Adrian Sutil, Force india, 2009

Force India against “huge cost” of bringing back refuelling

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Force India chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer adds his voice to those opposing a reintroduction of refuelling if F1 increases rev limits and fuel flow in 2021.

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RaceFans asked Szafnauer whether F1 could bring back refuelling pit stops due to the anticipated increase in fuel use under the planned 2021 engine rules changes we revealed last month.

What they say

I hope not, I hope we don’t reintroduce them. It’s a huge cost and I’m not sure how much it adds to the show. It’s a huge cost. [But] we haven’t done the analysis yet and they haven’t really defined the 2021 regs yet.

My personal opinion is the cars should get a bit lighter too, they’re too heavy.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Time to re-think Hermann Tilke’s F1 circuits?

I am kind of tired of lazy criticism on Tilke. The kind where everyone is hating on a circuit before they’ve even see what the racing will look like.

I partially agree that some of Tilke’s designs have been painfully unimaginative and boring (Sochi, Valencia), but I would argue that most of the processional races in the calendar were not designed by Tilke, namely: Melbourne, Monaco, Hungary, Spain, and Suzuka. Again, I’m not defending Tilke completely. His designs have been very ‘cookie-cutter’ with a couple of notable exceptions, COTA, Malaysia, and Abu Dhabi.

But I wish we stopped whining and scapegoating Tilke and instead focusing on what really improves racing like reducing aerodynamic turbulence.

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On this day in F1

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30 comments on “Force India against “huge cost” of bringing back refuelling”

  1. The only reason I miss refuelling is the size of the cars.

    With all the fuel restrictions and more efficient engines I had the hope that the cars would need smaller tanks and be less boat like, but alas….that turned out not to be true.

    Does anyone have any figures as to how much in terms of volume or litres the cars start with in the hybrid era compared to the last years of the V6 era? Twould be interesting to see how much of a reduction in fuel volume (if any) there was.

    But, other than the more aesthetically pleasing cars, as past articles have pointed out, there seems very little racing benefit other than more passing being played out in the pits. That and the huge cost of re-implementing it.

    1. The reason why the cars are heavy is the engines. It weighs something like 80-100kg more depending what you calculate into your numbers compared to a v8. Lots of electronics, turbos, more cooling.. all adds to the weight. It is the same reason why the cars are getting longer than london bus. Without changing engines you can’t make the cars lighter. Light cars or hybrid engines: choose one and forget the other one.

      The hybrids can start the race with 105 kilograms although most of the time they start with less so they can lift and coast to save fuel.

      1. It was more the length I was talking about rather than weight.

        When no refuelling was introduced the length of the cars increased a huge amount due to the required extra space for the tank size.

        As I said, I hoped with the advent of the newer more efficient engines the tank size would be reduced somewhat. But maybe the space has been taken up by other gubbins, or maybe the tanks have stayed the same overall size.

        As I said, I wonder how much less starting fuel is used compared to the V8 days.

        1. The fuel tank is a factor but the v8 cars had bigger fuel tanks (150kilograms) and were shorter although not by much actually. But the v8s had the kers which also makes the car longer.

          But aerodynamics play a role as well. Making the car longer allows you to have longer floor which allows you to create more downforce from the floor. With the much freer rules for the floor and ground effects for 2017 and 2018 cars the floor has become important for downforce.

      2. That and the cars got bigger, wider last year with heavier, fatter tires. And this year were topped off with the top-heavy Todt Thong.

      3. @socksolid ”Without changing engines you can’t make the cars lighter.”
        – Yes, you can by reducing the number of PU elements around the engine.

      4. They had big turbos in the 1980s and those cars were extremely light.

        1. And not very safe….

        2. @frood19, it’s not quite a direct comparison though, as the minimum weight requirements from the 1980’s excluded some components that are now included in the minimum weight. One sizeable component would be the driver, for example – in the 1980’s, the minimum weight was for the chassis alone, whereas now the minimum weight is the combined weight of the driver and the chassis.

          As grat notes, they also had to start beefing up the minimum weight requirements in the latter part of that era because drivers were getting pretty badly injured – there was a substantial increase in minimum weight after Laffite had both of his legs shattered in a career ending accident.

      5. Minimum weight of modern PU is 145kg with an energy store of 20-25kg.

        Minimum weight of V8 engine was 95kg and car minimum weight was raised by 20kg for KERS.

        So 70kg more than the V8. 50kg more than the V8 + KERS.

