Fernando Alonso, Renault, Monza, 2009

‘We should have no holy cows’: Wolff open to refuelling return

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1 should be open-minded about the possibility of bringing back refuelling in 2021, says Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

FIA president Jean Todt has suggested allowing teams to refuel their cars during races as a means of bringing weight levels down during races. The plan to bring back a practice which was outlawed on cost grounds 10 years ago has prompted some criticism, but Wolff believes it deserves serious consideration.

“I think we should have no, as we say in Austria, holy cows,” said Wolff during the French Grand Prix weekend. “We should look at every single regulation and say ‘does it work or doesn’t it work for us’?”

Wolff sees a mixture of benefits and problems with allowing teams to refuel during races. “Refuelling certainly provides entertainment, provides another unpredictability factor in terms of something could happen. It makes the cars much lighter at the beginning of the race so the drivers are able to push much harder.

“The downside is maybe the race is a bit more predictable because the strategy will be all the same for everybody. That’s number one, and number two we are trying to save costs and this will increase the costs, a tiny bit. So it’s just maybe a philosophical rather than a real impact.

“But all that needs to be analysed rationally and then we need to take the best decisions.”

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said refuelling should only be brought back if the costs associated with it can be managed.

“I find refuelling very interesting,” he said. “It could help the spectacle, but we need to be clever about it, not to just introduce more people to do the pit stops. Maybe we need to lose a few people on pit stops in general.

“So if you’re clever, we design some very simplistic equipment to refuel and don’t employ another five people to refuel. We just need to handle it properly to have more show, but not more cost.”

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  • 77 comments on “‘We should have no holy cows’: Wolff open to refuelling return”

    1. cost grounds

      What about safety, I thought that was the prime reason? We had instances of fuel spraying out of the hose onto the car and driver, drivers driving off with the hose, etc.

      1. georgeboole (@)
        22nd July 2019, 12:42

        @phylyp they ll put a halo on it. Problem solved

        1. Just because screen is too nauseating

      2. @phylyp refuelling was dropped in order to induce more predictability. so that the quick teams dont have to worry about losing a race on atrategy or human error in refuelling.

        The only downside with refuelling is that as seen by the quality of racing at the end of a race, light quicker cars have even more aero wake.

        1. @peartree – thank you

          1. @phylyp, the thing is, whilst Pennyroyal tea has previously asserted that it was dropped to introduce more predictability, I would argue that refuelling actually made races significantly more predictable. After all, given that there was a fixed rate at which fuel could be pumped into the car, all you needed was a simple stopwatch to time the pit stop of a rival team and you could work out pretty quickly what their fuel load was.

            Since you could then work out their fuel consumption pretty accurately with enough pit stop data – and, when the teams were made to publish starting fuel loads in the late 2000s, there were several fan sites that produced pretty decent estimates of fuel consumption rates, so you know the teams could easily do the same – it really is a pretty simple calculation to then predict what lap that rival driver will have to pit again by.

            Indeed, in the years when they did publish the starting fuel, there were some fan sites that could predict, usually to within a lap or two, what lap that driver would likely be pitting on and what strategy they must be on – so, before the race started, most teams already knew what strategy their rivals would be on in those years. Even before that, it was usually pretty clear in the opening laps whether a driver was on a one or two stop strategy, or rarely a three stopper, from their lap times and a basic estimate of the fuel effect per lap

            Add to that the fact that the fuel effect at most circuits made one particular strategy a fairly obvious one to follow, and usually refuelling narrowed down the number of options that a team would adopt – you’d rarely shorten a stint, since it’d mean carrying excess fuel weight, and you couldn’t really stretch a stint out more than a lap or two by saving fuel.

        2. As “anon” already elaborated, what @peartree brings up – limiting predictability – as supposedly being the reason for dropping refuelling, the opposite is in fact true @phylyp

          Sure, right after re-introducing refuelling in the 90’s (said to have a lot to do with helping Ferrari’s thirsty engines) we saw clever strategy combined with great driving make for interesting changes in strategy.
          But teams improved their models for prediciton and refuelling would be about as surprising as the mandatory pitstop does currently. Exactly like tyre management isn’t giving us any surprises when everyone understands how to do it. Managing fuel is far easier, and even more up to engineering than driver skill if compared to tyre management.

