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Fuel

 

The future of Formula One, and motorsport, depends entirely on how the sport adapts to environmental needs. For a start fossil fuels aren’t going to last forever, but its image in the public needs to be one of leading the way in initiatives. Which it is certainly doing in my opinion. Racing certainly doesn't have to be that bad for the environment! It’s all about how we fuel our cars. From more efficient use of fossil fuels to the coming alternative fuels and hibrid KERS and ERS electric uses.

Fuel drums in Williams pittA common misconception about Formula 1 is that on-track performance is a only function of power. In fact, performance comes from a number of different sources, and one of those is fuel consumption. If you can lower fuel consumption while still generating the same performance, you improve the car’s efficiency. Achieve this in Formula 1 and your car will possess a performance advantage in racing conditions since less fuel needs to be carried, which reduces overall weight and improves performance. It is for this reason that teams have a close working relationship with fuel supplyers, especially with the ban on refuelling in 2010, which means cars must carry enough fuel to last the entire race distance. That's why supplyers put all their energy to produce the fuels that achieve high efficiency per unit of mass. However, the benefits learned i Formula 1 don’t just apply to the racetrack because what they learns from Formula 1 is transferred directly to its commercial products.
One way to achieve maximum performance from the lowest quantity of fuel is to blend the fuel with certain additives to help reduce the level of friction on the pistons. Additives also help clean the engine and avoid deposits in the combustion chamber, and minimises friction which leads to reduced fuel consumption. It is the same additives developed for Formula 1 fuel that are used in commercial fuel in road cars.

Fuel inFormula 1 fuel has been strictly regulated since 1996, when the FIA imposed unleaded fuel that had to meet the Euro 95 standard applied to pump fuel for normal road cars. Prior to this date, Formula 1 had used leaded fuel and chemical additives with very high octane ratings for maximum power. Since specifying the use of ‘pump fuel’, the FIA’s focus for the evolving regulations on fuel has been environmental, and Formula 1 has operated in advance of standards in force for production cars: in 1999, fuel already conformed to the production standards for 2000; in 2001, fuel met 2005 standards; and since 2004, fuel has met production standards that have been applicable since 2009.
Recent regulations for Formula 1 fuel has seen the introduction of a percentage of bio-fuel, such as ethanol, which is of great relevance for car industry because European law now requires that commercial fuel also includes a percentage of bio-fuel. And that is 2 years after Formula 1.

The fuel used in F1 cars is fairly similar to ordinary gasoline, albeit with a far more tightly controlled mix. Formula One fuel cannot contain compounds that are not found in commercial gasoline, in contrast to alcohol-based fuels used in American open-wheel racing. Blends are tuned for maximum performance in given weather conditions or different circuits. One of the key differences between regular gasoline and the racing fuel provided to racing team is that even though the fuels are blended using the same base fuel chemistries, or ingredients, the racing fuel is highly optimized and fine-tuned for use in the specific Formula One car.  That means that the best fuel for the Ferrari F1 engine might not necessarily be the best fuel for the (for example) Cosworth engine, and vice versa. It is blended to provide optimum performance for specific race engine.

During the first no refueling period from 1984 to 1994, when teams were limited to a specific volume of fuel during a race (250 liters), exotic high-density fuel blends were used which were actually heavier than water, since the energy content of a fuel depends on its mass density.

To make sure that the teams and fuel suppliers are not violating the fuel regulations, the FIA requires Elf, Shell, Mobil, Total and the other fuel suppliers to submit a sample of the fuel they are providing for a race. At any time, FIA inspectors can request a sample from the fueling rig or car fuel cell to compare the "fingerprint" of what is in the car during the race with what was submitted. For this test FIA use a Gas Chromatograph instrument.  GC is a type of instrument used in forensic and drug testing.  They inject a 5 microlitre sample into the instrument and effectively they produce a fuel finger print.  It is so precise it will pick up one ppm (part per milion) and only what they need is 1 ppt (part per thousand).  That’s all about ensuring legality.

The teams usually abide by this rule, but in 1997, Mika Häkkinen was stripped of his third place finish at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium after the FIA determined that his fuel was not the correct formula, as well as in 1976, both McLaren and Penske cars were forced to the rear of the Italian Grand Prix after the octane mixture was found to be too high.

