Bob McMurray: That’s what an F1 race should be
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Mercedes’ dominance of Formula 1 continued at the British Grand Prix but that didn’t stop it being a stunning, entertaining race.
It was also free of unnecessary stewards’ investigations, and clearly benefited from the apparent slight relaxation from punishing every touch of wheels or each duelling manoeuvre.
There was a feeling that the drivers were suddenly free of the fear of retribution from the headmaster’s office and were released to race.
And they did just that.
It was a spectacle and a great British Grand Prix at one of the best circuits in the world. A crowd-pleaser, it had everything that makes a good event, despite the almost inevitable certainty of which team was going to win just 100m from the start.
Yet, in the lead-up to the race, FIA president Jean Todt said: “I would like to see refuelling, but I am happy to see a study on the positives and negatives.
“Cars are probably becoming a bit too heavy. That is something we discussed.
“I am pushing for analysing what it would mean if we reintroduced refuelling ... then you will have lighter cars at the start of the race and you can have smaller cars.”
This leaves me incredulous.
First, new regulations are being formatted for future F1 cars and the FIA is part of that structure. So why would the president refer to cars “becoming a bit to heavy” when the FIA is positioned to do something about it?
Secondly, with budget caps and the cost of operating F1 teams under discussion, how can the huge cost of setting up and then transporting all of the refuelling equipment around the world be justified?
History proves that refuelling does not improve the racing but is another artificial aid, just like the DRS that seeks to cloak the fact that, due to car design, overtaking on track is so difficult.
With refuelling, the overtaking was done in the pit lane not on the track.
From the evidence of the past two grands prix, reintroducing refuelling is not necessarily the key to making races more exciting. Instead it makes it more dangerous for the mechanics in the pit lane, as well as the spectators viewing from above.
At the German GP in 1994 the car of Jos Verstappen (Max’s father) caught fire while refuelling and the plastic glasses sitting on the wall in the guest area of the Paddock Club above the pit lane melted.
It doesn’t matter which series it is, Supercars, IndyCar or whatever, mistakes can happen and it will be those people in the pit lane who will bear the brunt of that mistake.
Todt mentioned that a reintroduction would enable cars to be made “lighter and smaller”.
If that is seen as a benefit, make the new regulations reflect that.
For once I would agree with Christian Horner of Red Bull when he says: “Go back and watch the races when we still had fuel stops. They were some of the most boring we have seen.”
Please, Formula 1, take this opportunity to look at these last two GPs, take the best out of them, design cars and regulations that enable that style of racing to be duplicated again and again, then Formula 1 will thrive.
Reinstatement of refuelling would be a knee jerk reaction.