New calls for refuelling shows how F1 needs to change

2016 F1 season

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You just can’t keep a bad idea down in Formula One.

Just last year a planned reintroduction of refuelling by the Strategy Group was killed off. Yet last week we learned it is back on the agenda again.

Refuelling was expunged from the F1 rules at the end of 2009 because it was deemed too expensive. Refuelling rigs are large, heavy pieces of apparatus. To guard against the risk of failure, each team has a back-up rig, doubling the transportation costs.

Moving 22 such rigs to 21 destinations around the world is good business for hauliers but the teams feel it adds too little to the spectacle to justify the expense. Formula One is a costly business and, as FIA president Jean Todt noted over the weekend, if refuelling can add enough to the spectacle then it should be considered.

But it doesn’t. The words of Martin Whitmarsh explaining the reasons for the refuelling ban at the end of 2009 would still hold true: “Overtaking was often being planned and implemented to occur as a consequence of strategy, and therefore happening in the pit lane and not the circuit.”

The majority of F1 Fanatic readers appear to endorse that view. In a poll last year those who opposed bringing refuelling back outnumbered those who supported it by more than two to one.

“I guess we are going to have to drag out all the analysis we did last year to show refuelling is shit again and will not improve the show,” was one of the pithier responses to last week’s news. If those pushing for a return to refuelling paused to consider why it added so little to the spectacle they would better appreciate the changes Formula One should make to enliven the competition.

Benetton quickly mastered refuelling tactics in 1994
When refuelling was last brought back into F1 back in 1994, besides being a novelty in its own right, it did produce some surprises. Benetton’s Michael Schumacher and Ross Brawn used their World Sportscar tactical expertise to run rings around Williams in 1994 and 1995.

But after one too many nasty surprises of seeing Brawn conjure a way to get Schumacher to the front of the field, Williams wised up. And so did the rest of the teams. Moreover, they got richer and hired more staff, many of which were dedicated to mastering the science of race strategy.

Within a few years refuelling was no longer a novel and tricky new variable, it was a routine part of a race which served only to detract from the action on-track. In many ways the past five seasons of ‘designed-to-degrade’ tyres has been the same: the novelty has worn off and the drivers know they can cruise around between pit stops, pushing only when they need to.

The point is the teams are too rich, too well-staffed and too professional to be challenged by rules like these. Mistakes, such as Mercedes’ in Monaco last year, are incredibly rare.

What F1 needs to find is ways of constraining the teams’ ability to spend their way to success. Progress has been made in this area by extending the parc ferme period and enforcing a curfew on teams’ activities during race weekends and capping the number of staff they can bring to races.

But while these rules are sensible steps in the right direction, it won’t stop teams from being able to have as many staff as they like back at base working out the best strategy and informing the pit wall.

In other championships refuelling adds a more worthwhile strategic dimension. In IndyCar every driver has his own pit box so they can pit whenever they want, and more frequent caution periods encourages teams to gamble on alternatives. F1’s one-pit-per-team set-up and low number of Safety Car periods discourages teams from being so daring.

There is little room for optimism that reviving refuelling would have a positive effect on racing in F1. But it may well happen anyway. Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone and Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne are pressing for it, and it was just such a FOM-Ferrari alliance that last imposed refuelling on F1 over rival teams’ objections 22 years ago.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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79 comments on “New calls for refuelling shows how F1 needs to change”

  1. Refuelling adds nothing but danger. The extra strategies availed just mean the overtaking happens more in the pits than on the track. Its reintroduction would be an indefensible error.

    Much more power and much less down-force would cure most of Formula Ones ills at a stroke. The racing would be closer and more entertaining. No need for refuelling, DRS or any other silly gimmicks.

    1. Much more power

      The hybrid units are already producing up to 900bhp; how much more do you want? :)

      1. They are not producing over 900bhp all the time, this power is only available for a certain period of time.

        1. Can we also remember that when we put our rose tinted spectacles on and talk about the 80’s turbo’s producing 1400bhp…

          1. Yeah, more like 650 in the race, kind of like Honda.

          2. @geemac, the thing is, a number of engineers who have worked on restoring the turbocharged engines from that era have seriously questioned some of the claimed power figures.

