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. Although what I do find hilarious is I guarantee if it had been Vettel who had suffered from the issue it would be “dirty cheats!” “Ban him from racing forever!” “Red Bull should be disqualified from the championship!”.

    1. @vettel1 It’s the modern world we live in Max, It’s sad to see how certain fans treat the champions of the sport. Yesterday during Qualifying the crowd cheered when Vettel crossed the line in 12th and went berserk when Ricciardo almost took pole. Some people actually where doing the booing routine again when he stepped into the paddock.

      It’s mediocre if you do something like that, such folk cannot be considered true fans of the sport.

      1. I guess they are holding a grudge because of “multi 21” situation from Malaysia last year.

  2. Old Lightnin (@lightnin-hopkins)
    16th March 2014, 10:08

    Just how brilliant was Daniels drive if he was miles behind the Mercedes and struggling to keep kev behind when he had more power? Vettle is gonna wreak this kid. you’ll see

    1. Really? What if Seb’s performance on Saturday is what the current RBR car is worth when it’s running within the regulations’ limits? Surely beating Ricciardo to 12th isn’t much of an accomplishment

  3. The FIARce. Dan doesn’t deserve this given the way he drove. Red Bull owe him an apology. Vettel will be pleased though.

    1. Yeah Vettel will be real pleased his team now has 0 points as opposed to 18.

    2. If it was a clear technical breach that potentially gives a performance advantage, then ultimately the team should face a sanction irrespective of how unpopular the result it. I know it won’t be widely supported, but if it is definitely breaking the rules then it shouldn’t be the case that a driver can get away with it just because their performance made them popular.

  4. I fail to understand why, with all that technology, the fuel useage maximum rate cannot be limited automatically. Surely this is not something the driver should be able to change.

    1. I disagree, i want to see some strategic planning from drivers or with a team input when to back off and when to push using more fuel.

      1. @archimedas
        He hasn’t used too much. He has used fuel too quickly.
        He cannot, even for a tenth of a second use fuel at a rate higher then 100kg/h.

    2. They are barely getting most of their cars to run, so no surprise. Remember, they have only had a few days of testing in a few weeks. Sure the electronics on the car should take care of the max flow limit, though the driver should be able to adjust it. I’am sure that will come, but first they have to get them running properly.

      If the engine was a commercial project, they would have been doing years of real life testing. Given all that, I’am quite surprised to see so many classified finishers(even with Ric’s DSQ), but it must be said, that only two of them with an Renault engine…

  5. He didn’t know what his car was doing.

  6. That would be a shame if Daniel was to be disqualified. This would also be a really bad news for Red Bull. The consistently exceeded fuel flow surely gives a performance boost. Without this boost, with flow within proper limits, the Red Bull car would not be competitive.

    1. You are just assuming that. We still don’t actually know that it exceeded the limit, and no concern was expressed on Friday (where they also seemed fairly competitive).

    2. @cyclops_pl

      Without this boost, with flow within proper limits, the Red Bull car would not be competitive.

      Why not? Ricciardo put it on the front row without using fuel too quickly.
      Illegal would, theoretically be anything as little as 100.01kg/h. Depending on how accurately the fuel flow meter can actually be.

  7. obviously RBR Pit crew was trying to be clever, im pretty sure they knew it all along during the race.. RBR should be punished.. not good for the driver though..

  8. The very worrying word in the report is “consistently” – it implies either a software fault or that Ricciardo was gaining a clear advantage for the majority of the race. Unfortunately I’d say this is a done deal, but rules are rules.

  9. I wonder if this will have ramifications for the future of the Australian GP… It would be easy to feel that Australians’ performances are continuing to be undermined.

  10. A question from the uninformed: how could he complete the race with only 100kgs of fuel if the flow rate “consistently” exceeded the 100kg per hr over the duration of a race which was nearly 1 3/4 hrs?

  11. Alright, I’m going to do a ‘Horner’ and ask for some clarity here.

    I think I may have misunderstood the new rules a bit. So, the cars are only allowed 100kg of fuel onboard and may not use more than 100kg of fuel per hour.

    What I don’t understand here is that you obviously cannot consume more than 100kg of fuel per hour as you wouldn’t be able to finish the race. So how exactly do they measure whether a car is using a fuel flow higher than 100kg/h over one lap or ten laps for that matter?

    1. EDIT: Because if I understand this correctly, the rule is absolutely ridiculous and not required at all in the first place. You should be allowed to use that 100kg of fuel as you wish during the race.

    2. @aced because you won’t always be using that value. You would only reach 100kg/h rate at maybe 12000rpm: below that your rate would be lower (say at 6000rpm it would be only 50kg/h).

      So when it is averaged out (maybe you average 9000rpm), you will only be using the 100kg in the time.

      1. Thanks @vettel1

        I just read Keith’s article on it and understood what the whole deal is here. I still think the rule is unnecessary, though.

        1. @aced Always good to hear :-)

        2. You’re welcome @aced :)

          I agree entirely – it doesn’t improve efficiency as you are still using the same amount of fuel and it introduces some strategic variety. Allow an unrestricted fuel flow, ban DRS.

