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. MacF1 said on 17th March 2014, 4:12

    Fairest solution would be:

    Given the FIA has stated that Dan did not break any rule himself, if Red Bull can provide accurate evidence that Dan did not exceed the allowed fuel flow allowance (gaining no advantage) then Dan should be allowed to retain his points he earned fairly.

    However given that the Red Bull team clearly broke a rule (albeit a stupid rule with inferior supplied faulty equipment) they should still be penalised by constructors points and/or a fine.

    That would be the fairest outcome and allows FIA to save face for what is a poorly implemented system with poor equipment.

    • Metallion (@metallion) said on 17th March 2014, 10:15

      That’s not a fair solution. Team and driver work together. If the team installs a turbo with higher performance than allowed, that’s also not the driver’s fault but would give him an unfair performance advantage. Should he still go unpunished? I think both Sauber cars were disqualified one or two years ago in Melbourne because of some technicality about their rear wings, something which didn’t even give any performance advantage, it was just a mistake by the team.

  2. Jimmy B said on 17th March 2014, 4:30

    Things like this is why F1 has gone to the crapper. Front ends that look like schlongs, DQ’ing a team over fuel flow, etc, etc… And F1 is anything but “Green”, nor should it strive to be. Going from a car that gets 2mpg to 3mpg isn’t “green”. You want to make the world a cleaner place, boycott China and every other country that doesn’t have strict pollution laws. Racing is about speed, not this crap. You want to make sure teams don’t use over 100kg/h, make the fuel line smaller so only 100kg/h can flow thru it. No need for useless sensors that don’t work half the time and 500 regulations. Morons.

    • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 17th March 2014, 13:39

      You want to make sure teams don’t use over 100kg/h, make the fuel line smaller so only 100kg/h can flow thru it.

      Then the teams will increase the pressure difference across it. Flow increases with pressure difference.

      Really, the only way they can enforce a fuel flow rate is to measure it.

      Actually, there is one other way… Make it actually limit. So, if it notices that more than the limit has passed through, cut power to the spark plugs, so that fuel is just chucked out the exhaust. That’d stop the teams trying anything. Only the FIA can disable the system, in case of fault.

  3. Peter said on 17th March 2014, 4:31

    It would be interesting to see the comparison between Rossberg’s and Ricciardo’s fuel flow charts. Rossberg led from start to finish and was continuously increasing the gap each lap to Riciardo who ran the whole race in 2nd place (apart from pit stops for both). Rossberg also posted the fastest lap for the race! So Rossberg drove faster than Ricciardo but was within the new (stupid) rules on fuel, must be a great little engine, can’t wait for Mercedes to get it into a production car.

  4. Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 17th March 2014, 7:18

    This is complete and utter BS. Ridiculous and totally nonsense rule. Whats next? Water cooling flow must not exceed a certain rate?, the wheel must not spin too many times?

    • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 17th March 2014, 13:41

      Or maybe a ridiculous limit on how fast the engine can spin? Or how big the cylinders can be?

      *FACEPALM*

      • dkpioe said on 17th March 2014, 16:12

        facepalm yourself, this is totally different. they have imposed a 100kg limit for fuel, yet no teams will get close to using 100kg anyway because of the fuel flow rate limit! do the maths. teams will be racing with 60-70kg of fuel only, racing at below 100kg/h fuel flow rate.

        • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 17th March 2014, 17:05

          The flow rate limit is there to restrict the maximum power the cars have available, otherwise they would potentially have unlimited power.

        • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 17th March 2014, 22:41

          It is not totally different, it is exactly the same. In fact, in a naturally aspirated engine, the rev and capacity limits are effectively a fuel flow limit.

          The problem is that, in a turbo engine, they can theoretically just keep upping the boost to get unlimited power output. The FIA needed some way to keep this under control. They could have applied a boost limit, but this would not allow the torque her can get at low revs now. That leaves air or fuel flow. They chose fuel, probably because it’s easier to measure.