          As for the “huge difference” – the fuel weight difference would only be about 40-50 kg, which I wouldn’t take as huge difference compared to the relatively heavy cars (about 6%).

      3. IndyCar has very few issues with it. Extremely rare to have an issue and it adds another element to the stop.

      4. Do what IndyCar does, and put a $0.50 switch in the fueling port– if the switch isn’t open, the clutch won’t operate.

    2. No! No! No!
      Do they all have amnesia or something? Refuelling never improved racing and all passes were pit passes.
      No need for lighter cars or whatever.
      Just sort out the aero and provid better tyres, simple. My goodness!

      1. Indeed @lums, they only need to look back three years to see that ‘faster race cars’ do not make racing, or spectacle, better; refuelling meant fast laps, but hardly any on-track battles.

        I do agree

        “We should look at every single regulation and say ‘does it work or doesn’t it work for us’?”

        but that should be a proper analysis then, not the usual F1 knee-jerk decision making.

      2. Artificial unpredictability is predictably not going to improve racing, just unpredictability.

      3. @lums absolutely, rose tinted glasses at its finest mate. Overtaking in the pits, just like they do with the current pretend tyres.

        Also, this doesn’t make sense:

        It makes the cars much lighter at the beginning of the race so the drivers are able to push much harder

        “Being able to push” is a popular phrase, but it’s often not used correctly. Theoretically, a driver can push any given car on any given track, to what they are capable of.

        Just because the cars are heavy doesn’t mean they cannot be pushed, it means when pushed they don’t go as fast. What does stop them being pushed is fuel saving, which can be fixed by mandating a minimum fuel load, something they have not publicly considered

      4. I am half hoping they do go back to that. I really am addicted to F1, but I think this would help me quit and I’ve wanted to quit for awhile now. Dropping that garbage is maybe the only thing that kept me here. The last refueling period was horrible, but I survived. I won’t go through another one though. Although F1 seems to be switching rule concepts quicker these days. I am sure we will be back to the higher downforce, swept wing, “aggressive” concept 3 years from now anyway.

      5. Bull. I just watched 2008, and there have been more overcuts and undercuts in 2019 than there were in 2008 with refueling.

        You want drivers not driving to a lap time to get a one stop strategy? Bring back refueling.

      6. @lums – I’m not sure about refuelling. I don’t think you can just look at the last time we had refuelling though and assume all the same problems will happen again. The cars are different to what they were back then and by the time refuelling came back, we could potentially have ground effects as well.

      7. Indeed, more pit overtaking and more lottery. F1 needs to completely ditch two tyre compositions and required pit stop rule.

    3. ”The downside is maybe the race is a bit more predictable because the strategy will be all the same for everybody.”
      – Yes indeed. With refuelling, there’s less flexibility in strategy options than with tyres. With tyres, it’s possible to try and stretch the length of a stint beyond the initially scheduled lap for as long as feasible, but the same isn’t the case with in-race refuelling. If you have enough fuel for five laps, then you have to pit on lap five at the very latest. Not even a single lap later for an apparent reason.

      1. With tyres, it’s possible to try and stretch the length of a stint […] but the same isn’t the case with in-race refuelling

        @jerejj – Good distinction

      2. georgeboole (@)
        22nd July 2019, 13:10

        @jerejj I believe they could make the engines work in an opposite way of the party mode, something like a crawling mode to make it use less fuel (and go slower) so that they can stretch the stint for 1-2 laps which would be interesting.
        Modern engines have way more parameters to play with than the old ones.

        1. @georgeboole naturally they used to do that back then and as you say it could be of far greater use with todays tech as cars didnt use to have direct injection.

