Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2014

Ricciardo faces investigation for fuel limit breach

2014 Australian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2014Daniel Ricciardo is under investigation by the FIA stewards for a potential breach of the fuel flow limit rules.

FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer reported Ricciardo’s car “exceeded consistently the maximum allowed fuel flow of 100kg/h”.

“As this is not in compliance with Article 5.1.4 of the 2014 Formula One Technical Regulations, I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration.”

Under new regulations introduced this season a driver’s engine may not consume fuel at a peak rate higher than 100kg per hour.

The FIA had experienced difficulty in monitoring the fuel flow rate limit on cars earlier in the weekend. Yesterday the teams were advised by race director Charlie Whiting of a change to the fuel flow filter frequency.

“Due to time constraints before the qualifying session the FIA data versions will not be changed [to the new frequency],” Whiting added. “The revised monitoring will be processed by the FIA off­car.”

Red Bull had changed the fuel flow meter on Ricciardo’s car before the race. The same component was not changed on Sebastian Vettel’s RB10.

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177 comments on “Ricciardo faces investigation for fuel limit breach”

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  1. Well Charlie Whiting did say there would be “zero tolerance” on breaches of the fuel regulations, so it will be interesting to see what is going to happen here.

    1. Gazzaguru (@garygushbiz-com)
      16th March 2014, 9:38

      Would assume the only remedy being a disqualification. The pit wall must have been aware of it – so that’s a huge disappointment for Ricciardo after such a great drive.

      1. “The pit wall must have been aware of it.”

        I really doubt they were, as they would have known it would lead to a disqualification and told him to use a lower fuel mix that wouldn’t result in breaching the limit.

        The fact that the meter was changed before the race really makes it sound like an error with the component. No doubt using all their telemetry to prove so.

        1. Gazzaguru (@garygushbiz-com)
          16th March 2014, 14:10

          From the FIA stewards report, it appears Red Bull (‘The Pit Wall’) were informed by the Technical delegate that they were using too much fuel. Seems like they did indeed choose to ignore it at their own peril!!!!

    2. When Charlie Whiting mentioned the “zero tolerance” policy, I think he was only referring to the 100kg per race limit (per Article 29.5 of the Sporting Regulations). Ricciardo’s car is in breach of the 100kg fuel flow limited, that’s a separate requirement under Article 5.1.4 of the Technical Regulations.

    3. I would say penalise the team, not the driver… Take away WCC points from RBR (if found guilty)

    4. Officially DISQUALIFIED now

      1. I can’t find official confirmation, who has it?

  2. Would that be a Renault issue?

    1. Definietely a Red Bull problem, probably carried out by Vettel’s mole on the Australian side of the garage ;)

      1. In all seriousness though, you would think the engine would regulate it. So unless Red Bull went ahead and altered the engine or its mapping without Renault approval I don’t quite know how they could have done that.

        1. It should be adjusted by software, I think.

          1. @jcost perhaps that’s why Vettel had the update.

        2. @vettel1
          Red Bull software engineers have been helping Renault in developing new software for their PU

          1. @tifoso1989 I think it would be weird if they had programmed it so as to allow for it to go over. Unless they thought they had found a loophole.

    2. The fuel flow sensor is supplied by Gill Instruments but the metering is Renault + proprietary & RB Software.

      1. @baron thanks for the information :)

      2. The supplier is actually Gill Motorsport, not Gill Instruments

  3. hopefully there won’t be any action taken against him, wouldn’t be nice to see him loose such a great result.

    1. If the rule’s been broken, I hope he does get penalised.

      Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic for him when he crossed the line, a fantastic performance by a top line driver, and I’d be so gutted if he was disqualified, not just for him, but for Australia as a whole.

      However, fuel flow is one of the major factors determining engine power this season. I agree entirely with Whiting that this rule needs to be completely inflexible or you’ll find some team trying to take advantage down the line.

      1. Pretty much sums it up perfectly @mouse_nightshirt.

    2. If a car does not comply with the technical rules and regs, it is, will and should be disqualified, there can be no other way.

      So if the statements above are true, DSQ is coming.

      Reminds me of the 2011 opener, where Kobayashi and Perez were disqualified after a probably much less performance influencing technical breach (and rightly so, illegal is illegal). Was really impressed with the drive of Perez then and quite impressed with Ric’s drive today, but rules are rules, there is no gray area in this particular case.

      1. “There is no gray area in this particular case.”

        Technically, there is a grey area. If the Fuel Flow Meter is the only component teams can use to measure whether they’re fuel flow is too high, and this had not been working on the FIA side through-out the weekend until qualifying, when it was then checked after qualifying and the team then learnt that it wasn’t working on Ricciardo’s car. Then when they replaced it for the race that would have been the first time all weekend for the fuel flow meter to be working.

