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Wolff: If it's too expensive, we won't do it.


Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits that the return of refuelling could be abandoned if it is thought it will drive up costs.

Speaking in the wake of the revelation that, in an attempt to spice up the sport, F1's Strategy Group has recommended the return of refuelling in 2017, Wolff admitted that the move is not (sorry, Mr Miliband) set in stone.

"We discussed many topics," he told BBC Sport. "Refuelling was banned because of cost and because the pit stops were taking too long. But we want to re-explore it and see if we can make pit stops for fuel and tyres happen in the same time it takes to change the tyres now... two to three seconds.

"We have agreed to explore this avenue and the cost involved because it could be spectacular. If it's too expensive, we won't do it."

As FIA president, Max Mosley was all in favour of fuel stops claiming that the subsequent strategy would add to the race.

At the time, Pitpass editor Chris Balfe suggested that whilst all fans had their favourite moment from the sport, their own iconic memory, most would relate to great passes and moves as opposed to pit stops. Indeed, it was suggested that the only memorable fuel stops were those that went horribly wrong.

As Mr Wolff admits, refuelling was banned because of costs and safety, and therefore one has to wonder how the Strategy Group could arrive at the conclusion would improve the show when it didn't before.

Indeed, only last week, following a couple of incidents in the Barcelona pitlane, it was claimed that perhaps, in the quest to get the cars back on track as quickly as possible, safety is already being compromised. Do we really believe adding refuelling to the mix is going to help the situation.

Of course, if refuelling is allowed, in many ways the move is negated by the fact that teams would still need to keep to the maximum fuel-flow rate 100kg per hour, rather than allowing a 'free for all' which would see some drivers err on the side of caution early in the race to conserve fuel for later, and others do the complete opposite. Then again, the very use of the word ‘conserve' sends an icy shudder down the spines of most fans.

For as long as anyone can remember, fans - those people that attend the races, watch on TVs, buy the not fit for purpose app and thereby attract the sponsors - have been complaining that the sport is too reliant on aero grip as opposed to mechanical. Therefore, the news that we could see aero restrictions and the return of wider tyres is to be welcomed. However…

"We have agreed to increase the width of the cars and tyres," says, Wolff, "and have larger front and rear wings. We want to ban the driver-aid aspect of starts, so no pre-calibrated starts and have the drivers start using hand clutches.

"For now, it will be an evolution of the current cars. But there is an appetite for more spectacular aero kit. We want to follow this up but at the moment we will go for evolution and that gives us six months to agree on a more spectacular design."

Other than the admission that the powers-that-be are looking at "larger front and rear wings", there is concern at the revelation that the teams are working together on "a more spectacular design".

Sadly, it is this uniformity, this wanton restriction of the talent that created some of the most iconic cars ever to grace the track, that is also damaging the sport.

As for the issue of customer cars…


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1. Posted by Dam Buster, 18/05/2015 17:20

"Interesting comment about the not-fit-for-purpose-app.

Doesn't matter if I use it on my ipad or Android phone, at least every five minutes Daniel Ricciardo magically starts leading the race.

It takes a few minutes of nothing, me turning off wifi at the wall etc - before it kicks back in, and Lewis is leading again.

It's a hunk of junk - has anyone tried to get their money back from itunes or Play store on the basis that it's a turd?"

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2. Posted by Spindoctor, 18/05/2015 13:00

I couldn't agree more. Refuelling is pointless & unnecessary.

For my money the whole "controversy" surrounding the new Power Units perfectly encapsulates the blinkered attitude people like Bernie. Instead of welcoming the challenge they've provided, and the requirement for innovation and originality, they criticise their "noise" & cost : the lack of the former, and excess of the latter.

Yes these things are expensive, but the likes of Renault, Honda & Daimler\Mercedes & possibly VAG are prepared to bear the cost. It's precisely BECAUSE of the advanced technology that they're there, flogging their motors to non-factory teams is a side-show.
If FIA brought in a rule insisting that MB\Renault & Honda could only charge a fixed amount per season to supply motors to their customers they'd still be there.

There's no great "trickle-down", but its not about specifics, its about technological leadership. MB are currently top of the pile and there's an increasing halo effect; as Road Cars depend ever more on advanced technology. Hybrids, and the complex & sophisticated programming of the various systems which comprise the new PUs reinforce the notion that MB is a hip, modern forward-thinking company....

And finally....
Where aerodynamics is concerned on racing cars, "more" is invariably less interesting racing."

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3. Posted by karel, 18/05/2015 5:23

"F1 Clearly lost it's way and clearly losing fans so at the end it will lose the money to"

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4. Posted by GrahamG, 17/05/2015 15:05

"Why not have a formula where the drivers start the race and continue to the end, only stopping for a puncture or damage or something forced. That would reduce costs (far less people and people are expensive) far less tyres (free choice of say three compounds for the season). Why do people think that pit stops make the race more interesting - all they do is make it more difficult to follow and deter new spectators because they don't know who really is fastest."

