Twisting the already complex road to overhauling Formula 1 in 2017, Grands Prix could feature refuelling again, with the seemingly rejected plan to be discussed further next week.
A return to refuelling was proposed back in May, during the time Formula 1’s Strategy Group announced plans to revamp the sport, in order to “improve the show”.
Some drivers jumped on board the decision to bring back refuelling for the good of the sport, nostalgia possibly playing a small role in their support. Although the following month, a unanimous vote by the teams saw the idea crushed and it was pushed to the side.
Now, to prove to any people that doubt the FIA has lost control of Formula 1, FIA president Jean Todt confirmed that refuelling is back on the agenda, with the topic set to be discussed during a two-day meeting in Geneva next week.
It’s a curious plan to re-introduce, as not one team was in favour of the idea to bring back in-race refuelling due to the added costs to teams’ budgets for almost no benefit to the show.
“Yes, it is true,” Todt said when asked about refuelling’s potential return in 2017.
“If you have some doubt about something, and personally and honestly I have a doubt, talking with the working group meeting we readdress is it right not to have refuelling?
“You know the reason why it was banned, refuelling? It was the cost of carrying the fuel rig. Now we are in a kind of modern area where we know how it works.”
“We are talking about 50,000 euros a year.”
“If it is good for the show, I’m in favour of reducing the cost but that is not a key point on the global cost of Formula 1,” he said.
This seems like a major backflip from the reasoning the World Motorsport Council provided after refuelling was banned for the 2010 season:
“It was confirmed that from 2010, refuelling during a race will be forbidden in order to save the costs of transporting refuelling equipment and increase the incentive for engine builders to improve fuel economy.”
So why does the FIA feel the need to revert to inane ideas such as refuelling?
Recent reports emerging over the winter break has cast doubt over the 2017 regulations and their promise of a five to six second per lap quicker car.
Pirelli voiced their concerns earlier in the year suggesting that if Formula 1 racing wanted to drastically improve lap times primarily from aerodynamic advancements, much higher restrictions on tyre pressures would have to be enforced to deal with the increased loads.
However, Pirelli’s motorsport boss Paul Hembery also mentioned that the tyre pressure restrictions only relate to the tyres in their current specification, and that Pirelli are capable of delivering a tyre that would handle the increased downforce but wouldn’t meet the two to three pit stop requirement.
Perhaps the ambiguity of the success for the 2017 regulations is casting doubt in the minds of the FIA, who once again seem to be fumbling over themselves to fix a problem that never existed.