person, who is really into F1. Mr M Walker made mistakes all the time and look at the legend he is!

    6. People, calm down. I wasn’t criticizing the quality of the articles or Keith, but the time taken to double check for errors. Keith, I love your work and you’re in my top 3 F1 websites I rely on.

      I just hope that time can be found to catch the errors before publishing. I’m sure if Keith can’t personally do it due to time constraints, someone would be willing to help. :D

      1. i would be glad to offer my services in this regard :)

        1. Great Work Keith…. after all it’s a blog run by one man (i think) mistakes in publishing stories quickly to feed the commentators and hourly readers would put pressure on the best writers and proof readers. and with today’s technology corrections can be made in an instant…

          what’s more is that most readers are very well informed on this site, and know that Keith is Ultra-well informed about the subject and mistakes, or typos i should say are taken at face value not interpreted as a weakness of any type on anyone’s part….

          keep it up Keith…

          p.s: I’m in the publishing business, and i know that little mistakes should sometimes be overlooked, just as a reader might miss-read a word, a writer can mistype it…

  9. found this in ——–>

    25.3 control of tyres

    f)The only permitted type of tyre heating are blankets which use resistive heating elements.

    are tyre warmers banned??

    1. but it was stroked. did they change their mind at the last moment?

    2. Yes. The FIA tried to ban them for 2009 and failed. Looks like they have now succeeded.

      1. A striked-out line means the item has been deleted since the last version of the regulations. In other words, tyre warmers were permitted in 2009 but not in 2010 (unless something else in the regulations contradicts that interpretation).

    3. The line isn’t crossed in the version I’m looking at.

        1. Those are not the 2010 rules published today, it’s the earlier version which has since been changed (for example, the cost cap portion has been deleted).

          1. oh! it says it was published as on 6th may 2009. ok, tyre warmers are not banned then?

        2. yep, i think its banned. found one more strike in article 27.4

          tyre heating blanket

        3. I gave you the proper link in the other thread already, but here goes again:

      1. Mine neither. Did we get the early version of the PDF file or is something else amiss?

        1. the pdf link posted by becken seems to be the old one. during the FIA-FOTA spat.

          1. I have the new regulations and I’ve figured out what’s happened. The strike-out appears in the original 2010 Sporting Regulations dating back to April 3rd. Presumably it was carried over into the May 6th document (which is the one Becken linked to), but it is no longer struck out on the August 19th version.

            In other words, the FIA was going to ban tyre warmers but they are now reinstated.

  10. Well I for one think that refueling is an essential part of F1. I know plenty will disagree but it’s a drivers job to manage fuel loads and it makes the teams job far more integral. If you think fuel strategies are tedious then I really dont know what to say, I think tactics are seldom tedious.

    1. managing of fuel becomes more critical with the introduction of the ban. remember the 80’s turbo equipped cars? most of them used to run out of fuel before the chequered flag. people like prost & piquet sr were masters at this. refuelinng ban is the best thing to have happened to f1. on a lighter note, we will get to see the poor old pit mechanics working in their shots :) that would be sexy :) they can do away with all those fire-proof jackets.

  11. About time too…

  12. Are they ditching the tire compound rules as well?

    I started to like the idea of no refueling, as it really doesn’t add anything and usually only contributes to unexpected results due to mistakes. But if there is still a mandatory use of different compounds, if only by one tier, then we still won’t be able to see 2 hours of optimum racing and it will still be dominated by managing somebody else’s bad choice.

    I really don’t see how bridgestone is still getting away with this rediculous rule, there is no reason for it other than keeping the word ‘tire’ in the broadcasts as much as possible. If they were to make all compounds closer together, different teams might perform best with different tires, which will make tire differences interesting rather than extemely annoying.

    1. Nope the tyre rules are the same.

      1. So cars will still be required to make a pit stop and drive on a set of useless tyres?

        1. HounslowBusGarage
          19th August 2009, 21:37

          Yep! And that’s the really stupid bit.
          Cars will start heavy with fuel and therefore use the harder grade of tyre to avoid destrying them too quickly.
          Then as the car lightens, they will change onto the other type of tyre as required by the regulations.
          So it may be that cars one-stop or two-stop the race, but they will almost all start on the harder tyres before changing to the softer ones.
          So we will still have pit stop strategy, and drivers will still wait for the bloke in front to pull off into the pits instead of trying to pass him on the track.
          I really can’t see the benefit.

          1. I think it works better to be honest – it gives the drivers an option to use different compounds – harder tyres last longer, could you save a pitstop with it? Soft tyres are faster, might they give you an advantage big enough to clear another car?

            It’s extra stuff for the driver to think about.

          2. “So we will still have pit stop strategy, and drivers will still wait for the bloke in front to pull off into the pits instead of trying to pass him on the track.
            I really can’t see the benefit.”

            It will actually be the other way around now. It will be BETTER to be the first to stop, as essentially, everyone should be on roughly the same fuel load for the ENTIRE race, so stopping before the guy in front for new tyres, you can make a gain by running hard on the grippy new tyres before the other guy does, so you should, in theory, be able to leapfrog him as he will be on older rubber at the time you are pushing on the new stuff.