      • dkpioe said on 17th March 2014, 16:14

        facepalm 2 for yourself, no cars will reach the 15,000rpm limit either for engine power, as they are dictated by flow rates, and most cars will only do 10,00rpm at that rate… which results in slower lap times, quieter engines and a boring quiet f1 cars.

  5. James Hosford (@hosford90) said on 17th March 2014, 12:02

    OK. I’m not a real technical expert (though I do understand the basics of this.)

    It seems to me that when you add it all together, it appears likely that the fuel flow limit was never physically exceeded? Would people find my interpretation correct?

    Rather, it’s a case of the procedural screw-up. Red Bull didn’t go through the proper channels to have their faulty sensor addressed and completely ignored the instructions to offset the reading (which must have been showing a few kg/h more than was actually flowing) by not pushing close to the 100, by flowing more than the margin of error underneath the 100.

    Ergo, with both those things combining, the FIA can only take the readings being provided by their sensors, and those readings are over 100kg/h. So it’s fair enough.

    It’s horrible cruel for Dan, especially if the fuel flow limit was never ACTUALLY exceeded. But his team is still to blame. They’ve screwed up doubly there. It sounds to me like there’s enough procedures in place in the event of a failure to be transparent about it and get it dealt with. But Red Bull had to have their perfect combination of clandestine, arrogant and win-at-all-costs behaviour put the mist in front of their eyes and make them go ‘NUP, WON’T GET IN TROUBLE, JUST IGNORE IT AND KEEP GOING AS WE WERE, AND USE OUR OWN MONITORING SYSTEM SO WE CAN PROVE OUR FLOW WAS LEGAL TO THE FIA LATER!’

    As for the appeal, no doubt Red Bull will base it all around a fundamental ‘your sensor was faulty, this whole case is flawed, you can’t take the unreliable readings of a faulty sensor as proof of anything’, then they will show their data from their own monitoring system.

    By doing this they’ll on the one hand PROVE the fuel flow was legal, but on the other hand essentially plead guilty to the second main charge, of not using FIA approved monitoring systems. My guess is, considering they basically are screwed and have without any question broken at least one set of rules, they’ll be willing to throw that charge under the bus in order to try and get the basic fundamental one (that their fuel flow exceeded the allowed limit) cleared.

    Does anyone think they’ll be able to? I don’t think so. I can’t find anywhere that lists the regulations (and their attached penalties) in detail, so does anyone know whether BOTH these offenses are categorically disqualification worthy?

    If so, they’re totally doomed no matter what.

    I do tend to think though, perhaps just coz I’m a sympathetic Aussie, that IF they’re only guilty of the procedural part of it (ie: not of physically exceeding the fuel flow limit, which if they did is a completely justified full disqualification coz it’s a tangible performance advantage), maybe Dan should keep the 2nd place, because ultimately he was there on merit and the car itself had no illegal performance advantage. I’d like to see Red Bull just lose the constructor’s points in that case I think.

    But I still don’t think there’s any chance of anything changing.

  6. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 17th March 2014, 12:33

    As a point of principle I can’t see how it’s an acceptable situation that the mandated fuel flow sensors provided by the FIA are known to be both unreliable and inaccurate, and yet the teams are not given the opportunity to demonstrate that the sensor is misreading. So you end up with a situation where some teams may be getting an unfair advantage and others may be getting disadvantaged, and they’re meant to just accept it and put up with it.

    That, to me, feels like an absolute farce.

    • Alex McFarlane said on 17th March 2014, 16:41

      +1. This is something the FIA need to answer otherwise the integrity of the rules is lost.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 17th March 2014, 19:18

      More or less where I have been coming from all along, and what next, Ferrari starting to win races with what appears to be more power and winning the championship thanks to a double point score in the last race, wink wink nudge nudge.

    • Andreas said on 19th March 2014, 12:06

      I’m not sure these sensors are “known to be unreliable and inaccurate”. Any component will have tolerances – for instance, electronic components can often be as tight as +/-1%, which may not seem much, but in the world of F1 is still too big a margin. This is why each fuel flow meter is calibrated and accompanied by a correction chart, to make sure the actual physical flow is correct, even if the measured flow differ slightly. This means the teams’ own measurements from the injectors might differ from those from the fuel flow meter, but the corrected fuel flow meter readings are treated as the yardstick.

