Super Formula “didn’t consider” restoring refuelling in 2022

Super Formula says it did not seriously contemplate the idea of restoring refuelling for the 2022 season, despite some calls in the paddock for it to be restored.

Super Formula “didn’t consider” restoring refuelling in 2022
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Refuelling had been an integral part of Japan’s premier single-seater series up until the 2020 season, when it was banned amid the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Races were subsequently shortened from around 250km to approximately 180km to allow drivers to be able to finish on one tank of fuel without excessive fuel saving – also permitting events to be held over two days rather than three.

However, despite the health crisis abating in recent months, Super Formula is sticking to its short race format this year, instead increasing the number of races.

That’s despite another change introduced in 2020 in response to COVID-19, the dropped scores rule, being scrapped for the 2022 campaign.

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Yoshihisa Ueno, president of championship promoter JRP, said the series had taken the decision to keep refuelling banned on environmental and competition grounds.

Asked by about the prospect of bringing back refuelling for 2022, Ueno replied: “We didn’t consider it.

“One of the reasons is the environment. I think we’re no longer in an era where we can use as much fuel as we like; increasing the amount of fuel we consume is not in line with current trends. The direction is to control fuel consumption further.

“Also, we believe that starting with a full tank and obliging drivers to change tyres is the best format for drivers to demonstrate their speed.”


While the current ban on refuelling has drawn a mixed response from the Super Formula paddock, the increase in the number of races on the calendar in 2022 from seven to 10 has generally been well received.

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With three of the seven race weekends being made into double-headers, Ueno suggested that the championship may emulate Formula 2 in the future by holding two races at every event.

“[The chance of that happening] is not zero,” he said. “We want to increase the number of races. At any rate, increasing the total race mileage is important.”

Author's view: Refuelling may now never return

Ueno giving such short shrift to the idea of bringing back refuelling makes it appear unlikely the practice will ever be revived.

After all, not only has the initial justification of the pandemic ceased to be a real concern (hence all scores counting towards the championship again from this year), but the move towards more double-header race weekends means shorter races are more desirable from a scheduling viewpoint.

Indeed, the easiest way to increase the number of races from 2023 onwards is to bite the bullet and make every race a double header, and fully embrace the 'sprint' format that drivers and fans have had to get used to since 2020.

This would bring the series more into line with Formula 2, but there remains one key difference: the tyres.


Super Formula's Yokohamas have no trouble covering 180km without degrading much, so if the championship is committed to short sprints over the grand prix-style events of yore, the emphasis now must shift towards providing a higher-degradation tyre more suited to the spectacle.

Yokohama just signed a fresh deal with Super Formula to continue supplying tyres in 2023 and beyond, but as it focuses on reducing the environmental footprint of its rubber by using more recycled and biodegradable materials, is it capable of killing two birds with one stone?

Let's hope it is, otherwise the less-than-stellar races of the past two seasons could become the norm.


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