        2. @georgeboole Isn’t the reason they are considering refueling again because people are whining about the cars too heavy and not being able to push? What you are saying is that they will conserve even more than they do now for the sake of more artificial strategy?

          1. georgeboole (@)
            22nd July 2019, 16:53

            @darryn I am saying that more fuel conservation could be seen if a team wants and can gain from pitting later in the race. It’s not the same as tyre management but could be crucial especially in the case of a possible safety car.
            Fuel/energy saving was, is and will be part of F1, like it or not. The difference is that 20-30 years before they could not calculate it as accurately as they do today. Cars could run out of fuel then. They don’t now.

      3. @jerejj Exactly the opposite. You make a good distinctikn on tyre and fuel though. If you start the race on low fuel you can make track position but may lose out on pit time or you can lose on track and gain time in the pits. With refuelling you can commit to an optimal 2 stops or an optimal 1 or optimal 3, and you can compromise if tyre deg becomes too great.
        The viewer won’t have much of a clue on who will win.
        On wet or mixed condition races a team can wager on getting their timing just correct and win where otherwise impossible. JB won a few races with Mclaren like this.
        Refuelling brings strategy, mercedes rather than rely on racing point or now mclaren and renault to lose a pitstop worth of time before making their 1 stop and slot back, (monaco last year) now they can’t control or predict everyone else. Also luck is a factor as pitting can ruin your race (singapore08massa) or pitting before sc can make your race (singapore08alo) .
        Everyone is saying that we don’t want refuelling because cars will only overtake on the pits, except that is exactly the situation we have since then, undercutting.
        I recommend superformula to all skeptical.

        1. @peartree Wrong, If you have enough fuel to last a certain distance then you most definitely can’t stop for refilling any later than when that set distance has been reached (in this case beyond the set lap), because otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to reach the petrol station, or pit lane in Motorsports because you’d run entirely out of fuel before that, and the car would then stop on the side of the road, or track, so no way it’d have the opposite effect. I’m not sure where you’ve come up with that, LOL – if there’s no fuel left then no way to continue running, simple as that. What I pointed out is actually the same Pat Symonds pointed out once concerning the matter as well, although he used 24 as the example number of laps instead of 5 or 10, which I used before on a different occasion.

          “Everyone is saying that we ‘don’t want refuelling because cars will only overtake on the pits, except that is exactly the situation we have since then, undercutting.”

          – Except that once in-race refuelling got banned, the number of on-track overtaking moves immediately doubled compared to the previous season. And that was before DRS existed, and also when Bridgestone was still the exclusive tyre supplier.

          1. It’s possible to lap in fuel save mode, on tracks where overtaking is very hard and thus extend your stint. In fact, there are lots of strategic choices to add, if besides tires fuel can be a factor.

          2. @jerejj Lol so when race engineers tell their drivers to fuel save they are breaking the laws of physics, in indy drivers are stretching stints on mind positivity. There were more on track overtakes in 2010 for 3 reasons, 1st year of a new regulation, big gaps, 2014 also saw less overtaking, brawn gp dominated 1st half of the season, and in 2010 hrt caterham and virgin joined f1.

            1. @peartree Except that 2010 wasn’t the 1st year of new regulations as the technical regs remained predominantly stable from the previous season, and the argument about HRT, Caterham, and Virgin isn’t really valid because they were at the back of the field anyway, and overtaking moves on lapped cars aren’t officially counted in F1 as aren’t lap one-passes, or passes for a position during a pit stop, etc. The ban on in-race refuelling was the only significant car-affecting change from 2009 to 2010, so that was the primary contributor to the increase. I don’t claim the other aspects had zero impact, but the lack of refuelling definitely had the most significant influence out of them all.

            2. @jerejj 2009 was the first year of a reg and overtakes always drop on big rule change seasons, 2009 was lower than 08 and obviously 2010 was higher.

              HRT, Caterham, and Virgin isn’t really valid because they were at the back of the field anyway, and overtaking moves on lapped cars aren’t officially counted in F1 as aren’t lap one-passes, or passes for a position during a pit stop, etc.