        It can hardly then be argued it’s then the teams fault after the race for not knowing their car was exceeding the fuel flow meter as it’s the first time the component has actually been functioning (and furthermore not reporting live as it should be, but rather being processed after the race off-car) all weekend to the fault of not the team, but rather the FIA.

        The whole thing seems very grey to me…

        1. I am sure they would have been tested in the factory. And anyway, shouldn’t the tems adjust the engine according to the only flow sensor?! Do they even have this info real time? Because they should.

          But anyway, I said, if the statement is true, if they did exceed the flow limit, then there is no gray area, there is no room for interpretations, the measurement procedure was declared in advance.

          It is doubtful that the sensor may be broken, maybe RBR will take it off the car and ask for it to be tested.

          1. Why would there even be a flow sensor on the car if the FIA could just look at the teams telemetry and see that the cars aren’t passing the flow limit. Of course the team doesn’t have the data, that’s why the fuel flow meter is on the car, to get the data.

            I stick by my argument that there is a grey area if the team didn’t even know they were breaching the fuel flow limit.

          2. Team’s telemetry on such matters would be only useful in relative terms, not absolute, so there is the necessity for a standard FIA sensor, as is the case.

            Do we know the teams don’t get this data real time from that sensor?
            I am intrigued to know.
            If they don’t then that is silly situation, but teams should have calibrated the maps accord to the readings of the flow sensor in advance with acceptable margins of error. (could it be they are still testing completely untested engine maps, given their problems?)

            So, I, contrary to you, maintain that if the readings exceed 27.78 g/s and they are correct then it is as black and white as it gets.

            Sauber in 2011 did not have the data that the radius of their rear wing flap was not within the rules,it did not stop their cars from being ruled illegal and DSQed (and it should not have). Or, for example, not having a reliable speed sensor, or live data from it, would not excuse speeding in the pit lane.

          3. I agree to an extent, I’m just thinking of possible scenario’s I guess. I saw a lot of “he should be DSQ” here in the comments so just thought I’d play the devil’s advocate a bit. My apologies if it came across a bit aggressive.

            It will be an interesting outcome anyway for sure. Considering it’s nearly midnight in Melbourne, they must be heavily investigating the issue. Stressful night for Ricciardo no doubt.

    3. @rigi
      As long as no action is taken for similar transgressions in the future.

  4. Wow. Possibly sensor error?

    1. It is possible that it could be a sensor issue – this type of fuel flow meter is very similar to the type used by the ACO in the World Endurance Championship, and I believe that teams there have reported an accuracy of about 1% either way (i.e. a flow rate of 100kg/h would read between 99-101kg/h).
      If he is within the tolerance of the equipment he might be OK, since the team could then argue that it is a potentially erroneous reading by the sensor – however, if the peak fuel flow rate was significantly higher he might face disqualification.

      1. You’d think the stewards would take such inaccuracies into account – isn’t one of them here a WEC driver? So then it might have been quite clearly over that. Sad end to race really, he was going so well the whole weekend (well seemed to, but with a bit more fuel flow, heh).

        1. Or maybe the FIA feels the teams should take this into account?

          Besides, if the fuel meter registers fuel flow going over 100kg/h shouldn’t the software limit the fuel pump? Or are there two fuel flow meters in the car (one for FIA and the other for the team).

    2. I would hope so, as the supplier until recently was having problems with the sensor. but in all, I hope its a non issue because it will just destroy the morale of the fans.
      I must also add that this 100kg/hr flow limit is a very ridiculous rule, why not allow teams to run their engines the way they like even if it means running out of fuel.
      F1 is over regulated even in benign areas, and yes I know I’m sipping some wine at the moment but that is not in any way responsible for my angst.
      Do wish the FIA will just go away sometimes.

      1. The main intention behind this was to avoid an arms race among manufacturers in qualifying – to limit costs. But I agree that the implementation is way too complicated.

  5. the key word is “consistently” here… I wonder what will follow

    1. Exactly what I was thinking. The use of that word doesn’t look good for Ricciardo.

    2. And yet his overall consumption for the race was OK.

  6. That would be seriously heartbreaking :(

    1. @andae23 I know :( and it even makes me more angry since I thought from the beginning that this fuel flow limit was stupid. Huh

  7. Australia will be on fire if he gets disqualified. On a more serious note, this is the sort of thing that turns off viewers from F1. You have a race where a popular guy gets a seemingly deserved podium finish and then later it’s taken away for a technical reason. Everyone needs to play by the rules (or not found to be circumventing them!) but there has to be a way to determine these issues in real-time. It’s not like we don’t have the technology.

