Focus on fuel

What makes up Formula One fuel? Rogerio Goncalves, Technical Coordinator of Petrobras, official partner of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team, explains. Q: What are the most relevant differences between the fuel used in F1 cars and that used in everyday ...

What makes up Formula One fuel? Rogerio Goncalves, Technical Coordinator of Petrobras, official partner of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team, explains.

Q: What are the most relevant differences between the fuel used in F1 cars and that used in everyday cars?

Rogerio Goncalves: In fact, the regulation for F1 fuel is similar to commercial fuel standards. The F1 technical regulations demand that a fuel with the same characteristics as commercial fuel be used in Europe from 2005 onwards. The only difference is the amount of sulphur allowed which is 50 mg/kg for road cars and 10mg/kg in F1 this year. The biggest challenge is to develop the fuel within the tight regulations, trying to gain as much power as possible, while reducing fuel consumption and helping the engine to last for 800km, as per the new one engine per GP rule.

Q: Is it possible to use F1 gasoline in a normal engine, would it gain more power, would there be less fuel consumption?

RG: It is completely possible, but also not possible. You can use a normal pump fuel in a F1 car. The big difference will be the F1 engine power. F1 fuel is developed, with components, with very high flame speed in order for it to burn in the engine at up to 19000 rpm (150 combustions per second!). In a normal road car this is not necessary, therefore the engine would not benefit.

Q: Is it possible for an F1 engine to run on 'standard' fuel, and if so, how much power would the V10 lose?

RG: We have never tested a normal pump fuel in an F1 engine for durability, but in terms of power it would be more than 45BHP.

Q: Are there difference between the fuel used at different tracks and in different weather conditions? For example is the sand and mist of the Bahrain GP a problem?

RG: Not the sand in Bahrain, but depending on the characteristics of the track, the ambient temperature and humidity, yes. A different fuel can be developed for those characteristics but to change fuels race to race means a big risk of contamination. Even if you have two approved fuels a mixture could result in a 'third' fuel not homologated by the FIA.

Q: Is there a technical evolution of gasoline during the season?

RG: The fuel is always under development. As soon as a new formula is discovered it is produced in big batches for use in GP's, the development group begins working on a new fuel, with new raw materials, a new refining process and new blendings. As soon as we have a new fuel approved by BMW it goes straight off for races.

Q: How many litres of gasoline do you use during a whole season, Grands Prix and testing?

RG: For each GP we send 2,000 litres of fuel, and an average of 600 litres per day during track tests. With the monthly deliveries to BMW for engine development, we have an annual use of approximately 200,000 litres.

-williams-

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Series Formula 1
Teams Williams