Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Baku City Circuit, 2018

New 2019 fuel limit unlikely to create “fantastic racing”, say drivers

2019 F1 season

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Drivers say a rule change for the 2019 F1 season intended to curb how much they have to save fuel is likely to have little impact.

The maximum fuel limit will rise from 105 kilogrammes to 110 next year, a move which has been welcomed by some drivers. Max Verstappen believes the change is a move in the right direction.

“I think it will be better,” he said. “Then on every track you don’t need to save fuel anymore, which I think is also a bit against Formula One, as it should be just pushing [flat-out].”

However fellow Renault power unit user Fernando Alonso pointed out drivers don’t need the full 105 kilogram allocation at most tracks on the calendar.

“I don’t think it’s going to change much, to be honest,” he said.

“It’s good, it’s in the right direction because it’s a little bit strange to save fuel in some races. Maybe there are few occasions – Bahrain was one – that we have to save fuel in the last couple of laps and maybe stopped me and [Nico] Hulkenberg to have a fight there.

“But this happens maybe once a year, once every two years. So in terms of adding five kilos of fuel and now suddenly see fantastic racing, it’s not going to happen.”

The change has been interpreted by some as an attempt to reduce Mercedes’ advantage, as they are believed to have F1’s most efficient engine. However Valtteri Bottas said the rules change is needed because cars are producing more drag and consuming more fuel.

“With more downforce in the car, more full throttle time, it’s more of an issue,” he said. “Not a massive issue but obviously the cars are a bit more developed, they’re a bit more draggy so it’s going to be a bigger problem.

“I think it’s good to see. It’s five kilos, in terms of weight it’s not a disaster and you’re going to get rid of it.”

Team mate Lewis Hamilton, however, predicted the changer will make “zero difference” to the racing.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 39 comments on “New 2019 fuel limit unlikely to create “fantastic racing”, say drivers”

    1. Are they planning to force teams to use the whole amount? Otherwise they will underfuel to save weight anyway, so nothing will change. If they are forced to use it then there might be all out racing for more of the time as they push at the beginning to lighten the car as quickly as possible.

      1. My thoughts exactly, some teams (namely Red Bull) used to underfuel their cars (up to 10 kg less of fuel) to have a weight advantage, run away into the distance at the start of the race and manage it from there.

      2. @lass321

        If they are forced to use it then there might be all out racing for more of the time

        No, they’d just burn off the excess fuel like they did in the days of ‘fuel credit’ qualifying.

        1. @keithcollantine If the cars were required to show up on the starting grid with the full 110 kilos and the fuel flow limits are still in force, how would they burn off the excess?

          1. Simply: by keeping the engine at max consumption, no matter the throttle position. So in effect making the mixture extra rich in the beginning of the race, until the excess weight has been shed.

            1. That’s not allowed

            2. You can’t burn fuel on the overrun, which is a rule to stem diffuser-blowing. But I’m not aware that you cannot run your car more “rich” or “lean” if you so choose, for example, to manage overheating issues. As for the flow limit, I don’t see why the engines would be at the max flow at all times, i.e., even not under max load. Is the air-fuel ratio fixed by rule?

          2. The burn off the fuel by long shifting rather than short shifting. Holding a lower gear for periods of time running the engine at higher revs burning off the fuel faster over a lap.

        2. HAHA! yeah, brings back memories of the “brilliant” ideas we had to endure as fans.

        3. Doubt it. Saving fuel is faster over race distance than carrying little more fuel. So the faster choice in that situation is to save fuel and lift and coast.

          But if the cars need to start with full tanks then the situation is different. The choice is whether it is faster to burn fuel early in the race and then lift and coast to the end with a lighter car or push harder through the whole race and use the fuel for fast lap times. In that situation going flatout would be faster because the effect of lighter car achieved by fuel saving is probably smaller than what you’d get if you just used the fuel for fast lap times.

          Engine wear might become an issue though so in order to save engines the teams might burn fuel on early part of the race and then lift and coast with lighter car in the end of the race.

          Also alonso’s remarks need to be seen in certain light. He is used to starting from the back of the grid and he also retired many races so his recent experience about fuel saving is a bit skewed as in many cases he retired. Not to mention honda had poor fuel mileage so he was told to save fuel many times as was heard via radio. Also in many races he finished lap or two down once again meaning he had less to worry about fuel saving as he needed to do less many laps. It is not going to be massive change. This level of fuel saving is just one of many big issues these hybrid engines have caused.

    2. I was thinking about this the other day: it is obviously faster to start lighter and push less, and I doubt this will change, even without any restrictions.

      One way around this is of course to allow refuelling, which we well know most in F1 are opposed to.

