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Understanding the F1 race fuel - simplified

Written by Isha Reshmi Mohan, Edited by Janvi Unni

Credit - MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

Formula One cars rely on specialized fuels that undergo specific blending and temperature controls to meet the distinct requirements of each car. Although these fuels share the same compounds as regular petroleum used in road cars, the proportions and treatments differ significantly. As a result, the fuel composition that suits one car may not deliver optimal performance for another.

In line with their sustainability plan, Formula One introduced a mandate at the start of the 2022 season, stipulating that the fuel used in cars must have a 10% bio component ratio, an increase from the previous season's 5.75%. The goal is to gradually transition to a 100% bio component ratio, eventually extending the use of such fuels to road cars. To ensure that the performance of Formula One cars is not compromised, extensive testing of over 32 fuel blends has been conducted in collaboration with ARAMCO. The aim is to maintain the same energy density as regular fuel, thus preserving the car's performance capabilities.

It is worth noting that Formula One cars can also utilize regular fuel, as demonstrated in an experiment conducted by Ferrari and Shell in 2011. The performance difference between regular fuel and the race-specific fuel was a mere nine-tenths of a second, with the regular fuel showcasing a slightly improved top speed while the race fuel performed better in terms of acceleration.

Overall, Formula One fuels undergo meticulous blending and temperature controls to meet the unique demands of each car. The introduction of bio components in the fuel is a step towards sustainability, with the ultimate goal of transitioning to 100% bio components. Despite the possibility of using regular fuel in Formula One cars, the specialized race fuels have been finely tuned to optimize performance, showcasing the precise engineering and attention to detail in the world of Formula One.


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