Another call for removing the fuel limit

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There’s a part of me that’s frustrated with the change in direction that Renault Sport F1 seem to have of late. They, like Mercedes, were very heavy handed in their insistence that Formula 1 become a hybrid series. So much so they threatened to leave the sport if it didn’t.

Today, it seems they are not too keen on the fuel limit the cars are regulated to. Rather, they would like that limit lifted but retaining the fuel flow rate of 100kgs per hour. I try not to be reactionary about these things but there is a part of me that thinks, “you made your bed, now lay in it”.

That’s not a very flattering response from me, I admit, and anyone can make a mistake of over-shoot a goal. I need to be more understanding as these new power units are very efficient…or are they? Every time I read a story about these new power units, the efficiency percentage keeps getting bumped up. Is anyone seriously checking the veracity of these claims? I’ve seen people say it’s now at 55%. Last I checked, it was closer to 35-40%. Three stories later and it’s 55%.

Renault’s managing director, Cyril Abiteboul, said:

“I am a big fan of making sure F1 remains F1. We should not lean towards endurance.

“One of the things that has put F1 in danger, or could be another threat to F1, is if we try to combine F1 and endurance.

“Endurance is about efficiency, sustainability, the capacity to run very long distances without any issues. F1 is about short races, usually being able to attack constantly.

“Frankly, even in the V8 era there was some fuel management. It was part of the tactics, to maximise, to optimise your laptime for the duration of the race from a team strategy perspective.

“It has always been part of F1, without any form of limitation on fuel quantity, so I would remove completely the fuel quantity [regulation].”

In an effort to be more of a team player here, I will go to the wall with Renault’s new direction and while Mercedes may not be keen to see any changes to the fuel limit or flow, I believe that the concept of sustainable racing and F1’s sprint racing format needs to be compared and a new happy medium developed.

WEC makes a lot of sense for this format as the entire program is centered on performance over long distances and fuel is crucial. F1 has a different DNA. Just because drivers have used fuel strategy in the past to run light and get to the end of a race faster than others is not really justification for the current format. That’s when we had refueling or when the cars were much different and so was the racing.



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Esteban Muller

Yes and no. I agree that F1 should be all out, pedal to the metal all race long, but the fuel limits are what help be relevant to the auto industry. The fact that the PU manufacturers have found ways to go longer with less fuel is an incredible advancement that comes from F1, when you add refueling you trow all that away. There are those that will argue that F1 should not be relevant to the auto industry, but we have had many advances BECAUSE F1 invented them(better tires, better engines, ABS, better fuel economy, KERRS…etc). I also dont… Read more »


To me, the only valid reasons to avoid refueling are (a) the extra cost which is not insignificant on teams already struggling, and (b) it adds nothing to the racing at all, in fact it reduces the amount of on-track battles. Road relevance is not what F1 is all about. Its nice when road-relevant technology is developed in F1, but that’s more of a side benefit. F1 has always been “the pinnacle of racing”. Cars that are superbly engineered to fly around tracks at absurd speeds, driven by the world’s best drivers. There’s tons of tech on F1 cars that… Read more »

Paul KieferJr

Really? Can you tell me which civilian car can tool down the highway at 200 MPH? Hint: It’s not my car. Quit clubbin’ the rest of us average joes with that thing. >:-(

charlie white

ABS came from the aviation industry. Several hybrid-electric automobiles like the Toyota Prius had kinetic energy recovery devices before it came into F1.


I’ve gone through catalogs of alleged first-use innovations and it turns out that most aren’t true. In fact I can’t recall a single one that is.


The rear view mirror came from racing (Indianapolis not F1), so the driver could save the weight of the riding mechanic once they were no longer required to pump fuel and oil pressure manually.


True enough. Almost 100 years ago.


IMO, how manufacturers derive “road relevance” from Formula 1 is strictly a private matter. If that’s what they allegedly want from their participation, well all I can say is “Enjoy! Go for it!” (e.g., WEC LMP1, which lost some participants this year). But to levy the entire F1 series with some particular manufacturer’s alleged “road relevance” concept is blasphemous. No other road racing (or oval) series does this. In the last 100 years, every racing series without exception has contributed some form of incremental improvement to road cars, and Formula 1 doesn’t really have any kind of monopoly on automotive… Read more »

Meine Postma

The drivers are getting less road-relevant too being that the that drivers in Formula 1 are getting younger than the minimum driving age…


So Cyril says he is “a big fan of making sure F1 remains F1. We should not lean towards endurance.” Why is it then that most endurance races I’ve watched over the past couple of years have been 6, 12 or 24 hours of hard racing pushing their cars as fast as possible, yet over the same period F1 races are 2 hours of tiptoeing around 5 seconds below qualifying pace in order to conserve fuel and tyres?

Negative Camber

It’s a good point and I would argue that they are conserving but according to Mark Webber (and I trust his word over my hunch any day of the week) is that they are pushing every lap in WEC.

Shane Phillips

The engines currently in use (Merc and Ferrari anyway) are producing equal levels of HP to the 2005 era V10s, consuming half the fuel, at a staggeringly impressive 45% thermal efficiency. It’s cutting edge technology, it’s about as F1 as it gets.

Even in the naturally aspirated era they rarely pushed flat out from lights to flag for the whole of a race distance because of various concerns. Mercedes and Ferrari have super efficient engines that can handle it easily. Time for Renault’s engineers to stop complaining and develop better.

Negative Camber

Do you know where the 45% came from? I don’t doubt you at all as I’ve seen figures similar but I’m wondering who has a definitive measure on that? I’m sure it’s varying by make too.


There is an interview with Andy Cowell (Mercedes Power Train Managing Director) at where he says: These power units really are incredible feats of engineering. We’re now running at more than 47% thermal efficiency and producing historic highs of power – and all with an ICE restricted to consuming fuel at a rate of just 100kg/hr. The old-fashioned, naturally aspirated engines peaked at 29% thermal efficiency during the V8 era – while the last time we saw these levels of power in Formula One was back in 2005, with a V10 that guzzled fuel at a whopping 194kg/hr. To… Read more »

Jack Flash (Australia)

Thanks MIE. Nice reference to reliable REF.

Meine Postma

We of Mercedes recommend Mercedes.

I’m sure it is not fully reliable.

Shane Phillips

Mostly in relevance to the Mercedes engine. The Ferrari one is probably close (though according to Martin Brundle they still can’t use it full power as long as the merc).


I think that a fuel limit is needed if you are going to have hybrid powered cars. Otherwise you probably wouldn’t develop the electric powered side of the equation. However, I never understood the fuel flow limit. Once you limit an engine to a maximum amount of fuel, I didn’t see a need for a flow limit also. Since Mercedes obviously make it work and Ferrari seem to also make power under this formula, I think Renault is looking for a short cut. RedBull/Renault were exceeding the fuel flow limit a few years ago to improve their performance. The FIA… Read more »


The FIA, lead by Jean Todt has taken on a second mission beyond the safety mission, the environment. This comes from wanting to align the FIA with the UN so Todt could get a UN job. The UN represents the thinking of the various socialist governments around the world and if you want to play with the UN you do it their way, green. So this new engine was not a consideration of better racing, its an abomination, it was and is all about the environment. The sad fact is, motor racing with an ICE is kind of the opposite… Read more »

Meine Postma

Your third sentence makes me question anything you say, that cannot be your goal?
Socialists like Roosevelt and Churchill were important in esteblashing the UN.


The UN? Have you seen what they are doing to the deal with Iran, changing the words from must stop developing missiles that can carry nukes to something like should stop, you mean that UN?

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