F1 teams reject mid-race refueling plan
For those who may not have been following the saga, refueling in F1 was banned back in 2010 after a number of incidents raised concerns over the safety of pumping fuel at high rates under pressure. The ban has meant that every car needs to start the race with as much fuel as it will need to finish. But last month, the controversial Formula One Strategy Group put forward a proposal to bring refueling into the sport, among other ideas for improving the spectacle.
The idea was that it would make the cars lighter, and therefore faster – at least at the start of the race, when they wouldn't need to carry as much fuel. However, during this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, the heads of the individual teams told the FIA race director Charlie Whiting that they all hated the idea, which would only drive up cost and decrease safety without actually benefiting the sport. Apparently the plan called for each team to buy expensive new refueling rigs that would pump the fuel at higher rates and pressure than those used previously.
The conflict would ostensibly only serve to highlight the irrelevance with which critics have been characterizing the Strategy Group. The controversial committee is made up of representatives of the FIA, the sport's commercial rights holder, and six teams: Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren, Williams, and one rotating member – currently Force India (having performed better than all the rest last season). Voting is split three ways, with the FIA and Formula One Management each getting six votes and each of the six teams getting one vote (while the rest of the teams are left out).
Though we don't know how each member of the Strategy Group voted, the proposal was reportedly put forth by rights owner CVC's Donald Mackenzie and FCA/Ferrari chief Sergio Marchionne – neither of whom have much experience running a racing team directly (unlike Ferrari's past chairmen who came up through the racing department). Without the support of the teams, it looks like the refueling proposal will die where it stands. But the teams' response will first need to be reported by Whiting back to the Strategy Group before the ultimate arbiter – the FIA's World Motor Sport Council – makes its final decision.
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