              These cars race each other…. Russel overtaking Kubica is an overtake….

              The ban on in-race refuelling was the only significant car-affecting change from 2009 to 2010, so that was the primary contributor to the increase

              The reason is that overtakes always drop after a rule change and always increase in the year after with the exception of 2015. 2010 had 2 more races including canada which is always one of the highest for overtakes, 2009 had an half race, 2010 had 2 more cars, 2010 had a mandatory pit stop just to make things more artificial, which included bridgestone making a mid season tyre change to spice up overtaking

              Following the success of the Canadian Grand Prix, tyre supplier Bridgestone announced its intentions to increase the difference between its compounds for the German Grand Prix, meaning that the teams have to deal with the extremes in the rubber compounds.[103]

              There are reasons to why there was a lot more overtaking in 2010 and for why there was a lot less in 2015, these reasons are not looked at in detail, so people rather make the misconception of picking a stat of someone’s liking, in 2010’s case, Ferrari’s Rb and Mercedes, won with this ruling. 2010 saw less dif pole sitters less dif winners, a race like Spa 09 would’ve never happened and also withuout refuelling massa would’ve won the 08 championship, these are the reasons why it was banned, not racing.

              Don’t change the rules, just introduce refuelling and we will see who’s right.

          3. @jerejj Errr, have you watched IndyCar lately? As @peartree says, drivers save fuel to stretch their stints all the time.

            I’ll add that IndyCar shows there can be plenty of variety in refueling strategies when the race distance is such that there are big pit windows, which IndyCar often does intentionally. (GP length is another “sacred cow” that I think F1 should look at being more flexible about.) Some will choose to pit at the beginning of the window to get fresh tyres (often the alternates) and clear track. Some will wait towards the end of the window. And yes, some will save fuel and stretch their stints hoping to catch a yellow (as Dixon did last weekend).

        2. @peartree

          JB won a few races with Mclaren like this.

          Button never raced a Mclaren with refueling & a few of his mixed conditions wins at Mclaren wouldn’t have happened if they had refueling because hehave been able to extend the stints the way he did. Melbourne 2010 for instance when he pitted early to switch to slicks & didn’t have to pit again, With refueling he’d have had to pit again.

          I recommend superformula to all skeptical.

          I have & I find it to be quite boring TBH.

          People complain about little overtaking in F1, Well there is less in super formula because with refueling just like happened with F1 most of the passing happens in the pits. oh and also with super formula there is no strategy variance, everyone stops the same number of times & usually within 2-3 laps of each other just as happened when f1 had bore-fueling.

          i want to see cars racing on track and not trundle down the pit lane multiple times with a huge focus on fuel strategy where they sit stationary in the pits for 10 seconds 2-3 times a race with pretty much all the action happening in the pits. that was super boring in f1 just as it is super formula.

          1. PeterG you haven’t watched super formula… this year the new cars are a little less great but still great, i ve been watching for 3 seasons 1 with bridgestone 2 with yokohama, theres a mandatory pitstop, though it is not forced upon you via degredation, the tyres last forever though the mediums are generally too hard. Theres no overtaking on the pits, because you can’t plan for what everyone is doing, you can’t settle or pre plan because you cant expect an outcome.
            You are right JB never raced mclaren under refuelling, i guess i said that cause he alwaya took a risk and gambled for wins on wet races, however he did win the hungarian gp on mixed conditions and with refuelling also JB on fp commentating for sky was strongly pro refuelling.

        3. @peartree @markzastrow @erikje
          ”Once you put a chunk of fuel in your car, you have to stop on the lap where you run out, or a lap or two before”
          – James Allison.

          1. @warheart
            ”Once you put a chunk of fuel in your car, you have to stop on the lap where you run out, or a lap or two before”
            – James Allison.

            1. @jerejj He’s not wrong. There’s also pedal on the right side of the car’s floor that helps you determine which lap you run out.

