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FOTA consider banning refueling

February 5th, 2009

Nick Heidfeld makes a pit stopIn a meeting on Tuesday, the Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA) continued discussions on how to reduce costs in F1. One of the ideas proposed was the scrapping of refueling.

the FIA wants the cost of competing in Formula One to fall to less than €100m for manufacturer backed teams and €50m for the independent teams.  Last year Toyota spent over €300m on their F1 team.

FOTA have already agreed that manufacturers will supply cheap engines to independent teams in 2010 but in a white paper seen by the Financial Times the FIA want to define a limited number of areas where teams can compete in development.  Areas such as engine, gearbox and suspension would be designated as “non-compete”.  In the article , Ron Dennis sounds a warning about increasing standardisation:

F1 should not be a prescriptive formula where engines and a large group of components should be standard. That places total emphasis on the driver, and if you went down that route the drivers would be the [important] ingredient and that is where the money would be spent.

I couldn’t agree more.  It might sound appealing at first to have nearly identical cars with the only variable being the driver but this isn’t what Formula One is about.  Yes, costs should be reduced where possible to allow independent teams to take part, but if F1 moves towards becoming another spec-series it would lose its special appeal.  Furthermore, as Ron says, if the only thing teams could spend money on was the driver then they would just shift large portions of their budgets from car development to driver salaries.

As far as banning refueling goes I’m not so sure.  It was introduced in 1994 and I do think it adds to the show.  It also encourages different race strategies.  I’m not sure how banning it would reduce costs as all teams use a standard refueling rig anyway.  The only real argument for banning it would be on safety grounds but surely the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association would have raised this if safety was an issue?

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