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It’s a balancing act. No more and yet no less. Pirelli announced their new tire lineup this week and suggested that the tire compounds were slightly harder and one presumes the sidewalls are designed to handle the increased weight and torque of the 2014 regulations-driven Formula 1 car designs.

It leads one to suspect that perhaps tire degradation and tire management—that reached lunacy levels in 2013—will not be an issue in 2014 given the demand for a more stout tire construction. This leaves the next issue on the table which is fuel, fuel flow rates and fuel consumption.

The new regulations limit the fuel flow rate to 100 liters for an entire race and that would be 50 liters less than 2013 leaving the rest of the effort down to the new Energy Recovery system or ERS which is similar to last year’s KERS but the “K” seemed redundant at this point as the new cars will harvest waste energy from the braking and exhaust.

The last thing Formula 1 fans want to see is the high degradation tires and silliness they presented us replaced in 2014 with a fuel race at each grand prix. Drivers nursed their tires around circuits all last year and now there is some concern that they will nurse their fuel loads around each race as well.

However, according to Williams F1’s Valtteri Bottas, don’t rule out tire nursing just yet:

“I think this year is going to be more difficult to manage the tyres, even though they are a little bit harder,” said Bottas.

“I think with more torque you need to be more careful with the throttle pedal. It’s quite easy to break the traction and that way put temperature through the surface of the tyre.

“That is going to be a bit more tricky, and still the conditions are quite cool, so I think managing tyres will be more critical than last year.”

He’s not alone and if you consider Nico Rosberg’s comments about wheel-spin, we may ne nursing tires and fuel all year long as well as gremlins in the new engine and ERS reliability:

“It’s certainly very easy to achieve [wheelspin],” he said.

“You can do it quite easily and I’ve had instances of that on the straights, or doing double wheelspin and pulling black marks for 100 meters out of slow corners, which is quite fun but not exactly good for performance.

“The tyres are pretty tricky to handle in terms of degradation. It’s easy to spin up the rear and degrade them, so I can see that being a bit of a challenge.”

I am usually cautious about casting aspersions until the proof is presented but I really hope we aren’t nursing HD tires and fuel loads all year long, that will make for a very unpleasant “show”.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • jeff

    Just to clarify, the fuel flow rate limit is 100 liters per hour, with a fuel used limit at 100kg. Sorry, just so no confusion…

    I’m going to be a dork and say the engine output, but that it’s the fuel flow rate that will be the limiting factor.

    1st with tires, from the 2 tests (3 as I type!), it seems like the tires are degrading linearly, handling the torque, etc. All caveats (2 tracks, likely not max power, etc) apply here.

    So, I think and hopefully the tires are a “normal” limiting factor and not like (IMO) the artifice of 2011-13.

    As to fuel/fuel consumption, a few quick assumptions:

    1. That F1 gas is similar enough to road car gas (your Shell articles reinforce this)
    2. That the new PU’s met the designers’ goals of 40% thermal efficiency
    3. That the motors w/o hybrid gear are near the 30% thermal efficiency of predecessors
    4. That the PU’s will average around 650hp on the motor only
    5. That Basic Specific Fuel Consumption (BSFC) is hovering around .35 motor only

    The above are basically engine efficiency metrics; all unproven, but heavily rumored.

    I won’t go into the math, but plugging the BFSC/fuel tank capacity/power/TE numbers in, gross calculation indicates those 100 liters of fuel allowed will be sufficient for the tracks based on distance.

    The problem’s the 100 liters per hour flow limitations imposed; don’t need a calculator to see that if an engine can consume 100l/hr at full chat, the fuel tank has 100l to use, and a race generally lasts 1.5-2 hours, you ain’t gonna finish a race distance. :)

    Therefore, since we “know” the motors are putting out at least 600hp and according to rumor 650hp or more, and we know the fuel flow limit of 100l/hr can’t support that power for the duration, we have to assume the teams will be turning down the motors at least part of the time.