            2. @jerejj

              Yeah, obviously. But “the lap where you run out” depends on fuel maps, driving techniques… teams even factored the possibility of a safety car, and the average number of laps the cars would be under SC conditions into their calculations of how much fuel they should put into the car. The point is that if there was refueling in Silverstone last week, we wouldn’t have seen Hamilton trying to attack Bottas. He’d just sit behind him, stretching his fuel so that when Bottas stopped he could push hard for a couple of laps, overcut him and gain that position. Probably even encouraged by his engineer. Less risks, same reward.

      4. ”The downside is maybe the race is a bit more predictable because the strategy will be all the same for everybody.”
        As opposed to the state of affairs we have right now, where strategy is fully predictable because the strategy is the same for everybody, right?

      5. @jerejj – Yes and no.

        On the one hand, teams will fuel their cars for a set number of laps, let’s say 20.

        On the other hand, just as drivers can avoid pushing their tyres to make them last longer, they can also save fuel (different engine modes, lift and coast) to save fuel and stretch it for maybe two or three more laps. If you remember the refueling era, it was usually just a queue of cars following each other as closely as they could while stretching their fuel to “target +1”, “target +2” so they could pit later than their rivals. Whoever pitted first came back on track with an extra 40-50 kgs of fuel and they would be overcut with two fast laps with a lighter car.

      6. First, don’t publish the fuel weights everyone starts on. Second, allow qualifying without race fuel. Third, keep the current setup of three different tires, with two tires required.

        You can’t consider the rules in isolation– You’ve got to consider *all* the rules, and how they affect each other.

      7. @jerejj they will end up with mandatory big and small refuellings to mimick the tyres :)

        1. @spoutnik probably, that’s where my superformula recomendation comes strong, either compound in superformula can do the whole race, so you see people pit at lap 2, lap 25, lap 50, anything can happen so you can’t bank that you’ll undercut the field at lap 15 coming out of the pits ahead just ahead of the cars that started on harder tyres, as if the start on q tyre rule was approved for that purpose.

      8. And off course tyre management – while not appreciated by many, and derided again and again by the Sky team – is far more of a core driver skill infuenced thing than engine management/fuel saving will ever be @jerejj, @warheart.

        Fuel saving is mostly about the team telling the driver what engine settings to use – all ingredients can be managed by the team. And they find that out from incredibly finetuned simulations up front with not much need from the driver.

        In contrast, tyre management can be simulated (quite well) the team doesn’t have things in their own control with the track surface, temperatures etc throwing in more uncertainty. This means it needs the driver to feel and react to what the tyres are doing on track – see Hamilton doing things with the tyres that the team didn’t think would work last 2 races.

    4. Yeah about those holy cows. The hybrid engine for sure is one.

      1. Ha :-) Yes for sure it is. I was at Goodwood this year and when one of Schumacher’s old Ferrari V10’s screamed past the guy next to me said “and that’s what an F1 car should sound like”. Bang on right. I can live with the V6 hybrids and I admire the thermal efficiency and all that but an ear drum ripping V10 will always be my favourite.

        1. So an Mp4/4 is not a true F1 car?

    5. Toto is probabaly looking at it from this angle, the time lost in a race due to refuelling is time to be gained by having better batteries and energy recovery systems. That Ferrari is a thirsty beast, hence longer pit stops.

    6. If they bring it back then a refueling and changing tires should be separate stops and refueling should be optional. After qualifying you can pick your fuel load for the race. You can choose to load your car up for the whole race or you have to stop on x lap as be faster. Then refueling would be fun and you can have a blast with dummy radio messages.

      1. Maybe not separate, but tyres and fuel shouldn’t be allowed to be done at the same time – as it’s done in Super GT, for example. It’s better for spectacle and safety. Amount of mechanics allowed to work on the car during pit-stop should be limited too. Even now – 12 people changing tyres is ridiculous. Make it 6 and allow to change not the whole set of tyres, so you can choose to quickly put only 2 fresh tyres or put the whole new set of four, but it will cost you twice the time in the pits.
        Come on, it’s all already have been done in other racing series, providing much more fun and better racing, but F1 is – as always – trying to invent a hybrid bicycle.

