Goodbye to?σΤιΌ?ͺ refuelling

Felipe Massa might not be too disappointed refuelling is being banned

Felipe Massa might not be too disappointed refuelling is being banned

It’s the last race of the season so we’ll be saying our farewells this weekend – some of the fondly, others not so much.

One goodbye likely to divide reaction among fans is the long-awaited banning of refuelling.

When we witness our final refuelling pit stop this weekend will we have lost something special from F1? Or, like me, will you be saying good riddance to the tedium of race refuelling strategies?

Refuelling was last banned at the end of the 1983 season. Today fans are likely to argue about whether it makes racing better or worse – but on that occasion it was banned because it was deemed unsafe.

Even 25 years later, safety is still a concern. During the last race at Brazil we saw Kimi Raikkonen’s car set alight when another was sent from the pits with a refuelling hose still attached.

This time refuelling is being banned to save money. Lugging two refuelling rigs per team to every race incurs huge freight costs, especially for flyaway races.

Banning refuelling is going to have a big affect on F1 and that will be the subject of a later article here.

But as F1 approaches its final race with refuelling I wanted to ask a different question – whether refuelling has become irrelevant as part of the F1 ‘spectacle’.

F1 coverage, in Britain at least, is much more sophisticated now than it was 15 years ago. We know how much fuel a car has at the start of the race, and when they make a pit stop we can predict quite accurately when they’re going to stop again.

So a change of position due to a refuelling stop becomes more or less inevitable. When Jenson Button beat Rubens Barrichello at Spain because he used a two stop strategy instead of three there was little excitement or surprise at the outcome – other than the fact that two team mates had been put on different strategies.

To my mind it’s been five years since anyone did anything remarkable with a pit stop strategy – when Michael Schumacher won with four pit stops at Magny-Cours.

I’ve got a list as long as my arm of reasons why I’m glad to see the back of refuelling. But the most compelling justification is that it’s always the same and no-one seems to be surprised by it any more.

Are you happy refuelling is going? Was Grand Prix racing better before 1994 or after? Share your reaction in the comments – and do mention whether you watched F1 before refuelling was brought back in 1994, and what you thought of it.


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247 comments on Goodbye to?σΤιΌ?ͺ refuelling

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  1. I will miss it. Re-fueling often provided for some surprises we are unlikely to see in the future. Regarding the safety aspect, the technology is safe, the application sometimes is not. Witness Kovi in Brazil. I think the strategy of fuel and tires played into the drama of the GP. (I really think they should work to get multiple tire manufacturers back into the sport.) I guess you can argue that without re-fueling the driver will now become more important because it will be more down to him to make something happen rather than the strategy. However, thats just it. I think we will see the driver occasionally trying to make something happen by forcing a situation and taking himself out and whoever he is trying to overtake. Then the FIA has to investigate, and the driver will be summoned to Paris to explain himself, and fines will be levelled at driver and teams etc., etc. Blah, Blah, Blah And so it goes….

  2. Dennis said on 27th October 2009, 18:32

    I haven’t seen much of the pre-1994 era apart from a few mind boggling races between Senna and Prost among others. I don’t really think it’s going to matter that much! Less can go wrong in the pitlane, that’s for sure. No more flames and cars carrying hoses along like it was last time. Ohwell! Hopefully there’s going to be more spectacle on the court!

  3. Good thing to ban refuelling. While strategy played a part with fuel loads and length and number of stints in a race, the equipment was notoriously unreliable from releasing the nozzle from the car to delivering the correct quantity of fuel, compromising the race results in a manner out of the control of the driver (or anyone apparently) and no restitution was possible in terms of adjusting race results. Just sodding hard luck mate.

  4. F1Fan said on 28th October 2009, 0:11

    I watched F1 before 1994 also. I think the refuelling stops themselves don’t really add anything to a race, but the fuel strategies in qualifying absolutely do, and of course they affect the race outcome as well. So without refuelling every car will start fully fueled to the end and there will only be pitstops for tyre changes. This says to me that we lose one of the factors that can affect the race outcome and obviously qualifying.

    • UnicornF1 said on 28th October 2009, 11:25

      That’s why I proposed not to full fuel the cars but let’s say, fuel them at the one third and then let the teams decide different strategies after the 1st stint!

  5. Steven Roy said on 28th October 2009, 0:33

    I was quiet surprised to find that I had made the first comment on this post as I haven’t commented for some weeks. Is there a green initiative to re-cycle comments from a few months ago?

    I made exactly that comment in the past and while I have no objection to people cutting and pasting my comments I would appreciate it if it was made quite clear that had been done.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th October 2009, 20:56

      You made the first comment on page two, Steven :-)

      • Steven Roy said on 29th October 2009, 1:00

        I didn’t make that comment. Someone sent me the link to this page and I hadn’t realised it was page two. But I did not make the first comment on this page.

        That is a comment I made last year either here or somewhere else. I have made similar comments on a lot of sites but since Villeneuve died in 1982 and that comment says it was 26 years ago then the comment was from last year.

        It looks like you have some moron who thinks it’s funny to do stuff like that. I know sidepodcast have had similar problems recently and no doubt other sites have too.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th November 2009, 23:44

          Indeed it is – how weird that someone should do that. I’ll keep an eye out for it in future. Sadly some people have nothing better to do than waste other people’s time.

