Formul(an(archaic)) argument

Well, to start off, I must confess that I have lost the high levels on interest I had in F1 about 2-3 years ago. The reason behind this lack of enthusiasm to follow races was the guilt that struck me about the amount of fuel that is pumped to move those machines. While I have always adored the engineering that goes behind running them at about 300 kmph, the fact that fuel prices in India are increasing way beyond the range that a common man can afford plagued me from getting into the sport.

During the course of a casual discussion with my sister, I was provoked to finding out the details so that I can dispel/root my perception of the sport and its impact on the ongoing fuel crisis.

Outlined below is a summary of my findings.

Petrol consumption in India – 

Volume of one oil barrel = 42 US Gallons
1 US gallon = 3.78 L
Crude oil consumption in India per day = 3500 k barrels [ Source: Energy Information Administration]

Percentage of oil from a barrel that becomes gasoline = 45% approx

Petrol consumption per day in India =
42*3.78*3500*1000*0.45 = 250047 kL per day

Petrol consumed in F1 –
Consumption by one team in one season = 200kL [As per the official F1 site]
Number of teams in F1 = 11
Total fuel consumption by all teams in one season = 2200 kL

Case 1 – F1 v/s India
Petrol consumed in one F1 season = Petrol consumption per day in India / 113
Petrol consumed in one F1 season = Petrol consumed by the whole of India in 32 min

Case 2 – F1 v/s a Boeing 747 aircraft – assuming that the same quality of fuel is used [frivolous, but anyway!]
Fuel consumption of 747 = Average of 19L per mile = 12L per km [From the Boeing site]
Distance that can be travelled by a Boeing 747 using 2200kL of petrol = 2200kL/12L = 183334 km
Air Distance from Bangalore to London = 10500 km approx [basic googling will get you this info]

Petrol consumed in one F1 season = Petrol consumed by a Boeing 747 aircraft to make about 9 round trips from Bangalore to London.

Those are interesting figures. At the end of this exercise, I don’t know if I should be happy that the fuel consumed in F1 is not as high as I thought it to be [kudos to those engineers!], or if I should be disturbed by the fact that we are fast depleting the fossil fuels which have formed over the last 600 million years!

PS – I hope I got my math right!



  1. Very true my friend.
    Anyway, the grade of fuel used in the F1, Boeing and ‘normal’ vehicles are completely different. Considering the fact that you have calculated only based on the fuel consumption, a ban has to implemented on F1 or reduce the number of laps to say 20!
    Basically the more 40% of the energy generated by the burning of fuel is lost as the heat. One way to reduce this is to have cooler engines. Cooler engines = lesser heat loss = more efficiency 😀

  2. Hey Puneeth,
    As far as I checked on the F1 site, it was mentioned that the fuel used is almost the same as commerically available fuel [link put up in my post]. Reducing the number of laps is a good solution, but I don’t know how many people will be for it! Unless it comes to a situation where there is sheer shortage of fuel [more than there is now], I think the laps would not be reduced! And yeah, more efficient engines is an ideal solution which we need to look at.

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