Why the new fuel limit is one of 2014’s toughest rules

F1 technology

Renault energy F1, 2014 F1 engineAs 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?t like Formula One to be a sport where you are cruising for 50% of the laps,” warned Ferrari?s head of engines Luca Marmorini last year.

Limiting the rate of fuel use

Gill Sensors Ultrasonic Fuel Flow Meter, 2014For the first time, the rate of fuel use will also be capped. Teams will not be allowed to exceed a fuel intake of 100kg/hour.

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.

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92 comments on Why the new fuel limit is one of 2014’s toughest rules

  1. Swindle94 said on 15th January 2014, 18:20

    Doesn’t anybody know the reasoning for having the gear ratios fixed for the whole season this year? Is it because of the fuel, or cost or something else? This new rule has always puzzled me.

    • Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 15th January 2014, 20:52

      Doesn’t it go along with the regulation limiting the number of gearboxes even more (isn’t it going to be five for the entire season), thus supposedly cutting costs?
      I wonder what the teams will do? Will they decide to compile a set of ratios that will suit the ‘average circuit’ like maybe Bahrain or Nurburgring and accept that the cars are going to be wrongly geared for high speed circuits like Monza and Silverstone, and pretty well undriveable at Monaco. Or will they try to ‘spread’ out the ratios to accommodate both extremes? I can’t remember whether the power band for the new engines will be any wider: anyone?

      • Alex Brown (@splittimes) said on 16th January 2014, 9:55


        From what I read, cogs in the box are fixed, but final drive is free to be changed for each race. The effect (I think) will be having to choose how close the ratios will be. You could keep them nice and close, but then setting the final drive for top speed at Monza will result in a really long first gear for the start (and maybe first chicane?). The same at Montreal, where top speeds are high but the lowest speed on the circuit is a first gear corner.

        It depends to an extent on the flexibility of the engines, but with increased torque, having the engines overgeared might be ok. Drive-ability and not having the engine ‘on the cam’ all the time might not be so much of a compromise.

        As to why this rule has been put in, I have no idea. It can’t be to cut costs, because the cost of manufacturing a set of ratios is relatively small.

  2. Sergey said on 15th January 2014, 19:18

    Saving fuel is not the toughest, it’s just the most stupid solution along with double points and other marasmatic tricks which could only spark the atrophied brains of eldery Communist Party leaders at the sunset of Soviet Empire…
    Or F1 will disintegrate just like USSR did.

  3. pxcmerc (@pcxmerc) said on 15th January 2014, 19:51

    correct me if I am wrong, but are not the regulations set to limit flow rate, and not quantity?

    if the flow rate is limited to 100kg/hour that means that none of the races can be longer than 1 hour, if the tank is limited to 100kg. Clearly the tanks will be filled to at or near current fuel levels. I read the rules a few months ago and did not see anything limiting fuel quantity, just fuel rate.

    Also, if you read, the real issue is how much fuel you can have outside the ‘survival cell’ :) That will determine if it is possible to overcome the fuel rate sensor. I haven’t heard anything about where the sensor has to be mounted, but if it can be placed inside the cell along side a buffering mechanism, fuel rate will not be an issue, and some teams maybe much quicker down the straight, considering boost is unlimited.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th January 2014, 20:32


      are not the regulations set to limit flow rate, and not quantity?

      Both are limited, as it says in the article.

      if the flow rate is limited to 100kg/hour that means that none of the races can be longer than 1 hour,

      No it doesn’t because that is a restriction on peak flow – again as it says in the article – and at times the flow rate will be lower than that.

      I read the rules a few months ago and did not see anything limiting fuel quantity, just fuel rate.

      That may be because the fuel rate limit rule is in the Technical Regulations and the maximum fuel allowance rule is in the Sporting Regulations.

      • Matthew Clayton said on 16th January 2014, 1:27

        I agree with you. I read the regulation the same, i believe the general public and press have misinterpreted the regulation and are causing confusion.

    • Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 15th January 2014, 20:41

      Not sure that you are right. The MAX flow must not exceed 100kg/hour but that doesn’t mean the cars have to be on maximum fuel rate for the entire race duration. It’s the maximum, not the average that’s limited.
      The maximum cannot be more that 100kg/hour, so it may be that the maximum intake of fuel under hard acceleration is artificially limited, unless the cars can keep the fuel flow rate higher than it normally would be under deceleration for example, and hold that unused fuel somewhere between the tank and the engine as you suggest.

