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.

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290 comments on Stewards detail reasons for Ricciardo’s disqualification

  1. Alex McFarlane said on 16th March 2014, 17:31

    Rules are rules and the FIA may be technically correct, but it doesn’t sit comfortably with me that in a sport of such fine margins you can be convicted of murder by an unreliable witness, e.g. a fuel flow rate meter that says you are over when you’re not. Being guilty of breaching a rule and being guilty of not following protocol are not one and the same thing, and should be dealt with separately.

    • kbdavies (@kbdavies) said on 16th March 2014, 18:27

      Such hyperbole! Riccardo was simply DSQ’ed; and rightly so.

      • Alex McFarlane said on 16th March 2014, 23:41

        Maybe, but the point stands, if the fuel-flow sensor overread then Red Bull were not in breach of the fuel flow regulations. If a car could be shown by other means that the 100kg/hr rate had been exceeded but the FIA approved sensor indicated it had raced legally, would the FIA stand by their equipment?
        I don’t know how the sensors are calibrated but if they are all inaccurate by varying amounts the playing field isn’t level.

        • Hubba_dubba said on 17th March 2014, 13:04

          What’s not to say the RBR sensor was wrongly calibrated too to read the correct amount but in reality it was running at a higher rate?

          • Alex McFarlane said on 18th March 2014, 9:21

            Sorry, my reply ended up further down the page. Of course, there is nothing to say that Red Bull’s own readings were inaccurate, deliberately or otherwise, but it does highlight that if the flow rate cannot be accurately measured the FIA has a problem that needs addessing, especially if you cannot reliably determine if someone is running legally at 99.5kg/hr and illegally at 100.5kg/hr. We need to see figures from both the FIA and Red Bull.

    • Peter_p3 said on 16th March 2014, 18:42

      How would RBR be able to prove that the full fuel level was in Compliance throughout the race? They can’t.

      • Alex McFarlane said on 17th March 2014, 11:15

        I don’t know, but Red Bull seem to think they have a case. I’d be surprised if the engines didn’t have sensors to monitor fuel consumption. On reflection, the FIA were right to punish Red Bull for not using their sensor, the issue for me going forwards is the accuracy of the flow meters, in a sport where the margins are so fine, if Red Bull have sourced a more accurate meter than the FIA, the latter have dropped the ball, in my opinion. I’m sure we’ll have a better idea of how they work in the coming days and weeks

        • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 17th March 2014, 14:04

          if Red Bull have sourced a more accurate meter than the FIA, the latter have dropped the ball

          It is more likely that they are using other sensor and control data (Injector timings, fuel pressure, mass air flow sensor, lambda sensor) to calculate their fuel flow rate. These are accurate methods, especially when correlated against actual fuel used.

          However, they are only accurate when you are certain of them all. The FIA could not use them to monitor fuel flow rate because if a single variable changes, they cannot work it out.

          And none of this makes up for the fact that RB simply ignored instructions. Right or wrong in their argument, you do what the ref tells you.

          • Alex McFarlane said on 17th March 2014, 16:35

            Fair enough. Will be interesting to hear Red Bull’s side of the story and the evidence they think might let them off the hook.

  2. Sir OBE said on 16th March 2014, 17:49

    Look at it this way.

    If speed limit on a highway is 100khp, you are allowed to do following:
    You are allowed to cover 100km in one hour, by driving 100kph constantly.
    However, you are not allowed cover 100km in one hour, by averaging 100kph over a period of one hour, by driving 50kph at times and then driving 150kph at times.

    • Laurie said on 17th March 2014, 11:10

      or perhaps look at it this way…

      You go out for a race drive in your car and the both you and your mate the local copper think the speedo produces inconstant results (the FIA technician reported that the P1/P2 sensor provided ‘different’ results in the runs, that wasn’t an assertion from RBR).

      So the copper, who just happens to moonlight selling car parts and sold you the dodgy speedo, gives you a new speedo which you duly fit and take out for a test run and both you and he agree it’s even more dodgy than the original one so he instructs you to violate standard road rules and park in a firm bit of roadway to remove the speedo and refit the one.

      So you’re back with a speedo that both of you think is a bit dodgy but the copper gets a bright idea “look the label on the box says it’s accurate to +/- 10km/h” so if you keep the speedo dial reading at least 10 km/h below the speed limit you should be ok. He’s so impressed by his deductive reasoning at this point he sends you an email instructing you and the other cops on the beat about your new “personal” road rule.

      Having no confidence in the speedo any more and not likin the idea of driving 10km/h below the speed limit “just in case”, particularly given no-one else has to adjust their speedo readings you decide to just rely on your gps to tell you what speed you’re doing and ignore the speedo completely.

      The point-to-point speed camera zone you drove through shows your average speed remained below 100km/h so you’re feeling so cocky that you stupidly post a photo up to facebook showing a speedo dial reading 91km/h in a 100km/zone so your now not-so-friendly copper books you for exceeding the speed limit by 1km/h and disqualifies your license.

    • dkpioe said on 17th March 2014, 16:05

      whats your point? was redbull using 150% power at certain times, and only 50% at other times? it is such a stupid rule as no advantage can be gained. if any advantage is gained, it is lost in other parts of the race.