An interesting point is that the F1 fuel blenders can adjust the fuel to give better fuel consumption, so any help that can be given will lighten the fuel load that the car has to carry at the start. It’s only a small difference, but every little helps. The challenge in fuel formulation is finding the optimized balance of a range of performance parameters.  Obviously optimizing for power is a priority – but there isn’t too much point in doing this if you have to compromise too much in terms of fuel efficiency. There are also two types of fuel efficiency, volumetric fuel efficiency (when the fuel is designed to give the best performance based on volume) and gravimetric fuel efficiency (where the fuel is designed to give the best performance based on mass).
You may have certain circuits which are marginal in terms of fuel tank capacity, in these cases maximising power and volumetric fuel efficiency is key. At other circuits the fuel tank size will not be a constraint, therefore gravimetric fuel efficiency (i.e. reducing the weight of the system) along with power will be the most important properties. Teams, together with fuel suppliers carry out extensive modeling and engine testing with the candidate racing fuels that they provide them, and that way they know that the best overall fuel is selected for each circuit.


Of course the fuel always has to match the sample given by the fuel company to the FIA, but again, they can keep changing that sample all the time, as long as they provide a sample of a new blend to the FIA ahead of the race weekend and it is passed for use. But they have to be careful – fuel can get contaminated by things like the grease on a gloves and that is enough to fail the FIA test.

To know more about fuel and internal combustion engine thermal efficiency, check this article, and to know more about fuel cell and fuel system check here.

Now, with no refueling during the race, engineers have tu calculate amount of fuel to be used during complete race. To much fuel and you can lose to much time just to finish race with to much fuel left in the fuel cell you have to carry around. Not enough fuel and, well...!
The fuel calculations per km of the race are made dating back to pre-season and the engine guys are keeping a close eye on how that is developing. Basically the process is that race engineer will inform the engine engineer how many laps he is going to do, so for example in Q3 it was two runs of one lap and in the race it was 55 laps. The engine engineer will then work out the fuel required and that will be put into the car.


05.08.2011, article from jamesallenonf1.com/

Ferrari and their partner Shell carried out an fascinating experiment last week, which hasn’t been tried before in the modern era. They wanted to see how the Shell V Power road car fuel you can buy on the forecourt would perform in an F1 car and how it would compare with the race fuel Ferrari use.
The FIA regulations stipulate that Formula One race fuels must be composed of compounds normally found in commercial fuels, but there are some tightly controlled areas where they can innovate with additives for more power or to control temperatures and such like. A lot of work goes into this.

Fernando Alonso did the comparison test at Fiorano with a 2009 Ferrari F1 car (a two year old car is allowed to test under FIA rules, but not one more recent) and drove four laps using the race fuel, setting a fastest lap time of 1:03.950. He then did a similar length run on the road car fuel and was 9/10ths slower, the race fuel being notably superior in pick up and acceleration, but the road fuel amazingly was faster in top speed at the end of the straight.

“99% of the chemistry in Shell V-Power race fuel is identical to the chemistry used in the road fuel that can be bought at Shell forecourts,” said Alonso. “The Shell V-Power road fuel felt just as quick as the Formula One fuel. It’s a nice surprise.”

The outcome was surprising, as UK viewers may have seen at the weekend in this piece Jake Humphrey did about it.

 


 