            One example would be Geoff Page, responsible for preparing the Tyrrell 014 (Tyrrell’s first turbocharged car) and later working at Hart, and now has a career restoring classic racing cars. He’s had a hand in restoring a number of M12 engines, and he has stated that he does not believe that the engines could have produced that amount of power (he’s suggested that 1200bhp would be a more realistic maximum figure).

            Furthermore, I’ve seen metallurgists point out that the legends about BMW using high mileage engine blocks does not stack up either – the engine blocks were brand new and were definitely subjected to controlled tempering cycles and specialist surface treatment, along with other modifications.

            There are definitely a great deal of romantic tales about the engines from that era but, in reality, power outputs were most likely lower than claimed and, furthermore, only really reached those sorts of outputs in 1986-1987.

            @jureo, if you’re thinking of Honda’s engines in 1988, then even that figure of 650bhp is on the high side. That figure of 650bhp was the maximum power that a race spec engine could produce – however, normally the engine was turned down to 620bhp, both because of the fuel consumption and reliability issues.

        2. MGU-H is available any time the driver wants.

        3. They are not producing over 900bhp all the time, this power is only available for a certain period of time.

          Same as any engine; there’s a reason I said ‘up to’ :P

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      18th January 2016, 17:01

      That wouldn’t cure F1’s ills though…. More power and less downforce would lead to drivers taking it even easier to protect their joke-tyres. We’d still have DRS so providing you have enough power, it’s better to save the tyres and simply pass in the DRS zone. We’d still have people running the sport who aren’t even half as interested in sport and competition as they are advertising. We’d still have F1 split into several categories – manufacturers, rich non-manufacturers, poor non-manufacturers….

      I could go on for hours but there isn’t a simple fix. There have been too many “behind closed doors” deals made which give manufactures/suppliers/sponsors/teams too much power to decide rules and it’s now reached a point where it’s impossible to get everyone to agree. For each rule they try and push through, there is someone who will come off worse from it. When you’ve got people spending hundreds of millions in the pursuit of perfection, why are they going to agree to a rule change that disadvantages them against their competition?

      1. Agreed. Tyres would need to be more durable. Well said

      2. Yes, agreed. But I was assuming they’d have the intelligence to go with better tyres. Of course that’s a HUGE assumption on my part.

    3. Couldn’t agree less. Refueling adds significantly to strategy, and provides a non-gimmicky way to get cars past each other in an era where overtaking is essentially impossible without unfair alternatives like push-to-pass DRS.

      F1 is much weaker for its absence, and will continue to be either until its return or until the rules are changed to make cars that are actually capable of passing each other.

      1. I prefer drs to refuelling. At least I can see one car passing another at speed within a few meters of each other and sometimes they even have to do it on the brakes at some tracks.

    4. Fernando Deutsch (@)
      18th January 2016, 20:36

      Could not agree more on this. I also think there is a need of more mechanical grip. Wider and better tires.

    5. Refuelling makes cars more attractive, and quick, at tune of 3.5-4 secs, albeit only when comparing to today’s race start fuel weights. The downside of refuelling is that pit stops would double in duration, and obviously it can be unsafe although it would provide one more opportunity for advertising. It would not change tactics nor racing as the teams are always bound to stop for tyres.

      1. Refuelling makes cars more attractive

        In what way? The fuel tank isn’t exactly massive to start off with; cutting it to half size won’t save that much room.

  2. +1

    Excellent summary Keith, I hope someone in power reads it and understands it.

    Improving the implementation of drs should be a priority for the show, not adding more things that kill real overtakes.

    1. DRS can be improved in one way only: Get rid of it. It is unsporting to give the following driver an artificial advantage over the driver he’s racing with, and any DRS pass is thereby tainted and boring.

      1. How is it unsporting? the driver in front has the clean air, while the following driver has to deal with all the turbulence, if the driver in front doesn’t want a DRS pass he simply has to drive faster, if he cannot do that he doesn’t deserve to be in that position in the first place.

