Canadian GP: More fuel added to the refueling fire

Should Refuelling come back?

  • Yes

  • No

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Seb Scott

Formula 1 Reporter
Feb 12, 2015
Refuelling Fire.jpg

On the 14th May 2015 Formula One’s Strategy Group met to discuss the future of Formula One and vote on the possibility of implementing new rules and regulations in order to help shape the future of Formula One.

One idea to come out of the meeting, was the possibility of introducing refuelling in 2017, which initially, was hailed for a welcome return between drivers and fans, however the teams - who would have to finance refuelling - have come made their views known in Canada.

The idea of reintroducing refueling was to improve both the “spectacle” and also performance of Formula One in the future - the concentration on 2017 and beyond. The idea behind performance is that the cars would be lighter in the race, as they would be holding less fuel at the start or opening stages of a race compared to now where drivers start with a full tank of petrol which has to last the entire race. The spectacle of refueling originates more to the danger presented by refueling in a race, where in 2008 we seen Felipe Massa driving for Ferrari set off too early taking his refueling hose with him.

Since the announcement of the idea though, teams have been very skeptical of the idea and every team has conducted an effective feasibility study into the idea, the results of which, don't bode well for the possible return of refueling in Formula One.

A meeting has been held with team managers and Charlie Whiting (the FIA Race Director) at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the eve of the Canadian Grand Prix. It is believed at this meeting teams were able to express their concerns over the idea and also present their findings into the possible return of refueling in Formula One.

The teams feel refueling doesn't add to the spectacle of Grand Prix racing and it would do more the opposite, however surely that is for fans to decide if it would detract from the sport rather than make racing more exciting. The study also suggested that overtaking improved in 2010, due to the ban on refuelling, however to balance the argument here as well, of course on track over taking would improve, if drivers spend less time in the pits.

Finally and more importantly to teams and more relevant to Formula One’s current crisis is the potential increase in cost that refueling could pose. Is it the right thing to do, to impose refuelling which means more containers of equipment to transport, more personnel to employ and more equipment to buy at a time when F1 is trying to make savings in any area possible?
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Mar 12, 2015
Indy cars seem to be able to refuel without an issue by just spraying a fire extinguisher and you rarely see a fuel hose being dragged away. F1 however seems to think that it is impossible even though they are supposed to be the top tier of open wheel racing but can hardly put on a race with as much entertainment as an Indy car race


Oct 16, 2010
View attachment 95160
The spectacle of refueling originates more to the danger presented by refueling in a race, where in 2008 we seen Felipe Massa driving for Ferrari set off too early taking his refueling hose with him.
Not to mention what happened to Jos Verstappen (in the cover picture) and Christijan Albers in his Spyker car during the Magny Cours GP of 2007.

I think refueling should not be re-introduced, what I think that needs to happen is to either a) allow more fuel to be carried from the start or b) a more thrifty consumption of the hybrid engines (come on it's 2015, the technology should be there, especially for use in F1) to facilitate more flat-out racing, rather than the drivers actively need to manage/save their fuel on a lap by lap basis.


Apr 27, 2014
Weird idea... but why not use a replaceable fuel cell(s).. few gallons/liters each.
This way no one touches fuel?


Staff member
Jun 1, 2013
Fuel cell is only another term for petrol tank. Historically fuel tanks were simply metal tanks formed to fit in any convenient place, prone to rupturing during accidents and impacts, the fuel could easily spill and cause a huge fire. Major fires in F1 car are now thankfully rare. It’s fair to say the biggest leap in F1 safety has probably been the advent of the flexible fuel cell when FIA, 1970 introduced Safety bladder fuel tanks. There’s been no major fuel tank fire at an F1 race since Berger Imola crash in 1989 and no fire related deaths since Ricardo Palletti in Canada in 1982, or in testing with Elio De Angelis in 1986.
Formula 1 cars (and all other racing cars) are fitted with specially developed, flexible tanks which are practically indestructible even in the event of an accident. 1970 this type of aircraft style bag tanks were made mandatory to prevent ruptures, fuel spillage and fire in case of accidents.
These must be made of materials approved by the FIA (FT5 fuel tanks standard) and must be manufactured by certain FIA approved companies.

From FIA tech. regs.:

Minimum FIA Requirements for fuel cell FT5-1999From 1/1/99:
Tensile Strength 2000 lb (8.90 KN)
Tear Strength 350 lb (1.56 KN)
Puncture Strength 400 lb (1.78 KN)
Seam Strength 2000 lb (8.90 KN)

The size of a fuel tank is also important to be considered during chassis design. The size of the tank must be calculated against fuel consumption, expected average stint or race length, aerodynamics, etc. Since the tank is located behind the driver's seat, it largely determines the space in between the driver and the engine.

