Hamilton may be crowned champion because rival cars’ fuel was cooler!
Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
On Sunday, after the final grand prix of the season, McLaren notified the FIA of their intention to appeal against the steward’s decision not to punish Williams and BMW Sauber for their low fuel temperature, recorded at each of their respective pit stops. It has been suggested that a low fuel temperature can improve performance, so what are the mechanics behind this claim?
The FIA stipulate a maximum variation in fuel temperature of -10C from the prevailing temperature on the track. Heidfeld’s, Kubica’s and Rosberg’s fuel temperature varied between 12C and 14C lower than ambient recorded during their respective pitstops. Does that mean they gained an added advantage on the track?
A cooler temperature means a denser gasoline fuel. This allows more molecules to transfer from the fuel storage to the fuel tank in a same time period. It also means that the potential energy is higher for a given amount of fuel of the same volume. Fluids are known to expand upon heating creating a less dense material due to an increase in the distance between molecules. Therefore we can expect the cars to have a slight power advantage before temperature would return to ambient conditions. What this equates to in terms of lap speed has not been published in the public domain but must certainly be known in Formula 1. It is expected that the power advantage would last for three laps decreasing overall race lap time by around a second.
Would this have made a difference in the Championship race? Only the stewards can decide. It is certain that any advantage in Formula 1 must be considered significant due to the small differences between podium places. If only the same were true for fluids ingested by a human, then cool drinks would not only be refreshing but actually benefit performance.
This entry was posted on Thursday, September 2nd, 2010 at 4:35 pm and is filed under Formula 1 & Motorsports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.