Aston Martin got it in Miami. Two weeks later, it almost hit Red Bull in Barcelona. The fuel first reached the prescribed temperature shortly before the pit lane was closed. Ferrari exacerbated the problem for everyone.
We still remember the start preparations at GP Miami. The starting places for Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll remained empty. Instead, both cars were parked in the garage, and both engines were running, and Aston Martin barely participated in the race. When the engines were started, it was eight degrees below the prescribed limit. The required 18 degrees were reached ten minutes before starting in one car and three minutes before starting in the other. Only then were the green cars allowed to leave the pit.
Barcelona wondered why the two Red Bulls arrived so late online. While the competition ran their training rounds to the net, the engines ran in the Red Bull garage. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez left the field only eight seconds before the pit lane closed. The team explained that the delay occurred to control the DRS mechanism on the cars. He had already created problems for Max Verstappen in qualifying.
Return to the old fuel rule
Asked by the FIA, the fuel temperature in the two Red Bulls did not reach the prescribed value when the pit lane was opened 40 minutes before the start. But when leaving the two cars in the garage. Otherwise, the technical delegate would have had to report to the stewards. FIA inspectors can see the fuel temperature of all cars in real time on their screens. The inspection begins when the pit lane opens.
The limit has changed again since the Miami GP. For the first five races, due to dental problems, he was set to a fixed size with standard fuel pump in the collection tank, regardless of the weather, in consultation with all teams, last 18 degrees.
But after a team vetoed in Barcelona, the FIA was forced to return to the old procedure. The rules prescribe a minimum temperature that is ten degrees below the outdoor temperature measured two hours before start. Back then it was 35 degrees. This meant that the sprint could not be cooled to below 25 degrees.
Mercedes and Honda afraid of heat
The team that had fought for a return to the old system is said to be Ferrari. According to information from the competition camp not without reason: Mercedes and Honda will have problems with their engines in hot races if the fuel temperature rises too much. This can cause damage and cost performance as the fuel heats up during the race. The Ferrari engines apparently have no problem with that.
It is therefore in the interest of the teams with Mercedes and Honda engines to cool the fuel as much as possible in advance. Because with a lower starting value, it stays cooler throughout the race. From that point of view, the 18 degrees that still applied across the board in Miami is an easier task than the 25 degrees in sunny Barcelona.
The teams do not agree on when it is illegal to use fuel that is too cool. The rules say: “When the car is in use”. That is, when the car is used. Aston Martin equates this moment with stepping out of the garage. Ferrari sees the fact that the car is being used as soon as the engines are started.
Assuming both Aston Martin in Miami and Red Bull in Barcelona would have been incompatible. The FIA takes Aston Martin’s point of view. It is crucial to leave the garage. And everything was fine at Red Bull. Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto did not want to open a barrel: “We trust the FIA’s measurements.”