    1. I thought the fuel flow was determined by FIA technology? SO wouldn’t that allow them to sense when it was happening as it was happening?

      1. The fuel flow meter is supplied by a third party, not by the FIA itself, so it isn’t entirely clear what information would be automatically available to the FIA.
        Added to that, they would probably want to interview the team first and to inspect the car to ensure that there is no other reasonable explanation for erroneous readings – for example, in case there was a defective sensor or calibration issue with the fuel flow meter.

      2. The flow meters and rate are mandated by the FIA. Supposedly there is real-time data feedback. The meters are homologated and all teams use the same meter. I’m not sure how one team would get a flow rate consistently greater than that allowed, outside of any parametric limitations. Since it’s easy to get feedback there’d be no point in trying to get around it. Red Bull may have tried something “clever” that hasn’t paid off but it’s hard to see how this could be circumvented. Presumably they check at the end of the race based on residual fuel in the tank. It will be interesting to hear the technical reasons if this does indeed result in a disqualification.

        1. @mortyvicar, I didn’t read anything in that story to suggest that the RBR exceeded its total fuel allowance for the race, this is a metering issue regarding max fuel flow, it will probably be difficult to determine whether it is an actual breach or a metering inaccuracy and whether the fault lies with RBR or FIA, it’s far from black and white at the moment.

          1. @hohum Correct. Was the reported flow rate (measured 5 times per second) correct or reading high? You check fuel flow by replaying the sampling data and calculating the fuel used against fuel remaining at the end of the race (basically, start_fuel – sum(instantaneous fuel flow rate * sample time) = end_fuel). A discrepancy (within an agreed error margin) means the meter wasn’t calibrated correctly. If the measured amount equals the calculated amount (within a predetermined error margin) and the fuel flow meter says you exceeded the maximum at any time then you used more fuel than allowed. If you don’t do this then all you have to go on is the fuel flow meter readings, and the FIA’s say-so that it’s correct. At some point that say-so will be acceptable based on experience, but we’re not there yet.

      3. From what Keith wrote, the real-time monitoring was not working quite perfectly (the part about the frequencies) so the FIA had to check the data after the race to be sure about any infractions.

        To me it seems that the part the team changed in was somehow not calibrated right to the car to make this possible. Or something like that.

    2. If we look from the rules point of view, it wasn’t deserving, others could keep it at 100kg of fuel, which is kinda unfair advantage.

    3. Well I like Ricciardo and I also think he drove well. But as a F1 fan I think he should be penalised for this, Magnussen might have overtaken him if they were on equal power (more fuel flow=more power). I think that the fia should give a penalty an be consistent with it over the season. Not penalising will turn of the real fans from viewing because then we are going to think everything is too political and that if it had been a back marker he would have gotten a penalty.

    4. Rules are rules, popular driver or not. Its the responsibility of the team and or Renault, but very sad for Daniel.

    5. @mortyvicar +1 – it was such a feel good result, and I’m sure many fans would be left feeling slightly bitter if he was disqualified retrospectively.

      1. @vettel1 personally, I would feel far more bitter if he was allowed to keep his result despite breaking the rules. Don’t get me wrong, I was so happy for him and what he achieved, but emotion can’t get in the way of technical decisions, just to keep some fans happy. I’ve already heard a lit of “post race DQ makes a mockery of F1” blah blah blah, but what would actually make a mockery of F1 would be if someone was found to be cheating after the race, yet got away with it to save a few fans feeling “bitter”.

        1. @jleigh absolutely, but it is a case if raising one’s hopes – then crushing them. This is something which should be dealt with during the race.

    6. Well said. Why do we find this out few hours after the race? Monitoring a sensor’s readings in real time is not difficult to do in 2014. FIA can look at all cars’ fuel flow rates and immediately penalise or disqualify the culprit driver and team. During the race itself.

    7. @mortyvicar @magnificent-geoffrey

      I think I read somewhere about penalties not being given after the race or something like that… Could anyone throw some more light on that please…

  8. It doesn’t look good, honestly. It would be heartbreaking after such a brilliant performance.

  9. It would be a shame if he lost his place but Charlie did say that there would be no ifs, ands, or buts. sucks for Daniel, but rules are rules. Remember back in 2011 when Sauber was disqualified due to a manufacturing fault causing the rear wing to fall in to noncompliance.

    1. Yeah, it would be a pretty clear disqualification if it turned out to be true… and it would MASSIVELY suck.

  10. should be allowed to use the fuel as you please, everyone has the same amount so at the end your either over taken or able to push like crazy,

    that is a stupid law…

    1. Agree. Would lead to more exciting racing if drivers could conserve fuel and let fly with everything they’ve got in the last few laps.

