Why does Ferrari’s chairman stand almost alone on the issue of Refuelling?

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brought to you by TJ13 contributor Fortis

Following Thursday’s meeting of team managers to discuss the return of refuelling, it was unanimously agreed to scrap the idea as there was no evidence that it would improve the ‘show’. However the vote is facing opposition from Ferrari head honcho Sergio Marchionne.

He argues that it’s early to dismiss the idea completely and suggest that the matter be looked at in more details by the Strategy Working Group, of which he is a member, rather than just accepting the finds so lightly.

Speaking at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix the Ferrari boss commented,

“It is interesting because I am not sure what the findings are actually saying,”

“Refuelling by itself has no value other than the fact it adds variability to the race. Fuel loads, how many times you refuel, when you refuel, they are all things that are important.

“There are some people that argue that you can come up with a deterministic model that will make everyone refuel at the same time, which is absolute hogwash.

“Especially if you combine that with a higher degree of freedom on the choice of tyres, which I think is probably a lot more important than the refuelling strategy.”

The freedom of tyres Sergio is talking about refers to a recent proposal from Force India, carried unanimously through the F1 strategy group, that teams can select their own two compounds for each race from the four Pirelli offer each year.

At present Pirelli make this selection, only making available the two they believe to suit the purposes for each event given the amount of degradation.

TJ13 has been consistently critical of Pirelli this season for providing tyres that are too conservative. This allows the majority of the teams to stop just once or twice and is not fulfilling the brief of forcing two to three pit stops as the norm.

It must be said that Sergio Marchionne’s previous comments pre-supposes Pirelli will play ball and deliver the teams the tyre choice they have agreed upon. The Italian manufacturer can make life difficult over this issue should they wish, and the F1 commission has yet to ratify it.

Marchionne recognises the importance of Pirelli’s co-operation. “I think there is a willingness on behalf of Pirelli to provide that flexibility to the teams which will create additional variability and will make the sport interesting to watch.

“It is not just a question of the quality of the drivers. It is the combination of the technical choices that the team make and the way in which they drive.”

However, Marchionne appears to be suggesting, there has yet to be a proper examination of the impact the refuelling proposal could have ‘in the round’.

“If the findings are such that it provides zero additional spectacle value, in the sense of creating something that the sport fans want, then I think we should stay away. I haven’t seen the evidence.

The Ferrari chairman then rubbishes the evidence gathered that demonstrates refuelling greatly reduces on track over taking.

“We keep on hearing noises about what kitchen-concocted studies have yielded. I understand them. The question is you have to find out the impact of the combination of refuelling, tyre changes and variety of other changes are going to have on the sport.”

At this time Marchionne and Ferrari appear to stand alone on the matter of refuelling.

Christian Horner was adamant this weekend.

“When we discussed it in the Strategy Group it didn’t have a lot of support but we agreed to explore it, discuss it, and analyse it properly.

“The feedback was negative 100 per cent. It was too expensive, not safe enough. It was detrimental to the races and the strategies.

“So it will go back to the Strategy Group and my opinion is it should not happen. I am not keen for getting refuelling back to F1.”

We may then ask, why Marchionne is going it alone over refuelling. This is a man who doesn’t fight battles he can’t win.

The clue is in the Italian’s concluding comments. “Singularly it [refuelling] may not be the answer, but combined with other things it might be. So I am totally open.”

The gulf between Mercedes and Ferrari (and the others) was once again reinforced this weekend, when the first non-Silver Arrow across the finish line was over 40 seconds down the road.

Marchionne recognises ‘the rest’ are going to need some help in overturning the Brackley teams’ dominance in Formula One.

Big teams not only dominate Formula One because they spend more money on R&D and manufacturing, but because they build a vast resource to analyse and predict the variables.

Sergio has change managed the odd one or two processes in his time – some would say rather successfully. He recognises if you throw enough variables into the mix, the calculations and models used to predict outcomes become unreliable and need to be worked ground up once again.

Refuelling adds another layer of unpredictability to Formula One racing, and with Mercedes lead over the field – that can only be a good thing from Maranello’s perspective.

26 responses to “Why does Ferrari’s chairman stand almost alone on the issue of Refuelling?

  1. I’d expect Sergio Marchionne to have some unusual ideas. He’s an accountant.

    • He is, but he’s mine. I called it a week ago… #JeSuisFortis #HandOffMyFortis

      • Ok calm down guys, there’s enough of me to go around….😂😂😂

          • “dinner” kebabs or “donner” kebabs? “Donner” as in “Donner party” stranded in the mountains getting to California and reduced to cannibalization?

