In mayor rules change in 2014., new 1,6-litre turbo engines with energy recovery systems became the most influential performance variable on Formula 1 car. But fuel and lubricants development also became more important than ever because there was so much performance to be found with exciting new technology.
Today’s Formula 1 fuel is surprisingly similiar to commercially avalaible petrol to reduce costs, improve safety and correlation with road cars technology.
Each specification of fuel must be submitted to the FIA for their approval. After that, FIA takes the ‘fingerprint’ of the approved fuel and compare it to actual fuel used at the GP event.
Before 2014. amount of fuel avalaible for the race was unlimited (cars typically used around 150 kg of fuel in V8 era), but in 2014. 100 kg per race limit was introduced.
For 2017. maximum amount of fuel for the race is increased to 105 kg because wider cars with wider tyres and more downforce create more aerodynamic drag which increases fuel consumption.
Fuel flow rate, also introduced in 2014., must not exceed 100kg/h at any time during GP weekend.
Fuel power density is key
Maximum power avalaible from the fuel was most important variable for fuel engineers, but new formula introduced in 2014. with maximum fuel flow and limited amount of fuel for the race make things much more complicated.
Getting more energy from same amount of fuel is crucial because drivers can start the race with less fuel which means less weight, better start and less tyre and brake wear.
“The new rule of 105 kg of fuel for the race means that we need to extract as much energy from fuel as possible,” says Guy Lovett from Shell.
“You want as many calories in the car as possible because it’s the only energy that goes into the car.”
“But any component of fuel that is good for the octane number is not so good for energy and vice versa, so we have a negative correlation between the two demands.”
“The key to success for optimum fuel is to balance octane number for preventing detonation and energy density, as well as finding smart and innovative ways to improve performance. It’s a really big challenge.”