What FIA 2013 FORMULA ONE TECHNICAL
REGULATIONS say about that

ARTICLE 19 : FUEL
19.1 Purpose of Article 19 :
19.1.1 The purpose of this Article is to ensure that the fuel used in Formula One is petrol as this term is generally understood.
19.1.2 The detailed requirements of this Article are intended to ensure the use of fuels that are composed of compounds normally found in commercial fuels and to prohibit the use of specific power-boosting chemical compounds. Acceptable compounds and compound classes are defined in 19.2 and 19.4.3. In addition, to cover the presence of low level impurities, the sum of components lying outside the 19.2 and 19.4.3 definitions are limited to 1% max m/m of the total fuel.
19.1.3 Any petrol, which appears to have been formulated in order to subvert the purpose of this regulation, will be deemed to be outside it.
19.2 Definitions:
THIS PART IS TO DIFFICOULT TO UNDERSTAND FOR "NORMAL" PEOPLE. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, CHECK FIA TECH. REG.
19.3 Properties:
THIS PART IS TO DIFFICOULT TO UNDERSTAND FOR "NORMAL" PEOPLE. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, CHECK FIA TECH. REG.
19.4 Composition of the fuel :
THIS PART IS TO DIFFICOULT TO UNDERSTAND FOR "NORMAL" PEOPLE. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, CHECK FIA TECH. REG.
19.5 Air :
Only ambient air may be mixed with the fuel as an oxidant.
19.6 Safety :
19.6.1 All competitors must be in possession of a Material Safety Data Sheet for each type of petrol used. This sheet must be made out in accordance with EC Directive 93/112/EEC and all information contained therein strictly adhered to.
19.7 Fuel approval :
19.7.1 Before any fuel may be used in an Event, two separate five litre samples, in suitable containers, must be submitted to the FIA for analysis and approval.
19.7.2 No fuel may be used in an Event without prior written approval of the FIA.
19.8 Sampling and testing at an Event:
19.8.1 All samples will be taken in accordance with the FIA Formula One fuel sampling procedure, a copy of which may be found in the Appendix to these regulations.
19.8.2 Fuel samples taken during an Event will be checked for conformity by using a gas chromatographic technique, which will compare the sample taken with an approved fuel. Samples which differ from the approved fuel in a manner consistent with evaporative loss, will be considered to conform. However, the FIA retains the right to subject the fuel sample to further testing at an FIA approved laboratory.
19.8.3 GC peak areas of the sample will be compared with those obtained from the reference fuel. Increases in any given peak area (relative to its adjacent peak areas) which are greater than 12%, or an absolute amount greater than 0.1% for compounds present at concentrations below 0.8%, will be deemed not to comply.
If a peak is detected in a fuel sample that was absent in the corresponding reference fuel, and its peak area represents more than 0.10% of the summed peak areas of the fuel, the fuel will be deemed not to comply.
If the deviations observed (above) by GC indicate that they are due to mixing with another Formula One fuel, which has been approved by the FIA for use by the team, the fuel sample will be deemed to comply, provided that the adulterant fuel is present at no more than 10% in the sample.

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Some useful links:

Technical
- f1technical.net, a great site with a lot of technical information’s and explanations. Site is updated daily with news from F1 word.

Autosport
 - autosport.com, This site is a legend. A bible for racing lovers. News from all around the word. Unfortunately, to get access to all news, interviews and to open the site completely you should be subscribed to Autosport magazine. Anyway, great read.

James Allen on F1
- JA.F1 site (or blog) ovned by ITV Sport’s lead commentator on Formula 1 James Allen

Joe Saward blog
- joesaward is the Joe Saward official blog about Formula 1 world. Joe is an journalist, who write primarily about politics in and around motorsport, specifically on the FIA Formula 1 World Championship

Vital F1
 - vitalf1.com/ is another great site for Motor Sports fan’s like me. Site is relatively new, but great fun, with great discussion forum, Formula 1 news and forum.

 GP update
- f1.gpupdate.net, Site with fresh news from Formula 1

Planet F1
 - planetf1, another site with many different articles, news and statistics. Biased toward British teams, but anyway good read.

Gurney flap
 - gurneyflap.com, Great history site. You can learn a lot from this site. Pictures, cars and many many more. Great.

4mula1
-
4ormula1 is a database of Formula 1 history and statistics of drivers, teams, grand prix, and all results since 1950

Racecar engineering
-Racecar Engineering, an online magazine with a lot to learn from, a lot of technical information’s and explanations

FIA
 - fia.com, La Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, representing the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users. Head organisation and ruler in auto sport.

Wikipedia
 - wikipedia.org, I don’t believe that I have to tell you anything about this site. It’s not about Formula 1 technology, but you can learn a lot about that too.

Sutton Images

grandprix photo

Carbibles
 - carbibles.com, a great site for normal car users. Here you can find explanations of almost everything about your car and how it works. Technical reviews and explanations of some in-car gadgets.

Dare To Be Different
- Daretobedifferent.org Susie Wolff and UK governing body of UK motorsport have joined forces to launch Dare To Be Different, a high-profile new initiative which is about increasing female participation, not just on the track but in all aspects of the sport.