      All teams except RBR applied these corrections. RBR decided to ignore them and use their injector readings instead. We don’t know why, but it wouldn’t be hard to imagine they did that because they felt it would be to their advantage to do so…

  7. The regulations state a maximum flow rate, not a maximum consumption rate. So the flow back into the tank is irrelevant.
    Flow meters are very tricky. I have experience with the mechanical ones, F1 is using ultrasonic sensors. But I believe some of the same physics apply. It is not a linear problem. There is turbulent vs linear flow, viscosity , temperature and a couple of other factors. Thats the fluid dynamics. What can be equally interesting is the electronics side. Anyway I think it all comes down to the calibration procedure and how those corrections are applied.

    According to the regulations (5.10) there are only measuring points. One in the tank presumably measuring the outflow and before the injectors , it can be one sensor or one per injector. If I interpret the regulations correctly 5.1.4 probably pertain to the fuel tank sensor, since by definition (5.10.5) the flow rate can’t change after that. So the flow back can only be calculated by the difference between the cumulative injector rate and the tank flow rate.

    |==(M1)==> Pump ==(M2)==> Engine(Injectors)
    Tank | |
    |<=========

    There is always a margin of error, the question is was the violation within the margin or not
    As to this dispute, regardless of what happened on the technical side, it was clearly a violation of the rules.

  8. tezza (@terro55) said on 17th March 2014, 16:33

    Could someone please clarify for me was red bull only disqualified for the breach of the fuel flow or was ”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.” this a factor too. If the latter was involved in the decision than how could red bull appeal. Apologies if this has been answered

  9. Lucky said on 17th March 2014, 22:13

    Do you guys remember when Mclaren stole Farraris data
    For stealing they should be banned from F1 sportbut instead only points taken from constructor but
    Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were not penalised and allowed to continue their fight for the drivers’ title.
    That happen for almost whole season and this one was only 1 race and driver was innocent
    If u have to punish Red bull, then leave ricciardo alone

  10. Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 18th March 2014, 1:38

    I’m not sure that I fully understand the whole debate as the facts seem unclear. However, the stewards didn’t make this decision lightly as they deliberated for 5 hours and it was made with full knowledge of the impact it would have on the Australian fans. If anything, it sounds to me like Red Bull were trying to “test the waters” and see if they could get away with it by creating a super complex situation.

    If the FIA had let them get away with it in Australia, that would have opened the door for RB to do the same and more in Malaysia…

    I feel really bad for Ricciardo and Australians but it sounds like the right decision was made. If Red Bull did this on purpose, however, they got away very lightly. Just the publicity of Ricciardo and Red Bull was worth millions to Red Bull…

  11. Alex McFarlane said on 18th March 2014, 8:26

    Nothing, but we haven’t seen Red Bull’s evidence yet. It does make you wonder if the rules can be accurately enforced though. I’m glad Red Bull challenged it, if only to highlight this issue. When teams start pushing the limits properly you need a sensor that can reliably distinguish between a legal 99.5kg/hr and an illegal 100.5kg/hr or the integrity of the rules becomes questionable.

  12. one question, how do the FIA calculate the ‘offset’ needed? what do they use as a standard that is 100% bullet proof and uncontestable? were all teams given tailormade ‘offsets’? my understanding, minimal as it is, seems as though the FIA directive is simply that, a directive, and that the only regulation that MAY have been breached is that the fuel flow rate has been exceeded. if this is so then all other emotive issues should be ignored. if RBR can prove conclusively that they have not breached the regulation then surely the original results must be reinstated. IMO of course.

  13. It’s clear cut in my opinion that the team are to blame, not the driver. DR should have those points reinstated, and team penalised with no constructor points awarded.
    Regardless of this result, DR will blitz the championship, that includes the Mercs in the next few rounds & the 2014 championship.
    Vettel will also be in the 2014 race…..regardless of what’s been said, his racing style is ice.

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