It is therefore clear that for aerodynamic purposes, a tank should be made as small as possible. The same statement also clarifies the importance of fuel economy besides the shorter pitstops, when there is one. From 2010, formula 1 regulation prohibit refueling. Cars have to start race with full fuel load, +/-160 liters.

The tank must be situated directly behind the driver and directly ahead of the engine. All fuel lines must be equipped with selfseal breakaway (dry-break couplings) fuel couplings (introduced in FIA rule book 1970) in case if the engine and chassis become separated in an accident so fuel cannot leak from the broken hose. No fuel lines can pass through the cockpit. Fuel cell cannot extend more than 400mm from the cars centerline, so tanks are limited to being 800mm wide. Additionally teams want the fuel as close to the ground as possible so the shape of the monocoque will be modified to achieve the design capacity inside the length and width demands. Teams need to consider the packaging for the engine oil tank in the back of the monocoque, the Accident Data Recorder mounted towards the front of the tank area and the KERS batteries commonly mounted under the fuel tank area.
Fuel temperature is also a great concern. Fuel is heated by conduction and radiation from the rest of the car - the exhausts, the engine, hot lub oil lines etc. Higher fuel temperature reduces engine performance and it also makes the fuel more difficult to pump by the lift pumps. There have been developments to overcome these challenges, including changes in car design to reduce heat transfer to the fuel.

The fuel tank must be encased within a crushable structure that forms part of the car's safety cell. This structure must be able to withstand very high impact loads as specified in the regulations. Specific crash test is performed on bottom side of fuel cell.
Before 2010, for refueling during a race, teams used identical rigs supplied by one FIA-approved manufacturer. During refueling period, for safety reasons the refueling rate was limited to 12.1 liters per second. Now days, without refueling, tank capacity is 160 + liters of fuel.

The outer skin is relatively simple. Delicate stuff are hidden inside this skin. There are two systems that need to be packaged; the baffles and the fuel pump system.
As well as controlling fuel slosh and containing the fuel pumps, there is also the consideration for internal venting, so that the fuel fills and drains the tank without causing pressure variations.

One way trap-doors allow the fuel to move from one compartment to the next but not back. You can see simplified arangement of the trap doors inside the bladder on picture above.
During the race fuel tend to move around in all directions, from the forces created by moving car and high g-forces. Fuel "slosh" as it’s known, creates two problems. Firstly the weight of the fuel will alter the balance of the car and secondly the fuel needs to be drained on the fuel pump area to ensure fuel is constantly delivered to the engine. So the teams design baffle systems within the tank, to damp out of the movement of the fuel and direct it towards the last compartment where fuel pumps are located. Baffles are fitted in vertical, lateral and horizontal planes. Vertical baffles are controlling fuel slosh on turns, lateral baffles to control movement under acceleration or braking, and horizontal baffles to stop fuel rising upwards during vertical g-forces. Baffles will also direct fuel into one compartment to be collected by the fuel pump system. They will feature precision engineered one way trap-doors to allow the fuel to move from one compartment to the next but not back. Fuel will flow down the horizontal and vertical baffles towards the rear of the tank. In this final, collecting compartment, the fuel system will pick up almost all of the fuel remaining in the tank at the end of the race. Inside this last compartment three or four lifter fuel pumps will pick up the fuel and send it to a carbon fibre fuel collector tank at pressure of about 1bar. Fuel collector tank is fitted inside the cell itself and holds around 2.5 kg or 3 l litre of fuel, and it contains enough fuel to feed the main pump continuously even if supply from the lift pumps becomes intermittent at low fuel levels, particularly bearing in mind that an engine running at full revs will need up to 3.5 litres/minute of fuel. That’s enough fuel to feed the engine for 30 - 40 second or more. From collector tank, fuel will be picked up by precision high pressure main fuel pump and deliver it to car engine fuel system at pressure of max. 100bar. Entirely mechanically driven fuel pump delivers fuel to the injectors and must be protected by a fine filter at the entry. This pump delivers fuel flow fundamentally proportional to engine RPM. The fuel consumed by the engine is also approximately proportional to RPM at full throttle, but at closed throttle, the engine uses no fuel. To match the fuel supplied to the fuel required, the main pump has a variable displacement mechanism actuated by a sophisticated pressure regulating device.