        Banning refueling raised the capacity of the tank from 45kg to 105kg, but keep in mind the fuel cell is now bigger and heavier, and the crush/crash structure around the fuel cell is much larger as well. So figure probably 75kg heavier overall to accommodate refueling ban.

        1. Again this weight thing…. The hybrids also require more cooling (bigger radiators), more electronics… in fact I’m going to post the same thing I posted last time when I had to talk about this:

          Let’s read from the rules. 2013 rules limited engine weight to 95kg+5kg. The new hybrids are limited to 145kg for the engine plus 20kg to 25kg for the batteries. Total of 100 kg vs 165kg. And that 100kg includes 25kg kers. That is in the rules.

          Those numbers don’t include things like radiators. Hybrid engine needs bigger radiators so that too makes the hybrid engines heavier.

          Another source!

          Racecar engineering 2013 engines special issue, page 11. Direct quote:
          ” ‘From that stage, one of the key areas we needed to investigate was the packaging of the power unit. The current V8 is 95kg, or 100kg if you add the weight of the MGU. This increases to 120kg when you include the ancillary parts, such as the radiators and other cooling devices. With the 2014 power unit, the V6 turbocharged engine will be a minimum of 145kg, plus 35kg for the battery.

          At 180kg, this is a 80 per cent increase over the current units, plus a further 20kg for the ancillaries such as the intercooler and other radiators.’ The additional weight is partly compensated for by an increase in the minimum weight of the overall vehicle to 685kg“”

          So in truth it is closer to 100kg and definitely not 70kg. The v8 cars also had loads of ballast to play with. The hybrids can even get down to the minimum weight because the engines are so heavy. Basically you could put two 3 liter v10 engines and the car would weigh as much as with one hybrid engine!

    2. @mach1 I agree. on f1 2010 season wiki page, you can see just how much longer the cars got because of the refuelling ban.
      SFI essentially declare they oppose refuelling but say they’d like to see it back. In other words, merc doesnt want refuelling, any top team wouldnt want refuelling, it might throw another spanner in tge works. On small team perspective they dont get the sponsorship to make refuelling free.
      Racing wise it would not hurt at all since the cars are already fully dependent on the pit stop in this case for tyres and exploiting the of the undercut effect for passing each other. Refuelling would improve racing because it would inevitably benefit the risk takers, small teams betting on rain on mix condition races or teams going for aggressive multi stop strategies. Another benefit of refuelling is that it would minimize the fuel saving benefits of running an easy race at the front particularly since undercutting is the way to go with these tyres, making it pointless to bank fuel for defensive driving. Drama is another factor, having any issue with a fuel stop or getting caught out by either a sc or the weather might give a smaller team a chance to win a race.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with the CotD, especially seeing as we came up with exactly the same set of tracks serving as an example of little overtaking without it being Tilke’s fault.
    As for the non-cookie-cutter circuit designs, I agree with Abu Dhabi only in the sense that it’s somewhat different from most other Tilke tracks. But not in a good way, no …

  3. I very much agree with COTD. There are many tracks on calendar designed by Tilke which produce great racing but receive hatred for irrelevant reasons, like location. For example if Sakhir circuit would be in any traditional motorsport country it would receive nothing but praise from all of us.

    But I’d change one thing with COTD: why mention Hungary? When was the last time we had boring Hungarian GP? They’ve been great races for many seasons in a row. Instead of Hungaroring I’d use Monza as an example. Non-Tilke track which produces borefests year in year out.

    1. Neil (@neilosjames)
      10th May 2018, 2:21

      When was the last time we had boring Hungarian GP?

      Last year… was very dull because no one could get anywhere near the car in front.

    2. I think you might actually be right on the part about Tilkedromes being criticised mostly due to location. Considering F1’s roots are in Europe, and the vast majority of F1 fans are European, I see where they’re coming from. A lot of European fans would go to every race on the European leg of the season assuming they had the money and time. And by moving races off the continent, that makes already expensive trips unaffordable for many once you factor in the travel costs. So maybe it has something to do with that as well?

      Personally I’m not a fan of Tilke’s tracks mostly because they’re very flat and designed almost solely for overtaking (i.e. long straight into a hairpin or chicane), and usually have at least one flat out sector and one slow, technical sector. IMO the design just feels all too predictable.

    3. @huhhii ”When was the last time we had boring Hungarian GP?”
      – Not only last year but almost all of the previous 14 or so editions (I could’ve gone even further back). Only 2006, 2011, 2014, and ’15 races stand out as exceptionally exciting races and great for this type of circuit’s standards.

