Should Red Bull lose points over ‘illegal’ floor?

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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?

For

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.

Against

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 (2%)

Total Voters: 666

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

  1. AJ (@ajv205) said on 4th June 2012, 1:26

    If this was any other race they would be disqualified and points taken away. But it’s Monaco, where it’s more important to protect economic interests over integrity. The message from FOM and FIA is clear to me: you can run an illegal car at Monaco.

  2. brny666 said on 4th June 2012, 4:29

    Stripping the Bulls of their points now would be foolish, the FIA have nobody but themselves to blame for not banning it on first sight and allowing it to be used for 6 races, well done to red bull for getting the edge where no one could. The other teams have also only themselves to blame as clearly if this hole was brought to widespread attention earlier the ruling would have come earlier as well (seeing how the FIA only seems to make decisions concerning parts which are in media spotlight, who knows why?). Also if they strip them of points now surely they will strip Alonso and Renault of the points they gained while using the mass damper and also everybody else who’s innovation has been declared illegal half way through a season. Now that would be a real good story, FIA stripping people of their WDCs and giving it to other people. I’d pay to see that.

  3. Thecollaroyboys (@thecollaroyboys) said on 4th June 2012, 8:43

    Keith, you should have had a button for “penalties should be given to the FIA”.

  4. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 4th June 2012, 10:18

    Nope. I think the difference here is that while Sauber were punished because of a measurement issue, which is either correct or not, Red Bull are being told to change their set-up based on an incorrect interpretation. The FIA have let this carry on and on and even ruled it legal at some point so while docking Red Bull a few points might make all the difference come the end of the year this really is just a poor reflection on decision making by the FIA.

  5. Frankbq said on 4th June 2012, 12:17

    I think they should get about a 50 constructor point penalty, but the driver’s points should stay as is.I fail to see how this is not an open and shut case. Red Bull broke the rules, also FIA Fault Not to get thinks in order.

  6. Gerry said on 4th June 2012, 13:11

    Red Bull should lose their points as the car was illegal. Have you never heard of a re trial?. However the guilt must be shared with the FIA who frankly SUCKS!!!!

  7. They should lose their constructors points for the last three races. If the has been deemed ‘illegal’ how can they be allowed to keep the points?

    I do think that Vettel and Webber should keep their wins, however. They did the best job they could with what they had available.

    • Dizzy said on 4th June 2012, 20:34

      If the has been deemed ‘illegal’ how can they be allowed to keep the points?

      Because it was not illegal when they ran it.

      It is only illegal now because the rules have been amended to specifically ban it.

  8. ppla (@ppla) said on 4th June 2012, 19:19

    I fed up with Red Bull. They are too lucky….

  9. Rocky (@rocky) said on 4th June 2012, 20:09

    An athlete is found to have been using performance enhancing drugs to gain an edge, the athlete is removed from the results a day later a year later. AD is know to bend the rules to gain an edge and consider it legal until told to stop, kind of like breaking the law but only guilty if caught. Take the constructor points away.

    • Dizzy said on 4th June 2012, 20:30

      Using your athlete analogy.

      What if the athlete had taken something that was fully legal at the time of the event & only became illegal a week after. Should he/she still lose the results?

      Thats whats happened here & what all those asking for Red Bull to be penalised are failing to understand.
      The hole they had in the floor was not illegal at the time they were running it, It is only illegal now because the rules have been amended to specifically ban it.

  10. Rocky (@rocky) said on 4th June 2012, 20:14

    An athlete is found to have been using performance enhancing drugs to gain an edge, the athlete is removed from the results a day later a year later. AN is known to bend the rules to gain an edge and consider it legal until told to stop, kind of like breaking the law but only guilty if caught. Take the constructor points away.

  11. Dale2012 said on 4th June 2012, 20:42

    Im failing to see why so many here seem to think Red Bull deserve to be penalised???

    They went to the FIA & got told the hole in the floor was fine so they ran it, It then passed pre/post race scrutineering checks at 3 seperate races. If it was indeed against the regulations then why were they told it was fine & why was it never flagged up by any of the race stewards?

    From everything I have seen/heard/read it seems totally clear that the hole was not against the regulations untill last week when the FIA issued the clarification, As such there is no way the team or its drivers should be retroactively punished in any way.

    I can’t help but think most of those voting yes in the polls either doesn’t fully understand whats happened or simply don’t like red bull because there fans of other teams/drivers.

  12. Rocky (@rocky) said on 4th June 2012, 21:16

    Take constructor points away. An athlete is found to have been using performance enhancing drugs to gain an edge, the athlete is removed from the results a day later a year later. AN is known to bend the rules to gain an edge and consider it legal until told to stop, kind of like breaking the law but only guilty if caught.

  13. ben (@dubaemon) said on 4th June 2012, 22:44

    Definetly an interpretation problem on this one, so it wasnt until the design was fully rule illegal that a team using that design sgould be penalised. however i can still understand why some think that points should be taken away from past races results but i don t get why only the team should suffer from the penalty. Horner and the whole team knew they were on the limit, the drivers too, i am sure if both vettel and webber said we wont drive until you sort that out because we dont want to be disqualified, the team would have come up with a less legally ambiguous design. So everybody should be penalised! the drivers are part of the team after all and their opinion is highly regarded. also they are not stupid but are trained to take limited risks both on and off the track. If they really felt in danger from loosing points they d have opened their mouth.

  14. Kiril Varbanov (@kiril-varbanov) said on 5th June 2012, 14:13

    In short, voted No. There’s a loop hole in the rules, they used it, but looking at the effect of the creation, I don’t think it’s that much in terms of pure lap time, so no. Plus similar holes have been around for a while.

  15. I think the drivers should not suffer for a technical problem or infringment caused by the team, but I allso think that it is unfair that Sauber drivers (by 2 milimeters where the wing had been declared legal before the race) and Hamilton (for one litre of fuel when he doesn’t fuel the car) were severely affected in the past and now the fia doesn’t do anything. It may be harsh, but if FIA wants to have a fair sport, they should be equal in all of their decitions and this time they should penalize Red Bull as they have done with other teams.

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