Adding fuel to the fire
The fact that Grand Prix racing has been somewhat processional of late has, mercifully, not gone unnoticed in Paris. As Motor Sport went to press, the FISA Technical Commission Working group was due to meet in Imola to discuss numerous proposals, some of which such as banning carbon fibre brakes and reducing tyre widths would be most welcome. Lengthening braking distances and reducing cornering speeds would help to restore some missing overtaking opportunities, and shift a little more of the responsibility for competitive lap times back from the car to the driver.
These laudable possibilities are offset, however, by the spectre of refuelling apparatus which threatens to make an unwelcome return to the pit lane. FISA has always said it does not wish to follow America’s ‘artificial’ lead by introducing pace cars and pit stops to manufacture a spectacle, yet reintroducing the possibility of refuelling would be a step in that very direction.
Furthermore, refuelling stops add a further element of danger to a business that contains risks enough as it is.
In the recent Silverstone SWC race, the perils of mid-race refuelling were amply demonstrated when the ultimately victorious Peugeot was engulfed in flames during one routine stop. And if FISA can’t remember the conflagration that marred the 1985 1000 km race at Hockenheim, inflicting burns of varying severity on members of the works Porsche team, its memory must be painfully short. Most measures to make Grand Prix racing more exciting are to be welcomed with open arms. The same can not be said of a return to refuelling stops. FISA could find them livening things up in a manner far removed from its original intention…