On Friday the Formula One Strategy Group announced several plans to overhaul the Formula One rule book in the name of making races more exciting.
It’s been clear from your responses over the past 48 hours that the planned returned of refuelling in 2017 has strong supporters and vehement detractors.
But what do most of you F1 fans make of the plan to let drivers refuel during races?
The ban on refuelling at the end of 2009 took away one more variable which had the potential to add interest to races. Refuelling strategy gave teams extra flexibility when planning their race strategies and further options to take a gamble during the race if conditions change.
The refuelling ban has also contributed to the cars of today being considerably slower than they once were, especially at the start of races when they are carrying a full tank of fuel. Allowing drivers to refuel will allow them to lap faster.
Refuelling allowed drivers to overtake their rivals in the pits instead of on the track and substituted authentic racing for underwhelming ‘passes in the pits’. The strategic dimension it brought was rarely dramatic and usually predictable.
The obvious safety problems with refuelling were never solved during the last 16 years it was part of the regulations – a refuelling fire happened at the penultimate race before it was banned. And the knock-on effect it had on other rules – such as ‘race fuel’ qualifying and closing the pits during Safety Car periods – created further unnecessary complications and unfairness.
The claims that refuelling creates unpredictability always seemed overblown to me. In the first years when it came back – particularly 1994 and 1995 – it did produces some surprises, usually when the well-drilled Benetton team used it to outwit Williams. But as with many changes in F1 once the teams had sussed it out it rarely produced any major surprises, with perhaps the exception of Michael Schumacher’s four-stop win at Magny-Cours in 2004.
Refuelling does enliven other forms of racing, such as IndyCar. Why does it work better there than in F1? In IndyCar, each driver has their own pit box and caution periods are more common occurences, which encourages teams to take more risks with their strategies, creating unpredictability. F1 teams do not have the same incentive to take a risk with their strategies. This is why refuelling seldom generated much excitement the last time around, and why I doubt it would improve things if it returned.
What will happen if refuelling does come back in two years’ time? Is it the missing ingredient needed to inject more unpredictability and excitement into F1 races?
Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.
How will refuelling changes races in 2017 if it returns?
- Refuelling will make races much worse (37%)
- Refuelling will make races slightly worse (21%)
- Refuelling will make races slightly better (17%)
- Refuelling won't make races better or worse (13%)
- Refuelling will make races much better (11%)
- No opinion (1%)
Total Voters: 563
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