        1. @scepter I think a driver in front who is let’s say a mere tenth slower than the car behind, deserves a chance to use his skill to defend, as do we the paying audience deserve to see that, rather than suddenly having a car 15-20kph faster DRS pass him by in a fake way that has yet to be described as memorable nor will ever go down in the history books as momentous.

          Turbulence needs to be dealt with by reducing dependence on wings and increasing mechanical grip and eliminating integrity ruining DRS altogether and putting the racing back in the hands of the driver. That is what would be sporting for the drivers and the fans.

          1. Actually, last year we saw when the leading driver was a tenth slower than the car behind, the following driver had difficult time getting the overtake accomplished. there’s just too much turbulence with these cars.

          2. @scepter Exactly so they need to deal with that as I suggest in my second paragraph and not use an integrity ruining gimmick that is DRS.

        2. while the following driver has to deal with all the turbulence

          Which reduces downforce and drag, allowing for a higher top speed down the straights.

      2. I dont know, I think if you let anyone use it at any time it would be fine as well, would allow some of the braver drivers to open it earlier and gain a little advantage but wouldn’t be a free pass.

  3. Baffling stupidity seems to have found a home in F1; few other racing series seem so chronically afflicted. There is a simple answer to refueling: NO. The arguments are well known and pretty conclusive. The underlying structure of F1 racing has not changed significantly since refueling was banned. We do not need attention-grabbing zombie proposals when there is so much else in need of urgent attention.

  4. F1 teams will always work things out that’s why the rules are not the same as they were in the 1950’s and need adjusting from time to time. I would rather see a complete ban on pit radio and bring back the extensive use of pit boards, also drivers should have no buttons to press on their steering wheel. They only have a wheel and gears. No senses allowed other than tyre pressure for safety reasons and then teams will really struggle to work things out and there would be a lot of unpredictability. Moto GP riders do not have all these things and it works fine for them should be fine for F1.

    1. What I worry about in the banning of sensors and pit radio, is the artificiality of it. To reduce cornering grip, F1 had grooved tyres for a while. They were effective, but nobody liked them. When slicks came back, there was an overwhelming sense of ‘why did we ever have grooves in the first place’.

      Banning radio and sensors might bring back a more primal driving experience, but F1 is very much a formula that follows the idea of the car. If you buy a sports bike, of course you’re not going to have the same luxury and sensors as on a sports car. Making F1 more spartan for the sake of competition could eventually lead to a brain drain and reduce its attractiveness for technology firms and the engineering sides of F1 teams. McLaren, Williams and surely others are making good business from implementing F1 technology and will probably seek to prevent a rule change that limits communication and engineering technology.

      1. Agree, there is always a flip side. I just through the idea out there. Ok a compromise, keep all the scensors so teams can analyse but still ban the radio and communicate only by pit boards, plus no buttons for drivers to press. Then teams have all the analysis still but drivers are on their own other than once a lap when they pass the pit lane with the added bonus we get to see what they are being told in real time. In terms of road cars I would say F1 is more like an Atom or Caterham so no more luxury than a motor bike.

      2. @npf1, I agree that in some ways, it does seem somewhat backwards to insist on the removal of radio communications given that the technology pre-dates F1 – after all, sportscars were using two way radio systems back in 1948.

        @npf1, since you ask, McLaren are working with GlaxoSmithKline to deploy telemetry systems originally created to monitor their cars into the medical sector. By comparison, providing real time telemetry information on the vital signs of a patient is less complicated and could genuinely help save lives – so there are certainly some very positive spin off that have resulted from such systems.

  5. What people tend to forget is that all teams are mandated to stop at least once for tyres. what difference does it make if that stop is extended by another 5/10secs? races are won and lost in the pits now as a result of tyre changes. refuelling means that they get to stop longer but race faster because at no time to they carry the full load.

    1. The Pirelli tyres are going to have a cliff again this season. Likely they will maintain a quality like that for 2017 as well.

      What good is having a low fuel load when you still have to manage your tyres? You’ll go faster naturally, but we’ll hardly see the same effect we saw in the 90s, as long as we’ve got these designed to degrade tyres.

