Mark Webber, Red Bull, Barcelona, 2012

Should Red Bull lose points over ‘illegal’ floor?

Debates and pollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Barcelona, 2012The FIA has decided the hole in Red Bull’s floor in front of its rear wheels does not comply with the rules.

Red Bull have run the RB8 in this configuration for the last three races, of which they have won two.

Following the Monaco Grand Prix both Red Bulls (and all the other cars which finished in the top ten) were checked by FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer and passed scrutineering. The post-race technical report shows this included an inspection of the “rear bodywork area”.

However yesterday the FIA issued a new Technical Directive which stated that the hole in Red Bull’s floor is not legal:

“It has been argued that, as it is not explicitly stated that fully enclosed holes cannot be located in a surface lying on the step plane rearward of a line 450mm forward of the rear face of the cockpit template, then they may be located in such areas. We disagree with this view and consider it implicit that fully enclosed holes may not be located there.”

But if Red Bull’s car has not complied with the rules, should they be allowed to keep the points gained while their car has been running in this configuration?


At the Australian Grand Prix last year, the rear wings on both Saubers were found not to comply with the rules. They were thrown out of the results and the cars which finished behind them were promoted in the standings.

Three weeks ago at the Spanish Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton’s car was found in violation of the technical rules during qualifying, and he too was excluded from the results and had to start the race from last place.

The technical rules have to be enforced strictly, otherwise there’s no disincentive for teams to cheat and gain a performance advantage. The FIA sporting code even says that not gaining a performance advantage is no argument for breaking the technical rules.

The scale of the advantage gained is likely in the region of hundredths of a second, not tenths. But this is the margin pole positions are being won or lost by at the moment, and we all know how important that is on a track like Monaco.


Red Bull’s cars were ruled legal by the scrutineers at the races they competed in, so there are no grounds to go back and remove them from the results.

Their rival teams had the opportunity to protest against them and chose not to – despite much speculation in Monaco that McLaren, Ferrari or another of their rivals might do.

Given that, there is no reason for the FIA to change the results of the races Red Bull has won with a design which has now been ruled illegal.

I say

Red Bull can’t be blamed for pushing the FIA’s interpretation of the rules in a bid to gain every last fraction of a second of performance. That is what racing teams do.

The real question here is why have the FIA been allowing Red Bull to run their car in a specification which they now say is against the rules.

We have seen several examples of the difficulties of enforcing a written set of rules on car design in the past. But unlike past controversies such as flexible front wings, this does not involve discovering how much a wing is deforming when a car is in motion, but a rather more straightforward question of measuring a car part and deciding what constitutes a hole.

Given that, the only difference between Red Bull’s car being ruled illegal today and Sauber’s 14 months ago is the amount of time the FIA took to make its mind up.

How can it be right that a team whose cars are ruled illegal immediately after a race lose all their points, yet a team whose cars are ruled illegal a week after the race keep them?

Red Bull don’t deserve to be punished for the FIA’s ineffectual policing. But if they win the constructors’ title courtesy of the points gained at Monaco, McLaren or Ferrari may regret having passed up their chance to protest them.

You say

Should Red Bull lose the points and wins gained with their ‘illegal’ floor?

Should Red Bull lose points over their 'illegal' floor?

  • Yes, they should lose some or all of their points (43%)
  • No, they should not lose any points (55%)
  • No opinion (3%)

Total Voters: 666

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169 comments on “Should Red Bull lose points over ‘illegal’ floor?”

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  1. So it was deemed legal for all the races it competed in and after a couple days the FIA changed their minds. I don’t see what the debate is about. You can’t retroactively punish someone for something that was once legal.

    1. You and your Earth logic!

  2. For me it’s an obvious No. The car passed all FIA’s investigations before the race and after the race, so their car was legal at Monaco Grand Prix.

    I’m quite amazed to see 42% answering “Yes”. McLaren fans are on the attack here :)

    1. @huhhii At the last count around 13.5% of active site members were McLaren supporters, well short of 42%.