      I’m no expert but here is an idea, what if there were a lower fuel flow limit and / or a minimum fuel capacity limit, and no way for the driver to change the fuel flow during the race. The engines would not reach their full potential but it would eliminate fuel saving so drivers could push the cars to the limit of what they are setup to do

      1. “no way for the driver to change the fuel flow”– You’re removing the accelerator pedal?

        1. Ah, I should’ve specified I meant with a computer setting. But you’re right, of course, that this wouldn’t eliminate fuel saving

      2. @strontium
        Well, what do you mean by ‘minimum fuel flow’? An incessant flow of fuel from the tank regardless of throttle …, sorry, regardless of torque demand potentiometre use? If so, what’s supposed to happen with the fuel that isn’t burnt away by the engine? Is it to be stockpiled in an additional tank between the fuel flow metre, free for use at a later stage (which is, in essence, tantamount to lifting fuel flow restrictions, but with a few extra steps)? Or is it to be expelled from the car, which would lead to the tracks being sprayed with aromatic, carcinogenic vapors? Or shall the engines be mapped in such a way that they burn away the excess fuel incessantly, regardless of torque demand potentiometre position? That would be tantamount to re-introducing a mandatory blown diffuser, but with all the disadvantages and non of the advantages …
        The way I see it, there is no way to implement a fuel flow minimum. An F1 car spends about half of an average lap not burning any fuel, not just because that saves fuel and makes it possible to complete a race distance with less than 200 kilos of fuel, but because no acceleration is needed in braking zones and slow corners. The same applies to the last metres before a braking zone. When operating with a restricted amount of fuel, it is theoretically faster to let the car coast at the end of a straight (instead of pumping fuel into the combustion chambers when the drag is at its highest level, and there is hardly any time to be gained) and use the economised fuel for maximum acceleration out of slow corners onto the first stretches of a straight. In fact, the current fuel flow limit seeks to balance this very effect: As the maximum fuel flow is limited, the optimum engine usage is ironed out a bit. Instead of having monstrous power peaks early in the acceleration zones, followed by steadily decreasing power outputs leading to extensive coasting until the braking zone is reached, the power output is currently kept relatively constant for most of the straight, until the MGU-K is disengaged and the braking zone is reached with relatively little coasting. No matter how low the fuel flow limit, coasting will inevitably play a role due to the knock-on effect of saving fuel which allows to run the car with less fuel from the start, which leads to a weight reduction that saves fuel, …

        One way of implementing an incentive to drive more aggressively could be the introduction of a fuel allowance per lap. If you fail to use 2 kilos on a given lap, the remaining fuel will sit in the tank for the rest of the race, forming a liquid penalty weight that increases with every lap of undesirable fuel economy. However, this would need to be followed up with a mandatory minimum fuel load, as the teams could simply underfuel their cars as usual, running the race to a precise fuel consumption plan (as usual), and nothing would’ve changed at all. There would still be obvious problems with that: There would be an incentive to run needlessly aggressive engine modes behind the safety car, for instance, to avoid accumulating unusable fuel in the tank. Wet races could become exercises in burning off excess fuel by revving up the engine mid-corner with a disengaged gear, as the fuel consumption dramatically drops in the wet.

        I think there are two very different solutions to the current conundrum:
        A) Re-introducing refuelling. With the obvious disadvantage of making strategies much more predictable and less flexible. But the possibility of refuelling during a race reduces the incentive to under-fuel the car as the fuel stint length is shortened dramatically.
        B) Fully electrified propulsion. Not yet feasible due to the current state of battery technology. However, batteries offer the obvious advantage of (hopefully) not getting lighter as their energy gets deployed, so that there would be no way to trade performance for competitivity. More performance would equal better competitivity, provided that the battery capacity is large enough to last a full race distance of aggressive racing.

        1. I didn’t say a minimum fuel flow limit, a minimum fuel capacity, as in how much is in the fuel tank. This paired with a lower maximum fuel flow limit may force them to run enough fuel to push while stopping them from using it all at the start

          1. It would also be worth considering having the FIA setting the limits for individual races to match each circuit’s demands

      3. @strontium

        One way around this is of course to allow refuelling, which we well know most in F1 are opposed to.

        And it’s far from a given that allowing refuelling would reduce fuel-saving – after all, we see plenty of it in IndyCar.

        1. We also saw a lot of fuel saving in the refueling era in F1, when saving fuel could mean an extra lap (or more than one lap) of free air when the preceding driver stopped for refueling, or it could even mean one less pit stop overall.

        2. Of course it would. You mean it’s far from a given that it would completely eliminate fuel saving. No it won’t.

    3. They should ban the data flow measuring fuel use during the race. That way the teams will all stick a few extra litres in and there is no way they could coach the drivers to save fuel in a way that would be faster than just going for it.

