FIA explains plans to clamp down on oil burning in F1

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The FIA is confident new regulations this year will be successful in catching teams that attempt to burn oil in the engine's combustion chamber to gain a power advantage.

Oil burning became a sensitive issue last year amid concerns some engine manufacturers were circumventing F1's tight fuel flow limitations by using oil as additional burnable fuel.

Under the regulations, F1 engines are limited to a fuel flow rate of just 100kg/hour in an attempt to force manufacturers to find extra power through efficiency gains rather than burning more fuel. But if oil can be introduced into the combustion chamber, it too can be burned to offer a small power boost above and beyond the limited flow of fuel.

It is thought this extra power boost can be particularly beneficial in qualifying, when fractions of a second can make the difference between pole position and the second row of the grid.

A technical directive was introduced at the Italian Grand Prix last year to limit oil consumption from 1.2 litres per 100km to 0.9 litres per 100km, and ahead of this year the rules have been tightened again to limit consumption to just 0.6 litres per 100km.

Charlie Whiting, the head of the FIA's technical apartment, said a number of extra measures had also been introduced to prevent teams burning oil in the combustion chamber on purpose.

"We've closed down all the things that they were able to do last year via mainly oil spec, because not only was oil being burnt a little, but they were putting things in the oil to aid combustion," Whiting said ahead of the new season. "There was no real oil spec last year, now there is. Now they have to approve oils. They can only use approved oils. So they give us a sample, just like they do with fuel, and that has to be approved as the only oil they can use.

"We've also tightened up the engine rules in Article 5 of the technical regulations, and we've also routed the breather that can no longer go back into the air intake which was the biggest issue. It has to go out the back like virtually every other racing car in the world. And we've told them they can't use more than 0.6 litres per 100 km. All those things combined I think will do the job."

However, one concern raised by Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is that the new oil consumption limits are not tight enough to detect the burning of oil for a single flying lap. However, Whiting believes detailed checks and new oil sensors will allow the FIA to keep tabs on whether oil is being used as fuel.

"I think the loophole that you're talking about is the difficulty of checking how much oil has actually been used during qualifying. You've got a small amount of laps, so if you're looking at a percentage you've got to try and detect smaller quantities that have been used. That's a challenge.

"We've made them all fit homologated oil sensors in their main oil tanks, but they've got auxiliary oil tanks as well, so we've got to be able to check those too. It's just a matter of detailed checking just to make sure that they are respecting the 0.6 even over short distances.

"It's relatively simple over a race distance, but I think the sort of things that Christian was saying for example, we know that Renault very, very low oil consumption. Others don't. Still well within the 0.6, but they fear that we won't be able to police it because of the small sample. But we're confident that we can."