Courtesy of Sauber F1 team, published on their own Google+ stream:
CFD simulation of 40kg of fuel fuel slosh trough Ascari chicane, Monza

After passing through the pump and a final filter in the fuel rail, the fuel is delivered to the injectors at high pressure. Technical regulations forbid a pressure higher than 100 bar.
The injectors are precision electro-mechanical solenoid valves controlled by the SECU (Standard Electronic Control Unit). Fuel is delivered when the solenoid is energized, delivering it at high pressure into the intake air at precisely the right instant in the engine cycle to achieve optimum cylinder filling and mixture preparation. At 18,000rpm - before the limiter kicks in - the fuel injector is fired once every 6.6ms for a duration of 2.7ms at full throttle. The fuel delivered by each injection event is 0.049cc. However, the fuel used by the engine at full throttle in the same conditions is between 3.5 l/min and 4 l/min depending on ambient conditions.
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Sep 25, 2014
Why would anybody think that reintroducing a rule that lead to the fewest average passes per race in the sport's history would improve the spectacle?


Jan 22, 2014
A) Continue to ban refueling for the race. More action therefore takes place on track (besides the fact that you can loose time with a slow pit crew). Furthermore, refueling takes away the "fight", the race, of the mechanics because refueling takes much longer than changing tyres, plus, all teams would surely be limited by the same maximum fuel flow limit as eachother which effectively reduces the pit-mechanics' race to just who can put-on and pull-out the refueling hose quicker rather than 4 separate tyre changes.

B) Return to an open qualifying session - so we can see amazing qualifying battles - with whatever setup you want (limited amount of total laps, lets says 9-12 laps which most of the time would equate to 3-4 hotlaps because of in- and out-laps).

C) Tell/force Pirelli to make "normal" racing tyres rather than the current and recent ones from Pirelli which are a joke since the FIA has forced them to make these types of tyres for the sake of "excitement" and "unpredictability".

D) Increase the mechanical grip (wider tyres) while not increasing the aerodynamic grip. This would result in the mechanical-grip-to-aerodynamic-grip ratio shifting closer to mechanical grip; in other words, a higher percent of the car's total grip will come from mechanical grip rather than aero grip which is prone to being lost while following another car.

E. Increase the power as well so as to have a power-to-total-grip ratio closer to that of the 1995 cars, or the 2005 cars, or at-least for the fact that the mechanical grip, and therefore total grip, has risen.

At the very least, points "C", "D", and "E" need to SERIOSULY be considered. They would literally transform the sport, and all 3 of those changes are extremely complimenting to each other.
Last edited:

Victor Ivanov

Jan 24, 2011
Honestly refuelling incidents in the pits were really enjoyable. I know guys there didn't have fun at all but still...
That was one the most hilarious moments I've ever seen :D
Dec 13, 2014
Why would anybody think that reintroducing a rule that lead to the fewest average passes per race in the sport's history would improve the spectacle?
Because who the hell thought that running a 2hour race on one tank of fuel would be interesting to watch? When cars are so slow in the race up until the last 5 laps when everyone is 20 seconds apart makes no difference other than a tiny fastest lap status that has no meaning in F1 as you don't even get a point for it.


Jan 1, 2014
Kinda in the middle. I hate seeing cars just drive slow and win. Russia 2014 was an excellent example. But at the same time, then you can just overtake in the pits. Meaning more strategy, since no two cars will have equal pit stop refuelling times.

Yes or no? Personally no. It's boring, but I doubt refuelling will change that. What we need to focus on is the other parts. If you think going slow and saving fuel/tyres is the way to go you are truly lost. Maybe extra fuel is the challenge. And whomever can cope with it is the better driver? But for god's sake, make the tyres last a bit longer and make them as fast as you like. This whole idea of making F1 more interesting is stupid. If you want excitement, don't do anything. It was better before we started trying to do it.

Will Mazeo

May 25, 2015
Indy cars seem to be able to refuel without an issue by just spraying a fire extinguisher and you rarely see a fuel hose being dragged away. F1 however seems to think that it is impossible even though they are supposed to be the top tier of open wheel racing but can hardly put on a race with as much entertainment as an Indy car race
If I'm not mistaken IndyCars have a sensor that won't let the 1st gear be used if the refuel stuff is still connected. It's a simple solution, idk why F1 is making so much drama, their cars already have way more electronics, would be easy to do something like this


Mar 2, 2011
refueling -> less fuel on board -> lighter car - faster car
also: lighter car -> less stress on the tyres -> less tyre wear -> being able to push the tyres more -> even faster car


Jan 1, 2014
Do you guys know about how many seconds refuelling will add to pit stops?


Jan 1, 2014
Make refuelling fast and then there ar no cons. The problem used to be that people waited for others to pit and saved fuel, this way they could jump them.

Will Mazeo

May 25, 2015
You know what would be fun? Sports car refueling rules. Fuel first, tires later (keep the same amount of people per tire as now). Would be nice to see people taking risks