      1. @ nick… i take your point but the ‘cliff’ wasn’t there last season like it was in the past and it is only now that pirelli are floating it again as a possibility. even if they do re introduce the ‘cliff’ refuelling will just get them to a tyre change a bit quicker but overall the cars will be a bit quicker. then again, in hindsight, so what? i give up. will just let it all slide as i am fast becoming desensitized from the ongoing farce.

  6. In the past two or three years F1 has become incredibly clinical. Everything is programmed and working with precision. The widely shared optimism from the beginning of the Pirelli era is nowhere seen and very few people give DRS a doubt. Every attempt to make F1 more unpredictable is only making it more complicated and harder to follow. However the worst thing for me is the people who run F1 has no idea how to fix it. I would love a major rules revolution to breathe life into this sport because currently it is not what I once loved. But bringing back refuelling and giving Pirelli a new contract does not sound optimistic to say the least.

  7. Refuelling was expunged from the F1 rules at the end of 2009 because it was deemed too expensive. Refuelling rigs are large, heavy pieces of apparatus.

    How are the cars filled up now? I assume with large, heavy refuelling rigs that all teams drag along every race?

    1. I don’t know exactly what they are using but it is certainly not the same and not as much expensive equipment as in the rufuelling era.

    2. I doubt the current refuelling rigs are as fast (or as dangerous) as the ones they used during pitstops before. When tyre changes were banned in 2005, teams still used the same method to change tyres, but you can bet on teams not spending as much on the equipment as they did before and after.

      1. Funnel and gas can

  8. I don’t think it can be said that anything will definitely make F1 better or worse.

    I’m still in favour of bringing back refuelling, I used to enjoying watching the stops and seeing who would put extra in and who would risk a short dash and I can’t see it making a difference either way to overtaking.

    The main reason I would like it reintroduced is to lighten the cars and increase speeds though.

    Having said that I don’t really care either way, what I would like to see more than anything is a decision on something about F1. Unlikely I know…

    1. I can’t see it making a difference either way to overtaking

      Data from the past refutes that.

      From the very 1st race that refueling was allowed in 1994 the number of overtaking been done on the track more than halved & throughout the 14 years where we had refueling the amount of overtaking been done on the track remained historically low. As soon as refueling was banned in 2010 (Which was the last year without DRS & pirelli tyres remember) the overtaking numbers went back to where they had been in the pre-refueling days.

      All you need do is actually go back & watch races from that era to see how they played out, How the strategy worked & the effect that had on the racing & how teams/drivers went about the racing to see that refueling was nothing but a negative when looking just at the racing.
      Yes fine at times you got interesting strategies but they added nothing to the actual on-track racing & more often than not were actually a detriment to the racing (See the 2004 French Gp, Great strategy but it killed any prospect of a good race on the track that day).

      1. Exactly. The 2010 season provides the reason refuelling shouldn’t return to F1.

        1. I should just point out that I don’t think it will make a difference with current tyre rules. Also there was less overtaking before 2010 but I think that’s more to do with stability in the rules followed by a change.

    2. It’s dangerous, and that’s enough in itself to prevent its return. And then there were the random failures of the equipment, drivers leaving the pits with hoses still attached and so on.

      There are many things wrong with F1, but refuelling won’t fix them. It’s just another way for computers and optimal strategies to dictate the outcome of races.

      1. @jules-winnfield I’m not saying Refuelling will fix F1 (I don’t think it’s broken really) but, as you say, it’s controlled by computers and strategy so we might as well have refuelling to add some variations and at the least have faster cars.

        I also don’t think it’s any more dangerous than other aspects of pit stops. For example the ers has a risk of electrocution which is avoided by safety features.

  9. Why bring refuelling back as on old idea that didn’t work and was expensive, when we can bring double points back which didn’t work either but won’t cost a lot?

  10. I think the calls to bring back refuelling sort of confirm there are two calls in F1 right now. One side wants more overtaking, at any reasonable cost, the other side seems to want ‘faster’ cars, regardless of overtaking.

    Personally, if laptimes drop by 5 seconds at the end of each stint during the race, I don’t really feel like the excitement is growing. Refuelling takes more time, so more time is spent in the pits and frankly strategy becomes too influential again.

