The plan to refuel Formula One

After a meeting by the F1 Strategy Group regarding plans for the upcoming seasons, The Sport Space’s Kyle Archer looks at what the future holds for Formula One.

Is Formula One looking backwards in order to go forward, as plans are made for the return of refueling in Formula One. It was banned from the sport back in 2009 but following a meeting by the Formula One Strategy Group to look at ways to spice up the races, it could make its way back into the paddock in 2017.

The meeting on Thursday by the Formula One Strategy group was held at Biggin Hill and on the agenda was how they could create more interesting and exciting racing. In the end, it appears they decided on going back to where we were in the last decade by bringing back refueling, along with some other aspects that fell away over the years.

In the meeting between the FIA, FOM and select teams the return of refuelling must have made sense to someone. But will the return of the pit lane fire hazards really be sensible and thus be approved by the F1 Commission and the World Motor Sport Council of the FIA?

I personally am not too sure it would be such a good idea as after all it was banned back in 2009 due to the danger it represented in the pit lane and the cost to the teams of the equipment. Now in a time when we’ve had two teams disappear as they could not afford to continue before Marussia was saved at the last moment, the cost of racing in Formula One is set to go higher.

And it will not just be the cost of the equipment alone that the teams will have to deal with. The cost of the personnel to take care of the fuel rig and carry out the refuelling will also have to be taken into account. But on a personal note, the pit crew will be putting themselves back in a risky position of being set on fire should any of the fuel escape and make contact with the hot bodywork like what we saw in the past.

Petrol sprays on the Formula One racing car of Netherlands Jas Verstappen seconds before the car and the crew of Benetton Ford caught fire during refuelling at the German F-1 Grand Prix in Hockenheim.—Reuters

There again refuelling is still around in other motorsports such as the World Endurance Championship, which requires refuelling the cars regularly in order to last the race. Of course, that championship is an endurance one and the races last longer than Formula One. But they are able to carry out pit stops for fuel, even in the middle of the night, and carry them out safely.

As for the excitement factor of refuelling, can it really liven up Formula One? Having the option to change your stint from a long, slow, fuel-saving one to a short blast with little fuel could spice up the racing. But odds are, it would just mess up the order with the teams looking for long runs sitting in the midfield or on the cusp of the podium positions while the team or driver out in front pounds round on less fuel looking to create a larger advantage to fall back into upon pitting.

Something else that was discussed in the meeting and could have an effect on the running order is a change to tyre regulations, to allow the teams to select which two dry tyre compounds they want to run. With this, the teams would select which compounds they wish to use at each Grand Prix rather than it being down to the tyre manufacturer (currently Pirelli). By allowing the teams to choose the tyre compounds, one may opt for a harder set that still provides enough grip but they know they can last the race whereas another team may opt for softer tyres that could be quicker but degrade faster.

This could even link together with fuel strategy and run the faster degrading tyres with less fuel to go even quicker, thus making the action more exciting even if it was only that one driver/team using that strategy. But the choice of tyres going to the teams has been looked at for implication in 2016, while refuelling will not make its return until 2017 should it be approved.

Ayrton Senna (BR), Honda Marlboro McLaren MP4/4. Circuit unknown, 1988

Continuing with tyre talk, wider rear tyres like the ones used in the 80’s on the McLaren MP4/4 of Ayrton Senna was also brought up. The idea seems to be that the cars would be modified along with changes to the current regulations in order to create faster cars. Some of the ways the looked at doing this was by allowing more aerodynamic differences, higher revving engines and weight reduction. This could all lead to faster lap times and louder noises, but the design of the cars could return to the unfavourable looks of cars such as Lewis Hamilton’s championship winning McLaren and other cars from the mid-2000’s.

But even if the ideas brought up in this week’s F1 Strategy Group meeting are dismissed or are not what everyone feels is best for the sport, at least the teams and the governing body are looking at ways to make the future of Formula One exciting. There again, does Formula One need spicing up or is the current formula exciting enough? Leave a comment down bellow with your views and leave any suggestions on how you would spice up Formula One.

Kyle Archer

The Sport Space

After a meeting by the F1 Strategy Group regarding plans for the upcoming seasons, The Sport Space’s Kyle Archer looks at what the future holds for Formula One.

Is Formula One looking backwards in order to go forward, as plans are made for the return of refueling in Formula One. It was banned from the sport back in 2009 but following a meeting by the Formula One Strategy Group to look at ways to spice up the races, it could make its way back into the paddock in 2017.

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