  4. Just read the Autosport article on the Miami GP vote. I can’t speak for everyone obviously, but I for one figured getting the race approved by the city was going to be mostly a formality as long as the money was there, and it seems like that’s the case. But I don’t get this quote from Ken Russell:

    We think fans of F1 would like to see a race here.

    Like, would it be so difficult to gauge fan interest? It sounds to me like he’s just assuming everyone is going to be okay with it without actually asking anyone outside the process of setting up the grand prix. There’s also the obvious issue of the layout, but that’s already been discussed, and I doubt that what we’ve seen is anything more than a first draft.

  5. I wholeheartedly agree with Szafnauer. I’m not in favor of bringing back in-race refuelling either, and at the same time as well as him, I think the cars should get lighter at least slightly than what they are these days. I also fully agree with the COTD.

    1. I forgot to include earlier. Concerning the Autosport-article: If the proposed Miami GP were to happen then why in October, and not in June with the Canadian GP instead? In June, the hurricane storm risk is lower than in October, and also the temperatures are more or less the same as they stay relatively stable there all-year round, so, therefore, they wouldn’t be a problem either in contrast to Austin, for example. Furthermore, it’d also avoid the Heat’s games unless they were playing in the NBA-finals while in October it could be more difficult to avoid them as the NBA-regular seasons start that month.

  6. Can people not remember the phrase “just wait, we’ll get him in the pitstops”? I have no idea why people think refuelling is a good thing, it ruins on track racing.

    1. @geemac
      – because they remember 1 race when strategy was decisive and interesting. And they stick to that memory while forgetting everything else.
      I remember that there was an article on f1fanatics/racefans where a diagram was presented with overtakes before and after refuelling (I can’t find this article now). But it would be great to post it again and refresh memory for those who likes to forget things.

      1. @Sviat If you can’t find the article from this site then maybe this would help:

        1. @jerejj – Thanks for the link.

    2. Because I watch IndyCar, which has refueling, doesn’t have fires, has good racing, and operates with a budget that’s a fraction of what an F1 team spends– the cars, however, are slightly heavier.

  7. I just looked at how F1 is viewed country by country. I never thought where I would get got more features than the UK, but we do.

  8. So as a UK viewer I cut ties with sky long ago for the exorbitant prices they charge, and on the whole find he channel 4 coverage better.

    My main dislike of C4 is Ben Edwards, he knows his stuff but often feel he makes basic mistakes. But I am (happily) tied into C4 this season, then when C4 lose the rights I am scuppered.

    Sky will not get my money back on a monthly basis (especially after a service disruption of 3 months where it was unusable but I still had to pay or be taken to court). NowTV weekend passes feel prohibitively expensive.

    For F1tv the UK only gets the access pass, and there is an offer until the end of May for 10% off the annual cost. But no highlights / replays. Just archive.

    Tired of Sky’s business practices, is the only recourse to find streams of the races to watch live?
    Are there any other UK viewers in a similar situation?

  9. Hmmm… my RSS reader threw up this link to a now-deleted article, around the same time as the round-up:

    What gives? Is there a change to the DRS zones for Spain?

  10. So what is this “huge cost” of refueling?

    Don’t the teams already have one, if not two, refueling rigs in the garages?

    I’ll bet F1 could strike a deal with some company to provide a standardized refueling rig for each pitbox that ties into each team’s existing fuel rigs with a local pressure tank and redundant pumps.

    I suspect compared with the cost of a new front wing for the car, refueling would be relatively inexpensive.

    1. grat, they did have a standard supplier for refuelling rigs in the past, but the cost of the refuelling rigs was still quite considerable – buying a single rig alone cost in excess of £1 million (i.e. not accounting for the ongoing maintenance costs or transportation costs, which in themselves ran into millions as well). The teams now use relatively simple gravity fed pumps now, I believe, and the indication is that the process of refuelling a car is now a twentieth of what it used to cost in the past.

      The old refuelling rigs were also a lot more dangerous for mechanics to use – fuel spillages were much more frequent and, given the high fuel flow rates, far more likely to result in a major fire (when did we last see a fuel fire in the sport since refuelling was banned?). Mechanics were quite frequently knocked over and badly injured by drivers trying to leave their pit box with the fuel hose still attached, and more than a few burned when refuelling fires occurred – given the recent concerns about mechanic safety, it would seem odd to then reintroduce the one activity that was most often responsible for mechanics being injured.

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