FIA aware of sensor problems since January – Boullier

2014 F1 season

Gill Sensors Ultrasonic Fuel Flow Meter, 2014The FIA were alerted to potential problems with its fuel flow sensors at the beginning of the year and issued guidelines on compliance at the Bahrain test, according to Eric Boullier.

Daniel Ricciardo was stripped of his second place in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix after his car was found to have exceeded the 100kg/hour peak fuel flow rate. The FIA said Red Bull disregarded their instructions on how to offset their fuel consumption in order to ensure they did not breach the limit.

The McLaren racing director said: “It’s clear that already there was maybe some little bit of accuracy issues between the different sensors,” and they have “been working closely with the FIA since early January” to understand the problems.

“It’s true that at the end the FIA took a position in Bahrain at the second test and made it clear that their fuel sensor would be the reference and it had to be used.”

The FIA issued a technical directive on March 1st, the penultimate day of the final test, stating that its homologated sensor will be “the primary measurement of the fuel flow and will be used to check compliance”.

Boullier added McLaren knew they had to “be careful with the fuel flow”.

“But it’s true that at the end we have been fully compliant during the race, and the whole weekend actually, like most other teams,” he added.

Boullier would not be drawn on the FIA’s reasoning for excluding Ricciardo, saying: “We have enough on plate and we need to do our job to be compliant with the regulations. This is just a matter between the FIA and Red Bull and we don’t want to at all comment.”

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100 comments on FIA aware of sensor problems since January – Boullier

  1. Peter Cotterill (@stigrennfahrer) said on 19th March 2014, 16:56

    So perhaps things ought not to look so dark for Ricciardo after all…I hope that the FIA reverses the decision – he deserved that win, particularly after all the hard work he’s put in over the winter break and that weekend.

    • What?

      These paragraphs kill any hope or a reversal.

      “It’s true that at the end the FIA took a position in Bahrain at the second test and made it clear that their fuel sensor would be the reference and it had to be used.”

      The FIA issued a technical directive on March 1st, the penultimate day of the final test, stating that its homologated sensor will be “the primary measurement of the fuel flow and will be used to check compliance”.”

    • If anything this article just confirms that whilst all other teams used the FIA flow sensor (accurate or not), Red Bull decided to use their own despite regular warnings from Charlie Whiting. If this is a generic device used by all teams, and they conformed to regulations, Ricciardo’s exclusion seems very likely and the correct result, although through no fault of his own. Exceeding the fuel flow limit can and will be seen as an performance advantage.

      • Dwight_js said on 19th March 2014, 18:42

        The issue will likely not end with the final word of the FIA. If the governing body of F1 requires the teams to use a specific part to ensure compliance to a performance rule, and they know that the part is faulty, and they use an imprecise method to roughly offset the readings, and this rough offset method can affect the outcome of a race, then legal action could, and should, follow.

        The FIA are currently in a situation to fix the outcome of a race. Red Bull have decided to challenge this, and the other teams are quietly hiding in the wings to see the outcome.

        • FormulaLes (@formulales) said on 20th March 2014, 3:49

          Agreed. It almost seems as Red Bull may have done this on purpose to get it all out in the open, probably having become frustrated with trying to get resolved through the normal channels with the FIA. No better way to get an issue out there and it resolved once and for all by getting your driver disqualified at his home race, and then appealing against the decision, and having it in the media until it get resolved.

          I mean how many of us were aware of the fuel flow limits, let alone their being faulty sensors before all of this. I think it’s kind of good that it’s in the open now. It might force the FIA to do something about making the sensor reliable, and maybe even assessing flow rates in units that the sensor can actually measure, i.e. volume per period of time as opposed to mass per period of time.

          • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 20th March 2014, 8:52

            I mean how many of us were aware of the fuel flow limits, let alone their being faulty sensors before all of this.

            I don’t know how many were aware, but there have been several articles on this site about the new regs, including one specifically about the fuel and fuel flow limit. I would have thought most real fans would want to know as much as possible about the new regs before the season starts.

            Although going by the number of comments in previous articles about RICs disqualification along the lines of “I thought it was 100kg for the whole race”, I may be in the minority…

          • The fuel flow metre was reported some time back, maybe even in December, so it wasn’t a surprise.
            There is a matter which needs to raised, which is by how much did Daniel exceed the 100kg/hr rate? Is it say 100.001 kg/hr or more like 110kg/hr?
            I guess this question will show my complete ignorance about racing car engines, but was there a fuel return pipe going to the fuel tank from the injection system, like you can have on some diesel engines, and if there is was there a fuel flow meter on that (i.e the fuel consumption being the net result of fuel sent to the injectors minus fuel returned)? If there was a fuel return pipe and no meter, then really it makes the whole thing a bit of a joke, because no one would be surprised if the fuel flow to the injectors did exceed the 100kg/hr as some of was being fed back into the tank.

