Renault have moved to confirm that their recent request for clarification on ‘oil burning’, was not specifically aimed at any other team on the grid.
Prior to the testing season starting in Barcelona this year, Red Bull made an enquiry to the FIA, to ascertain whether the teams could cleverly ‘burn oil’ as fuel. This technique could provide a welcome power boost used for qualifying for example, when the cars are at their fastest, and lightest weight.
Red Bull were suspicious that chief rivals Mercedes-Benz were already using this technique to provide the additional boost, the FIA responded saying that using oil in this manner would indeed be illegal.
Renault’s MD for F1 Cyril Abiteboul, welcomed the clarification of the rules saying that it was good to know what was, or wasn’t permitted.
“Clarification of regulations is always very important, whether it is suspension or whether it is fuel systems, but also oil,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com. “We are right now in the period of the year where you have lots of traffic [communication] going around – that is important.
“We were not attacking anyone in particular. But we needed to make sure that it is clear to everyone, and it can be properly monitored and also enforced that fuel should remain the primary combustible used in F1.”
Abiteboul went onto suggest that the ‘oil crisis’ is not too dis-similar to ‘suspension gate’, which is ongoing, and may even rear its complex head again in Melbourne.
“We are coming into systems that are so complex – and it is very much like suspension systems,” he said.
“We can refer to the spirit of the regulations – the combustibles are clear for everyone that they should be fuel – but having said that any engine will burn oil.
“But whether you burn oil for lubrication or as a combustible is something completely different. What we feel is that we need to be extremely clear about what should be the spirit, and we need to be clear also and that should be the FIA’s responsibility to make sure that it is enforceable. I accept that it is challenging.”
Mercedes themselves forwarded an idea to improve the regulations regarding the use of oil, from the start of the hybrid formula back in 2014. Mercedes suggested a maximum 5kg limit on oil usage, to prevent other manufacturers from exploiting the rules in such a way.
Mercedes were cleared of any wrong doing themselves, when they were investigated in the aftermath of the Canadian race in 2015. Every season opener has a storm of controversy, this season with the new regulations will be no different.