            The length of stops will no longer be dictated by the amount of fuel going in either, which will actually make the work of the crew MORE important than is the case right now. They can easily get the 4 tyres changed before the fuel is finished, so lenght of stop is reflective of the fuel that goes in…now, it will be how quick the guys can change tyres, so there will actually be real-time gains to be made in stops on merit, not just through short-filling.

          3. Accidentalmick
            20th August 2009, 18:27

            You dont often miss things but I think you have here.
            Teams can predict, from the published weights, when their rivals are going to pit to refuel. They can then advise their drivers when to push and when to wait.
            This prediction will be much more difficult to make regarding tyre wear.

  13. I love this change as I think it will bring to better racing and move changing positions from pits to the track.

    I don’t really care about fuel strategies and I’m glad they are getting rid of them.

  14. from autosport-
    ‘Tyre warmers will also be allowed, despite previous indications that they would be banned on cost-saving grounds.’

  15. I’m glad. I started watching 1987 and I preferred this type of racing and more importantly, I remember really loving the qualifying sessions.

    I think this will be better for die hard fans and for the casual viewer. When my girlfriend (casual viewer, knows the teams and drivers) watches, see enjoys everything except the confusing and annoying change of order during the pit stops, she seems to really lose interest when a driver wins or advances just because of a pit stop strategy.

    1. True ,,, i feel that Michael Schumacher became a 7 time WDC solely on pit stop strategies ..

      Ban those and we see who is the fastest which we all want to know …

      Right now can you seriously compare two top drivers on skill… Get eth pit stop strategies out of the picture and only the driver+car remain.. Great !!

  16. It’s everything I’ve been crying out for for years!

    Reduced aero grip, improved mechanical grip by bringing back slicks, and ditch refuelling!!

    Back to Formula 1 Grand Prix racing as it once was, as it should always have been, and as it will be once again.

    Bring on 2010!! Woohoo!!

    1. If they would only do away with the tyre rules and focus on keeping the rules stable, it would be perfect. I would also like to see even more reduced aerodynamic grip, but I’ll take what I can get.

  17. I liked refueling. It made the race about more than just the driver. A race could be lost with a bad pit-stop. F1 to me is about team work, from the strategies from the ‘brains’ to the guy responsible for the lolipop. Now its just a drivers sport. I presume that there will still be tire changes?

    1. don’t worry, people can still lose their tyre during a pitstop :) once a lolipop, always a lolipop, they will always commit blunders :)

    2. There will still be pit-stops as they still have to change tyres. Also, pit-stops will be even better now as they will be faster. Now it doesn’t matter how fast they put those tyres back on if they do it before the refueling is done. How many times have we seen all 4 wheels are secured and they are all waiting for refueling to finish. Now fast changing will actually have impact on lenght of pit-stops every time, not just when there is a problem…

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        19th August 2009, 21:47

        If you reckon that (this season) a good-ish pit stop is 8 seconds stationary, I suppose next season this will go down to about 4 seconds as there will be no refuelling. But the cars have still got to go into and out of the pit lane, so the total time lost on a pit stop could only reduce from 30 seconds to 26 seconds.
        It’s not going to have much impact on racing as it will still be easier to wait until the car in front goes for a pit stop and then put the hammer down for a few laps to make sure he’s behind you when you come out after your stop.

    3. To me its about the Driver and his skill ,, same for about 90% of the ppl watching F1

      Like it or not ppl love their Heroes,,,

      Its the human factor (the driver i mean) which interests audiences not anything else… ppl love drivers more than the team or their strategies…

  18. “We should see different drivers performing better at different stages of the race, instead of all the cars being optimised to work within a narrow performance window, giving little variation.”

    Good insight Keith — I like all this.

    1. I was just going to say this. That sentence is gold

  19. It’s not often I totally disagree with something you’ve written Keith, but this is one of those times.

    Remove refueling and we’re left with one dimensional races and although the puritans are all reveling in the return of low fuel qualifying, I feel it robs us of the “cat amongst the pigeons” factor of someone going light in order to propel themselves up the grid.

    The fastest cars are going to start at the front, the slower cars at the back and very little will change in the 70 laps that follow. Ladies and gentlemen, Formula One 2010.

    1. it propels them up the grid only for them to fall back quite abit, thus gaining nothing by it.

    2. Matt, there will always be f1 drivers who will choose to compromise the qualifying session for a 1 stop strategy, so they will start from the back and have a chance to race for the win…Also there will be a competition between the mechanics from the teams to change the tires faster(i think the record is set by BMW about 4sec, i wonder who will crack that :) ). It will be quite interesting for all of us. 2010 here we came !

  20. Cars will still stop for tires, as they did in the olden days of no-refueling. There will still be plenty of strategy, but it will relate to tire wear and tire stops. The optimal race time will surely involve sacrificing 18 seconds for a tire stop.

    I don’t have a problem with refueling and the conceptual argument that it takes away from the driver’s ability to manage an ever changing car is exactly backwards. Under current rules, the cars go through this dynamic change in the cars physics from converting mass to energy two-three times per race, instead of one long gradual change.

    One thing you will see that is new is a car creeping around in the final stages to conserve the last drop of fuel, or backmarkers going down an extra lap on purpose to make the finish. Its a lot harder to estimate total consumption over a race than a stint and many will get it wrong.

    I’m happy to see again real qualifying, though I find the current format exciting, but the effect on the racing will not be dramatic or propitious.

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