  6. manatcna said on 28th October 2009, 3:43

    Looks like it might be time to re-run the poll :)

  7. Accidental Mick said on 28th October 2009, 11:07

    I am a bit late on this chain because I have been mulling this over which probably means no will see it – still here goes.

    When I first started following F1 there were no planned pit stops at all. I saw some awesome races at Brands Hatch in the days of Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart.

    Ross Brawn has headed up several teams for different constructors with different drivers and won both the WDC and the WCC. Brawn is the master tactician in F! and I have tremendous respect and admiration for him. Witn no refueling tatics will have less (although still some) impact on the race and more responsibility on the driver. This is wher it should be, after all, they are the ones paid in mega bucks.

    Different point. Overtaking makes for exciting racing and the easy answer is to ban wings completely to force the emphasis back to mechanical grip. I dont believe that is what F1 is about. F1 is a highly technical sport and the cars are the best that the designers and engineers can envisage/ produce. The fewer rules the better. For example, engines. Given a fixed maximum capacity, if a team can make a V12 work and another can make a straight 6 work, what the hell – give them their head. We want to see the best.

    And while we are about it, incrase the minimum weight still more to give the engineers more flexibility.

  8. Morpheus said on 28th October 2009, 20:09

    I’ve watched F1 since 1982 and some of the non refuelling races were like a cure for insomnia. Then again, some races in the refuelling era were the same. I think some of you may be a little surprised how quickly we end up with conformity over tyre strategy as teams will still have their respective boffins in the strategy dept working out the quickest ways to run races to the new regs. Some tracks just lead to dull races so I look forward to everyone’s complaints about how little excitement there is during the races (Get your sleeping bags and pillows ready for Valencia!!). Driver’s will look after the tyres, conserve the brakes, lean out the fuel and tool round for a third of the race before letting loose. By then most of the casual audience will have switched over or gone to sleep.That’s how driver’s like Prost won so many races and it was dull then and will, I’m afraid, be dull now unless some genius unlocks the secret to getting these cars to pass each other. Then again, I don’t think Alonso, Hamilton, Jenson, Vettel, Webber, Kimi and Kubica will have too many problems in that department.

  9. Almost all the great F1 races I remember (started watching in 1983) were pre-refuelling.

    It was only brought in by the Max and Bernie double act to create a false sense of drama where non was needed.

    So I’m with Keith in really looking forward to next year.

  10. Anthony said on 28th October 2009, 23:39

    I love the idea of overtaking on track, and anything that promotes that is a good thing, but as the cars will be very similar next year, I doubt we’ll see those kind of results in actual racing.

    Yes, take the aero off and its a different game, but then I think that will put F1 in a dilemma. Big engines, fat tyres and very low aero will be a handful and good to watch, but then all these feeder series will start giving the F1 cars a bit of a slapping, and from then on in what are they feeding? I’ve only been to a few GPs but I love watching F1 cars take the same corner 3 times as fast. It’ll take good management and good regulations to keep it the fastest formula, whilst promoting good on track racing.

    Currently, a light car versus a heavy car does this, which is why I don’t think F1’s transition to no refuelling is quite ready yet. Tracks like Singapore (the worst on the calendar from a racing point of view to my mind) will be a procession post the first lap next year, as it currently is with only refuelling promoting changes in positions.

  11. The arguments for and against refuelling will probably continue a very long time to come. There’s pros and cons in both sides

    I have witnessed F1 for over 35 years so just want to clarify some points on this.

    F1 HAS primarily been a processional race ever since it’s inception in 1950 (OK granted there have been some exceptions. Witness for one, the 1993 Kayalami & Silverstone events between Prost’s Williams Renault and Senna’s McLaren Ford. Senna kept Prost at bay for quite a few laps but ultimately the Williams proved too much for his Mclaren). It will be as long as you have cars faster than the next. Also, generally the guys who gets the pole in most cases wins.

    When people say that a ban on refuelling will make the action more exciting. They are for the most part comparing the last time this happened.

    Let’s us look a bit further into this (we’ll use the 1980s for comparison). The cars of that time were VERY different to the ones nowadays (i.e. Ground clearance, Active Suspension, Turbos, Reliability, as well as the comparative lack of safety). Drivers were willing to take more risks as they weren’t sure if the car would make it across the line. The racing was harder edged (to argue whether drivers were of a much higher calibre in those days is a fruitless exercise). You also saw quite a few cars running out of fuel

    Nowadays, the majority of drivers do not have these worries. They still take risks but this is what racing is about. The refuelling ban will not all of a sudden make the action on track more exciting although I believe it will go some way in encouraging this. The onus will be much more on the driver than with the tacticians behind the scenes. However, the cost implications will be indeed significant.

    I remember similar arguments about the re-introduction of slicks and banning of traction control a year ago or so ago.

    Has the banning of Traction Control made that much of a difference (also when taking into account that there are other forms of technology on the car that make up for this loss)??

    Has also the reintroduction of slick tires made the racing more exciting??

    Personally, I feel that the developments so far these last couple of years go some way to improve the show and that should hopefully continue.

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