    To be fair, the numbers also assume full power at all times, which obviously isn’t the case (off throttle/part throttle etc.), and that the motor’s making 650hp at all times. A650hp engine consuming a constant 100l/hr of fuel would have a BSFC of .25075XXX, which is awesome but frankly unattainable (Even the .35 BSFC is extremely good; if anything, the motor is less efficient. But, a motor below/beyond torque peak also consumes more fuel relative to power.

    Long story, I think teams will be running full power to position themselves at race-start, turn the power down (reduce fuel flow) for the middle stint, and turn the wick back up for defense/passing or the end of the race, to average the 100l/hr limit imposed.

    Some sites in case dorks like myself want to play with the maths and terms:

    http://www.epi-eng.com/piston_engine_technology/thermal_efficiency.htm
    http://www.formula1-dictionary.net/thermal_efficiency.html

  • jeff

    Edit: The 100 KILOGRAMS, not liters, of fuel allowed should be sufficient for race distance.

  • MIE

    Although Rosberg’s qualifying simulation at the first Bahrain test resulted in a time within a seconds of his pole time from 2013, The race simulation with an extra 100kg of fuel resulted in times that were eight seconds a lap slower.
    Conventionally 100kg of additional weight is thought to add three seconds a lap, so the other five seconds are due to tyre or fuel conservation.
    No other team managed a qualifying and race simulation, so there is little to compare Mercedes performance. However just because they so far appear to have the fastest car doesn’t mean that they will win the races, as others may be more efficient.

    • jeff

      Current on-track reports are that the motors are louder, like the teams are bumping up power levels, for Bahrain test #2. Time to see where Mercedes, Ferrari, and Renault really are; exciting stuff!

  • Ground Effects

    So the longer F1 races will be like the NASCAR tracks that usually result in fuel mileage races… I believe Michigan is one of them. If this turns out to be the case would not the team best able to field a car with high downforce/low drag and that sounds like Mr. Newey’s forte.

  • Schmorbraten

    What I’ve heard is if a 2014 F1 car laps as fast as it possibly can, it WILL run out of fuel before the end of the race. I agree very much with the push for increased efficiency, but the rules the FIA came up with to achieve this are just plain daft. They could have achieved 1/3 less fuel over a race distance just by limiting the fuel flow rate even more, for example. But no, they chose to also limit the overall amount of fuel, so now we’ll have to watch cars going slower than they are able to, on purpose! If that occasionally happens in endurance racing by the end of a race to avoid an additional stop, I get it. But in F1? Or any other SPRINT race category? … I wish all the teams would conspire to run at full pelt all the way in Melbourne regardless, until everyone runs out of fuel 10 laps before the end. Then tie Jean Todt to a pole, hand Ecclestone a gun and see what happens. But since everyone designed their car with a 100 kg fuel tank, they couldn’t even use more fuel if the FIA changed their mind. What next? A penalty for any driver who wins two consecutive races, to keep the championship interesting? I for one wouldn’t be surprised any more.

    • jeff

      I agree, fuel flow rate would have been sufficient, the capacity limit is needless. What I would have preferred to see was something like an unrestricted instantaneous limit, but averaged over the race distance a limit of 100l/hr. In other words, they can up pressures to get as much power as possible, but would have to pay the piper at other points in the race. Engineers/strategists would be constantly recalculating.

      I don’t mind fuel conservation; it’s been done since racing started; I just don’t want too multiple restrictions that ends up having drivers running to deltas.

      As to race distance-100 Kg fuel, all the internet conjecture is just that, including mine; if the numbers being bandied about regarding power/efficiency/track throttle application/etc are correct, the 100 Kg will be fine full power for most tracks; Monza and Spa will be tight, for example.

      Everyone seems to romanticize the “Senna” period of the mid-late ’80’s; to me, they were doing the same, sprinting at the start, coasting to preserve engine life, and also saving gas to prevent extra pit stops. Not sprinting at all; more like endurance racing.

      No different than last several years, when cars were under-fueled.