Should Formula 1 allow refuelling in the future? After former World Champion Nico Rosberg recently spoke out in favour of a return to the refueling stop, FIA President Jean Todt recently declared that he could envisage a corresponding change in the regulations from 2021, and the current Formula 1 drivers are also open to the idea.
The main argument is the weight of the cars. “The cars don’t have to weigh 730 kilos. They simply don’t have to be that heavy,” explains Lewis Hamilton. A current Formula 1 car must weigh at least 743 kilograms (including the driver). At the start of the millennium, the minimum weight was just 595 kilograms. Hamilton would like to go back there.
“I talked to my engineers and they said if they changed the rules then the weight would be the same as back then. We’d just have to take a few things off the car, but we could make it easier,” Hamilton explains.
In recent years, things like hybrid drive and Halo have made the cars heavier and heavier and one way to make the cars lighter again would be to stop for refuelling. The drivers would then start with significantly less fuel on board – and accordingly with a lighter car. Since 2010 refuelling in Formula 1 has been banned.
“If the cars are lighter, that’s always better. For racing, for tyres – everything. So whatever you can do about your weight is a bonus,” explains Valtteri Bottas. “It would be more fun for us and for everyone else,”
“I don’t know, I’ve never driven with refuelling before,” says Charles Leclerc. “But it used to look “cool” on TV. Why not? I’d love to try it out,” Monegasse says openly.
“It could be a good idea,” says Leclerc, “but the main problem is that the cars are too heavy. Those are two different things for me,” he explains. Hamilton sees things in a similar way. “They make the cars heavier and heavier and heavier and heavier every year. And we’re getting faster and faster and have more downforce,” says the world champion. This is also a problem for tyre manufacturer Pirelli.
For Pirelli, the biggest current challenge is to build a tyre that can withstand this weight and at the same time push with it. “It’s like a domino effect. We could fight harder with a lighter car,” Hamilton says.
Fuel stops are “maybe not such a bad thing” for the future concludes Hamilton.
In recent years, the idea of allowing refuelling in Formula 1 has come up again and again. As early as 2017, Ross Brawn revealed in an interview with ‘Motorsport-Total.com’ that he was rather sceptical about refueling stops. “I personally am not convinced that refuelling is the best way [to improve racing]. I think there are other possibilities,” he explained at the time.
And as early as 2016 Claire Williams said on the subject: “The manufacturers have just spent hundreds of millions on these hybrid drive units that are relevant to road traffic and that fit into the debate on energy efficiency that we currently have to conduct in our society.
“Now reintroducing refuelling and turning Formula 1 back into a fuel-guzzling sport puts the whole message out of perspective”.
Although personally I myself think that refuelling is a stupid idea and would bring back a reluctance to chance a pass on the circuit by waiting for the pit stops, it appears TJ13 readers are actually in favour of fuel stops. What do I know anyway?!