Teams have doubts about having enough fuel in race

BY foxsports • March 26, 2010

Formula One newcomer Virgin admitted Friday being worried about running out of fuel in coming races, and Red Bull made barbed comments voicing similar doubts over its own team.

Fuel was one of the main topics ahead of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, with Virgin being given permission to redesign its chassis to accommodate a bigger fuel tank due to concerns the current tanks can not hold enough to last race distances.

Teams are not normally allowed to change their chassis during an F1 season, to keep costs down, but the sport's governing body, the FIA, approved a change.

``It has become clear during preseason testing and our debut race in Bahrain that our fuel tank capacity is marginal and if not addressed there is the possibility that fuel pickup could become an issue in certain circumstances,'' Virgin technical director Nick Wirth said.

However, the new tanks will not be in place for this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, nor the following two races, casting doubt on whether the team can finish a race in that period.

Meanwhile, Red Bull boss Christian Horner made a scathing response to comments by ex-McLaren boss Ron Dennis, who claimed the real reason behind Sebastian Vettel being forced to slow and cede the lead in the season opener at Bahrain was not spark plug failure as Red Bull claimed, but that it was running out of fuel.

Dennis cited as evidence the fact that Vettel pulled over to the side of the track immediately after crossing the finish line, rather than taking the customary drive around the circuit back to the pits.

``The problem with age is your hearing tends to fall off a bit and perhaps Ron didn't hear the misfire that was there,'' Horner said. ``And he didn't see the other car finished the race.''

``The problem was a spark plug that had failed. One of those things. I hadn't seen one like it before, not on a Red Bull car, and Renault have been unable to fully explain the reason behind it.''

The key rule change for the 2010 season is that teams are not allowed to refuel during a race. This means each car is filled before the race with the goal of being as close to empty as possible by the finish.

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said teams are now forced to adjust fuel consumption during a race - easing off slightly when the race scenario allows it and using full power appropriate.

``We are all on the limit in these races, as we should be,'' Brawn said. ``That doesn't mean we would run out of fuel, but there might be a mistake made.''

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said all teams would try to come as close as possible to running out of fuel without doing so.

``We are just giving ourselves a weight penalty otherwise,'' Whitmarsh said. ``You will take risks to some degree.''

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