Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2018

New 2019 rule targets teams burning oil for qualifying boost

2019 F1 season

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A new rule to be introduced for the 2019 F1 season is intended to prevent teams gaining a power boost by burning oil during qualifying.

Restrictions on how much oil teams can use during races were introduced in 2017. However the FIA has found it harder to prevent teams gaining a performance boost by burning oil over single flying laps.

Not all engine manufacturers have taken advantage of this opportunity. Mercedes and Ferrari have consistently been able to extract more power from their engine in qualifying than in the race compared to their rivals, such as Renault, whose engine uses much less oil.

Before the season began Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said there were “loopholes regarding qualifying that need tidying up”. The recently-published 2019 technical and sporting regulations include new rules aimed at addressing the practice.

The technical regulations now define an Auxiliary Oil Tank (AOT) as “a singular vessel connected to the engine whose sole function is to hold engine oil for the replenishment of the engine lubrication system.” This is accompanied by a new sporting regulation which states “an AOT, as defined in F1 Technical Regulations, must be empty during the complete qualifying practice session”.

In March FIA race director Charlie Whiting admitted the regulator needed to be able to check the operation of teams’ auxiliary oil tanks.

A further rules change for 2020 will state that “only one AOT may be fitted to the car”. The size and operation of the AOT will also be restricted. “The total volume of the AOT and its connections to the engine must not be greater than 2.5l,” the 2020 rules state. “The transfer of oil between the AOT and the engine must be controlled by a solenoid.”

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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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32 comments on “New 2019 rule targets teams burning oil for qualifying boost”

  1. Surely the burning of oil must be more complex than just feeding a hose into the plenum , i can only imagine that it would need precise injecting, atomizing and metering , are these engines that complex that these things can be hidden in plain sight ?

    1. @greg-c – I am no automotive engineer, but the turbocharger bearing needs oil lubrication, that seems the easiest way of getting oil near the plenum. Controlled movement of the turbo shaft axially might allow the introduction of this oil into the inlet side, and the rotation of the impeller on the compressor side should help in atomizing it.

      1. @phylyp you cant really move the shaft that spins at more than 100 thousand rpm – the movement would have to be way too precise, however if you flow a little more oil into the turbo than can get out of it some of it will go into the intake. At least thats how it works in normal turbochargers.

        1. @flyingbasil – thanks Basil, that makes sense.

        2. Just look at the Mercedes and Ferrari engines when they start the cars, often a plume of smoke, particularly early in the season. Mercedes did similar to a lesser extent for years.

          “Just oil seals” apparently…. yeah ;)

      2. @phylyp @flyingbasil @greg-c @jerejj By injecting an oil with a high amount of volatiles into the turbo charger, you risk detonation in the turbo as turbos almost certainly run at temperatures higher than auto-ignition temperature of fuel. This AOT perhaps had a low-volatiles oil that was used exclusively for the turbo.

        I suspect they have separate oil/oil tank with high volatiles. These engines have piston squirters which is this ideal place to inject/use this high-volatiles oil.

        1. @beejis60 i thought of piston squirters, too, but then normal road cars often have them, too, yet oil doesnt get to the combustion chamber, and you wouldnt expect an F1 piston to have that much of a gap for it to work.

          And are you sure temperature in the cold side of the turbo is near auto-ignition temperature of racing fuel?
          I mean its 280 degrees C for normal fuel, there is no way it gets this hot.

          1. @flyingbasil Correct, some normal cars do have piston squirters (to keep pistons cool when operating at high RPMs and temps). However, a very minute amount of oil does leech into the combustion chamber in every engine. I am talking about having a separate oil and oil tank that, for example, has a high amount of volatiles in it, or even diluted with fuel itself. Then when the oil is sprayed under the piston, the heat from inside the crankcase and/or engine could/should vaporize the highly volatile solvent and it should be pulled in during the vacuum part of the stroke.

            With regards to the temperature, I was thinking you were saying it was on the hot side, not the cold side. Auto ignition temperature of toluene, which has a very high octane rating, is 480 C. When you’re running a “typical” engine at near redline under heavy boost via turbo, exhaust manifolds glow red hot. The temperature at which a stainless glows red hot which is between 700 and 900 C. Borg Warner states turbo hotside exhaust hits 1050 C (see link below).

