F1 poised to raise fuel limit for 2017

Formula 1 teams will discuss next week the idea of lifting the sport's 100kg fuel limit for 2017 in a bid to ease concerns that new regulations may not allow drivers to race flat out.

F1 poised to raise fuel limit for 2017
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 Team W07
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF16-H
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 Team W07
Nick Chester, Renault Sport F1 Team Chassis Technical Director
(L to R): Nick Chester, Renault Sport F1 Team Chassis Technical Director with Frederic Vasseur, Renault Sport F1 Team Racing Director
Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport F1 Managing Director
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing RB12
Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team
Pascal Wehrlein, Manor Racing MRT05
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12 and Felipe Massa, Williams FW38

The Strategy Group and F1 Commission are to meet at Biggin Hill next Tuesday to make a final decision on the 2017 car revamp that is aimed at cutting lap times by up to five seconds.

While the aerodynamic regulations have already been set – and only a last-minute majority vote will be able to change them – other aspects have yet to be settled.

Sources have revealed to Motorsport.com that, as part of the discussions to finalise the 2017 rules, a plan has been put in place to ensure that the new generation of cars do not have a negative impact on fuel economy.

Fuel saving "mess"

The wider cars and wider tyres will generate more drag than the current ones – and that will result in them using up more fuel per lap.

There have been concerns voiced for months now that if the 100kg fuel limit stayed in place, then it would force drivers to conduct far more fuel saving than they currently do.

Renault technical director Nick Chester warned back in February that if the 100kg fuel limit stayed in place there would be problems.

"I think it will be a mess,” he told Motorsport.com. "If we stay at 100kg and go to the 2017 regulations then there will be a lot of fuel saving, and I think people will start complaining about it."

While some manufacturers had wanted the maximum fuel limit abolished totally, this did not draw unanimous support – with Mercedes in particular keen for F1 to keep its environmental message.

It is understood a compromise has been reached so that if the 2017 car rules are signed off, the F1 Commission will be asked to vote on a plan to raise the fuel limit by 5kg to 105kg for a race.

Flat out racing

Renault F1 chief Cyril Abiteboul, who was pushing hard for the fuel limit to be raised, has long thought it important grand prix racing maintained an element of being flat out.

“I am a big fan of making sure F1 remains F1,” he said earlier this year. “We should not lean towards endurance.

“One of the things that has put F1 in danger, or could be another threat to F1, is if we try to combine F1 and endurance. Endurance is about efficiency, sustainability, the capacity to run very long distances without any issues.

"F1 is about a short race, sprint race, usually able to attack constantly.”

Abiteboul said that part of the negativity surrounding F1's turbo hybrid era was that it had portrayed too much the image of being about fuel saving.

“Frankly, even in the V8 era, there was some fuel management, it was part of the tactics, to optimise your lap time, for the duration of the race from the strategy.

“I would remove completely the fuel quantity, and then we would take away all the negativity of the message that we have from this new technology, which is fantastic.

“We have done an amazing job to reduce the fuel consumption by 30-40 per cent, but this fantastic message is destroyed by this fuel limit – which is making people believe actually that it is only about managing fuel.”

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