          1. @vettel1, I think the idea of the fuel flow limit is to prevent the engine being able to develop 1000+hp and have the races turn into alternating slow laps with sudden drag races to prevent or achieve overtaking, also ironically for reliability concerns.

  12. I was fine with the 100kg fuel limit, but I always thought this rule was stupid. Well, what can we do now?

  13. Is disqualification the only punishment available? Could he be sent to the back of the grid in Malaysia or something else?

    1. @mwyndo7
      A technical breach of the regulations is always punished with disqualification unless the breach is caused by damage, or other faulty components. In which case no penalty will be given.

  14. Does anybody knows what performance benefit that would have given him? 0.5 sec a lap, more, less?

    1. @paeschli it would depend on exactly how much more fuel was being dumped into the engine beyond the 100kg/h. From there this would equate into a larger output and could go from anywhere really in how much quicker lap times became.

    2. @paeschli
      That will depend entirely on how much over the limit he was.
      He could be 2kg/h, or it could be 0.02kg/hr
      So until we know that, guessing how much faster it made him is simply impossible.

    3. wouldn’t he lose that benefit in other parts of the race? what a retarded rule.

  15. In response to why it took a while after the race to flag the problem, There have been some technical problems this weekend with the telemetry systems relaying the information to the FIA & FOM.

    So to ensure they had correct data they downloaded the data off each car post race as soon as they were able to & the data downloaded from the cars ECU & teams internal telemetry is more accurate.

    Besides its down to each individual team to monitor the fuel flow & inform the driver if he needs to save a bit more or not. Everyone else seems to have managed to do this.

    Disqualification may seem harsh, But if a technical regulation was broken & the penalty is clearly defined & has been reiterated several times, Then its fair.

  16. Might just be me, but given how unclear the rules are as of yet, and that the FIA’s sensor is not yet 100% proven, I wonder if there might be a halfway-punishment of some sort (i.e. Daniel’s result – and points – stand, but Red Bull get no constructors points).

  17. Can anyone clear how precise the rule of a fuel flow limit 100kg/h is defined?

    If it’s only written “fuel flow rate may not exceed 100kg/h” then it’s not very precise because for example you can use 120 kg/h for 30 min and 80 kg/h, then you would still be within the rules on average for the 1h. I know it’s measured 5 times per second but if the rule still stands as it is – you could take interprete the rule as average or at any measurement.

    This also makes too much fuel saving an disadvantage and you have to be very precise with fuel management. For example: If you driver A saved more fuel than driver B and could still use fuel rates of 110 kg/h to make it to the finish whilst driver B can only use 100 kg/h. Then driver A could not use his advantage on driver B.

    Overall the rule about fuel flow rate is unnecessary in my view.

    1. Apparently, the fuel usage is not supposed to exceed a peak rate higher than 100kg/h at any instant. Since the measurement is done every 0.2 seconds(5 times per second), that’s 5.56 gram of fuel per 0.2 sec. Also, it seems that the maximum allowed flow of 100kg/h(5.56g/0.2s) seems to be allowed only above 10500rpm(I could be wrong there). And, yes, the rule seems to be really unnecessary.

      1. EDIT: I guess the 5 times per second only measurement is done for practical reasons as it would probably be impossible to measure it at every instant.

        1. Not just for practical but for fundamentally theoretical reasons. There can’t be infinite number of measurements every finite second:D

      2. On top of all this complexity you have to take into account that the density of the fuel varies with temperature so fuel volume and fuel weight are not constant, with a large battery pack being constantly charged and discharged situated right under the fuel tank I suspect that the fuel temperature would increase significantly during the race causing an increase in volume per kg.

        1. Fuel volume is not constant, but its mass does not change. That’s why all the regs are specified in kg, not litres.

    2. I think it is measured at 50 or 10 Hz, cant remember of the top of my head exactly which one of those figures are correct, they changed from one to the other.

      So no, it is measured multiple times a second and all those have to be below the limit.
      Also a measurement is not just a single number, it is an interval, with a certain probability, that the actual figure is somewhere within that interval. This would depend on the fuel flow sensor, the measurement (interval) has to contain the 100 kg/h (or be below it), if that is not the case, its a technical breach.

      Finally, I think the rule is good and necessary. And fans should not blame the rule, but say it as it is: we hate to see drivers DSQed.
      If there was no fuel limit, the engine manufacturers would be obligated to build engines capable of 300 kg/h or something ridiculous like that. (obligated, to remain competitive) Firstly that would almost certainly increase engine disparity even more as well as unreliability. Secondly it would massively increase the possible performance range settings of the engine, meaning less wheel to wheel action like we saw today,a driver could just push a button and sail past, if you dislike DRS, this would be a whole different thing entirely and FIA would have no control over it, unlike DRS. And thirdly, most of the teams can barely afford the engines at the moment, at a time when teams don’t want to waste money on tyre warmers, having non-flow-limited engines would be a massive waste, for them to be used at the limit for a couple of laps in qualifying and a few laps in the race.

