Ricciardo faces investigation for fuel limit breach

2014 Australian Grand Prix

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

  1. 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?

  2. Aced (@aced) said on 16th March 2014, 10:32

    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?

    • Aced (@aced) said on 16th March 2014, 10:34

      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.

    • @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.

  3. Beto (@chebeto) said on 16th March 2014, 10:36

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

  4. Mitch (@mwyndo7) said on 16th March 2014, 10:41

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

    • Mads (@mads) said on 16th March 2014, 10:47

      @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.

  5. Patrick (@paeschli) said on 16th March 2014, 10:52

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

  6. GT Racer (@gt-racer) said on 16th March 2014, 10:56

    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.

  7. Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 16th March 2014, 11:26

    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).

  8. Feuerdrache (@xenomorph91) said on 16th March 2014, 11:28

    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.

    • Aced (@aced) said on 16th March 2014, 11:46

      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.

      • Aced (@aced) said on 16th March 2014, 11:53

        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.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 16th March 2014, 12:42

        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.

    • mateuss (@mateuss) said on 16th March 2014, 11:54

      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.

      • gregwtravels (@gregwtravels) said on 16th March 2014, 12:01

        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.

        • mateuss (@mateuss) said on 16th March 2014, 12:19

          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.

    • Mads (@mads) said on 16th March 2014, 11:57

      @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.

    • Feuerdrache (@xenomorph91) said on 16th March 2014, 12:10

      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.

    • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 16th March 2014, 12:31

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

    • eskopeso said on 16th March 2014, 12:32

      It’s peak rate – from the article:

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

    • Erik Torsner said on 16th March 2014, 13:34

      http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/rules_and_regulations/technical_regulations/8699/fia.html

      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 :-)

  9. Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 16th March 2014, 11:29

    This is just complete BS.

  10. Win7Golf (@win7golf) said on 16th March 2014, 11:31

    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!

  11. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 16th March 2014, 11:43

    It’s a real shame, but if it is true, and they then took no action, that just opens up for a very messy and inconsistent rest of the season – where the precedent has been set that it is okay to exceed the stated limit. Which is a massive bummer. At least Ricciardo got to do the podium ceremony :D

  12. pxcmerc (@pcxmerc) said on 16th March 2014, 11:46

    along side the new nose regulations, the fuel flow regulation is just as inane.

    Who comes up with these rules? If you want to make it about saving fuel, shouldn’t the 100kg per race rule satisfy? I mean if you can do more with less, should you not be rewarded? Maybe not.

    I think the people in charge of the rule book are just looking for excuses to stay employed and finding various ways to give out contracts to their friends.

  13. 5.1.4 Fuel mass flow must not exceed 100kg/h.

    “Must not” – pretty clear legally

  14. Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 16th March 2014, 11:52

    Sorry for him, but if things were off – DSQ is the way to go ! Then, funny how many people talked about Schumacher cheating, but now nobody seems to be talking only about all kind of technical issues. How do we know cheating is not present these days too ?!?! Come on, these engineers are among the finest in the world, that hard is to built and monitor the fuel consumption ?!?! I find that hard to believe if we talk about F1. Anyway, issue or cheating, any team outside the +/-1% margin should be DSQ since the fuel consumption has quite an impact in the car’s performance.

  15. Ean (@ean) said on 16th March 2014, 11:58

    Has been disqualified

    • Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 16th March 2014, 12:09

      Sorry for him, but rules are rules. This rule is more than stupid tho, in my opinion. It kills the racing/driver abilities even more and makes the engineering even more important….. like it wasn’t more important already. The engine with the best HP/fuel consumption ratio is the winner. FIA tries to replace the lack of pure racing by inserting all kinds of rules that add unpredictability and spice up racing artificially in order to create movements in the field.

    • curmudgeon (@curmudgeon) said on 16th March 2014, 12:32

      Has been disqualified

      Seems the stewards haven’t made a decision yet. No technical expertise. Part was replaced after qualification. FIA changed way of checking flow over weekend.

      Unneeded complexity. How about 100kg of fuel and go racing?

    • Little_M_Lo (@pezlo2013) said on 16th March 2014, 12:32

      No he hasnt (yet). Sky Sports F1 tweeted at 12:10 UK times that Dan left the circuit with no result from the investigation

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