Max Verstappen came out of the pits just in time at Barcelona last Sunday as the team waited until the last minute to warm up the fuel. The fuel temperature limit is 10 degrees Celsius below the track temperature displayed by the FIA screens. This is set two hours before the start for the race and one hour before the start for a training session. Teams monitor the temperature of the fuel so that the car can be refueled as cold as possible. Of course, the fuel warms up as the car warms up ahead of the race. You have to make sure the fuel temperature is above the limit when the car leaves the pits, the FIA monitors this through the gauge, which also monitors the fuel flow.
In the run-up to the race in Barcelona it was about 34 degrees Celsius, the number is usually rounded. Teams thought the fuel should be around 24 degrees, but the FIA said it was 35 degrees Celsius, meaning the fuel should also be a degree warmer. Red Bull and AlphaTauri were particularly affected by this, Verstappen and Pierre Gasly drove out shortly before the pits closed. It has sparked debate between teams and the FIA over the procedure, especially as there have been questions about the temperature set by the motorsport governing body. Was it really 35 degrees Celsius?
Race director Eduardo Freitas made it clear in the notes to the Monaco Grand Prix that from now on measurements will be more precise in order to avoid rounding errors. Freitas wrote: “The official outside temperature message, which is sent out one hour before the start of each session and two hours before the race, is now displayed with a decimal point.”
Teams advocate adapting the process in the longer term. You want the outside temperature to be measured earlier. This gives them more time to ramp up the temperature of the fuel before topping it up two hours before the start of the race.
Aston Martin already had fuel problems in Miami. Both of the team’s cars couldn’t get out because they didn’t reach the limit in time.