    4. I agree with Alonso here. People have this silly opinion that drivers are constantly holding back on their performance during the race. I call this silly because it is true….. Of course they are. Saving tyres and fuel is the fastest way to the finish line. It may not be the fastest current lap, but the race is long.

      Drivers have been holding back on one thing or another since the dawn of racing. Engines, fuel, tyres… blah blah blah. Look at any long distance running race. People go flat out for 100m in a running race, but for anything over 200m, they hold back and conserve energy. Qualifying is the 100m sprint race and Sundays are the marathon.

      On a side note, view the difference in the Alonso Vs Max opinion. Max loves it and Alonso thinks “Meh”. Max is “here and now”, but Alonso wants to win the whole race.

      1. I’m sure this reg change is not meant as some game changer. I’m sure it will just help them at a few tracks that are the harder ones on fuel consumption. I’m sure F1 has not claimed ‘fantastic racing’ from this change, and if it is just a help at a few tracks, so be it, for I see Sunday as not a marathon, but a sprint as well. Not an all out full sprint of course, but it should be more of a sprint than a marathon. Marathons are for WEC.

        And yes conservation has always been a factor, but I think there is too much conservation over too many aspects of F1 at once, to a more extreme degree than ever, such that I don’t mind at all the lightening up on his a little.

        Also, I don’t see where Max ‘loves this’ as if he has a different view than FA, and I’m sure it is as he and FA have both said…this will help a little at a few tracks, and is a step in the right direction, and I’ll add away from more and more conservation of everything to an extreme at all times.

      2. Pedro Andrade
        7th May 2018, 14:04

        This should be comment of the day

      3. @mickharrold I still think the main gripe people have is with who is in control of the car… Watching Prost save his tyres and fuel and then suddenly attack at the right moment was exciting but watching drivers beg to be allowed to attack and their team saying “no” isn’t.

        1. @petebaldwin That’s why it’s good to see people like Hamilton ignoring those orders and going for it anyway. Sometimes with good result too. When waiting for the end of the race to mount an attack never has produced a better result as far as I can remember.

      4. Michael Brown (@)
        8th May 2018, 0:52

        Yes, conservation is part of the game, but it should not be the game. Drivers should not all have to drive like Prost; it should be an option.

    5. Is the fuel flow meter also scrapped for 2019?
      If it is, then this could matter, at some races, it could be a faster race distance with more fuel rather then underfuelling…

    6. They should have increased the fuel flow limit instead of the total limit per race. With bigger flow limit we are not going to have the oil burning saga as we have at the moment.

    7. I expect teams to remap their engine maps accordingly, and there will be no difference to drivers.. Or viewers. Or race results.

    8. Increase fuel limit from 105 to 110, c’mon man!
      Why not increase the fuel limit to 120 or 125.

      1. Did you not read the article? A limit of 110kg and 125kg is basically the same thing.

        1. Don’t worry I read the whole thing.

    9. Next year cars will have larger rear wings to increase drag, so I guess the increased fuel load should have been expected.

    10. I agree with them. I also doubt increase in the maximum fuel capacity by 5 kg is really going to make a difference in the end.

    11. Just return the refueling, and make it mandatory to make the tank small enough to do one refuel stop, and remove the damn fuel limiter. cars will be lighter much faster.

      1. All that will do is make the one mandatory tyre stop a bit longer which will be the same for everyone, they will all follow the same strategy and they will be no net gain.
        If you make the tank so small they need to stop twice they will just change tyres twice and almost nullify any tyre strategy.

    12. Upping the fuel allowance will make a difference to the racing – it will make it a bit worse by increasing consistency and reducing unpredictable racing. To illustrate this, consider Formula E’s really terrific racing. They do a *massive* amount of lifting and coasting at the end of every straight, as they are far, far more on the limit in energy terms than F1. So if you have 2 cars running close, at *any* corner, the guy behind has the option to not lift and coast, and suddenly, bang, he’s surprised the leading driver by overtaking at a non-overtaking corner. Having been overtaken, this driver then gets him back by doing the same into the next corner. So now we’re back where we started, but these two have just wasted loads of energy, which means a 3rd guy behind them can start challenging them both, as they are forced to recover…

      If they had as much fuel/energy as they’d like, they would all lift off and immediately start braking at exactly the same spot on every corner of every lap. This flat out racing enforces absoute consistency, spoiling the above battling element.

    13. It should be pointed out that lifting and coasting is also how they recharge the ERS which is the whole point of the system. harvesting energy while slowing down. So no amount of extra fuel is going to stop this.

    14. This is only going to benefit the stronger engines, why? Because mercedes want this.

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