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5. Posted by Jigsaw, 17/05/2015 14:39

"I will admit that refueling in the pits is dangerous. If they are considering it I would suggest the 10 gal quick fill self contained hand held that they use in refueling motorcycles and desert racing vehicles. They are a lot safer than dragging hoses in the pits and safer to store. A well trained pit crew will have more success. I do believe limited fuel takes away from racing. So lets reduce laps. The racing is getting more predictable and boring and having one team have all the advantages is not going to keep people interested in watching it. I think they should see what racing venues spectators are really watching. Viewers buy products and if the race is not being watched companies will sponsor something else. Most racers race because they love racing, but it is the spectators money that make it possible. Make it safe and competitive and bring back the fan base. Otherwise F1 might disappear, and I for one would hate that!!"

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6. Posted by scf1fan, 17/05/2015 4:04

"I'll reiterate a comment I've made in another posts . . . The only thing that could possibly be "spectacular" about in-race refueling will be the FIRES in the crowded pit lane! Have these people lost their minds? I'm very disappoint that Wolff, with Lauda at his side, would even consider this. (Yes, I know Lauda's accident wasn't a pit fire, but a fuel fire any where should be greatly feared. At least the pit crew will have a better chance to get the away from any conflagration in the pits compared to the drivers.)

We know that pit stops don't always go to plan (loose wheels, overshoots, etc.) which makes things dangerous enough; but those types of failures can be pretty much contained . . . Fires and dragged hoses need significant additional safety features (shut off valves, break-away collars, insulation, suppressant systems and the like) to work flawlessly to keep a bad situation from becoming disasters!

And how much action will they really add? An additional few seconds of frantic (not the best way to be thinking when dealing with flammable liquids!) activity to one (or more(?)) pit stops per car? A few seconds off the lap times for everyone due to decreased weight? If they want more "show" in the pit stop, have fewer people work on the car! (That might actually save the teams some money too; fewer people that would have to travel.)

And more "aero" . . . ? I'm sort of ok with it particularly if it's done within the confines of the car, but all that "stuff" hanging off the car just cost more money to design, make and "tweak" . . . It also makes for more debris when they hit each other going around the track. (I do drive a "slick" 4 wheeled hybrid . . . but I don't drive an inverted carbon fiber Fokker tri-plane . . . ) Why does it sound like they want the cars to look more like a "bat mobile?""

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7. Posted by SideGlance, 17/05/2015 3:33

"I think this is rather silly and potentially very dangerous, change the wing size and complexity, change the tire size, change the # of gears, change the ....... Lots of thing could move the race from tech to driver, DO IT FIA, you silly self-interested TWITS !!!"

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8. Posted by testa rossa, 16/05/2015 15:43

"Didn't Bernie say a year ago or so , I don't care about the hardcore fans, because they look anyway, I do care about the old rich people"

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9. Posted by nonickname, 16/05/2015 15:24

"I wold like to see the team principals all put in a drum and refueled.
Sorry delete me.I am sick and tired of the morons who run F1"

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10. Posted by Damo57, 16/05/2015 14:44

"Hi Chris, I assume that the picture that goes with your article on what Toto thinks of the Thursday meeting rule changes, also shows the other Team Principals with him? Looks like all they need is a bucket of sand each?"

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11. Posted by Ro, 16/05/2015 13:46

"Im sorry, but F1 has lost the plot. Its now more exciting to watch hermit crab racing.....cheaper, but I guess being on a hot sunny beach with a glass of cold bear sways my mind. Bernie, listen to the customers, not your suppliers. To have the teams agree on rule changes is a joke. Nothing will ever be agreed."

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12. Posted by vermin, 16/05/2015 12:08

"I cannot believe how F1 has become rule distorted!

Can a driver actually start the car without a team of engineers?

The technology used today may be relevant to the manufacturers of hybrid road cars, but the distance traveled with track cars away from sheer practicality defies any form of logic.

Refueling is dangerous, expensive and a futile attempt to make a silk purse from this sow's ear!

Selling chassis to smaller teams will simply take out the present financial stragglers.

What more does the "strategy group" intend doing to kill F1?"

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13. Posted by ape, 16/05/2015 9:48

""Races less predictable ?

Then stop all wireless communications with car and driver.
Only again through the old pit boards

Let the driver decide what to do ,he must be the captain of his own car.

about tires about engine settings .fuell saving, brake balance and all the other buttons , no help from the team ,
big problem or don't trust the car ? stop at the pits for a look.

Like Mansel did during that fight with Senna in Monaco

Cheap change and more unpredictable races.

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