          • Dwight_js said on 20th March 2014, 16:29

            @drycrust “Is it say 100.001 kg/hr or more like 110kg/hr?” That’s a fair question, but I think the point that Red Bull are trying to make is that the FIA currently do not possess the technology to determine whether an engine is using a fuel flow that is too high, too low, or spot on – the meters are faulty. The FIA are just stamping their feet saying “our way or the highway”.

            I personally would prefer that they get the measurement correct, or junk it altogether.

          • Hemz Shaw (@hemzshaw) said on 20th March 2014, 16:42

            @drmouse

            I would have thought most real fans would want to know as much as possible about the new regs before the season starts.

            Sure real F1 Fans want to know as much as possible about the new Formula, I am sure most of the people did read as much, but not really into detail like a Flow Sensor would determine the Flow Speed. These are more internal communication than to the external world unless events such as a disqualification brings them to light.

      • Exceeding the fuel flow limit can and will be seen as an performance advantage.

        If in fact they exceeded the fuel flow limits then of course you are correct. But I suspect we’ll find that they did not do so, and that this is a (not uncommon) case of the technical regs and the sporting regs coming into conflict.

        I expect to see one good outcome from all this, and that’s the FIA finally getting the fuel flow sensors working properly before the next race.

    • Hairs (@hairs) said on 19th March 2014, 17:22

      He was stripped of second place, not first.

    • hobo (@hobo) said on 19th March 2014, 18:55

      @stigrennfahrer – assuming you mean “podium” instead of “win,” RIC may very well have deserved it. But given what’s been explained to the press thus far, and using the caveat that we probably do not know all the details, it would difficult for me to give him back the place/points.

      Given the information here (also linked in the article above), the only cogent argument that I could see them making would be either:
      1) the fuel flow rate was within the known margin of error of these sensors (I believe it has been reported as somewhere between 0.1 and 0.25% for a vast majority of the sensors produced); or,
      2) the sensor was, and can be shown to be, demonstrably faulty.

      Personally I find the use of flow rate sensors to be unnecessary, overly-complicated, clearly problematic and potentially unreliable, and redundant. The FIA gave them a max fuel volume per race. It should not matter how they use it so long as they make it to the end within the specified fuel allowance.

      That said, I don’t see him getting the place back, but that’s me.

      • gazzaguru said on 20th March 2014, 7:32

        @hobo – then you appear to be misinformed. You cannot state that the flow rate sensors are unnecessary – as they are there for a purpose. The fuel flow regulation is in place to limit the power out of the v6 turbo engine. And although to the uninformed, defining a maximum flow in terms of mass (kg) per hour instead of volume per hours seems overtly silly and complex -it’s is the only sensible way of governing it.

        • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 20th March 2014, 8:59

          The fuel flow regulation is in place to limit the power out of the v6 turbo engine.

          Exactly. Without this, we would likely see a situation, at least in qualifying, where the engines can produce 1000+ HP.

          @keithcollantine Any chance we could get an article up explaining why the fuel flow limit is in place? If you want, I could have a go at writing it, but I may struggle (I know the subject, but I’m not a “writer”).

        • hobo (@hobo) said on 20th March 2014, 14:30

          gazzaguru and @drmouse – If that’s the reason, that’s fine but still unnecessary in my view and here’s why.

          The FIA mandated new engines and any time new rules come out some will have advantages. So the team with an advantage will either be able to run at the same power for a longer period of time because they are using less fuel. Or they will run at more power for the same amount of time. The advantage remains.

          And if they are/were really concerned about massive power in qualifying, well, that’s what the 5 engine rule is for. Risk blowing up your engine for a better starting grid slot in a single race?

          The whole point of strategy is trade-offs. But let’s remove all of those too.

    • Peter Cotterill (@stigrennfahrer) said on 19th March 2014, 18:58

      I shouldn’t have left my computer open and unattended…someone decided to make me look an idiot here. Thanks, whoever you are.

      • Diego (@ironcito) said on 19th March 2014, 20:02

        You left your computer unattended and the “intruder” went to F1F, read an article, and made a relevant -if inaccurate- comment? That’s a polite intruder.

