Two old F1 hands came up with their ideas to improve the F1 spectacle. Following the series of flash fires during the Hungarian GP David Coulthard believes refuelling ban is the way to go for F1. Not only the risk of fire during the pit stops would be largely eliminated but the refuelling ban in his opinion should also improve the racing (in his ITV column):
“From my point of view a bigger drawback of refuelling is that it detracts from the racing by turning the grand prix into a series of low-fuel sprints between pit stops. In the days (pre-1994) when you carried your entire race fuel load on board the car, there was a much bigger role for the driver in managing the tyres and brakes. These days, in dry conditions, you very rarely see anyone win from further back than the second row of the grid, because race pace largely mirrors qualifying pace – which is not surprising when the conditions are so similar.”
The opinions on refuelling are split among fans. According to some it spices up the races, view of some others is not too different from Coulthard’s. So would the ban make racing more exciting or more dull ?
It would remove one variable – the fuel level. The pit stops strategies would then revolve around the tyres only. The tyre changes (bar some mishaps) would take all the teams about the same time so gaining an advantage in the pitlane would be more difficult. Drivers would have to try to gain positions on the track, not in pitlane. But then, would the drivers want to be too adventureous knowing that being hard on the breaks and tyres in those heavy cars may haunt them later on in the race ?
What would however return to F1 with the refuelling ban almost for sure would be the chances of some drivers running out of fuel and with “race fuel qualifying” no longer making any sense we would again see the fastest (not the lightest) guys claiming pole positions.
I have been rather neutral on the refuelling issue, but I slowly start to lean towards the ban …
I can’t however say that I agree with Mike Gascoyne’s ideas to ban the testing during the season and to extend the required life of the engines to more than 2 race weekends (to Autosport):
“I think we need regulations like reducing testing, we shouldn’t be testing during the season, plus longer-life engines. That will reduce costs, and I don’t think anyone can argue that shouldn’t be the way we go.”
OK, while the engine “freeze” is still on it probably would not make that much difference if the engines have to last for 3 or 4 races. But once the development is open again, the teams that find themselves down on power would either stay behind for 3 or 4 races, before a new engine can be fitted or suffer a penalty for premature change. And I do not like the engine freeze and 2 race engine regulations anyway … The engines are too reliable now, I miss the blow ups. I also hate when drivers turn down the revs and settle for the position to preserve the engine for the next race …
The testing ban would have the same effect but potentially lasting for the entire season. If a team starts the season on wrong foot, with no testing their chances to catch up or rectify their errors would be rather limited. I am not a fan of those 3 day test events but I am not sure if eliminating the testing during the season is the way to go.
Photos: Red Bull/GEPA, Force India F1