    Think about Alonso and Schumacher. Odds are, you’re going to think about their battles at Imola in 2005 and 2006. You’re less likely to remember the 2004 French GP as an exciting battle between Schumacher and Alonso, because that race was all about strategy. Was it amazing Ferrari made a 4 stop strategy work? Sure. But Alonso and Schumacher barely saw each other on track that race. I for one don’t think that sort of battles are exciting in the long run. Hakkinen’s overtake on Schumacher and Zonta made much more of an impression on me than Schumacher’s famous 3rd stint at Hungary in 1998.

    I don’t think that wanting ‘faster’ F1 is wrong, it’s just something I really don’t see the benefit of. Indycar is ‘faster’ than F1 in terms of top speed, yet all the fans are fleeing for WEC, not Indycar.

    1. This is a very astute comment and I agree that there is the ‘racing’ camp and the ‘faster’ camp (and also the noisier camp!). I think I would agree with you, were it not for the spectacle of watching one of those races back in 2003 (or similar) at the start of the race and realising just how fast those cars were when not fully loaded with fuel and all on fresh rubber. There’s a kind of excitement there I can’t really explain that has nothing to do with racing.

      I’m not advocating a return to refueling, but I don’t think its right to dismiss it just because of the racing aspect (to quote from the article: “there is little room for optimism that reviving refuelling would have a positive effect on racing in F1. But it may well happen anyway.”) And also, is the air freight really an argument here, when I look at the size of those motor homes does it really matter that much? I don’t think so personally.

      I remember calling for the banning and refuelling and full fuel tanks back in 2008 for the reason that the cars would be harder to manage for the drivers, but the engineers have taken over there. To that affect, Keith is bang on right to advocate getting rid of the strategists.

      I hope we don’t return to refuelling, but I don’t see it as the end of the world if it happens.

      Anyway, wider tyres and less aero is the solution to everything anyway!

      1. There is also a ‘faster racing’ camp.

        I’m a card carrying member.

        1. There’s a daft punk joke here, but I can’t seem to find it.

      2. And also, is the air freight really an argument here, when I look at the size of those motor homes does it really matter that much?

        @john-h The teams have a choice on the size & the cost of their motor homes but they would not have a choice on the additional cost’s that refueling would introduce.

        1. True @gt-racer, but how much extra is it to take a refueling rig around? I don’t really know to be honest, but it just seems like in the grand scheme of things that isn’t any reason to justify them not refuelling + they have halve the fuel these days to deliver.

          1. @john-h The refueling rigs cost something like £500,000 each & you need 2 of them because you need a backup rig should the primary fail for some reason so thats more than £1m just to buy them.

            On top of that you have to hire additional personnel to operate them over a weekend as well as handle the rigs during a pit stop. There is also maintenance cost’s as you regularly need to change filters, Replace parts & ensure they are operating at their best at all times. And theirs the additional freight cost’s because the rigs, hoses & all the rest of it is exceptionally heavy plus the extra staff your taking to the races means extra hotel rooms, food etc..

            May not seem much compared to what they spend elsewhere but for one of the smaller teams the extra £1m+ that they are losing can be a significant problem.

            I saw that Jean Todt said over the weekend that the cost’s were no more than £50,000 which is so far off the real figure that I question if he was even been serious. If he was then it shows how utterly out of touch he is not only as head of the FIA today but also when he was the Ferrari team manager at the time when we had refueling because the cost’s were never at any stage that low.

    2. @npf1 You are spot on. Problem is, I don’t really know which side is ‘right’.

      Around 15 years ago I found the cars magical, mean beasts. It was a joy just to see and hear them race. But the actual races were rather dull at times. Then the cars changed. First they tuned down the engine, then the downforce. The cars became rather slow but the races/seasons became quite tense and exciting. The last two seasons many fans complain that neither the cars nor the races are exciting to watch.

      Bringing refuelling back will result in faster cars. It probably also will result in less track action. I am still against it.

    3. But Alonso and Schumacher barely saw each other on track that race

      That’s the key here, do people want to see cars racing each other or racing a stopwatch.

    4. I always look at that Spa pass and think it was like drs nowadays as Hakkinen was so much faster on the straight he was already past Schumacher before the braking zone.