      • pxcmerc (@pcxmerc) said on 15th January 2014, 21:06

        so in order to make a 2 hour race they would have to average 50kg/hour. The ERS might make a little difference a fraction of the total power for a fraction of a lap, but the lap times at Monza will be really slow especially seeing as how they are adding at least a second or two to the times just in weight that will not be lost during the race.

        eesh. So much for the pinnacle of racing, I would have to think a Le Mans 24 hour car will be faster now.

  4. JCost (@jcost) said on 15th January 2014, 20:43

    If the cars are bad looking, slow, not noisy enough and incapable of finishing a race at a decent average speed, 2014 will be a very bad year for popularity of F1.

  5. Matthew Clayton said on 16th January 2014, 1:23

    the following statement is false.
    “The 2014 F1 rules limit each driver to just 100kg of fuel per race”
    The regulation “5.1.4” is 100kg/hr not capacity limited to 100kg total.

  6. Minardi (@gitanes) said on 16th January 2014, 4:19

    You know, I really really heavily despise the double-points rule – it absolutely went against everything that I thought F1 was about. But when it comes to the new regulations regarding fuel saving, I really am not bothered in the slightest. They present a set of engineering problems for the F1 engineers to solve – real world engineering problems with some relevance for a change. The solutions should not necessarily require more money to come about, and they are the same for everyone. Just reading this thread, I found it interesting from an engineering standpoint thinking about torque, acceleration, downforce levels, and race strategy. Time will tell of course if the races end up being all like Monaco 2013, but I suspect not.

    If you really want F1 races to be complete, no-holds barred, flat-out sprints from start to finish – well I think we’ve seen that before (2004 comes to mind) and it sucked.

  7. Joshj81 said on 16th January 2014, 5:13

    Okay, so what is the actual new fuel rule? The car is limited to 100kg tanks for a race or the engine is limited to 100kg of fuel pressure per hour? Or is it both?

  8. drmouse (@drmouse) said on 16th January 2014, 15:44

    Just run some quick numbers.

    Assuming some standard figures* from car engines (which are obviously going to be off as F1 engines are a bit different), if the engine were naturally aspirated and had no pumping losses they would use a maximum of about 66kg/hr. I think this bodes well. We are talking a decent boost (15psi over atmospheric) from the turbo to get it to use 100kg/hr fuel flow. For comparison, by the same figures, the peak fuel flow for the V8s was about 120l/hr, so the calculation is probably not accurate, but probably not that far off.

    *Figures used:
    AFR 13:1
    Air density 1.2kg/m^3

  9. W-K (@w-k) said on 16th January 2014, 17:34

    The problem I cannot get my head round is that there are no comparisons out there that say a small turbo charged engine is more efficient than a normally aspirated large engine in similar vehicles. People do say theoretically it is true but have yet to prove it.

    So it looks like the F1 regs are assuming the ERS system is going to make up the difference.

    I am not convinced, therefore I think the races are going to be slower and I also think that some teams are going to struggle to reach the end of the race, assuming of course that with all the new parts they are reliable.

    And how green are those batteries?

  10. San Marino 1985 all over again.

  11. Abuelo Paul (@abuello-paul) said on 24th January 2014, 14:00

    aaaaaaah I seeeeeeee. If a driver had his foot fully down on 18,000 rpm going uphill, the car would burn 100kg an hour, but they never are, so the average for the race l/hr would be considerably less, allowing the limit of a 100kg tank load. It does take some thinking about.

  12. Eric Morman (@lethalnz) said on 16th March 2014, 14:11

    they have rev limiters, so why not a fuel flow limiter?

    if they are not aloud to use more than 100kg an hr then why not control it full stop.
    letting the teams control something that they are not aloud to exceed is stupid.

  13. Alpha said on 16th March 2014, 18:12

    Please allow me to say…. This fuel flow meter thing is useless technology, now why I would say that? Look, all the FIA had to do is to install a standard size fuel hose as a bottle neck, only allow the maximum of fuel flow of 100kg/hr. Problem solved. If you want less fuel flow, make them use a narrower fuel hose!!!! No meter is needed!

  14. peter said on 18th March 2014, 10:35

    with the use if V6 instead of V8s you will reduce full by 30% .At different tracks you will need different amounts of fuel so to put a 100kgs limit i do not know how it will work. When you consider that a F1 race lasts ..what 2 hrs this is nothing compared to nascar with 40 cars driving for 4 hours OMG they must use heaps of petrol. Do you realy think that F! racing with reduced fuel laws will save our plant …..just a stupid rule

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