There’s little doubt that burning oil in the cylinder has become an advantage for the formula 1 teams with regards to their internal combustion engines (ICE) and so much so that the FIA clamped down on the amount of oil a car could burn per 100km.
Previously that rate was 1.2 liters per 100km but after the Belgian Grand Prix, that rate was reduced to 0.91 liters per 100km. As such, Mercedes caught the paddock off guard when they brought their new engine for the race in Belgium and many suspected they were getting their final engine revision in under the wire knowing these regulations were set to change. This means they would be able to continue the season burning oil at a higher rate. Toto Wolff disagrees…of course:
“It was completely blown out of all proportion,” said Wolff.
“The reason we introduced it early was in order to bring some performance to the track, with the risk of having to do many [more] races until the end of the season than our direct competitors.
“Also you lack time for further development. The longer you wait for the last introduction of engine the more you can probably add the upgrade.
“These are the reasons we brought it and not in order to extract a performance advantage out of the capability of burning more oil.
“So if you ask the FIA, you will be quite interested to see what the results are.”
Let’s be honest, even if none of this is true, I think it was a good tactical move on the team’s part in order to take advantage of the regulation change. Some news reports I’ve read suggest that Ferrari were caught off guard by the new engine deployment by Mercedes as they were not expecting that and even more reason to applaud the move in my book—that is, if it works to their strategic advantage for the balance of the season.
For Ferrari’s part, they aren’t interested in speaking about it—which seems to be the norm these days out of the Ferrari garage:
“First of all we have no conflict, and I don’t want to comment on this type of thing.
“Mercedes has introduced early one engine, which also has disadvantages during the course of the season as it has no developments left.” Said Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene.
The point here is that it could be a limitation for the balance of the season per Maurizio. This speaks to my comment above about the plan working for the balance of the season. Whatever the gain is by burning more oil could be overcome through more engine development from Ferrari later in the season or at least that’s the concept here.
In the end, it’s a loophole that I suspect will be clamped down on harshly for next season but right now, it’s an exploit that the teams are using to get more shove from their ICE…you know, that old, outdated piece of earth-killing tech in the back of the car that seems to be the biggest innovation development part of the equation of late. Yeah, that thing.
Hat Tip: Autosport