  11. Ok I think I’ve worked out the strategy of the rule makes.

    Hey rule makers, you know what I hate, I hate well crafted overtaking moves, just hate them. What we all really want is all overtakes to be done by DRS and pit strategy. As a fan I hate seeing wheel to wheel racing so don’t even think about taking steps to get that back.

    I really hate actual race tyres, I don’t want to see drivers being able to push hard that just ruins the spectacle, don’t ruin the sport by giving them real race tyres.

    I really hate stable rules as that just lets teams catch up to who’s dominating at the minute. As a fan I hate it when they leave the rules alone.

    I also really hate it when I can understand the rules, especially when they’re straight forward enough that I can then explain them to a lay person. Could you imagine how inclusive the sport would be if rules like the tyres were comprehensible to someone without a law degree?

    But I just know now what will happen, despite me telling them everything I don’t want to see and the fact that we as fans don’t want any of those things they’ll still cock it up somehow!

    1. Could you imagine how inclusive the sport would be if rules like the tyres were comprehensible to someone without a law degree?

      I do have a law degree, but I assure you the FIA’s regulations are so spectacularly badly drafted that I am just a confused as everyone else when they rewrite rules.

  12. Implement the following rule and it’s job done;

    “During qualifying and the race, all technical communication with or about the car is prohibited.”

  13. It’s dangerous, it makes the racing worse and no one wants it. Sounds like it’ll be making a come back then. :/

  14. there really is only one logical thing to say and that is: Keith Collantine for Strategy Group President!

  15. Within a few years refuelling was no longer a novel and tricky new variable, it was a routine part of a race which served only to detract from the action on-track. In many ways the past five seasons of ‘designed-to-degrade’ tyres has been the same: the novelty has worn off and the drivers know they can cruise around between pit stops, pushing only when they need to.

    This basically says it perfectly.

    Novelty, comes in makes awesome drama… within a year novelty wears off, teams get on top of it and it creates exact opposite effect.

    I am sure strategy group wanted degrading tires in a superfast quali tyre speed and then dropoff at end of life. But teams found a bypass… drive slow and tires last.

    Same with DRS. Originally meant to help Alonso not get stuck behind Petrov. Petrov is long gone and alonso doesnt get stuck behind other cars anymore. Joke aside… it generates most efficient way to pass, simply wait for DRS straight and do it there. NO reason to harm yourself in some strange place, around the outside at 190 MPH.

    All these gimicks fans hate, drivers hate, and teams want to keep? Why? Is it so hard to give in to resonable requests of the fans?

    Why does this sport exist? I am 100% sure if Nascar lost 33% of viewers, when they switched from Corroborators to EFI, they would switch back… but no not F1. This sport is above appealing to the fanbase.

    1. @jureo I agree with you and maybe I’ll add some more.

      I think the main problem is if we remove all “novelties” the most logical thing is dull, processional race. Because when the team run with their most optimized package and get within 0.100s from each others, the qualifying itself already put the grid from fastest to slowest since the start. After first lap there should be no more overtaking unless something dramatic happens. The quality of overtake should be high, if one actually happened.

      On the other side, to keep teams out of their comfort zones, they need to be given problems they never encountered before, which is the novelties. And it prove to be successful until people figured it out, which won’t take long time to do so. If gamers can find a way for optimized run a few days after new content goes out, a team of brilliant minds surely can do it much more easily. So to keep thing fresh, we need new novelties introduced every season which after a while it will look silly. Not to mention making F1 all more confusing and driving the cost up. The upside though is much more drama (overtakes and gambles) on the race and even if most of them have questionable quality.

      I guess this is pick your poison case.

      1. @sonicslv, but one-design racing can be very good, even FormulaV, but it lacks technical interest.

  16. Is it April 1st already? Oh- this is actually serious….

    If Bernie is pressing for an obviously idiotic rule then there must be another rule he is trying to put in place instead. Is this his strategy to give in on re-fueling but have the teams agree to random sprinklers and laser beams instead?

  17. I enjoyed F1 when they had refuelling but with the cars being much more fuel efficient than ever before it is completely pointless to bring it back with the races being the same length.

