Analysis: F1 pushing for boost despite refuelling scepticism

The Strategy Group and F1 Commission are meeting this week and, to many people's surprise, refuelling is back on the agenda. But Jonathan Noble explains why it is set to be rejected.

Formula 1's teams are all but certain to reject the latest attempt to reintroduce refuelling in meetings taking place at the start of this week, but there remains hope that other changes to improve the spectacle may gain traction.

Despite a plan to get refuelling back for 2017 having been rejected outright last year, there was some surprise last week when it emerged that the concept was back on the agenda for F1's Strategy Group meeting taking place today.

It would not have been impossible for the sport to have got behind the idea and got it all ratified by the F1 Commission on Tuesday.

However, with teams already clear that refuelling was bad for costs, did not improve safety and, perhaps worst of all for fans, did not help the racing, there is little scope for it to get the approval it would need to move on through the rules making process this time around.

Keeping focus

Such a doomed attempt to resurrect the refuelling idea may well serve a purpose though, because it will at least focus minds on what F1 is looking to become over the next few years as it bids to win back audiences.

Getting everyone in agreement about something they do not want to see is perhaps the best way of getting people working together to try to introduce things that will actually help F1.

The over-riding theme from the Strategy Group, which may then flow through into Tuesday's F1 Commission meeting, is of delivering rules that makes F1 more popular again amid unease that it has lost much of its excitement.

For as well as discussions about key areas like the 2017 chassis rules, and future engine regulation and supply agreements, other equally important talks are set to take place.

Coming off the back of two seasons dominated by Mercedes, there are concerns that F1 is in need of some more unpredictability, preferably through rules that make the racing more exciting rather than the introduction of artificial elements that falsely close things up.

One of the ways that this can be achieved is through an improved race weekend format, where perhaps there is more chance of introducing the 'jeopardy' element that can serve to mix things up.

It did not take a genius last year to work out that one of the most exciting races of the season – the United States Grand Prix at Austin – was helped by the fact that teams had gone into Sunday with very limited running and without the reams of tyre data that meant their strategies were clear.

The scope for such uncertainty is something that F1 would benefit from, and may be why race format discussions are part of the agenda of the Strategy Group.

F1 may already get more uncertainty in 2016, with the new tyres rules, but further shake-ups for 2017 – now that the cars are not expected to be as dramatically differently as originally thought – would certainly be welcome.

Listening to fans

What the last two seasons have shown F1 also is that the fans need listening to more – and that the sport has to be more proactive in doing things for them.

One of the big criticisms that has come with the new turbo regulations is the noise factor – with F1 doing itself no favours when those within it hit out at the lack of decibels early on.

The backlash, and an acceptance that the noise was an issue – has already prompted changes for this year, with new exhaust regulations expected to deliver a good boost.

However, teams are set to discuss perhaps even more longer term – that could perhaps bring the noise back to the levels experienced under the V8 era. That at least would serve to keep fans happy.

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Series Formula 1
Article type Analysis