Force India chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer has accused certain team bosses of deliberately “fooling” the governing body, the FIA, into increasing the fuel limit to gain a competitive advantage.
A five-kilogram increase to the maximum race fuel load, taking it to 110 kilograms, has been agreed by the Formula 1 Strategy Group and F1 Commission, leaving only the FIA World Motor Sport Council to ratify the rule change in the 2019 regulations.
The rationale behind the tweak is to improve the show by reducing the need for teams to save fuel during the race, enabling drivers to run flat out for the duration of a grand prix, but Szafnauer derided that reasoning as spurious, instead contending it will have no effect on racing other than to benefit teams running inefficient engines.
“That’s a bunch of nonsense,” said in incensed Szafnauer. “Realize that it’s not at every race that we can’t go to the end with 105 kilograms.
“This is only an issue at a few races, and we always lift and coast, we always save fuel, even at those races where your capacity isn’t the limiting factor. We will still save fuel if the quickest way around to the end is to not put as much race fuel in.
“I think it’s just wrong. I think they fooled the FIA and Liberty [Media], and what they’re really trying to do is regain that competitive advantage that Mercedes has. That’s what it’s really about.”
Szafnauer said the real aim of the teams lobbying for change is to level the playing field in favor of engine manufacturers able to extract less power per kilogram of fuel, an area in which Mercedes has excelled in the current turbo hybrid power unit era.
“Therein lies the question: if you don’t do a good job, should you work harder to do a good job within the rules that everyone agreed to or should you change the rules?” he asked rhetorically. “I think it’s wrong to do so.”
He also said the ongoing upward revision of the fuel load limit – it was increased from 100 kilograms in 2014-16 to 105 kilograms in 2017 – is contrary to the ethos of promoting engineering efficiency, a central tenant of the current engine formula.
“I think we’re given a target for good reasons… and those reasons were to force cars to become more efficient.
“I think that those reasons are still here today and all those efficiencies that those restrictions drive are still relevant in the world. We shouldn’t have changed it.
“We only changed it because some of the engine manufacturers and teams that didn’t do such a good job with efficiency lobbied the FIA and got their way. They fooled them. It’s wrong.”