      • Laurie said on 18th March 2014, 9:21

        my point…
        is that
        – RBR are asserting that their fuel injection system never exceeded 100kg/hr
        – the FIA have acknowledged that their sensor was misreading hence the instruction to add an offset to the flow rate it was reporting to come up with a ‘worst case’ flow rate
        – they appear not to have given that instruction to any other team hence Horners complaint that it disadvantaged his driver.
        – but based on the ‘worst case’ measurement of the devices flow-rate report and the offset the car was using more than 100kg/h so the FIA disqualified them

        Like above.. this is like having a copper book you not because his radar gun showed you as speeding but because your dodgy speedo reading plus an offset added up to a number greater than the speed limit, and this despite the fact that your (extremely expensive and high tech) gps showed you stayed within the speed limit

        • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 19th March 2014, 8:10

          Actually, this is more like:
          – A cop has recently pulled you over and given you a warning for speeding.
          – You told them your speedo said you were fine, so the cop told you to drive a little under the limit to be safe.
          – You are driving at bang on the speed limit by your speedo when the same cop sees you again.
          – The cop sets off after you, signalling you to pull over.
          – You ignore the cop and continue to the end of the journey. The cop arrests you for both speeding and failing to stop.

          Now, in this case, you could go to court and prove that the cops radar gun was wrong. But you would still be guilty of failing to stop, a much more serious offence.

          The officials word is law on a race track. Failing to obey them is a very serious matter, no matter whether they are shown to be right or wrong later.

  3. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 16th March 2014, 19:32

    Perfectly reasonable explanation by the FIA. Spot on, Red Bull don’t get to choose what flow rate setting they use, this could set a bad precedent for other teams. They were warned too. I doubt they will pull another one like that again this season, so there. It’s not often we get to say that by good job by the FIA.

  4. H599GTBA said on 16th March 2014, 21:33

    Listen to yourselves arguing the semantics……………………The cars now sound rubbish, nowhere near as spectacular as the original turbo cars, the racing is no better. You have to have a lawyer and mathematician in pit lane giving you advice.
    F1 pftttt.
    Bring back Lord Hesketh and James Hunt please.

  5. techman said on 16th March 2014, 22:09

    So why bother with a fuel flow sensor in the 1st place. The FIA should have supplied a proprietery fuel system instead – restricting the fuel line diameter and fuel pump flow so that it cannot pump more than the legal amount to the engine?? Would the FIA have had real time access to RBR’s data via telemetry also and correlate that with what the mandated sensor was telling them anyway?

    • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 17th March 2014, 13:33

      The FIA should have supplied a proprietery fuel system instead – restricting the fuel line diameter and fuel pump flow so that it cannot pump more than the legal amount to the engine

      The teams would find a way to push that. Look at when they used a volume flow measurement system for refuelling. They limited the volume flow, so the teams chilled the fuel, so they got higher mass flow, so got the fuel they needed into the tank faster.

      • dkpioe said on 17th March 2014, 16:08

        yeh… but who cares?? they have a 100kg limit for the race… that is equal for all. who cares how they use that… it needs to be managed anyway over a race distance and is equal for all.

  6. Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 17th March 2014, 0:00

    Good to see the FIA giving proper explanations for their decisions, it’s a hell of a lot better than what we would have got even a few years ago.

    • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 17th March 2014, 9:20

      They are giving explanations because they are desperate. Explanations are ridiculous, unprofessional, and overly and unnecessarily complicated. How are fans meant to enjoy the sport when such complicated and unnecessary restrictions are in place.

  7. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 17th March 2014, 0:17

    This is so much simpler than a lot of people seem to think…

    The 70mph on a motorway comparison that has been mentioned is the best way of looking at it.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 17th March 2014, 1:35

      @electrolite, by the motorway analogy I presume you mean that if the police have faulty radar and claim you were over the speed limit, having a readout from a GPS showing that you were not speeding is not a valid defense.

      • Kimi4WDC said on 17th March 2014, 3:51

        Thats why the only viable defence is prove radar inability. Which was accounted for by FIA and adjustments were recomended on numerous occasions. Red Bull got “tunnel vision” on this one, no one to blame but them self – I beat Vettel would have few warm words about who ever decided to ignore FIA’s instructions if he had his podium taken for same reason.

      • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 17th March 2014, 13:02


        I was talking about the rule itself, rather than Ricciardo’s penalty. But yes, we can use it for that too!

  8. Dougo44 said on 17th March 2014, 0:51

    Its very simple red bull broke the rule so vettle didnt feel bad for loosing. Carnt have a new driver upstage the old one.

  9. Greg said on 17th March 2014, 1:47

    Absolutely typical RedBull in their lack of consideration to the second driver. They obviously wanted to make a point about the FIAs fuel sensors and choose to do so on Ricciardo’s car and not on Vettel’s.

    The fact that this risked sabotaging Ricciardo’s chances after a fine qualification was either not of a concern to RB or worse was considered as a good thing to make sure the new guy didn’t get a jump on Vettel after his poor qualification and form.

    If RB were convinced they were doing the right thing, why didn’t they do it on Vettels car. They had little to loose as he was starting from p13 and they could have made their point just as well.

    So unfortunately it looks like RB is going to continue the policy of favoratism that has caused so many problems before!

  10. Kimi4WDC said on 17th March 2014, 3:46

    Too bad Daniel is not in Vettel’s position, and who ever took the decision on multiple occasions not to follow FIA’s instructions is off the hook from hearing kind words from driver.

    I wish this happened to Vettel and not Riccardo, but then I dont think anyone would dare to do such experiment on Vettel’s car.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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?


      • 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.

  15. 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.

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