  18. I might be in the minority but I would love to see refueling is legalized again, but pit stop, using 2 tire compound and refueling itself isn’t mandatory. My quick thought is we have this efficient engines now with 100kg limit and fuel flow limit. It means for full race distance the fuel needed to carry is already much lighter than it used to be. Also the fuel pump is supplied by FIA with standard spec and lowered flow (maybe 5kg/s so half tank (50kg) is 10s stop at minimum).

    For safety, every car has a physical switch/sensor that force the car into neutral when the hose is attached. In case a glitch happening, there’s another switch to override that and give control back to the driver but this switch should only be able to accessed after the hose is completely detached from the car.

    Also, remove mandatory pit stop requirement and restriction on tire compound. Let each driver nominate for a total of 6 set of tires they want to use in race and FP3 (in any combination except inters and wet) tires they want few weeks from the race in secret, revealed to public at Saturday before P3. On Friday, P1 and P2 every driver has access to 2 set of each available compound, can be used however they like. Qualifying is using tire supplier chosen set for all drives (e.g all softs or all super-softs) with each driver get 3 set of tires can be used however they want to, and extra 1 set if they managed to get into Q3. All these tires are returned after the session and the race starts with fresh personal chosen tires.

    Last thing, either remove DRS completely or make active aero (at least on wings) legal and can be used without restriction.

    The idea is offering much wider options to finish the race as fast as possible. Driver like Vettel can opt for fast sprint with few pit stops and faster, fresher tires throughout the race while sacrificing track position and risking more shenanigans happened on the pit stops. Or maybe a driver like Perez can opt to run full race without ever stopping, planning to get the track position and defending it. Or maybe someone could pit only for fresh tires without refueling so they still have sub 3s stop.

    The numbers like fuel flow or how many tire set each driver get can be adjusted so there’s no clear superior strategy to run the race. And if fuel rig “rent” is too expensive for smaller teams, they can focused on making car that easier on the tires so they don’t need to do refueling at all.

    1. I forgot to say remove the “falling off the cliff” tires too please.

    2. Good thinking there yes. Give teams a free choice of strategy, compounds, everything.

      Perhaps Pirelli can give limits to how long a tire is safe. Say 30 laps max for ultra-soft. But probably with different construction tires wouldn’t be so prone to spectacular failures.

      Active Aero is the one true fight against troubles of following another car. This could be made to work, but goes against current rule-maker desires. By Active aero could compensate at least loss of balance while following another car, if not retain overall grip.

      But despite all, give teams free choice of strategy they want to pursue, refueling, not refueling, what tires to pick, how many stops to make. But provide tires that do not degrade so much.

      On paper when refueling was allowed often times shorter stints were picked for quicker overall strategy and then car would go flat out.

      This flat out phase is what attracts me. Man and machine, at the limit for as many laps as possible. Then drivers are measured, mistakes are made, drama ensues.

      Driving at 80% is not that spectacular, but that is what we see today, drivers driving to 80%. When they cross that line they go to say 90% tires degrade to much, but no drama is there and we hardly notice it as spectators.

      But when driver goes to 103%, slip starts, back end comes loose, or maybe understeer drags the car to the outside of the track. Then you see a superior driver from behind pounce and provide us with a proper overtake. That is how it was 10 years ago. IT was either done through driver error, spectacular pace advantage or through pit-stop strategy.

      Now we have overtakes when tires go off the cliff or simple DRS. No more duels steeming from faster car stuck behind slower car, waiting for forward one to make a mistake. Just patiently waiting for the next straight… push button and highway them.

      Drivers that drive to a delta, passes that happen on a button, predictable results. Worst of all, slow laptimes.

  19. How about limiting strategy decisions to 1 or 2 people and not allowing those people to communicate with the rest of the garage / factory? That would cut down some of the advantage the large teams have.

    They can see the sector times, the weather forecast, and have a radio to the drivers and that’s it. This would force people to think on their feet and potentially make less than optimum calls and add some unpredictability. The garage/factory could step in for safety reason e.g. it looks like you’ve got damage or your engine is about to blow.