        • Lol, of all the things that someone can do with an unattended computer, making a comment on an F1 Fanatic article has to be the worst thing to do! Don’t worry Peter, just an off day!

  2. In a such a high tech sport, why do the teams need to follow a manual adjustment to what is supposed to be an “accurate” mass flow measurement? Why is the FIA is still standing behind the accuracy of this sensor when they need to make manual corrections during a race to instruct the teams with if they are deemed out of compliance? Was the specified accuracy not sufficient then?

    • MuzzleFlash (@muzzleflash) said on 20th March 2014, 0:26

      You are asking all the right questions.

      Common rail fuel injection is a well matured technology, the fuel mass flow through the rails is that which is being requested by the engine to deliver the power requested by the driver, and a reliable measure. The FIA just didn’t want to rely on this because it’s not unreasonable to suggest that it could be tampered with as it’s engine manufacturer software (though it’d be hard to keep secret as each manufacturer supplies multiple teams, and a sufficiently draconian penalty would demotivate any desire to attempt to circumvent it) so they supply these horrible sensors instead.

      What’s most worrying though is that the FIA ‘manual adjustment’ is merely telling a team to turn their engine down if the sensor reads high; i.e. they can dictate the power of an individual car at their own whim. This, to me at least, is more worrying than any DRS or double points like measure, as at least those are explicit attempts to spice up racing, while who is to say Rosberg can’t just go off 30 seconds into the lead before the FIA “suggest Mercedes ‘manually adjust’ his engine” on pain of a DSQ.

      RB knew their sensor was dodgy and rightly sought a more accurate source of data, as any engineer would, and I hope, no matter the outcome in Paris, that this implicit control the FIA has over the individual performance of any car in real time is exposed.

  3. Mach1 (@mach1) said on 19th March 2014, 17:50

    Which is why it seems very odd that Red Bull went ahead with it. And did they do it with both cars?

    As I said in my last post, they seem to knowingly take the risk, using Daniels car as a test to see how strict the FIA would be.

    Very Odd

    • DaveD (@daved) said on 19th March 2014, 17:55

      Yes, I believe it was you that mentioned…it would be nice to know what they did with Seb’s car and if they used Dan as the sacrificial lamb to test the FIA’s limits.

      I’d love to know how Seb’s car was set up.

      • Dwight_js said on 19th March 2014, 18:51

        Haha! I love it.

        They gave Seb a car with no power, which couldn’t make it out of Q2, and which couldn’t manage 6 laps in the race – and there are STILL conspiracy theories about RedBull favouring him over his teammate.

        • Mach1 (@mach1) said on 19th March 2014, 19:16

          No conspiracy theory. Just a question, why they risked it with all the warnings? Quite a legitimate question. They did not know Dan would do so well nor Vettel would retire. They still took the risk. All I was asking was if Vettel’s car had the same change? If not, why not? Just odd decision making from redbull in generall

          • DaveD (@daved) said on 20th March 2014, 0:13

            @mach1 Yes, I agree. I didn’t mean it to be conspiracy theory so much as just wanting to understand if they decided to risk it for one driver and not the other and see if they could get away with it and not risk all their points??? Might not be such a bad gamble from their perspective.

          • V. Chris (@vasschu) said on 20th March 2014, 11:18

            Quite a legitimate question. They did not know Dan would do so well nor Vettel would retire. They still took the risk

            They had a car on p2 and car on p12. And you are suggesting that they sabotaged on purpose the car on p2, to aid the car on p12 in the long run, because they didn’t expected better performance in the race? I am really tired of all this speculations. Red Bull are not idiots, for sure. And to do something like this would be the dumbest thing ever.

          • antifia (@antifia) said on 20th March 2014, 13:26

            Ah, the Glen Beck defense: I’m not accusing them of anything, I’m just asking questions…. The problem is that one can pack a truck load of innuendo in a question. The only thing I can say in response to your question is that for Redbull to run a higher than permitted fuel flow in Vettel’s engine for any lengh of time, they’d need a working engine in the first place – and that was a tall order from the green light (take a look at the start from Vettle’s car camera).
            But then again, Ricciardo is turning out to be the new Webber. I still remember when Redbull told Vettel, their then 3 times World Champion, to hold station behind the Aussie and people could still bend it in their minds to make it a clear evidence of how the German was favored over his team mate…. the mind just boggles.

          • Dwight_js said on 20th March 2014, 16:52

            @daved My mistake then. I see now that you would “…love to know how Seb’s car was set up.” not because it would constitute a juicy tidbit of gossip on whether the team are deliberately torpedoing Ricciardo for the benefit of Seb. It’s to satisfy your scientific curiosity on a data point that is currently unknown. ;)

            Also, I wasn’t accusing you guys of anything either – I was, you know, just sayin’.

