Harlow explains refuelling ban challenges

Force India chief race engineer Dominic Harlow reckons the ban on in-race refuelling in 2010 will make driver skill more important.

Harlow added that tackling wet weather races with heavy fuel tanks will be especially challenging:

In wet conditions the extra weight of the cars will be another interesting factor, and will probably accentuate the differences between the drivers even more than previously.
Dominic Harlow

Speaking to the Force India website Harlow explained the complexities of designing a car for the refuelling ban:

We looked at everything we could think of that affects fuel consumption ?ǣ the drag of the car, the circuits we run at, driving style, the way we run the engines, the fuel itself. We forecast that forward to 2010 and came up with a prediction based on the worst circuit in terms of fuel use, which is now Valencia. Then you have some design factors to include, such as the way a calculated fuel tank size never quite becomes a manufactured one ?ǣ it?s a slightly inexact science.

It?s quite a big unexplored area, and there?s still a lot of modelling for the fuel consumption and the tyres that we still need to do. Depending on where we?re racing, I think people are going to be a bit more cagey at the start of the race.

The car balance will change quite a lot as the fuel weight goes down. I think it?s another challenge, and as always, the cream will rise to the top. It will help the fastest learners. And for us it?s where the continuity and the relative experience of our guys is going to favour us.
Dominic Harlow

He added that he “can?t remember a better winter build period for the team” but nonetheless Force India won’t be at the first F1 test of 2010 at Valencia. The VJM03 will make its first appearance at the Jerez test which starts on February 10th.

Read more: 14 reasons to love the refuelling ban

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23 comments on Harlow explains refuelling ban challenges

  1. Bullfrog said on 20th January 2010, 11:06

    Some might say it’s not just the worst circuit in terms of fuel use…

    How marginal will the fuel loads be? Surely carrying an extra 3 laps’ worth of fuel (and driving flat out) loses you less time than backing off, changing the engine map and so on to conserve fuel.

    • “How marginal will the fuel loads be?”

      Harlow also said that 5kgs too much fuel could cost a driver 10 seconds in the race. It’s 5kgs of unwanted fuel that you have to carry all through the race.

      • VitaRedux said on 20th January 2010, 12:25

        If extra fuel is so costly, will they carry enough to be able to push to overtake for a number of laps. Or will we end up with even more of a parade?

        • Qualifying will be on low fuel, some are better than others on low fuel. The race will be on high fuel, and some are better than others on high fuel.

          So it’s my belief that some fast qualifiers will race slow and some slow qualifiers will race fast.

  2. Eddie Irvine said on 20th January 2010, 11:20

    one question; How on earth will see an overtaking in Monaco??? Even if frieshacher drove for minardi this year, he could well score a podium starting from pole…

  3. I’ve watched a few races from the no refuelling era and it was more interesting. You often had faster guys pitting once or twice for tyres while a guy on a no stop or one stop strategy would get ahead, only to be reeled in by the quicker cars.

    No refuelling is a much better way to spice up the racing that compulsory pit stops or short cuts… but saying that how on earth would you actually get overtaking at Monaco? If the rest of the season is as good as the build up suggests who will care if Monaco is a bore?

    • luigismen said on 20th January 2010, 16:26

      And I don’t think Monaco will be any more boring than it has been the 3 or 4 last years, it will remain the same thing

  4. ” And for us it’s where the continuity and the relative experience of our guys is going to favour us.”
    Dominic Harlow.

    Er…… what experience is Mr. Harlow talking about? The erratic Sutil? Or the not-so-strong Luizzi? Why must these engineers always wear a rose-tinted-glasses? I hope Kobayashi wipes the track with both men :-)

  5. LewisC said on 20th January 2010, 13:15

    I’m amazed that they the fuel tanks never turn out the exact size they calculated… in a sport where the engines and gearboxes are probably made to micrometre tolerances, they can’t make a rubber bag the size they want?

  6. wasiF1 said on 20th January 2010, 14:22

    Will different teams or even drivers will have different size of fuel tank?

    • obviously, its not… fuel tanks consumption tanks rules re nominated by FIA as per its rules, all the tanks are must be in same boundary.

  7. HB uber Mod said on 20th January 2010, 14:57

    I almost would like to see the refuel ban lifeted and make it an option to start on full fuel or have the option to refuel.

    I think this would lead to interesting stratigies

    • They would refuel, because it’s faster to drive the race that way.

      Unless they would make refuelling very slow.

  8. Icthyes said on 20th January 2010, 15:50

    Another thing that isn’t mentioned much with the re-fuelling ban is that changing tyres because of the weather can’t be exploited or punish you like it used to. Before, you could gamble on rain coming in 5 minutes and take on inters (or full wets as Kimi did in Malaysia, far too early) at the same time as fuel. Or, it could rain 5 laps into your new stint and make you lose places to those who had gone longer than you on fuel. Now, if it rains, you can come in and change tyres along with everyone else, with no penalty.

    Of course, you could bemoan the fact that we might not get to see great judgement calls with the weather that see a low car rocket up the field. But also, we might get to see repeats of Donington 1993, or situations where a driver tries to hold out a brief spell of heavy rain for 5 laps and then sail by on his inters when it starts drying out again.

    Also, if a car has too much fuel in their tank, surely they can just get the driver to put it on a higher mix and burn it off? Obviously they’d have to know with a decent amount of the race left to burn it all off in time.

    • The problem with having to burn excess fuel off is that you will then know that it was slowing you down to a greater degree at the start of the race.

  9. Certainly they can just increase mixture. This happens most likely when there’s long safety car during the race.

    I checked information about fuel consumption from last year and Bahrain had the highest one.

  10. It might “accentuate the differences between the drivers even more than previously” but will it make racing more exciting for the viewer? I’m sceptical but hope as ever to be proved wrong…

  11. Steve said on 21st January 2010, 17:49

    still hoping they get the pt system right…

    8,6,5,3,2,1 should be

    8,6, 4,3,2,1….

    and get rid of the compulsory pit-stop…. and if that aint possible, PLEASE DONT BRING IN TWO compulsory pit-stops, they is totally going to screw up the no refueling….

    let the teams RACE!

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