Stewards detail reasons for Ricciardo’s disqualification

2014 Australian Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2014Following Daniel Ricciardo’s exclusion from second place in the Australian Grand Prix the FIA stewards issued the following explanation for their decision:

1) The Technical Delegate reported to the Stewards that Car 3 exceeded the required fuel mass flow of 100kg/h. (Article 5.1.4 of the Formula One Technical Regulations)

2) This parameter is outside of the control of the driver, Daniel Ricciardo.

3) The fuel flow is measured using the fuel flow sensor (Art. 5.10.3 & 5.10.4 of the Technical Regulations) which is homologated by the FIA and owned and operated by the team.

4) The stewards considered the history of the fitted fuel flow sensor, as described by the team and the Technical Delegate’s representative who administers the program. Their description of the history of the sensor matches.

a. During Practice 1 a difference in reading between the first three and Run 4 was detected. The same readings as Run 4 were observed throughout Practice 2.

b. The team used a different sensor on Saturday but did not get readings that were satisfactory to them or the FIA, so they were instructed to change the sensor within Parc Ferme on Saturday night.

c. They operated the original sensor during the race, which provided the same readings as Run 4 of Practice 1, and Practice 2.

5) The Stewards heard from the technical representative that when the sensor was installed on Saturday night, he instructed the team to apply an offset to their fuel flow such that the fuel flow would have been legal. He presented an email to the stewards that verified his instruction.

6) The technical representative stated to the Stewards that there is variation in the sensors. However, the sensors fall within a known range, and are individually calibrated. They then become the standard which the teams must use for their fuel flow.

7) The team stated that based on the difference observed between the two readings in P1, they considered the fuel flow sensor to be unreliable. Therefore, for the start of the race they chose to use their internal fuel flow model, rather than the values provided by the sensor, with the required offset.

8) Technical Directive 016­14 (1 March 2014) provides the methodology by which the sensor will be used, and, should the sensor fail, the method by which the alternate model could be used.

a. The Technical Directive starts by stating: “The homologated fuel flow sensor will be the primary measurement of the fuel flow and will be used to check compliance with Articles 5.1.4 and 5.1.5 of the F1 Technical Regulations…” This is in conformity with Articles 5.10.3 and 5.10.4 of the Technical Regulations.

b. The Technical Directive goes on to state: “If at any time WE consider that the sensor has an issue which has not been detected by the system WE will communicate this to the team concerned and switch to a backup system” (emphasis added.)

c. The backup system is the calculated fuel flow model with a correction factor decided by the FIA.

9) The FIA technical representative observed thought the telemetry during the race that the fuel flow was too high and contacted the team, giving them the opportunity to follow his previous instruction, and reduce the fuel flow such that it was within the limit, as measured by the homologated sensor – and thus gave the team the opportunity to be within compliance. The team chose not to make this correction.

10) Under Art. 3.2 of the Sporting Regulations it is the duty of the team to ensure compliance with the Technical Regulations throughout the Event. Thus the Stewards find that:

A) The team chose to run the car using their fuel flow model, without direction from the FIA. This is a violation of the procedure within TD/ 016­14.

B) That although the sensor showed a difference in readings between runs in P1, it remains the homologated and required sensor against which the team is obliged to measure their fuel flow, unless given permission by the FIA to do otherwise.

C) The Stewards were satisfied by the explanation of the technical representative that by making an adjustment as instructed, the team could have run within the allowable fuel flow.

D) That regardless of the team’s assertion that the sensor was fault, it is not within their discretion to run a different fuel flow measurement method without the permission of the FIA.

2014 Australian Grand Prix

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290 comments on Stewards detail reasons for Ricciardo’s disqualification

  1. Dave Hunt said on 16th March 2014, 13:54

    Lucky it wasn’t Ferrari and Alonso who did this. Imagine the outcry!

    Seriously how sad for Ricciardo! But, if they were warned…

    • aka_robyn said on 16th March 2014, 13:57

      I think it’s safe to say that RBR gets just as much of an outcry these days. (Although maybe Ricciardo doesn’t…yet.)

  2. Jere Jyrala said on 16th March 2014, 14:19

    Stupid restriction! it should only be 100 kg (140 litres) for full tank from start to chequered flag, but not for fuel flow per hour also!

