Here is something a bit different. There are two fundamentals without which F1 cars don’t run; tyres and fuel. There is a lot of talk at the moment about tyres, but not so much about fuels.
Always keen to get closer to the details of how the sport works, I was given a chance recently to try my hand at blending F1 fuel on a visit to the Shell motorsport laboratory in Cheshire. It’s here that they blend the V Power racing fuel Ferrari use in F1.
I knew that the rules were quite strict in terms of creating a footprint for the fuel which, once its been registered with the FIA at the start of the year, has to be exactly the same in terms of additives at every Grand Prix. In the early 1990s, when I started, the fuel makers used to chuck in all kinds of additives which gave up to 100hp extra and I remember the exhaust fumes would literally reduce you to tears. It’s all more controlled now, but there are still things you can do. Saving weight, for example, is one of them.
Last year they managed to get the weight of a fuel load for a GP down, which has a carry-over in lap time across the whole Grand Prix, as it’s weight you don’t have to carry.
For the race alone an F1 car uses 200 litres. The new biofuel meant that they made a saving of 1%, which might not sound like much, but the weight saving adds up to 2.5 seconds off the race time for the Ferrari drivers.
But what I hadn’t realised is how you can play around with different levels of the additives and trade off power against heat generation, density and other parametres. If you go too much one way the power output falls, go too far the other way and the temperatures get out of control.
We got to have a go at trying to mix the ideal fuel based on the 2010 fuel regs, which are pretty much the same this year. In the picture you can see the various additives and the maximum line (in red on the right), which you cannot cross as it is the FIA’s maximum allowable amount of that particular additive. As you can see from this picture we got to 720hp with the blend we had but we obviously hadn’t hit the right formula as the maximum achievable with those additives is 750hp.
I did a video of it, showing how the technicians make a blend. Hope you like it.