he new, second fuel flow meter the FIA has added to Formula 1 cars this year is designed to prevent a trick Ferrari is believed to have used last season.
Ferrari insists its car conformed to the rules throughout 2019. However rival teams have criticised the FIA for reaching a settlement with the team without disclosing details of its investigation, part of which is believed to have concerned the fuel flow rules.
Since 2014, F1 teams have been required to fit a fuel flow meter which ensures their power units do not consume fuel at a rate greater than 100kg per hour. However last year some teams began to suspect Ferrari had found a means of exceeding the limit.
One theory held that Ferrari had developed a system known as ‘aliasing’ which could allow them to deliver fuel at a higher rate when needed, such as on qualifying laps.
The fuel flow meter measures the rate of flow very quickly – 2,200 times per second. However it remained theoretically possible for teams to deliver fuel to the meter in a sufficiently precise way that it appeared to be flowing at a slower rate that it was.
The most recent version of the 2020 Formula 1 technical regulations, published 10 days ago, continues to refer to “a single fuel flow sensor” in the cars. However teams have been required to fit a second sensor under a further technical directive.
There are two important differences between the new fuel flow sensor at the original one. The new ‘FIA fuel flow meter’ samples the fuel flow rate in a different way, making it harder for teams to get around the limit, and the data it generates is encrypted and available only to the FIA.
Manufacturer Sentronics says this will make it “impossible” for any team to exceed the fuel flow limit.
“The new device incorporates anti-aliasing technology and full data encryption,” according to Sentronics. “The anti-aliasing technique randomises when the device makes its measurements, ultimately making it impossible to synchronise any ancillary parts to the measurement frequency. Full encryption ensures the authenticity of the data and privacy to the FIA.
“This eliminates the possibility of the data being used as part of a feedback system to gain a competitive advantage.”
The new fuel flow meter was added to the cars at pre-season testing and will continue to operate alongside the existing device. The FIA will retain a pool of the new meters and allocate a sensor to each car at the beginning of each event.
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