F1 refuelling decision imminent

Formula 1 teams are expected to decide this weekend on whether to pursue the idea of reviving refuelling for 2017, amid growing scepticism about its impact on the quality of racing.

F1 refuelling decision imminent
Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing, practice refueling
Refuel equipment
Adrian Sutil, Force India F1 Team, refueling
Scuderia Ferrari, refuelling
Pat Symonds, Williams Chief Technical Officer in the FIA Press Conference
Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India F1 Team, VJM-01, refuelling
Paddy Lowe, Mercedes AMG F1 Executive Director, in the FIA Press Conference
Renault mechanics practice refueling the car of Fernando Alonso
Scuderia Toro Rosso prepare to refuel
Refuel at Honda Racing F1 Team

The F1 Strategy Group caused a stir last month when, as part of a push to improve the spectacle, it proposed that refuelling be brought back.

However, following initial talks about the idea in Monaco and detailed evaluation since then on the positives and negatives of a refuelling return, team technical representatives are due to meet again in Montreal to discuss the matter.

With proper data on the benefits and consequences of a return having been collated, they should be well placed to make a call on whether it is in F1's best interest for refuelling to be seriously considered.

Return must be justified

Motorsport.com understands that team chiefs have made it clear that, amid concerns refuelling could have a negative impact on racing – as it did during the last era it was used – there must be clear evidence that it will be a positive if the rule is going to be pushed further.

One suggestion is to find a way to ensure that refuelling does not take much longer than the current two to three seconds it takes for tyre changes – so adding fuel does not become the limiting factor in stops.

Team bosses also want clear evidence that the weight saving that comes about from refuelling will make a big impact on speeds – both in terms of running a lighter car, but also in drivers being able to push the tyres harder.

If data shows that the impact will be minimal, then there will be little reason to push for it.

Support lacking

The potential return of refuelling has not been popular with fans, and there also does not appear to be much support for the idea in the pit lane.

Williams chief technical officer Pat Symonds has made it clear that the reasons for getting rid of it last time – for safety, costs and spectacle – have not changed.

“Personally I am against refuelling because when we got rid of it, it was done on very solid grounds,” he told Motorsport.com.

“I was not a huge fan of it because we all got clever with it. We were all doing the same things and all the overtaking was happening in the pits. You would do the last pit stop and then drive around until the end.”

Mercedes chief Paddy Lowe added that analysis of overtaking data, and a closer look at how racing has evolved, shows that things improved when refuelling was outlawed.

“Getting rid of refuelling had an effect on [improving] the amount of overtaking and introduced more strategies,” he said.

Strategy Group will have final say

Although those present at this weekend's meeting may decide that refuelling should be abandoned, the final decision will still come down to team bosses.

The Strategy Group will get a full report on the feedback on refuelling, plus a more detailed analysis of further changes aimed at making cars faster, before it makes a call on what aspects should be put forward to the F1 Commission.

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