Why Can't F1 Cars Refuel During a Race?

Many F1 fans question why the cars do not allow refuelling between the races. Well, there are safety concerns and many other factors behind it.

By car&bike Team


1 mins read


Published on February 11, 2022

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  • Without the refuelling process, pitstop time has cut down to 2 to 3 secs.
  • Refuelling amidst the race has several safety hazards
  • Though the teams require clever strategies they manage without refuelling

The rules and regulations in Formula 1 racing do not allow the cars to refuel between the race. FIA decided to ban the refuelling process from enhancing the crew's safety and reducing costs.

Even though the teams require clever strategies and tactics to manage without refuelling, it is a critical safety step. Refuelling between the race has led to many mishaps and hazards in the past.

Refuelling Formula 1 Cars

According to Formula 1 Dictionary, FIA announced a ban on refuelling during pitstops in 2010. The drivers can opt for only a tire change during pit stops as per the change. This move might seem like a concerning tactic. But, the decision to ban refuelling in pit stops came after considering several safety hazards.


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Why Refuelling is Banned 

An avid Formula fan will know how switching between tires' hardness can impact the performance. Teams have to make strategic choices when they pick new tires to switch. Like the tires, the weight of a full fuel tank also affects the speed of the vehicles.

F1 cars started refuelling since the Australian GP 1982 when the Brabham team tried to start the race with a half-full tank. The refuelling was another strategy apart from the usual tire tactics. A few races were quite exciting, with refuelling being an option for drivers. There are two reasons why FIA banned refuelling in 2010:

To Reduce Cost

One reason why FIA decide to stop the refuelling process is to cut down costs. Regular people are unaware that storing, transporting, and caring for F1 car fuel is pretty expensive. The refuelling process required teams to carry more fuel. Owing to more requirements of fuel, the costs raised substantially. Refuelling for each team costs one million euros per year.


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To Enhance Safety

The second reason refuelling was taken out of F1 is safety concerns. Refuelling amidst the race has several safety hazards. There was a risk of drivers pulling out of the pit too early with the fuel line still attached. Also, there was a high possibility of leakages.

Furthermore, F1 fuel is highly flammable and this combined with the heat emanating from the car and other machinery makes it a dangerous mix. There have been a few gruesome accidents related to pit refuels in the past. While Jos Verstappen made a pit stop in the 1994 German GP, the fuel hose spilt out the gas on the vehicle, leading to a fire. 

Also, without the refuelling process, pitstop time has currently been cut down to only 2 to 3 seconds, making the process much faster.


Photo Credit: jalopnik.com

Furthermore, race officials must be able to withdraw 1L of fuel at the end of the race for potential investigative purposes to ensure all the rules are being followed. All this added weight of fuel does put increased pressure on tires and cause them to overheat quickly. This may cause drivers to be more cautious about overtaking during a race or go slower in general. However, despite these issues, it is quite improbable that F1 will bring refuelling back to races since it is now looking to become more sustainable and efficient, with lesser wastage, and eventually carbon neutral. This is why F1 cars had to switch from the spectacular sounding V8 and V10 engines to the current V6 Turbo Hybrid engines which are faster and also more efficient.

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