Following a ban on refueling in 2010, the Federation International Automobile, the sport’s world governing body, have said that discussions are on to reintroduce the practice as soon as the 2017 Formula One season.
The strategy group and board members had reopened discussions in May of last year, and several looked to reintroduce refueling to the sport. At that meeting, the group – which comprises FIA President Todt, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and bosses from legacy teams Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Red Bull and Force India, had also wanted to reintroduce free tyre choices.
Fans and spectators have commented for a while that the sport has become ‘boring’, and lost out on both speed and excitement, allegations that have only gained steam since Formula One moved from V8 to V6 engines, which run on fewer cylinders than their older counterparts but are also more fuel efficient. Fewer cylinders mean significantly less noise, however, and this has irked fans who equate excitement in the sport with noise.
At the May 2015 meeting, both refueling and free tyre compound changes had been mooted despite drivers backing the change.
Following an Autosport international meeting earlier this week, Todt announced that discussions would be tabled in Geneva next week to reintroduce refueling to the F1 calendar. He will also meet with engine manufacturers in the sport to discuss changes that would make the sport faster – among them aerodynamics, car weight and tyre changes.
At the press meet, Todt said refueling had been banned due to the cost of the oil rig, although at the time of the ban, several had said it had been largely due to safety concerns, especially considering then-Ferrari driver Felipe Massa had, at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, driven out of the pit with the fuel hose still attached to his car.
The following year, at the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix, McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen did the same thing – with disastrous results. Driving out of the pits after the lollypop was lifted early, Kovalainen sprayed fuel into the car and face of fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen, who was driving for Ferrari, with the 2007 World Champion blinded and in flames. Despite this, Raikkonen would go on to finish the race in 6th and netted points for Ferrari, although the incident is said to be a key factor in keeping refueling out of the sport.
Asked about the costs, Todt said “we know how it works now,” implying that it would not raise costs should it be reintroduced, taking off from his earlier statement on it being banned due to its high costs.