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FIA reminds F1 teams of illegal ‘oil as fuel’ trick

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Formula 1 governing body FIA has addressed a clear recap to all teams that burning engine oil as fuel is not allowed, a new instruction has been issued to teams following a season-long attention on oil burn initially prompted by Red Bull doubting opponents had found a way around the regulations.

Earlier of this season, Red Bull had appealed to FIA, quoting Mercedes’ example as one of the leading teams who resort to this practice. FIA has subsequently increased its monitoring of oil usage and chemical composition of oil being used by all teams.

Although they are yet to find any evidence of such wrongdoing, FIA has recently stated clearly that the use of chemicals in oil that could help improve combustion is not allowed.

Marcin Budkowski, head of the F1 technical department, wrote: We wish to remind you that, as previously stated in various meetings and re-emphasised in TD/004-17, we consider the use of oil as fuel to be prohibited by the Technical Regulations.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the only fuel that may be used for combustion is petrol, and the only permitted characteristics of that petrol are clearly set out in Article 19 of the technical regulations.

“Even though the technical regulations do not directly specify the permitted characteristics of engine oil used in F1, we would consider any attempt to use additional components or substances in oil for the purpose of enhancing combustion as a breach of the technical regulations.”

What are the new rules?

1) A team will now have to present the measurement of the oil level of its main tank to FIA at all times.

The mass of oil contained in each oil tank, with the exception of the main one, must also be declared to FIA an hour before the start of the race.

This will help FIA get an idea if extra oil was being burned in qualifying compared to the actual race.

2) Active control valves between the power unit and the engine intake air will be banned.

With sump breather pipes pumping a lot of oil back into the engine through the intake – rather than out of the back of the car as happened decades ago – this will prevent cars from diverting this oil into the engine for a power boost.

3) Teams will now be allowed only a single oil specification per engine at a given Grand Prix. This will have to be declared before the race begins.

The purpose of this is to prevent teams using a qualifying oil specification for extra power, and switching to a more durable type for the race.

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