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Shortening races would improve the racing suggests Steiner

NEWS STORY
31/10/2018

Even the most cursory glance at the fastest laps posted during Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix reveal how much the race was compromised by tyre management. Whereas drivers usually post their fastest laps in the latter stages of the race when lighter on fuel, some were posting their best times much earlier, Kimi Raikkonen, for example, as early as lap 19.

The issues for Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen in Austin, however, brought fuel management back into the headlines, with both drivers being disqualified despite having finished 8th (Ocon) and 9th on the road.

The Frenchman was disqualified for exceeding the fuel mass flow on the opening lap of the race, while the Dane was disqualified for consuming more than permitted 105kg of fuel during the race.

Rules are rules, of course, but as the sport seeks to win over new fans, how do you explain the fact that two drivers have been disqualified for breaking a rule which outwardly has no consequences, indeed, how do you explain that a driver is disqualified after the race for an offence that occurred on the first lap?

Magnussen has since compared the fuel management rules as forcing him to drive like a "grandma", his team banking on the Dane being lapped in Austin by race-leader Kimi Raikkonen and therefore only needing to complete 55 of the scheduled 56 laps. However, he wasn't and as a result the Haas driver exceeded the 105kg fuel limit by a mere 170g.

Haas team boss, Guenther Steiner, has a unique solution.

"I'm not trying to find an excuse for what we did," said the Italian. "We fought hard and we deal with the consequences, we are fully OK with that - but I think if we would shorten the race, for example, leave the regulations where they are so we don't have to spend money to design new fuel cells or whatever, just reduce the race three laps, you would have wide open racing the whole race - and I think there you would have more overtaking than by lift-and-coast."

"It is a regulation and it's been with us for quite some time," said Otmar Szafnauer, whose driver was also disqualified. "It's recently changed - or it will change for next year. I think the total fuel that we get will increase again.

"But even if you don't have those fuel limits, we will always be making trade-offs between how much fuel we put in the car, such that we get to the end in the shortest amount of time," he admitted. "Even in the past, where you don't have a fuel limit. You don't quite fuel it... you fuel it to the point where your total race time is lowest and that sometimes means fuel saving.

"And, to the contrary, if we're fuel-saving, at a different time to when somebody else is, it could help overtaking. You know, I think Haas maybe didn't do the fuel saving when they were trying to attack us but if there is a time in the race, and it often happens, somebody's fuel saving when we aren't, that's a good time to attack. So, you see, it can help with overtaking. Just the opposite."

"If anybody listens in to radio at the moment, to the drivers, 80 per cent is about lift-and-coast," said Steiner. "And again, if somebody then decides to put less fuel in, as Otmar says, it could be part of the strategy, he can decide that - but it's on his own behalf. If we would fuel to go the whole race, that you can race as the race car is built to do.

"A race car, in my opinion, is built to race a full race, and not to save fuel," he continued. "That's my opinion about racing. And it could be easily achieved. I think nobody would miss if we make the races three laps shorter, where we make a procession anyway because we have to fuel-save.

"Again, that's my opinion on it. I just want to make it clear to everybody I'm not trying to make an excuse for what happened to us. We made a mistake and we got the points taken away and we live with that one."

"There is a regulation you are in infringement you need to have a penalty," insists Sauber's Fred Vasseur. "If we are allowed to use a bit more and then the next week a bit more and then the next week a bit more, at one stage you need to get penalised.

"It was a common decision to have a race based on efficiency," he added. "Now, if it's another matter, you want to race without any limitation of fuel, why not? But it's another way that we have to take."

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1. Posted by mickl, 03/11/2018 14:30

"How about as soon as a car with a Ferrari engine in it gets to the front the race ends. I'm sure that's what the 'engaged' fans want.

It's called a Grand Prix...not a sprint race. Is it oxymoronic or simply moronic.

Indeed to the morons who moan about having to conserve this and that........isn't that the whole point. To manage the resources as best they can in order to win. It's absolutely the same point with anything that has a competitive aspect because if everything was unlimited it will all boil down to who can spend the most."

