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Motor racing-F1 champions back return to refuelling

  • Published:

By Alan Baldwin

MONACO, May 21 (Reuters) - Formula One world champions have backed a proposed return to refuelling in 2017 if it makes cars faster and races more exciting.

The plan was given the go-ahead at a recent Strategy Group meeting but has yet to be approved formally by the sport's governing body.

However the five world champions still competing all expressed approval when asked ahead of Sunday's showcase Monaco Grand Prix.

"Obviously as a driver, if you go faster, which you do when you refuel the car, it's better. So I appreciate the decision," commented Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, a four times champion with Red Bull.

Jenson Button, the 2009 champion, added: "You obviously have the safety aspect -- the reason we went away from refuelling -- and also the money, the cost. But in terms of racing, I think it was great, back in the day when we had refuelling."

Ferrari's taciturn Finn Kimi Raikkonen said simply 'yes' when asked whether he would like to see refuelling return while Mercedes double champion Lewis Hamilton also replied in the affirmative.

McLaren's Fernando Alonso, a double champion with Renault, said refuelling was another part of a driver's armoury with cars able to start lighter than others according to individual strategy.

"It would open up imagination on strategy," he said. "It could help you in a race if you could choose whatever fuel on which to start or to do the first stint," added the Spaniard.

"Things like that helped in the past. I remember getting some pole positions in 2003 using half the fuel of the others, and then you see what happened."

Alonso added however that refuelling, as well as other moves to make cars louder and more aggressive, could be seen as a tacit admission that Formula One had made mistakes.

"If things come back we will get some kind of rules from seven or eight years ago, which means the last four or five years we've been going in the wrong direction," he said.

Refuelling was banned in 2010 as part of moves to cut costs, with the heavy rigs transported around the world and requiring extra pit crew, as well as for safety reasons.

More than half the current grid have never known refuelling in Formula One.

Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff said last week that any reintroduction of refuelling depended on it being affordable: "If it's too expensive, we won't do it," he said. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Julian Linden)

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