While their paymasters may, in principal, baulk at the added cost of hauling refuelling equipment around the globe from 2017, a fair majority of drivers appear to be in favour of bringing the challenge back.
The proposal was leaked following Thursday's F1 Strategy Group meeting that saw FIA president Jean Todt and commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone meet with the heads of the Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, Williams, McLaren and Force India teams. As well as efforts to improve the look, sound and speed of the cars, the reintroduction of refuelling – whilst maintaining a maximum race fuel allowance – was also mooted in a bid to reintroduce elements of excitement and strategy.
While there appears to be some discord between the various team bosses over the proposal – with the more impecunious clearly in favour of retaining the status quo
- those driver questioned on the opening day of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend appeared more open to refuelling's return.
Marcus Ericsson was perhaps in the minority by maintaining that he likes F1 'as it is now', while Romain Grosjean shrugged the question off by claiming that he didn't care which way the sport went. Valtteri Bottas, amongst the number of current pilots not to have raced under the previous refuelling era, admitted that it might be nice to see the other side of the coin, while world champions Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen both appeared unequivocal in their support for the suggestion.
Current Red Bull team leader Daniel Ricciardo is another to have made the top flight after refuelling was banned, and admitted that it would be a welcome change provided it allowed the cars to run flat-out for the whole distance.
“I think, if it makes the race faster and it makes lap times quicker and we don't have to drive around nearly at GP2 pace at the start of the race, that's a good thing,” the Australian opined, “I've never raced with refuelling so I don't know if there's any negatives to come from that from a driver's point of view, but I think the race pace needs to be increased.
“From a physical side, the races now are not easy, we still sweat and get out of the car feeling like we've done a workout, but I think to be on that extra level it would help to make it a bit more of a challenge. It sounds like it's going in the right direction.”
Veterans Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso both appeared to hold a similar position, with the Brazilian liking the thought that it could make both the race and the cars quicker.
“When we race with a very heavy car, the race is very technical,” he explained, “It used to be much nicer from a driver's point of view and that's why I like the idea of refuelling.”
Alonso, meanwhile, sees tactical advantages to drivers starting on different fuel levels and then having to think their way through a race.
“Probably, it will open some kind of strategy imagination that could help you in some of the races if you can choose whatever fuel you can start on or do the first stint with,” he reasoned, “Things like that helped in the past.
“I remember, in 2003, getting some pole positions with half of the fuel of the others and then, in the race, you see what happened. The first ten laps, you are leading the group and it may rain or have a safety car - many things can happen that will change the weekend.
“If not, if you gave me a piece of paper and a pen, I will put you the grid order for the races here, Canada and Austria. I will miss one or two positions, but this is what probably the fans are not welcoming now.”
The Spaniard's McLaren team-mate, however, gave a more balanced view, considering the implications for teams in a climate where many are struggling to meet the costs of competing.
“It's not a question that has a yes or no answer is it?” Jenson Button queried, “You obviously have the safety aspect – the reason we went away from refuelling – and also the money, the cost. In terms of racing, however, I think it was great back in the day when we had refuelling. If you had an issue on lap one, you could change your race around, you could do something different – whereas now it's very difficult…”
The drivers may not have long to wait before finding out whether refuelling is to return, with the initial proposals expected to go through two legislative stages, possibly in the coming weeks.