      1. @keithcollantine I’m pretty sure not all McLaren fans have marked McLaren as their favorite team, so the stats don’t tell the whole truth.

  3. Yes, end of.

  4. blah blah blah….F1 used to be a racing series now its a facebook debate society

    1. Only the other day I was reading about the rows over the change in engine formula in 1961… the sport hasn’t changed at all.

      1. It’s more like facebook now only because it remains less hidden with many more people looking into it, I agree.

      2. Indeed. I’ve just been re-reading Christopher Hilton’s 1982 – one of the most poisonous F1 years on record – and it’s instructive to see who might have been aware of ‘water-tank-gate’ and who got protested. And who didn’t. RBR’s legality (or otherwise) needs to be divorced from the FIA’s competence (or otherwise). Scrutineers passed the cars: fact. Teams could have challenged, but didn’t. Results (and points) need to stand or we need to go back and wholesale re-write history books because smart engineers are smart. I say this not as a RBR fan (and not as a detractor) but as an F1 fan of >30 years. I’m not an engineer either – but I love it when they win one :-) The sport would be nowhere without smart folk pushing the envelope!

        1. The best part about the water-tank stuff is the way that several cars with water-cooled brakes actually got points in the 1982 Brazilian GP, since Ferrari only protested the cars that finished in front of them.

          That said, I don’t think this is really pushing the envelope, this is ignoring the rules and hoping nobody notices. Not that there’s not a long and proud history of that in F1 as well, of course.

  5. Can they not do what Mclaren got in 2007 for Spygate, and for the Hungary GP – drivers keep points but contructors were not counted?

  6. No.

    Why should team be punished for the FIA’s inability to draft unambiguous rules? The FIA need to get their act together and write clear rules, and have a team of scrutineers who are educated enough to enforce them on a consistant basis.

    FIA are making a mockery of the sport through their incompetance. First the Double diffuser, then the F-Duct, Lotus’s active ride height and now this.

    1. You’re forgetting the off-throttle blowing…

  7. i dont think that they should loose poits for this, only FIA should be blamed..but vettel should get punishment for that monaco first corner cutting overtaking…and that was poor steward decision making again

    1. If he hadn’t done that, then he would have been punished for causing a collision

  8. It’s Red Bull… The team that has moaned and bitched most of all teams. Of course they should be docked all points.

  9. They should keep their points as at the time they were treated as legal. The other teams took their sweet time scratching their old heads trying to figure out how to beat one mans thinking(Newey)… Took a total of 3 teams to come up with a way to try slow down the master. Will like to see how much difference this will make in the overall speed of that redbull.

  10. The car broke the technical regulations, which was the reason that Hamilton was disqualified from Spanish GP qualifying and the reason that Sauber were disqualified from Australia last year. Failure to enforce the technical rules does not make it legal and does not change the fact that they won with an illegal car. While the FIA has been hopelessly inept in letting this drag on for so long without clarification, Red Bull are still guilty of breaking the technical rules and should be punished in some form, considering they have won two races with this on their car.

  11. Scuderiaexxon
    3rd June 2012, 17:52

    Red Bull’s team name isn’t called McLaren nor is one of their drivers called Lewis Hamilton so their points wont be taken away :D

  12. The real problem is in requiring teams to build their own cars and then laying down far too many rules governing almost every aspect of the car, engine, gearbox, electronics, etc. What was once considered innovation is now almost always found to be a rules violation. This is really getting to be a bore. The FIA should consider creation of a spec chassis (ala Indy car racing) along with every other car component or stop trying to define every engineering aspect of F1. That teams spend millions in order to gain factions of a second is ludicrous. Finally, when was the last time we saw a real tecnological breakthrough from what is suppose to be the most advanced motor sport series ?