    1. Try this, Spend 30 million of your own money on a car (or 2) with 100million in R&D and then tell us how you feel that you can’t monitor it and discuss it within the team you paid another 100 million for.

      Never going to happen.

      Also, doesn’t actually help anything. It almost sounds like an idea the FIA would come up with, or worse, bernie.

      Hey engineers, cover your eyes and hop around on 1 foot during the race, that will help over taking! That’s essentially what your asking for.

    2. I believe the 1-2 people you refer to are called drivers. They can see sector times and they can see the sky.

      And it would definitely mix up things when they cannot have a 3 lap conversation about passing or not a team mate, or should they give up a place to a car with fresher tires to not lose time.

      So, that easy, ban radio messages. Let all communication flow through FIA commissaries (for safety issues) and the drivers drive.

    3. Banning radio communications & other data would not have much of an impact over the long term because after a few races they would just come up with new procedures & new ways of been just as efficient without the data they had before.

      For example over the past 18 or so months there have been several restrictions in what information can be discussed over the radio & there was the change to the starting procedures for the Spa race last year. These things were supposed to mix things up & while they may have created some problems initially after 2-3 races those restrictions ended up making zero difference as everyone adapted.

      There is also the ‘issue’ of do you want F1 to be below even many of the junior categories who would still have access to & the ability to give out all of that information? If F1 is to be considered the pinnacle of the sport so you really want it to be less technically advanced than the categories that are meant to be below it?

      1. Depends. Radio is hardly cutting edge and whilst out on track it should be all driver. The pit wall can still communicate via pitboards ie slow down turn 3 brakes hot. The driver has the throttle brake gears and steering to control what they are feeling. If we want drivers to have buttons and the pit wall to be in contact all the time how long before an autonimous f1 car which would be cutting edge but probably not welcome. The car itself should be cutting edge but it does not need radio and buttons for drivers to press.

  20. I may have missed it, but I have to ask if they intend to change the max fuel flow rate or amount?
    And what about minimum car weight; is that being reduced?

  21. “In IndyCar every driver has his own pit box so they can pit whenever they want, and more frequent caution periods encourages teams to gamble on alternatives. F1’s one-pit-per-team set-up and low number of Safety Car periods discourages teams from being so daring”

    I agree with this but still… refuelling confuses the show for the casual viewer. I am a huge IndyCar fan but have big trouble following races with so many different fuel strategies. There is a fair bit of coasting and fuel saving that doesn’t really help the show either, in my perspective.

  22. How about having optional refuling rules if some teams are desperate for it to be brought back. But limiting it somehow, eg if you opt to refuel your max flow rate is reduced to comepensate for having less weight on board.
    This way teams with money can do it if they want to, the midfield don’t have to and aren’t penalised and we get some interesting (hopefully) strategy. Perhaps merc splitting drivers so one refuels and one doesn’t?

  23. To my mind the racing could be improved greatly just by turning back the clock;
    1:Get rid of the gimmicks
    a; DRS
    b; mandatory pit stops
    c; the clown tyres, this is the most important one.
    2: Reduce the dependence on wings, improve mechanical grip (see 1 c)
    3: Give the teams a choice of tyres that can last an entire race distance, like in MotoGP.
    4: Get rid of Blue flags, can’t pass a Manor ? Tough, watch somebody who can when they come past you.

    1. The blue flag rules could create something rather unsavoury but which would be legal. Say Vettel was in a title battle with Hamilton and for whatever reason they come to lap Raikkonnen, he lets Vettel by but would be well with in his right to hold Hamilton up or vice versa involving ROsberg or any combination of drivers and teams you care to mention. If a WDC was at stake what rule prevents a teammate dropping back to be lapped just to hold up his teammates title rival? Something similar happened at LeMans a few years ago with Peugoet cars holding up the lead Audi to help their temmate try and catch up.

      Also technology cannot be un learned so if you took the rules from say 1967 they would be so open that you would end up with some crazy cars with huge aero. They banned EBD a few years back or tried to and teams got round it with the coanda exhaust. They will all just be searching for ways to get back the downforce and they always will unless you made the rules that restrictive that all the cars would look the same.

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