      There is a good reason why we have parc ferme (No qualy-only chassis, engine etc.), and there are good reason why we have the flow limit.

      1. Also a measurement is not just a single number, it is an interval, with a certain probability, that the actual figure is somewhere within that interval. This would depend on the fuel flow sensor, the measurement (interval) has to contain the 100 kg/h (or be below it), if that is not the case, its a technical breach.

        So, if I can interpret that to ensure I am understanding right… if you look at any two measurements taken in time, whether they be 2 seconds, 2 minutes, 30 minutes or 60 minutes apart, the rate of fuel flow has to be below that 100 kg/h rate. Therefore, you couldn’t flow fuel at 120 kg/h for 30 minutes, and then dial it back to 80 kg/h for 30 minutes to be under the limit. Correct?

        @xenomorph91 – thanks for asking. I was wondering the same thing myself.

        1. The bit where you quoted me, I talk abou the margin of error.

          No, it is measured multiple times every second, meaning the flow can not exceed 100 kg/h (or 27.78 grams / second) at any moment.

    3. @xenomorph91

      If it’s only written “fuel flow rate may not exceed 100kg/h” then it’s not very precise because for example you can use 120 kg/h for 30 min and 80 kg/h, then you would still be within the rules on average for the 1h. I know it’s measured 5 times per second but if the rule still stands as it is – you could take interprete the rule as average or at any measurement.

      100kg/h is a flow rate. Not the flow rate average.
      If you at any point were doing 120kg/h you would in breach of the rules.
      Similar to the speed limit on the road. The police don’t care what your average is.

      1. A bit late it seems. Oops.

    4. Thanks for the replies guys, but in either case: speed on streets or fuel flow rate is for me unclear defined – logic presumes that it should be at any given time but that’s not how rules and laws are made – they have to be crystal clear so there is no question about it no matter how you see it. If you write the rules, you have to write them as clear as them and may not give other people freedom for interpretation. You cannot expect that the people reading the rules, interpretate them as you have intended them in the first place.

      If Article Article 5.1.4 would be “Fuel mass flow must not exceed 100kg/h at any given measurement intervall – here: 5 or 10 times per second” then it would be precise.

      That’s how I see it.

      1. *as them = as possible

    5. If the rule was 27.78 g/sec, it would be better, no?

      1. @paeschli, yes, but that would be different to 100Kg ph due to temperature variations.

    6. It’s peak rate – from the article:

      “may not consume fuel at a peak rate higher than 100kg per hour”

    7. Erik Torsner
      16th March 2014, 13:34


      While I haven’t read the regulations until now, the definition isn’t that detailed but shouldn’t be all that difficult to understand and measure. Each car has a mandatory fuel flow meter that measures the fuel flow in real time. That data is stored and sent via the telemetry link to the teams and FIA. The measured value may not exceed 100 kg/h at at any point. Under 10500 RPM, the maximum fuel flow is a function of the RPM. The wording used about Ricciardo makes me think that the measured value for his car was over 100 kg/h a lot during the race.

      (wild oversimplification warning)

      As to why the rule is there. With and combustion engine, the power output is going to correlate very very closely to the amount of air you can force in to it, you just add an appropriate amount of fuel to get an efficient combustion. With the new turbo engines, the “force enough air” part of the problem is pretty much solved, if you need more air, you just let the turbo push more (higher pressure). So given that the mechanical parts in their engines can hold it, you could use an insane pressure from the turbo to force an insane amount of air into the cylinders and then just add enough fuel for a nice combustion.

      While writing regulations for the new engines, I’m assuming that FIA wanted to put some sort of lid on the maximum power output that the engines can produce. Stating a maximum RPM and a maximum fuel flow is a quite efficient way to reach that while still giving the teams a lot of parameters to play around with. They can raise the turbo pressure through the roof but since they can’t add enough fuel to go along, they will not get any more power out of it (just a very hot engine).

      As the rules stand now, the only way to get a significant advantage in power output is to achieve more efficient combustion. I don’t know about these engines, but a normal street car can typically harvest 30% of the energy in the fuel. The other 70% is heat (and noise). I think that FIA and others hopes that a couple of 100 millions USD and some really well motivated F1 engineers will find a way to increase that efficiency and that it’s something that can carry over to street cars in the future. That can not be said about the aerodynamic advanced made by Red Bull and others. “Road relevant” in F1 lingo.

      I think fuel limits and fuel flow limits are great additions to the F1 technical challenge. May the best engineers win :-)

      1. Great post Erik Torsner.

  18. This is just complete BS.

  19. Rules are to be followed, otherwise is chaos, but if this is to happened, what was a great start to the F1 season, after all the negatives talks in the winter, will turn F1 again from the glory to the dark – I am not a Red Bull fan, I like Daniel, but it’s just too bad… F1 needed this boast – this great weekend, from a emotional qualifying to a engaging race!

    1. if only you knew about the invisible hand friend :) If only you knew. There is always chaos, just the illusion of control.

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