    7. I’m right in assuming a lighter fuel load also means less tire wear right? So a longer stint will incur an effective double tire wear scenario?
      Also with regard to fuel mapping, people complain already that one stoppers are slowing the cars down as they race less ‘on the edge’ to conserve fuel. Surely the lean fuel maps will make this even more so as all the one stoppers will also need to be conserving fuel?

    8. Even when obscured by so many mechanics, the Renault R29 is a horrid looking thing.

    9. Lots of opinions here, but lets go back a few years, GDPA fan survey 2015:

      In race refuelling should be re-introduced. 60%

      Summary can be read here: https://autoroad.cz/files/2015/07/01/2015-gpda-survey-46addb6fc2.pdf

      1. @me4me And those 60% are 100% wrong.

        Refueling only ever made the racing worse as all the stats show. On-track overtaking halved when refueling was introduced in 1993 & then double back upto pre-refueling levels when it was banned in 2010.

        Both the FIA & Teams did a study into the effect of refueling a few years ago & concluded that it would be a negative in terms of the racing as well as adding a significant additional cost. They had considered reintroducing it for 2017 as part of that big rule change but after it was investigated & the findings looked at they opted against doing so. As such I find it bizarre that there looking into it again just 3-4 years later.

        I think the only reason some fans want it back is because they grew up with it so somehow think it was the best thing even though all the stats show that it wasn’t & even though everyone at the time complained about how boring it was. But rose tinted glasses & all that.

        If they were to bring it back I guarantee that within 3 years fans will want it banned again due to the negative effect it will have on the racing!

        1. @PeterG 1994 actually, but otherwise true.

      2. That was a survey anybody could fill out. It was not scientific. I filled it out 5 times and believe me I didn’t want a return of refueling. What an incredibly stupid idea. The only thing I can think is that St. Ross hasn’t figured out how to make the cars follow each other closely and so they need something shiny to distract the fans.

        1. @PeterG, @darryn, Just want to add that I don’t neccesarily align with those 60% from the GPDA survey. Quite the opposite. However, I thought it was worth posting to add some substance to the discussion.

    10. I always find it odd when refueling gets brought up because there has never been that much love for it in the paddock.

      It was pushed through by Bernie despite Ferrari been the only team in favor of it because with there V12 engine using more fuel & therefore larger tanks the benefited from it’s introduction. It’s also often not talked about but teams tried to get it banned several times over the years not just on cost/safety grounds but also because by 1996 it was clear it was having a negative impact on the racing.
      Even Ferrari ended up turning against it after a few years although it was always something Bernie loved & he always blocked any effort to ban it & had support from Max which is the only reason it ended up staying as part of F1 for as long as it did. Teams only managed to get it banned for 2010 because they were unified via FOTA & unanimously voted in favor of banning it.

      If it is something the FIA try & push through I can see a lot of push-back from most of the teams who in 2015/2016 voted against it’s re-introduction twice.

      They also did did a study into what effect it would have & passed that onto the FIA, The findings on top of opposition from just about everyone were the reasons refueling was pulled from the 2017 regulation changes.

      1. BTW in terms of costs. The figures I got not too long ago were at least $1m to buy the equipment and then at least $500,000+ per GP. And there would also be additional cost’s of having to develop/redesign the cars.

        The Per GP cost comes from having to ship the rigs around as well as having to hire additional staff to run them & having to do maintenance on them before/after every race.

        It would be cheaper to run gravity fed rigs like Indycar but stops would then be significantly slower which then closes up the strategy options available. The less time you lose in the pits the more options you tend to have.

    11. Just no.

      Refueling is dead for a reason. Don’t bring the ugliest zombies back to life.

    12. They could make refueling voluntary. if you want to refuel, refuel.

      1. They could make refueling voluntary

        Except that everyone would, in some form or another. Carrying extra weight, in the form of fuel, slows you down. Even with the extra time taken to add fuel in the pits, the time saved not carrying that fuel is worth it, so everyone would refuel.