  3. Jere Jyrala said on 16th March 2014, 14:20

    I feel sorry for him, because he drove good race, so he deserved 2nd place & He’s also one of my favourite drivers.

  4. Massimo (@madmax69) said on 16th March 2014, 14:39

    Hi all, new here but would like to comment on this too:

    ” “Inconsistencies with the FIA fuel flow meter have been prevalent all weekend up and down the pit lane. The team and Renault are confident the fuel supplied to the engine is in full compliance with the regulations.”

    During the race weekend the teams were advised by race director Charlie Whiting of a change to the fuel flow filter frequency. The teams were given the following notification:

    “Following a review of the fuel flow data from the practice sessions the following change will be applied for qualifying and the race.

    “The maximum fuel flow limit mFFMIllegal will be checked using a fuel flow filter frequency (parameter fdmFFMFuelFilter) of 5Hz instead of the 10Hz currently configured in the FIA data version.

    “Due to time constraints before the qualifying session the FIA data versions will not be changed. The revised monitoring will be processed by the FIA off­-car.” ”

    This is an extract form 2 articles above this one.

    From this one can deduce that all other teams complied with the offset in in measurement from the sensor otherwise there would be quite a few cars disqualified. Hence a clear breach of regulations from RB.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 16th March 2014, 19:34

      Not so, some sensors may have been overeading and some could have been undereading, those underreading would would have full performance but appear to be using less fuel than those over reading.

  5. Michael Brown (@) said on 16th March 2014, 14:44

    The FIA instructed Red Bull to use a faulty sensor, which they complied, because there wasn’t a better alternative. Red Bull was contacted by the FIA to change the calculation of their fuel flow to conform to the regulation. However, if the FIA was receiving data from a faulty fuel sensor, then who says that information was correct and they had the authority to instruct Red Bull to change their fuel flow? For all we know, Red Bull had the correct calculation and the FIA was instructing them to change to a less desirable alternative.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 16th March 2014, 15:21

      @lite992, read the article again, and the ones before about about this issue and it becomes pretty clear that every one agrees (and probably this started during the winter tests already) that the sensor has a certain accuracy which means that it might show a flow rate over 100kg/h at times if you are really close to that limit.

      The sensor isn’t really faulty so much as that it is less accurate than the teams and FIA would like ( I saw comments on this site that WEC also uses it, and there it is a known issue).

      Thus, the FIA issued a ‘correction factor’ which meant that to be safe you just run to a lower limit (I read 96kg/h); which the other teams did, costing them power, but Red Bull refused to do.

      Thus, the issue is not whether that sensor is faulty, but that Red Bull refused to play by the rules that the FIA set for this race, and that others also had to follow to be sure they were within the rules. Red Bull were even given a chance during the race to change and become compliant, as others were, but again refused, effectively wanting to play to _more_ desirable rules than the other competitors.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 16th March 2014, 19:41

        @bosyber, read further and you will see that the sensor was accurate part of the time and inaccurate at other times, I have not seen it written that other teams were ordered to reduce fuel usage and complied, nor do we know if these sensors are always undereading or overeading so applying a blanket correction to all cars sounds highly unlikely.

  6. John H (@john-h) said on 16th March 2014, 14:50

    That although the sensor showed a difference in readings between runs in P1, it remains the homologated and required sensor against which the team is obliged to measure their fuel flow, unless given permission by the FIA to do otherwise

    My original reaction was to side with the FIA on this one, perhaps part of me almost wanting Red Bull to be disqualified due to their attitude in previous seasons to the regs. However, I actually think they have a case with this one. How the FIA can declare that this sensor is not faulty when even themselves say it was giving faulty measurements on the Friday (the one they had to put back into the car on Saturday night) seems a bit off.

    In my opinion, the penalty is harsh and the FIA should have supplied a working sensor for the weekend to the team. I wonder how if the ‘difference’ noted in FP1 occured for any of the other teams for example? The fact it isn’t mentioned in this extensive list suggests that it wasn’t a problem.

  7. Yoshisune (@yobo01) said on 16th March 2014, 14:52

    One positive to take out from this episode is that the FIA gave us a very detailed report of the matter. It’s really good, in previous years we only knew half of the story.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 16th March 2014, 15:22

      Yep @yobo01, that is indeed, and especially in the case of the 1st race, with a podium place at stake, and with this new and essential rule, a very good thing.