            Obviously this is all speculation, but the above has been my thinking of this oil burning situation since Merc was accused of it in the media awhile ago.

        2. Don’t forget, Mercedes in particular has a split turbo, with a hot side and a cool side, separated by a shaft with the MGU-H attached. I realize “cool” is relative, but it’s entirely possible the cold side of the turbo wouldn’t cause auto-ignition.

    2. I doubt it needs anything too precise, its basically like adding an octane booster to the fuel in your car.

      1. maybe they heat the oil and burn/ingest the vapours ? that could be a much simpler application than injecting it,

    3. I think merc was at least some point getting oil into the combustion chamber through the pistons from the crankcase. They have or had injectors that basically spray oil towards the piston from the underside during intake.

  2. If the cars go faster on oil then let’s stop wasting time with petrol and just run them on oil!
    Am I the only sane person around here? ;P

    1. @nullapax Not a bad idea.

    2. I’m with you…

      Feed it kittens if it makes it go faster!

    3. But… but… it’s UnFAAAAaaaaaiiiir!!!

  3. Shirley someone here is an engineer ?

    1. there’s a couple of things Ive found,

      A host of new rules have been introduced this year in a bid to prevent teams from burning oil, or using additives in their lubricants, to get a power boost.
      a limit of 0.6-litres of oil use per 100 kilometres

      “Not only was oil being burned a little, but they were putting things in the oil to aid combustion, because there was no real oil spec last year. Now there is.
      “We’ve tightened up the engine rules in Article 5 of the Technical Regulations, and we’ve also routed the breather that can no longer go back into the air intake which was the biggest issue.(charlie)

      1. @greg-c – so this point about the breather reminded me of a series of comments earlier this year: https://www.racefans.net/2018/03/14/racefans-round-up-14-03/#comment-3691657

          1. @phylyp

            thanks mate for that ,
            Ive been googling like mad for hours now and seem to have caught up a bit,

        1. That suggestion of letting go of the fuel flow restriction is gold, @phylyp
          Sometime to solve a problem you simple abolish rules rather than add an extra one.

          1. fuel flow isnt really problem when you have total fuel limits… which governs the fuel flow naturally… most nursing is not just for tyres but also for fuel… which if you dont have enough to finish race, then you have to nurse more to see the flag… there was a time when cars were barely making it to the flag!

          2. Is not the “oil burning” question mostly related to qualifying.?
            Without a fuel flow limit, whether it be in the race or in qualifying, these turbo engines could pump out in excess of 1000 BHP. You wouldn’t be able to use it constantly given the total fuel limit, but the prospect is there to go really fast for a short period of time. Qualifying would be “no holds barred” . Race strategies would be fascinating.
            Oil burning gives you an opportunity to boost your “fuel flow” for very sort periods of time. Perfect for qualifying.
            Oh yes …. And Don’t Call Me Shirley.!!

  4. Perhaps they will introduce a “Mario Kart boost” instead, like Formula E? I get that its a “formula” series, but I think the sheer number of restrictions are a part of the wider problem. Tire pressure slightly out? Wings flex a bit too much? Why not relax those rules just a bit? Give them a speed limit cap for safety, and a maximum “G” limit for driver health. Then let innovation rule. They can always tweak anything that is too outrageous? I’d suggest 6 wheels and a big fan…

    1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      16th October 2018, 16:30

      Because then Mercedes and Ferrari would be 10 seconds ahead in qualifying instead of 1 and everyone would be crying 10x as hard.

  5. I thought F1 engines ran a “dry sump” for better oil flow reliability under high g loads, unlike your regular car which runs a “wet sump”. A dry sump system is where when the oil falls from the crankshaft bearings, cylinder walls, pistons, etc, into the sump the oil is sucked out of the sump and placed into a reservoir from which the oil to be pumped through the engine is drawn from.

  6. My old post abut the ability of modern engine systems being complex enough to effectively 2 stroke bursts a 4 stroke engine were met with ridicule.
    Now see I was 100% correct.
    Save anyone searching again!

  7. This F1 oil burning is such old news , I used to be such an F1 nerd but since it went behind the paywall ive dropped off,

  8. Why not just allow oil burning but have a limit on the amount of oil that can be used? If everyone does it, no-one gets an advantage…

  9. I don’t get why do they need to help Renault with their incompetence in building engines so they can close up without needing to make better engines

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