      Allows for more options in strategy as well, which is what the FIA wants.

    2. I agree and have done since the rules were announced. It’s a pointless thing to regulate.

  11. oh man…someone’s reality is going back to dream…too bad for dan

  12. Uh oh.

  13. I wonder if they did this deliberately giving their past with technical infringements

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      16th March 2014, 9:58

      Why would they deliberately put themselves at risk of losing 18 points? Especially in a season such as this where scoring points is of utmost importance.

      Is this some sort of ‘Ferrari Tin-foil hat’ theory or something?

      1. @tophercheese21

        Why would they deliberately put themselves at risk of losing 18 points?

        They risked more in the past (Bahrain 2012, Monaco 2012 with the hole in the car, Germany 2012 engine mapping …..)

        Is this some sort of ‘Ferrari Tin-foil hat’ theory or something?

        This my usual conspiracy theory when i’m trying to figure out the bad guys a la sherlock holms

        1. Yes, but in those cases they did have a valid defence case. We haven’t heard anything much on that note yet, but it sounds like Red Bull are arguing an error – not for a grey area in the regulations.

          1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
            16th March 2014, 10:43


            Those previous cases were all down to Red Bull’s interpretation of the regulations.
            This isn’t.

    2. Ferrari should also be checked, they are thirsty this year

    3. I seriously doubt Red Bull would do anything as stupid as that @tifoso1989. The things they have been coming up so far have all been on the edge of what the rules allow but mostly have been withing reach of arguing that they do not in fact infringe on the rules as they are written.
      Given that these sensors and the whole measurement of the fuel flow was discussed in detail and repeatedly tested (especially with regards to tolerances etc.), and a problem was found on only 1 of the Red bulls by all accounts this looks like a very unfortunate mistake somewhere

  14. Mercedes was under investigation for the same thing during practice. Result = no penalty. If they can do it for one team they can do it for the others

    1. Maybe Mercedes was actually inside the rules or else it is only practice, i.e. doesn’t mean anything re points as in the race, where Kevin had to give up passing Daniel because Kevin didn’t have enough fuel.

    2. Practice infringements tend to not be penalised heavily as they have virtually no effect on the race.

      This was a racetime infringement – Magnussen would no doubt have had him, hell, probably Button and maybe even Alonso if the infringement was “consistent” as it appears. Significant effects need significant consequences.

    3. Sounds really retarded comparing Free Practice with an actual race.

  15. Does anyone remember when racing was actually just racing?

    1. That is a silly comment. Every sport needs rules & regulations.

  16. I thought that would get calculated as a whole looking at the GP and not constantly as I thought cars could juggle the fuel at will.

    1. Nope @peartree, it is both a 100kg over the race max, and that 100kg/hr flow rate that they have to keep. The flow gives a maximum to what you can use at any moment, while the maximum fuel allowance means you won’t be able to do even that flow for the whole race (but long enough apparently to be over the flow rate consistently in the case of Daniel Ricciardo here, apparently).

  17. Daniel Ricciardo has been disqualified for fuel limit breach.

    FIA to post confirmation soon.

    1. That’ll wipe the smile off his face.

      Shame, poor guy. It’s not his fault.

    2. So sorry for Daniel and all the Aussie fans. That will teach them to booh at Vettel;-)

    3. Just in case people might wonder where I got the info from: https://twitter.com/tedkravitz/status/445135537285111808

      1. This info has been relayed by some French media :(

    4. Where are you getting that info?

  18. Kevin Magnussen could be on for an unexpected bonus – and beat Hamilton’s record. Rookie start, qualify 4th and finish 3rd is a stat I expected to stand for a while.

    1. It would (sort of) equal Jacques Villeneuve’s record from 1996 @tribaltalker. He finished second on debut after starting on pole and leading most of the race.

      1. Good call @geemac! I’d forgotten – he pushed Damon Hill quite hard that year in the Williams. I was mostly watching for Hill in those days.
        So Magnussen is in good company – two world champions with comparable starting stats.
        Maybe someone could do an article on rookie driver stats and the correlation with subsequent performance?

  19. It would be such a shame if Daniel was disqualified for that superb drive! I hope the FIA just gives a fine to Red Bull or something else.

    1. Yup, fine driving when you’re cheating, no ?? Everybody drove slow to stay within the fuel limit, just 1 guy drove the hell out of that car. No wonder he got so high.

  20. I’m hoping for a 10 grid penality and not a disqualification …

    1. @paeschli It’s a technical infringement so sporting penalties like a grid drop are not available. It’ll be disqualification or nothing.

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