Under pitch black skies in Melbourne, FIA stewards took away Daniel Ricciardo’s popular second place Australian Grand Prix finish, turning his dream start as a Red Bull driver into a nightmare while igniting a technical controversy, as Formula 1’s all new V6 turbo era begins.
Hours after the chequered flag waved and the champagne flowed in Melbourne , Ricciardo’s Red Bull RB10 was ruled to have breached the new regulation governing a maximum rate for the flow of fuel.
The reigning world champions argued that there have been “inconsistencies with the FIA fuel flow meter – all weekend up and down the pitlane”.
The Daily Mail reported that Red Bull therefore decided to use its own sensor, but the FIA insisted that the team cannot do that “without the permission of the FIA”.
Race director Charlie Whiting reportedly warned Red Bull about illegal fuel flow readings throughout the weekend at Albert Park and also during the race.
“The team chose not to make this correction,” read the stewards ruling.
In a statement Red Bull said that it will appeal Ricciardo’s disqualification, “The team and Renault are confident the fuel supplied to the engine is in full compliance with the regulations.”
Australian Grand Prix FIA Stewards Report:
The Stewards, having received a report from the Technical Delegate, heard from the Team Representatives, have considered the following matter and determine [that] a breach of the regulations has been committed by the competitor named below and impose the penalty referred to.
No/Driver 3, Daniel Ricciardo
Competitor Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Facts: Car #3 was not in compliance with article 5.1.4 of the FIA Formula 1 technical tegulations.
Offence: Breach of article 3.2 of the FIA Formula 1 sporting regulations and Article 5.1.4 of the FIA Formula 1 Technical Regulations.
Decision: Car #3 is excluded from the race results.
1) The Technical Delegate reported to the stewards that car #3 exceeded the required fuel mass flow of 100kg/h. (article 5.1.4 of the Formula 1 technical regulations)
2) This parameter is outside of the control of the driver, Daniel Ricciardo.
3) The fuel flow is measured using the fuel flow sensor (Art. 5.10.3 & 5.10.4 of the technical regulations) which is homologated by the FIA and owned and operated by the team.
4) The stewards considered the history of the fitted fuel flow sensor, as described by the team and the Technical Delegate’s representative who administers the programme. Their description of the history of the sensor matches.
a. During practice one a difference in reading between the first three [runs] and run four was detected. The same readings as Run 4 were observed throughout Practice Two.
b. The team used a different sensor on Saturday but did not get readings that were satisfactory to them or the FIA, so they were instructed to change the sensor within parc ferme on Saturday night.
c. They operated the original sensor during the race, which provided the same readings as run four of Practice One, and Practice Two.
5) The stewards heard from the Technical Representative that when the sensor was installed on Saturday night, he instructed the team to apply an offset to their fuel flow such that the fuel flow would have been legal. He presented an email to the stewards that verified his instruction.
6) The Technical Representative stated to the stewards that there is variation in the sensors. However, the sensors fall within a known range, and are individually calibrated. They then become the standard which the teams must use for their fuel flow.
7) The team stated that based on the difference observed between the two readings in P1, they considered the fuel flow sensor to be unreliable. Therefore, for the start of the race they chose to use their internal fuel flow model, rather than the values provided by the sensor, with the required offset.
8) Technical Directive 01614 (1 March 2014) provides the methodology by which the sensor will be used, and, should the sensor fail, the method by which [an] Alternate Model could be used.
a. The Technical Directive starts by stating: “The homologated fuel flow sensor will be the primary measurement of the fuel flow and will be used to check compliance with articles 5.1.4 and 5.1.5 of the F1 technical regulations…” This is in conformity with articles 5.10.3 and 5.10.4 of the Technical Regulations.
b. The Technical Directive goes on to state: “If at any time WE consider that the sensor has an issue which has not been detected by the system WE will communicate this to the team concerned and switch to a back-up system.” (emphasis added.)
c. The back-up system is the calculated fuel flow model with a correction factor decided by the FIA.
9) The FIA Technical Representative observed thought the telemetry during the race that the fuel flow was too high and contacted the team, giving them the opportunity to follow his previous instruction, and reduce the fuel flow such that it was within the limit, as measured by the homologated sensor – and thus gave the team the opportunity to be within compliance. The team chose not to make this correction.
10) Under Art. 3.2 of the Sporting Regulations it is the duty of the team to ensure compliance with the Technical Regulations throughout the event.
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Australian GP 2014, Melbourne
Thus the stewards find that:
A) The team chose to run the car using their fuel flow model, without direction from the FIA. This is a violation of the procedure within TD/01614.
B) That although the sensor showed a difference in readings between runs in P1, it remains the Homologated and required sensor against which the team is obliged to measure their fuel flow, unless given permission by the FIA to do otherwise.
C) The stewards were satisfied by the explanation of the Technical Representative that by making an adjustment as instructed, the team could have run within the allowable fuel flow.
D) That regardless of the team’s assertion that the sensor was fault, it is not within their discretion to run a different fuel flow measurement method without the permission of the FIA.
The stewards find that car #3 was out of compliance with the Technical Regulations and is therefore excluded from the results of the race.
(Signed by stewards of the meeting: Gerd Ennser, Tim Mayer, Emanuele Pirro and Steve Chopping)
Prior to the weekend the FIA declared a zero tolerance approach to the strict fuel consumption rules that have come into effect in this new V6 turbo era.
We reported earlier that after Ferrari was warned at the Bahrain test, fellow engine supplier Mercedes then caught the FIA’s attention in Melbourne practice, regarding the new rule limiting the flow of fuel which has now been highlighted.
We then reported on Sunday that while Daniel Ricciardo thrilled the Australian crowd with second place at Albert Park, teammate Sebastian Vettel had been grappling with new software since Qualifying after his fuel flow sensor alerted the FIA that the Red Bull was exceeding the maximum rate.
“Ricciardo’s worked, Vettel’s did not,” said Auto Motor und Sport.
Earlier Red Bull’s Helmut Marko indicated that new software for the Renault engine was only being run on Vettel’s car, with poor results.
But now Ricciardo’s second place is in doubt, with the FIA confirming that his car “exceeded consistently the maximum allowed fuel flow” rate during the race.
“As this is not in compliance with (the) Technical Regulations, I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration,” said Technical Delegate Jo Bauer.
The seeds of the controversy date way back to October of last year, when the company awarded the contract to supply the mandatory fuel flow sensors struggled to improve on its error rate.
In January, the company – Gill – said its improved sensor “fulfils the FIA’s accuracy requirements”.
But just before the Melbourne season opener, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo warned the FIA to be ready for team “trickery” in the area of “fuel, software” and “consumption” as a result of “grey areas” opened up by the new regulations. (GMM)
Subbed by AJN.