F1 should push fuel economy harder, says Lowe

LONDON Mon Apr 7, 2014 3:40pm BST

Mercedes Formula One Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe sits at the pit wall during the qualifying session of the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit April 5, 2014. REUTERS/Patrick Baz/Pool

Mercedes Formula One Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe sits at the pit wall during the qualifying session of the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit April 5, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Patrick Baz/Pool

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LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One should be pushing for even greater fuel economy next season rather than talking about 'completely unrealistic' ways of changing the rules, according to Mercedes technical head Paddy Lowe.

The start of the season has been dominated by talk of tweaking the new rules to make cars louder and possibly relaxing the strict limit of 100kg of fuel per car per race or making races shorter.

International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Jean Todt told reporters at Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix that the governing body would seek to boost the noise of the new V6 turbos but made clear little else would change.

"It seems that Mercedes is stronger. I don't have the power to say ‘let's slow them down'," said the Frenchman. "If they are quicker than the others I think it is a challenge for the other teams to catch them."

Lowe liked the sound of that: "I think Jean has taken a very sensible line," said the Briton, whose team have the dominant car and best performing V6 turbo power unit.

"There's been things talked about here and in the last weeks and days that are just completely unrealistic," added Lowe as he celebrated his team's third win in three races and second successive one-two.

"The first suggestion was that we need 110kg (of fuel). And then, has anyone realised that you couldn't fit 110kg into these cars? Ah, oh dear.

"Oh, well. We'll make the races shorter. Can you imagine selling that concept to the public? It would be like saying we've decided that people aren't fit enough these days and marathons are only going to be 25 miles, not 26.

"The messaging around that cannot be contemplated. So I hope all of that could be put behind us."

Lowe said talk of drivers having to ease off and save fuel to make sure they could finish the race was ridiculous.

He pointed out that Lewis Hamilton, Sunday's race winner, and team mate Nico Rosberg had been racing flat-out all evening from start lights to chequered flag and had more than enough in Malaysia.

Some teams, such as Mercedes-powered Williams, reportedly even started in Malaysia with less than the 100kg allowed to save weight and boost performance.

Lowe said it made no sense for a sport that prides itself on cutting-edge technology, and becoming more road relevant to mass carmakers, to water down the challenge.

"Formula one is about developing technology, setting stretched targets. I would say the 100kg (of fuel) for the race and per hour (flow rate) are actually perfectly judged numbers.

"If that's a stretch for other cars, it's a stretch they should be reaching out to. The nature of Formula One is to push technology to the limit and beyond. The idea of backing out of that for next year is absurd to me," he said.

"If anything the point of Formula One would be to stretch it further. Maybe next year it should be 95 kg for the race."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer)

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