Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, Sochi Autodrom, 2014

Fuel saving makes for “extremely frustrating race”

2014 Russian Grand Prix

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Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, Sochi Autodrom, 2014The Russian Grand Prix was an exercise in fuel-saving for many drivers due to the high consumption caused by the Sochi layout.

With no Safety Car periods during the race offering an opportunity to reduce fuel use, several drivers were repeatedly warned to back off.

“I had to do a lot of fuel-saving, especially in the second half of the race,” said Kevin Magnussen.

“It was a pretty uneventful afternoon for me. It was almost like a chilled-out Sunday drive,” he added, “because I was easing off the power 200 metres before the corners in an effort to save fuel.”

“I was really surprised that no-one was able to catch me, in fact; I guess the guys behind me must have been experiencing the same problem.

Sergio Perez received urgent warnings about fuel consumption on his radio but was able to hold off Felipe Massa for tenth place.

“We tried our best to push throughout the race,” he said, “but obviously the fuel strategy was quite marginal – especially because I started the race on the medium and had to really push to keep in touch with the group on the softs.”

“When I was on the softs, it was hard to save fuel because I had to defend from Felipe who was behind me for the whole of the second stint. So it was a hard afternoon, but hopefully we can be in better shape for the coming races.”

Both Toro Rosso drivers also blamed high fuel consumption on their uncompetitive performance. “It was an extremely frustrating race,” said Jean-Eric Vergne. “We have to understand why we had to save so much fuel.”

2014 Russian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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14 comments on “Fuel saving makes for “extremely frustrating race””

  1. one more thing that makes the sochi track awful.

    1. One more thing why F1 is now a bad joke.

    2. @rigi lack of experience in this track maybe? saving fuel hurts the teams, so maybe they got the calculation wrong… or they assumed a safety car period.

      I’d not say this is a reason to criticize the track. There are plenty others :P

    3. In your opinion perhaps, I think its a good track which in other categories this weekend (GP2/GP3) provided great racing with lots of overtaking.

      Just because the F1 race was not as good as those does not mean the track is bad, It produced good racing in other categories which shows its just F1 thats still got too much downforce.

      1. How amazing are tracks where F1 has good racing, then?

      2. I don’t think it is a case of downforce. Maybe, just maybe, the DRS is part of it.

        Although to be honest I think it could be the tyres. Drivers won’t insist on an overtake, as they wear the tyres out, and they were already on a conservative strategy, so they just sit behind a few seconds. Next year Pirelli will have something to go by to make a good decision.

  2. The one fuel graphic which they showed when about one quarter of the race was behind gave impression that every team had fueled much less than the maximum limit. I wonder if some had even gambled that there will be a safety car which would allow to save enough fuel so that all green flag laps could be driven at maximum consumption.

    1. It was expected that there would be a safety car, but I think teams were right on the limit anyway, so even with a safety car they would have fueled full. That said, I’m no expert by any means.

      Bearing in mind at 1/4 distance some teams may have been saving fuel in order to go more aggressive at the end.

  3. Jonathan Sarginson
    12th October 2014, 15:57

    Why don’t we hear anything during the commentary re Fuel Usage (ie Kg/Hr) measured by a Fuel Flow Sender?..this was such an issue at the beginning of the season (and still is in WEC) resulting especially in Ricciado’s disqualification in Australia…is it still being monitored by the FIA?

    1. That was just a case of Red Bull having to admit that they were completely wrong. Even their own flawed fuel flow guestimates showed that Ricciardo was using a higher fuel flow than allowed.

      Of course it’s still monitored, but it’s now simply accepted to be the standard. As all teams should, because it’s the same for everybody.

    2. They probably had feedback that people found it boring, so they don’t bother any more?

  4. Well fuel and far too easy tyres made it much more dull than necessary. But why the low fuel, was that down to the teams calculating on a safety car (or two)?

  5. This was a dull race not for reasons I expected, eg tire-saving or poor track design, but because I believe we finally saw the full effect of an overly conservative fuel flow limitation. Fuel load is now solely a handicap, with no available counterbalancing strategic gamble on a higher fuel load to get more power, because there’s no way to get maximal power given current fuel flow limits. So you fuel as little as possible and only run the car flat out for a small portion of the race, and now the tires are no longer pushed to their limits, and yet more strategic competition is removed. Real competition on skill, tactics, and strategy can only occur close to the limits of performance. Otherwise we only have design competition, and a glamorous track day. While other races this season have had their excitement, no one can argue that major portions of ALL the races have been taken up with drivers circulating in fuel or tire conservation mode. I actually think that if the teams could gain performance by turning their engines up more, they would be more aggressive with the tires. Team racing outcome is now overly governed by design advantage and reliability (without Merc reliability issues, RIC and RB would be much further down the points), as everybody makes the same strategic choices, and all the fans see are cars being driven to a number a large part of the time. IMO the fuel flow restriction was prematurely overly conservative. Changing the paradigm to small dispacement turbo, hybrid ERS powertrains, and a lowered rev limit were already big enough steps in themselves. Fuel flow is so restricted that teams can’t even use their maximal available power, crippling racing performance. I believe that increased fuel flow should be allowed until continuing development in both fuel efficiency and hybrid power generation allows the cars to be run harder at the current target. Development will still be targeted toward increased fuel efficiency because there will always be a performance benefit for generating the same power on less fuel. But in the meantime we might actually be able to enjoy some racing.

  6. The complaints are nonsense. In the not too distant past, fuel saving was part of racing strategy – since when has it become non-kosher. You play with the cards you’re dealt.

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