As well as getting to grips with the new engine specification for 2014 teams also have to master demanding restrictions on fuel use.
The 2014 F1 rules limit each driver to just 100kg of fuel per race. This is one of the major challenges of the new rules, forcing teams to use up to 60% less fuel per race without sacrificing performance.
How much fuel a car uses in a race is affected by driving style, car set-up, track conditions and circuit configuration. The chart below, based on figures for fuel consumption per lap issued by Williams last year, gives some insight into the latter.
The data is based on the rate of fuel use with the previous V8 engines, which serves to indicate how far the teams have to reduce their fuel use this year:
How often and how far the drivers will have to lap within the capabilities of themselves and their cars to ensure they reach the chequered flag is one of the critical questions of the year to come. “We don?óÔé¼Ôäót like Formula One to be a sport where you are cruising for 50% of the laps,” warned Ferrari?óÔé¼Ôäós head of engines Luca Marmorini last year.
Limiting the rate of fuel use
This will be monitored by a fuel flow meter such as the one pictured, which is produced by Gill Sensors and homologated by the FIA for use in Formula One and the World Endurance championship. This uses ultrasonic wave pulses to measure how quickly fuel is flowing – the faster the flow, the more quickly the signal is received.
To give an indication of how severe the fuel flow limit it, the table below gives a guide to the average rate of fuel use at races last year. Based on the data above, this graph compares the typical fuel loads for each race with last year’s winners’ finishing times to show the average rate of fuel use.
Keeping in mind that the fuel rate limit being imposed this year is on peak use, not average consumption, it’s clear to see from the data below how severe a reduction we are talking about. The average rate of fuel use suggested below for some races exceeds the peak limit drivers will be allowed to hit in the coming season.
NB. The races at Monte-Carlo, Silverstone, Singapore and COTA were all disrupted by Safety Cars and therefore these figures for rates of fuel consumption will be lower than for an uninterrupted race.
Clearly fuel efficiency will be a major goal in the coming season. Generating too much drag will be a greater disadvantage, potentially obliging teams to reduce their wing angles, and drivers who can save fuel early in the race and push harder at the end will be rewarded.
How will this affect the racing? Will drivers now find it advantageous to sit the in the slipstream of their rivals when they can to save fuel? We can certainly expect to hear a lot more team radio chatter about fuel strategy this year.
2014 F1 season
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Image ?é?® Renault