Race Weekend Central

F1 Midweek: Refueling, Daniel Ricciardo Highlight the Week’s Storylines


One of the more intriguing things being floated about in the paddock is the return of refueling during races.  The sport eliminated refueling as part of the in-race element beginning with the 2010 season in a move predicated on safety.  

The move came on the heels of a number of petrol related incidents in the paddock that often had cars driving away with small flames, pit members in danger, and really, just an overall problematic practice.  Pit stops during the refueling era tended to be just over six seconds and when the ban came, many saw it as a good thing.  

The argument for re-introducing in-race fueling is to add more challenge to the overall race.  At the moment, pit stops have become less of an aspect of the race and the teams typically switch tyres in 2.4 to 2.8 seconds.  Much of the move to bring back refueling rests with the fact that pit stops lack drama.  

What the sport seems to be saying is that they want the pits to matter more, which could be a good thing to assert.  Rather than having refueling be part of the equation perhaps the sport should mandate that each driver must stop twice during a race.  Right now, the one-stop strategy has become so prevalent that the pits barely matter.  

At this point, however, the fueling aspect should be let go.  The races rarely are longer than 180 miles and everyone has figured out how to do that on one load of petrol – don’t mess with something that’s working.  

The 2021 Design

In 2021, the sport will be debuting its big update to the car featured during the races.  For the past two years, this reveal has caused hand-wringing from both the rich and the not-so-rich teams over different components of the car.  The engine had been a main sticking point but that seems to have fallen away and the car continues to come to life.  

Last week, those in charge of the regulations introduced a sketch of what they hope to see for 2021 and the big buzz was a return to ground effects.  

Bringing background effects can be viewed, like almost anything in life, in a number of ways but the big hope here is that these parts offer a cheap way to influence the aerodynamics of the car in a way that should tighten up the racing.  Bringing the field closer together has grown in importance with each additional race that Lewis Hamilton runs away with.

Critics of the ground effects call them cheap looking and less than inspired.  They see them as bolt-on parts that are not intrinsic to the true engineering of the car.  

Another negative view would see the ground effects as something that will litter the track with every Daniil Kvyat incident and do nothing but add to the laps totaled for both the safety and virtual safety cars.  

At the very least, the early ground effects reveal offer a way for the sport to gauge the reaction to these changes and as to whether or not they are headed in the right direction.  

Daniel Ricciardo Gets Worse

Daniel Ricciardo looks to be suffering through another difficult season in 2019 after his move to Renault.  While there was no reason to believe that he would find himself near the front of the grid as he often was with Red Bull, there still was reason for hope and that Renault would be improved enough to be taking control of the midfield.  

This week, to add to the Australian driver’s woes, he was hit with a £10 million (roughly $18 million) lawsuit for fees owed to his former agent.  Glenn Beavis, who represented Ricciardo from 2012 until the beginning of this season claims that he is owed 20% of the deal that the driver signed with Renault.  

Squabbles over contracts with agents and their charges seem as common as the sun showing up in the morning and there is no reason to believe that this one will be any big brouhaha.  But the matter is one that steals a bit of Ricciardo’s focus and during this tumultuous year that can’t be good.  

On the flip side, now the paddock has an idea of what it cost to lure the 30-year-old driver to Renault as it is estimated the price tag is over £20 million a year.  

Australia on Board through 2025

With so many tracks facing questions as to whether or not they can continue to host F1 races — Barcelona, Silverstone, Monza, Germany — one stalwart has locked themselves onto the schedule for the next few years.   The organizers behind the Australian Grand Prix, hosted in Albert Park in Melbourne, announced that they are signed through the 2025 season. While there had been little to think that the Aussie GP was in jeopardy, seeing it locked up for the next six years does come as a bit of a surprise but does go to lock down its spot on the calendar.  

About the author

As a writer and editor, Ava anchors the Formula 1 coverage for the site, while working through many of its biggest columns. Ava earned a Masters in Sports Studies at UGA and a PhD in American Studies from UH-Mānoa. Her dissertation Chased Women, NASCAR Dads, and Southern Inhospitality: How NASCAR Exports The South is in the process of becoming a book.

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Tom B

Having a huge fireball in the pits is not a good reason to bring back some “drama.” Why don’t they just cut the pit crew down to 6 people, 4 tire changers and 2 lift operators, one front and one back of the race car.


I must say I have a hard time understanding people who dislike in-race refueling… and then propose two mandatory pit stops. I think we agree that 1-stop races are generally boring. However, I would prefer to remove unnecessary rules, such as the requirement to run multiple tire compounds, and see if it improves racing. Lifting the refueling ban can be another interesting change with these high-degradation tires. With refueling, it may be harder to find the optimal strategy if tire life is uncertain. Also, in-race refueling may reduce fuel and tire saving, which is a good thing.

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