Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

FIA “confident” it can police oil-burning loopholes – Whiting

2018 F1 season

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FIA Formula One race director Charlie Whiting says he is “confident” the sport can prevent teams getting around its new restrictions on oil-burning.

Some teams have been able to gain an advantage by burning oil as fuel in the combustion chamber of their engines. New rules have been introduced to prevent this, including a maximum oil consumption limit of 0.6 litres per 100 kilometres.

However Red Bull team principal Christian Horner claimed during pre-season testing that “windows of opportunity” exist for teams to get around the new restrictions in qualifying sessions.

Whiting admitted checking how much oil teams use during qualifying was a “difficulty” but said the FIA is “confident that we can.”

“You’ve got a small amount of laps so obviously if you’re looking at a percentage you’ve got to try and detect smaller quantities that have been used,” he said. “So that’s a challenge.”

“We’ve made them all fit homologated oil sensors in their main oil tanks but they’ve got auxiliary oil tanks as well, we’ve got to be able to check those too. So it’s just a matter of detail checking just to make sure they are respecting the 0.6 [litres per kilometre] even over short distances.

“It’s relatively simple over a race distance. But I think the sort of thing that Christian was saying, for example, we know the Renault has very, very low oil consumption. Others don’t.”

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How the FIA has changed the rules for 2018 to prevent teams burning oil as fuel

Whiting explained what the FIA has changed in the rules for 2018:

“We closed down all the things they were able to do last year mainly via oil spec. Because not only was oil being burnt a little but they were putting things in the oil to aid combustion.

“There was no real oil spec last year, now there is. Now they have to approve oils [and] they can only use approved oils. They give us a sample, just like they do with fuel, that has to be approved and that’s the only oil they can use.

“We’ve tightened up the engine rule in article five of the technical regulations. And we’ve also routed the breather, that can no longer go into the air intake which was the biggest issue. That has to go out the back like virtually every other racing car in the world.

“And we’ve told them they can’t use more than 0.6 litres per 100 kilometres. All those things combined I think will do the job.”

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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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22 comments on “FIA “confident” it can police oil-burning loopholes – Whiting”

  1. I almost managed to forget about Whiting’s existence, lovely person but anytime he has to make a statement about something actually important I feel like he has no idea what he’s talking about, I mean the way he talks.
    Anyway, how are they gonna check oil consumption over 100km? If it’s over 100km they can’t really check before and after Q3 and say “You used 0,4L over 20km so you’re getting penalized”, right?

    1. Flow sensors

      1. How do you measure oil consumption with a flow sensor? The oil recirculates back to the oil tank more than a few times whilst driving. About the only way you could measure is check oil level before and after. Of course, there are lots of places oil can sit; the sump, oil lines, filter, cooler, the heads, etc. so there would have to be some standard way of assuring all the oil is back in the tank or that all lines are full, etc. I can visualize some ways lines might be full for the initial measure and empty for the final. Whiting also mentions the reserve tank (that refills the oil tank if it gets below a certain level); that would also have to be measured before and after. How accurate are the oil level devices they are using? What about oil expansion due to heating? Nope, a flow sensor ain’t gonna do it. Or maybe I’m wrong; if so please correct me.

        1. If they mandate the diameter lines for the oil, and they know the amount of oil traveling on those lines, they could see changes on the sensor if oil is burned and consequently the flow decrease

          It might be difficult because oil changes viscosity with temperature, and I forgot about that

          1. The oil flow will remain constant, depending on rpm, until the oil tank is empty, then we’ll see pieces of engine on the track. The oil pump(s) are driven by the engine and maintain flow no matter what the level in the tank, until it gets too low to suck. It’s not like there is an oil line feeding into the combustion chamber or the intake that you could put a sensor on; rules were changed last year to prevent oil getting into the intake from blowby.

          2. But the amount of oil that leaves the tank and the amount of oil that enters the tank is different. That difference could be measured no?

          3. True, but the limit is 600 mL loss over 100km. Considering how much flow there is, you would need extremely accurate flow measurement as well as recording how much oil is added from the reserve tank during the race. Seems like tank measurement before and after would be more accurate. There need to be standards for measurement, however, as there are places oil will remain out of the tank after engine shutdown. Really, this all seems a bit nit-picky on the part of the FIA; a liter of oil ± won’t make or break the race.