      2. It was voluntary last time but opting to not refuel was such a big disadvantage that everyone had to even if they didn’t want to.

        as i recall most of the teams didn’t want to have refueling but ferrari did and they would have had such a big advantage by refueling with everyone else not that all the other teams got pushed into having to do it. some of the smaller teams of the time were especially against it as it was a massive additional cost, especially as it wasn’t uncommon to use the same chassis over multiple seasons back then.

    13. And this guy is running Mercedes?

      If Toto wants a “show”, why not allow two drivers per car, but they have to be related? It could be called Formula Nepotism, and then it would be like every other faction of the entertainment industry, and even more “fake” than it is now!

    14. I definitely think a lot of fans look at refueling with rose-tinted glasses, thinking it’ll magically open up strategies and make the races more interesting, when in reality, most teams are likely going to run the same strategy, with even less variation than we see now. Unlike tires, which a driver can hold out with for more laps if they want to stretch out a stint, you can only lift and coast for so long without screwing yourself over through lack of pace.

      I was originally thinking of shrinking the fuel tanks down to 70kg so it would give teams more options, so one team may opt to have a driver start with 30kg and pit earlier, and the other with a full tank, and that may mix things up a bit. But even then, it wouldn’t fix the issue of teams opting for one stop strategies. Since pitstops will be longer, teams would be even more reluctant to go for multi-stop strategies, even if only one of them will involve refueling. And they would eventually figure out the ideal strategy anyway, so the strategies would converge and everyone would run the same pit strategy with only a few laps variation.

      Also, I don’t think anyone wants to hear more things along the lines of “don’t worry about the overtake, we’ll get him in the pits”, right?

    15. The argument that refueling affected the number of on track overtakes is deeply flawed. The stats suggest this was the case but a proper analysis uncovers the real reasons

      On track overtakes did dip in the refueling era of 94 -09 then spring back up in 2010 and so it is easy to jump on the argument that in race refueling was the root cause of this however a simple study reveals that other factors were at play.

      The doubling of overtakes from 2009(with refueling) to 2010( no refueling) is easiest to explain. 2010 seen Toyota leave the sport and the introduction to the grid of 3 new teams. This immediately upped the grid from 20 cars to 24, more cars equals more potential overtaking. Factor in that 6 of those cars were hugely of the pace and easy meat for pretty much any of the other 18 cars that ended up behind them and your boom in overtaking is explained. From 2011 DRS and high deg tyres were introduced and the stats became irrelevant

      The decline from the early 90s to refueling in 94 is similarly quite easy to explain and it should be noted that overtaking numbers were generally decreasing year on year from 84 to 93 anyway.

      First up in 1994 the regs were heavily changed with the ban on electronic aids, this had an effect of equalizing the grid, more equal cars make overtaking harder. By 1996 the grid had went from 26 cars to 20 cars(and remained at between 18-22 till 2009)and it could be argued that the standard of the grid from front to back was more equal in both car performance and driver quality. All of this led to less overtaking. Cars were no longer 5-6 seconds of the pace. Less cars driving at a closer speed to each other and bingo the number of overtakes starts declining.

      Throw in the fact that the mid 90’s was when aero starting getting a bit messy on the cars and it’s easy to see the real reasons the number of overtakes dipped in the refueling era.

      1. @pantherjag

        this had an effect of equalizing the grid, more equal cars make overtaking harder.

        Spec categories disagree with that statement.

    16. FIA president Jean Todt has suggested allowing teams to refuel their cars during races as a means of bringing weight levels down during races.

