Why Is Refueling Not Allowed In Formula 1?
Unlike in other autosport racing leagues such as NASCAR, Formula 1 teams are prohibited from refueling their cars during a race. Refueling used to be allowed in the sport until the regulations were changed in 2010, and the practice was formally banned. There are a few reasons the FIA (the governing body of Formula 1) decided to change this rule. Most importantly, banning refueling was a safety measure meant to protect drivers and pit crew members. However, the revised regulations were also a measure to cut costs and improve sustainability within the sport. Read on to learn about refueling in F1 racing and why it was banned.
Refueling in the middle of a Formula 1 race is a very complicated process that requires enormous precision, and that’s also what makes it so dangerous. Every pit stop adds seconds to a driver’s race time, so it’s of the utmost importance that pit stops are as quick as possible. Every added millisecond second could be the difference between a first-place finish or ending up much lower in the standings. As such, Formula 1 teams worked to make refueling as fast as possible, and they decided on a pressurized hose that could put fuel in the car extremely quickly. If not performed with absolute precision, fuel could spill and have disastrous consequences.
The most famous example of fuel spillage was in 1994 when a refueling accident led to a spray of fuel all over Jos Verstappen and his car. The fuel ignited due to the high temperatures of the car, and a flash of fire erupted over the entire car and the pit crew. It was quickly extinguished, but Verstappen suffered burns on his face as a result of the intense heat. The fire revealed just how dangerous refueling was in Formula 1. The practice compromised the safety of the drivers and crews and is a major part of why the sport banned refueling in 2010.
Formula 1 is an incredibly expensive sport, and refueling would make it cost even more. Teams spend millions of dollars to develop and produce their car, repair it when things go wrong, and pay their army of staff every season. Formula 1 teams seek out every opportunity to reduce their costs, so it was beneficial for every team when refueling was banned in 2010, as it was a very expensive practice. Fuel itself is expensive, but it’s also not cheap to transport fuel all over the world, as Formula 1 teams are required to do over the course of the year. With less money spent on fuel over the course of the year, teams can use those funds to further push the limits of their car’s performance.
In recent years, Formula 1 has taken a much greater interest in improving the sustainability of its sport. F1 even aims to achieve net zero in terms of emissions by 2030. That means the sport wants teams to use as little fuel as possible, and this could be part of why the regulation was changed back in 2010. It also means that we will likely never see a return of refueling to Formula 1. With teams not having to transport as much fuel all over the globe during the course of the season, they’re also able to cut down significantly on their travel emissions, which is something that Formula 1 reportedly takes very seriously.