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2010 rule changes - accommodating larger fuel tanks 07 January 2010

As a result of the ban on refuelling, 2010 cars will almost certainly have longer wheelbases as designers are forced to accommodate fuel tanks close to double the size of their predecessors'. One of the biggest engineering challenges will be to minimise this increase in wheelbase - and to minimise the impact of any increase. Moving the cockpit forward slightly and a shorter gearbox design are two possible options. A third could see teams harking back to a concept not seen on the grid in over a decade. In 1998 Stewart's Alan Jenkins and Arrows' John Barnard moved the oil tank from its then traditional position in the gearbox casing (left car, red arrow) to a new location immediately behind the cockpit (middle drawing, red arrow). This had the advantages of positioning the tank's weight near the car's centre of gravity, and reducing the car's overall weight thanks to the need for shorter piping. And that's where the oil tank has stayed, until now. Under the new rules, rather than housing the oil tank behind the newly-expanded fuel tank (which would mean increasing the wheelbase), we could see it once more shifted rearwards, where it can be housed with the gearbox without penalty.