  13. Carl Craven
    3rd June 2012, 18:58

    Once again the big loser is F1 and those that lose the most are the fans. I get sick of this kind of ineptitude from one of the most prestigious and richest sports in the world.

    I disagree with loop holes. Finding a loop hole in the rules to outwit your competition is like finding a short cut on a track that no one else notices that enables you to gain an advantage. It’s not a judge of how great a sports person or team you, just simply how conniving you can be. Maybe they should run another title. the WCC the world conniving championship. Of course the usual teams would be vying for that no doubt.

  14. the same problem was faced by Lotus. They spent so much into reactive suspension after receiving the go-ahead from FIA, only to be deemed illegal later!

  15. Those critisising the FIA rules should realise that the regulations are written by a dozen people within the FIA (Including people who worked in F1, some with top race/title winning teams). There then looked at by hundreds of people at each team who have far more resources than the FIA & there specific job is to look for loopholes & areas to push limits.

    The FIA could have the most clearly written set of regulations ever & teams would still find loopholes & other areas to exploit. Other series with no FIA involvement in the technical regulations have similar problems.

    As to why something is legal & then suddenly demmed Illegal.
    Reason for this is usually that they see something as been legal but then other teams put forward differing interpretations & the FIA then look at the different interpretations & rule on it.

    Take the F-duct, McLaren saw it as legal (As did the FIA) but other teams had other interpretations of the rules & felt it was illegal, The FIA looked at other teams thoughts & then made a ruling & deemed it legal. Same with Double Diffusers.
    Going back further was Mclaren’s 3rd brake pedal, It was legal for a couple months untill several other teams put forward differing views & opinions, When they took a 2nd look the FIA decided it should be banned.

    Also the FIA often ban things when they see them going in a development direction they don’t like. The off throttle diffusers for instance, They were perfectly happy with the initial concept but as it developed it got to a point where it was clearly doing more than they had initially been told.

  16. If they’re going to be strict enough to take away Sauber’s points for a part being millimeters outside of the regulations, then they should be strict enough to take away Red Bull’s for this.

    1. Totally different situations though.

      The Sauber rear wing failed post race scrutineering, They ran the weekend with a wing that was clearly against the regulations. Once it failed there was no option but to disqualify them from the results.

      The Red Bull has to this point been completely legal & passed every scrutineering check its been through. Its only illegal now after the FIA clarified/changed the regulations.

  17. Didn’t read all the comments to see if this was brought up already.

    This ruling to me is no different then when a town changes the speed limit on a road from 35mph on Friday to 25mph starting that Monday. Just because you were able to go 35mph for months/years before doesn’t mean that starting that Monday you’ll be able to do it anymore. And just because it is now 25mph that doesn’t mean that you were breaking the rules last week.

    1. To use your analogy, the situation is more like this: there is a 30mph speed limit, someone goes through it at 35mph for three days but someone at the traffic police believes the limit is 35mph and it is not followed up. Then someone else finds out that employee’s mistake, should the speeder be punished?

      The rules haven’t changed, it is the FIA that has finally seen sense and realised that a hole is a hole.

  18. Absolutely not! This seems consistent with previous FIA decisions regarding regulation ‘misunderstandings’.

    McLaren brake steer – Ruled legal, but banned after protest. Points remain.
    Renault mass-damper – Ruled legal, but banned later in the season. Points remain.
    Exhaust blown diffusers – More complicated, but at Silverstone it was ruled illegal, but retrospective points deductions did not take place.

    Many people repeatedly accuse the FIA of a lack of consistency regarding decisions. to me, this seems to be one of the decisions that proves that they can be consistent. If Red Bull were told that their concept was legal, they can’t be punished for then using it!

  19. In my opinion Formula 1 like many have said before is about development and research now as much as the racing. this ‘Hole In The Floor’ is a clear example of this. why should they be deducted points for being clever and doing something that no one else did.

  20. A very rude comment, my friend.

    1. sorry, I entered in the wrong place

      1. cheers i was very confused

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