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. 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…

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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…

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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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