      I guess it is also a signal from the FIA to the teams that they will indeed, as announced, show zero tolerance on this.

  8. Palle (@palle) said on 16th March 2014, 15:39

    Especially point 10 D) makes it hard for me to believe that RBR’s appeal will succeed, even if they can prove with some probability that they were within the 100kg/h limit. But it is an interesting technical problem, that the FIA tries to police something – according to rules – so important with a seemingly low quality, difficult to calibrate and use correctly – sensor.

    • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 16th March 2014, 17:13

      The problem is that the FIA sensor is the only one to have legal power.

      On a side note, with so many problems around the sensors, it would be better if the FIA was more careful, no? It’s better to have a killer in the nature than hold an innocent man in a prison.

  9. Joshua Mesh (@joshua-mesh) said on 16th March 2014, 15:55

    Its a bit strange that the FIA have released their reasoning. Normally they dont.

    Is this because he’s the crowd favorite or is this a sign of a new, more transparent, policy for 2014?

  10. Roberto Vilarinho said on 16th March 2014, 16:11

    Too many complex rules, and poor racing. I’m disappointed with this new f1, everyone just nursing their cars to the finish….

    Sad for Riccardo, he deserved that result.

    I’ll pay more attention to Indycars and Australian’s V8 this year, real engines, real power, real racing…

    • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 17th March 2014, 13:26

      Were you watching the same race as I was? I didn’t see much, if any, nursing (and certainly less than last year). The racing was, IMHO, better than most of last year, except for 1st.

      And, my main point, made several times: F1 rules are complicated. They have always been complicated. They will always be complicated. It is the nature of the beast when you have incredibly complicated machines whose development needs to be controlled.

      This year’s regs only seem complicated because we have all focussed on them, and they are changed so much from last year. The fuel flow limit is not complicated, and more than a rev limit or engine capacity limit is complicated. In reality, the regulations are not much more complicated than last year’s.

  11. FIA applies homologated fuel-flow sensors from Calibra Technology a newly (2013) established company headed by Mr. Andrew Burston, which was a.o. engaged by Mercedes Benz High Performance Engines as the Sustainability Judge in their 2011 Formula Student event to source young engineers for their Brixworth site.

    Due to late homologation Calibra pressrelease indicates : “A late change to the mounting requirements for the meter has also seen some F1 teams having to make late changes to the 2014 cars fuel system design”.

    Conclusion : The best solution in future is that FIA provides all vehicles themselves, and contract the drivers also themselves. It increases the competition amongst the contenders and is independent of company interests during the races.
    and also

  12. Hairs (@hairs) said on 16th March 2014, 16:37

    Horner’s interview states they were “quite surprised” and they “complied fully with the technical regulations”.

    Since the steward’s ruling clearly states they were repeatedly warned during the race they’ve got no basis to be surprised.

    Since the technical regulations clearly state teams are not allowed to use their own equipment to measure fuel flow, and they’re not allowed to change the methods they use to measure the fuel flow, and they’re not allowed to change any of these things without permission from the FIA, what grounds do they think they have to claim they “complied with the technical directives at all times”?

    Total nonsense.

  13. Patrick (@paeschli) said on 16th March 2014, 16:53

    Inconsistencies with the FIA fuel flow meter have been prevalent all weekend up and down the pit lane. The Team and Renault are confident the fuel supplied to the engine is in full compliance with the regulations. – Red Bull

  14. Jimmy N said on 16th March 2014, 17:04

    It did seem strange to me that when the McLaren engineers eventually let Magnussen turn his car up for the last couple of laps that he didn’t catch Ricciardo at all.. in fact the gap appeared to grow.

    On a separate note.. imagine the conspiracy theories if it were still Webber in the number 2 car.. I’m sure Red Bull are smart enough to have done this for a good reason, and it was done with a bigger picture strategy.. but I can’t help but think they wouldn’t have thrown away a 2nd place finish for Seb so willingly..

  15. Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 16th March 2014, 17:20

    Red Bull has always used the “there is no test that detects our wing flexing so legally it doesn’t flex”. Now their fuel flow by their own measurements) is ok, but the test says otherwise. So now they conveniently switch to saying that the tests are wrong.

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