        2. recording how much oil is added from the reserve tank during the race

          this would create a difference in the flow that comes out of the tank compared to the last time, unless the reserve feed directly the line and not the main tank

          Really, this all seems a bit nit-picky on the part of the FIA; a liter of oil ± won’t make or break the race.


      2. Flow sensors might not be able to catch it because the oil is always distributed inside the system in the pipings, pumps or sumps somewhere. One way they do it is by spraying the oil from the crankcase through the cylinder into the combustion chamber during intake stroke. Where does the sprayed oil come from and how do you measure it won’t exceed the flow limit? You can measure the flow in some place but who knows if you are getting the maximum 0.6 all the time or if the engine is just storing it somewhere after the sensor so they can spray it and burn it during their qualifier lap. Burning 5 laps worth of oil in single lap. And merc is also cheating by getting oil into the combustion chamber via valves too. And who knows what ferrari is doing with their smokey cars.

    2. I assume Whiting is just a mouthpiece for the technical department, I can’t see how he could keep up to speed there as well as carrying out all his other duties anyway.

    3. Flow sensors on oil? that might be technically impossible @johnmilk The engine’s oil tank is virtually inside of the engine, I guess there aren’t many if any oil lines, maybe for the turbo. Then there’s this rule

      Oil may not be used to enhance the properties of the engine’s fuel or energize the combustion process.

      It’s forbidden, but you can’t ascertain what is natural and what is intended, next step what constitutes as oil then? What are they going to come up to spruce up combustion, windex? The drinks bottle? coolant, that’s officially not coolant but not fuel but not oil? Will manufacturers start using, gearbox oil?

  2. This is the real reason we have the halo, FIA was afraid teams would use the deposit for the windscreen liquid

    1. As an oil tank

      Sorry for the separated punch line

  3. Could all get a bit Mario Kart….rival close behind switch engine mode to throw more oil out the breather pipe, rival spins out.

  4. It seems overly complicated. There’s no guarantee there will be a whole day between Qualifying and the Race. I don’t know why they don’t just put a maximum limit of, say, 2 litres of oil to be used for both Qualifying and the Race, so the Stewards check the oil level before Qualifying to make sure its 2.6 litres (assuming the minimum amount is 0.6 litres), and then again at the end of the race to make sure it’s at least 0.6 litres, and if there’s more than 2 litres of oil been used then the team can visit the Stewards with their explanation. Since the cars are in Park Ferme between Qualifying and the Race, then any work done to the car would be supervised, and if someone turns up with some extra oil then questions would be asked.
    As I think about it, maybe there should be some latitude given to the engines as they get towards their 7th race.

    1. Hi, isn’t “burn 0.5L in Q mode to drive 50KM on Saturday, and then burn only 0.1L to run 305KM in R mode on Sunday” one of the things they are trying to fix? Your idea doesn’t really cover that.

      1. *2L in Q and 0.7L in R

  5. This seems like an oppourtunity for Liberty/FIA to solve the oil burning, simplified engine regs and attract new engine providers in one smooth move. The new engine spec would only permit 2 stoke motors – make burning oil free again!

    The extra revenue and prestigious sponsorship deals chainsaw companies could bring to F1 would be a clear cut victory. Even Toto might get his preferred ‘styling’ tools on the cheap.

  6. the only way i see oil burning issue to stop, is by standardising oil and fuel like tyre. single sponsored supplier like pirelli for oil and fuel.

    1. That would remove a lot of existing sponsors/partners of teams. The last thing we need is money heading out of the sport.

  7. I am baffled at how enforcing this is difficult. Why can’t the FIA require a standardised sensor in every receptacle containing oil, and collate the data?

  8. I say name and shame the cheats. Which team/s do we know to keep trying this ‘trick’ to gain an advantage?
    Which team had extra oil tanks built into their cars for precisely this reason yet were never peanalised?
    Which team has extraordinary amounts of oil fumes streaming from their engines?

    Name and shame anyone?

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