      I think it was very irresponsible of Todt to have said this. He could have used more neutral words, but no, he seems to suggest bring back this relic of the past would be wonderful. So the car starts 105 kg or so heavier than it is at the end of a race … what’s wrong with that? Isn’t the race supposed to test the skills of a driver?
      As you can guess I detest the notion of refuelling. It is dangerous. Refuelling shouldn’t be rushed. While there are extra costs with refuelling I think that is a red herring, safety is the primary factor. You’d need to have a minimum stationary time, e.g. 19 seconds, and a system that activates the clutch or puts the gearbox into neutral while the fuel cap is open.
      The current car, as heavy as it is, is breaking lap records. Presumably that means the power to weight ratio is better now than it has ever been. If so, then where is the evidence will make for better racing? Even if would be better, safety is the primary issue. The current system is working and it is safe, whereas the evidence from the past shows refuelling was done unsafely.
      Some people claim things like “we can do this and that to make it safer” forgetting those things could have been done then to make it safer and yet no one did. So keep the refuelling out of the race.

      1. Also, refueling helped favorite & Co fix the 2008 Singapore gp. Refueling gives the SC far too much effect on the races, turning them essentially into a lottery.


        1. Flavio & co

    17. Going on a tangent here

      Maybe we need to lose a few people on pit stops in general.

      If Steiner is referring to having less mechanics in pit stops, I think thats a nice idea. I would love to see only a 4-6 pit crew, it’ll add some unpredictability and excitement in pit stops

      1. It would also limit teams strategic options because slower pit stops obvious mean a larger time loss in the pits which in turn makes teams less likely to want to stop more than once which will then ensure it’s more likely than ever that everyone does the same thing.

        The less time you lose while in the pits the more options it gives you in terms of making 1 (Or more) stops than others.

        1. @gt-racer

          Yea that’s the negative about it
          That’s what also came to my mind, but most races are already one stoppers anyways.

    18. My dislike of refueling wasn’t so much it’s effect on overtaking, It was more that I just didn’t like how it affected the racing as a whole. I mean I do believe it had a negative impact in terms of overtaking but as @pantherjag points out it wasn’t the sole factor.

      I just didn’t like how refueling shifted the focus away from the race track & into the pits & put a far greater emphasis onto fuel/pit strategy. Before 1994 the focus was on the racing going on out on track, If a driver was behind another car they would push & fight to overtake. From 1994-2009 it always felt like the track action was secondary & that all the focus was on the pits with drivers behind another car less frantic in there attempts to overtake if they knew they were on a better strategy that would jump them ahead via the overcut.

      Additionally Pat Symmonds made the point when refueling was brought up a few years back that with refueling teams decided on a strategy on Saturday & and were then locked into it. If you put 20 laps of fuel in at the start you stop on lap 20 with little to no options to change it as once you decided the length of your 1st stint there wasn’t much room to alter the 2nd/3rd stints in reaction to how your race was playing out.

      With no refueling strategy is more reactive & open with teams having more options to adapt it on the fly & with drivers having more input. You can decide on a strategy pre-race but there are many more variables that can force you to change on the fly & adopt a different approach which simply isn’t possible with refueling in the mix. Tyre wear can be better/worse than expected, One tyre compound can work better/worse than expected, What other teams do can force you to adapt your strategy & of course the way a driver drives will affect tyre wear which can also force changes to strategy.

      Refueling strategy is more planned while without it when your only concern in tyres strategy is more fluid & reactive.

    19. Just a few thoughts on some ideas already stated:
      Safety is very important, especially with all the electric charge and batteries close to the fuel. That is my biggest reason against the return of refuelling in races.
      Strategy concerns are ‘ox doody’ to say that politely. How many stops we have last few years? usually 1. And the ‘undercut’ is the biggest hope we as viewers have for some change in running order (last few races were an anomaly). Fuel saving is going on all the time. Tyre saving also. And in heavy truc… cars in a sunday afternoon granny drive there is less chance for a driver to make a mistake, but all that mass gives longer braking zones!
      So… F1 doesn’t need it. Much better sporting show will be with proper tyres and more GF DF. Maybe listen to Gary Anderson and his proposal to freeze available updates for the leading teams N number of races.

    20. Every year FIA has some new cr@p they want to introduce or reintroduce in order to improve racing. They never go for the other approach. Remove the mandatory pit stop and compound use. Let them do whatever they want to complete the race. Watch how that goes.

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