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2. Posted by nmw01223, 02/11/2018 6:38

"Set a fuel amount they must start the race with, then the incentive is to use it, not minimise it. Remove all radio traffic from pits to car when moving apart from a limited set of safety messages (maybe), all management will then be up to the driver alone (which will require simpler systems). Have a fuel flow restrictor, not meter, so post race 'your peak flow was to high' cannot occur. Finally, have narrow curbs with AstroTurf outside (like some Suzuka corners), so drivers automatically lose time by going too far over curbs."

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3. Posted by @R1Racing71, 01/11/2018 9:17

"I’m with Martin Brundle on this one. Any rule change that minimises cars on track, is a bad idea."

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4. Posted by Insane Reindeer, 01/11/2018 5:15

"On this one Steiner is wrong. They have to ditch the fuel flow thing. And they have to make the races longer. Keep the tyres the same though. And give each car more fuel. Like 20 or 25 kg more. And force each car to start with a completely full fuel system. Then force them to use all but 2 to 2.5 kg of it. 👍"

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5. Posted by TokyoAussie, 01/11/2018 3:11

"By all means, adjust the fuel related rules as necessary. I, for one, am firmly opposed to the fuel flow regulation. Maximum fuel load I can live with, increase it if needed.

But the idea that "Shortening races would improve the racing" is bonkers. Shortening the races would kill the series. Period."

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6. Posted by Oldbuzzard, 31/10/2018 16:22

"Too many rules to limit the actual racing. Fuel management, tire management, DRS management, electrical boost management, team partners slowing to a block a competitor management, aerodynamics run amuck, curb management, all this and the team with most money still wins it all. And, still no money management. How do you manage the money? Simple, eliminate all the above managements. Simple engine rules with price cap allowing multiple suppliers. Two choices of dry tires, soft and hard. One wet tire. Really, really simple aero rules. Sorry, Adrian, but NASA will always have a place for you. Now fake devices: no drs, no battery boost power supply. In other words, eliminate the opportunities to spend money. Driver salaries included."

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7. Posted by nonickname, 31/10/2018 13:23

"Limit the race to the length of the tyres used in the first stint. That would leave plenty of time to watch something really exciting like paint drying.
"

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8. Posted by PlayF1, 31/10/2018 13:15

"I agree with the sentiment expressed by Frank.
The general level of accuracy enables gambling with fuel against safety cars etc.
It's not just about the total fuel capacity available.

Either way, they have accepted the concept of allowing greater fuel consumption (for next year I believe).
Let's hope that they achieve the right balance."

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9. Posted by koko, 31/10/2018 12:27

"Managing tires, gas, grid-girls was always a part of f1-driver duties. In fact, it was even worst: they had to shift gears with a stick (!!! -- and 3 pedals!) which was not always going to the right slot, it was hard to drive. Just look at the decreasing age of new drivers ... So deal with it. :-)

But I really don't think this will solve the racing in F1. In the last 15 years there was a constant: the richest team always win (and not only win, but dominate). Take their money away, and you'll end up with a Red-Bull whining on the sides about others not being fair.

Make the cars even. I rot for the driver, not for the genius engineer who "saw" mass-dumpers, double-diffuser or the weird curb of the front-wings on high speed. Ross Brown/Adrian Newey - my hats off to them, but I have never bought a t-shirt with their faces ... "

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10. Posted by Frank H, 31/10/2018 11:50

"Managing tires, fuel, temperatures, strategy, etc. has and always will be a part of racing. It was something to think about in the 60s, and it is today, and will be 40 years from now.

The only difference is that these days you can monitor and simulate more things fairly accurate, thus be closer the limit (with smaller margins), and more people are aware of it.

If a driver checked the oil temperature in the 60s and saw it was a bit high, and slowed down just a tad not to blow the engine, how many do you think around the track knew about that? These days everyone knows if a driver lift and coast at the end of a long straight. "

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11. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 31/10/2018 11:28

"Saving fuel, preserving tyres and we still call it racing?"

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