          • “döner” Turkish meal. Actually “kebap” is an altogether different meal, but for some reason they are used together or interchangeably. Delicious meat. MMMmmm…

  2. But if you want to really make it unpredictable go with bernie’s idea of placing sprinklers at each track. But then make a lottery out of it. Every race one fan gets the chance to activate them with a push of a button in the f1 app. He can do so whenever he desires. Maybe change the duration from 15 mins to 1 hour. No team or computer can predict that.

  3. Why? Because he is american, and american racing series have refueling.

  4. “The clue is in the Italian’s concluding comments. “Singularly it [refuelling] may not be the answer, but combined with other things it might be.”

    [..]

    “Refuelling adds another layer of unpredictability to Formula One racing, and with Mercedes lead over the field – that can only be a good thing from Maranello’s perspective.”

    I agree the clue is in those comments, but I’d go one step farther. It doesn’t take much thinking to suspect that Ferrari are keen on individual tyre choice to capitalize on their Allison-penned light-tyre-wear design; otherwise you wouldn’t hear the end of it. Add in refuelling, which would mean that the car would be even lighter and their tyre-wear advantage even more pronounced.

    In interaction, individual tyre choice *and* refuelling can prove a game-changer for Ferrari: Bolting on the supersofts with a light car can bring them considerable speed relative to the Mercs.

    To hell with costs, fans and safety though… Yet this could be the answer to Ferrari getting back to winning ways. Oops, must have been one of those Freudian moments…

    • Given Mercedes’s advantage at present, I seriously doubt refuelling would help Ferrari at all. Look at the qualifying pace, they’re almost a second a lap slower. Now give Mercedes the opportunity to run light each race, all they would do is just turn the wick up to maximum and blitz the entire field.

      Apart from in Malaysia, this whole idea of Ferrari being better on tire has not really helped them as yet. Look at what happened in Spain, when Lewis finally got pass Seb, he absolutely blitzed him, he finished almost 30 seconds behind him. Monaco he was able to keep tabs with Nico, but they were both getting a proper thrashing.

      All the talk yesterday before the race was about Ferrari’s long run pace and being kind on their tires, but where was it? I think Mercedes have gotten to grips with the tires now, so I think that apparent advantage Ferrari had, is no longer there.

      Listening to the drivers in Monaco, the soft and super soft tires are still too hard, that’s why it’s taking them so long to warm them up.

      • Ferrari does have a better power unit now, Fortis. Vettel was +/- 30 laps faster than Lewis yesterday during the latter portion of the race (saw on Twitter and data from F1Fanatic). Granted Lewis was driving to a delta to save fuel and brakes, but we might have had a more interesting race if Vettel had qualified his usual 3rd position. Perhaps we will see in Austria.

        • Not denying they’ve got a better power unit now, but it’s still nowhere near has good as the Mercedes.

          Indeed let’s see what happens in Austria, but I seriously doubt anything will change.

      • Nico Rosberg went 30 laps on SS with a full fuel load, and those were the tires he qualified on.
        Massa went 33 laps to the end of the race (light fuel load), and he was still working his way through the field.
        So the SS were good for half the race, even if you were working them hard.

        I think “Conservative” might be an understatement.

        Make no mistake, I am not really a fan of the current tire “system”, but if Pirelli are going to intentionally make tires that wear out quickly, could they at least do it correctly?

      • You can still see the effects of being light on the tyres for Ferrari. But they are not good affects, they cannot warm up their tyres. It hinders them in normal conditions, doesn’t help them at all. They are horrible with hard compound.

      • Then they will ask for qualifying with race fuel. In that case they would manage to put the car on pole.

    • Sometimes you have to be careful what you ask for. First, you have to build a really strong engine and chassis and then add the variables, not the other way round. You never know where you development might take you and you where you might end up (i.e. your engine also eating up tyres!)

  5. Because he’s sees no quick opportunity at challenging and beating Mercedes. Refueling would add a bit of chaos and produce the smokescreens for which naive people fall.

    Ferrari being rich and spoiled don’t really care about cost implications and inevitable decrease in overtaking.

  6. “Why does Ferrari’s president…………….”

    Marchionne isn’t the president of Ferrari – he’s the chairman. The closest person to what would be described as the “president” is Amedeo Felisa, who is the CEO.

  7. “TJ13 has been consistently critical of Pirelli this season for providing tyres that are too conservative. This allows the majority of the teams to stop just once or twice and is not fulfilling the brief of forcing two to three pit stops as the norm.”

    TJ13 is entirely mistaken and appeared to have learned nothing from the debacle of racing on eggshells between 2012 and 2013.

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