  4. DaveD (@daved) said on 19th March 2014, 17:53

    I don’t understand why they use the UFFM’s (Ultrasonic Fuel Flow Meters) at all. Just give them 100kg of fuel and let them manage the amount. If they need extra to handle formation lap, warm down, etc, fine…give them 103kg of fuel. I don’t care.

    Just take all this guess work and arguing out of it and let’s go racing.

    • mantresx (@mantresx) said on 19th March 2014, 18:01

      Basically to put emphasis in efficiency and the energy recovery systems http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2014/03/why-f1-has-fuel-flow-sensors-in-2014/

      • davey said on 19th March 2014, 19:51

        Its also I believe to try & ensure nobody gets a big advantage over everyone else in terms of the engine performance & fuel usage.

        If 1 team could get 800bhp all race & not use more than 100kg fuel while others were struggling to go above 750bhp, You would have fans whining about 1 team having a big power advantage & dominating everything.

        i think the indycar series also use these sensors as a replacement for the old popoff blower valves as there a more efficient way of limiting turbo boost & all that.

        • kpcart said on 20th March 2014, 16:08

          are you sure? Mercedes are said to have over 100hp advantage over the Renault power units – with the fuel flow sensors, I don’t think it is used for parity at all.

      • DaveD (@daved) said on 19th March 2014, 21:57

        Thanks for the link @mantresx ! very helpful. I can see their logic behind it, but I agree with one of the commenters: They only get 5 engines per season so they have built in limits that keep them from doing anything stupid that would tear up an engine just to get a spot in qualifying…and then get a 5 grid spot penalty when they have to replace it.

        I’m going with Bob Varsha (from Twitter) earlier this week. Someone else told him all these same reasons all made it valid and he simply replied: “Why?”

        Why do I care if someone can figure out how to get 900hp for a qualifying lap? Why do I care if they can get more out of it in spots…as long as they hit the 100kg total fuel limit?

        Maybe I’m too simplisitic, but I like it that way :)

        • kpcart said on 20th March 2014, 16:04

          with these stupid fuel flow sensors, the cars will never use 100kg of fuel in a race, unless the race is only 1 hour long, and they are running at max fuel flue rate. also they will never see 15,000rpm which is what we were all told the engines will do. at 100kg/h they only just do 10,00rpm. stupidest rule ever.

          • gazzaguru said on 20th March 2014, 16:13

            @kpcart – you sprout forth like you know what you are talking about. Unfortunately it’s all complete garbage – “fools rush in where angels fear to tread” – read and take note!

          • kpcart said on 20th March 2014, 16:16

            @gassaguru? what? please correct me if you think I am wrong instead of writing much bigger garbage then I did

    • Chris said on 19th March 2014, 20:45

      I completely agree. The fact that a car can only use 100kg of fuel per race is already lame enough for the “pinnacle of motorsport”. Then they have to also control how much goes in at any one time. It’s pathetic. Why don’t they just race solar powered cars? Or have drivers ride a bike/ This whole green thing is total BS and is a complete sham. No one cares about that. F1 itself is the most wasteful thing ever as it travels all over over the globe. This is almost as bad as Honda’s “green dreams” car and the stupid green rimmed wheels.

      • Tasimana said on 20th March 2014, 12:43

        I agree. Just limit overall usage for the race to 100kg with no other caveats. It will mean the grid having to drive below the maximum the car can deliver. In the last few years it was driving slow to save the tyres. This years it’s to not breach fuel regs. This will detract from the event. Drivers won’t risk pushing hard to overtake so as to save fuel. Look at Magnussen on Daniel. He slowed to either to save fuel or not breach the flow limit. The sport needs to encourage hard racing.

    • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 20th March 2014, 9:25

      The engines need to be restricted in power. Both for safety and cost issues. FIA can do that by restricting fuel flow or by restricting turbo pressure. They opted for fuel flow.

      These sensors are apparently accurate to 0.25%, so I guess they have to figure out where the discrepancy is coming from. So far it appears that all teams feel they are restricted by the fuel flow meter as opposed to their own instruments. Seems pretty much equal for all teams then.

    • Jimmy_D (@jimmy_d) said on 20th March 2014, 16:48

      I thought that was the purpose of the fuel flow sensor, to do exactly that? I don’t see how else you would police it.

  5. Paul A (@paul-a) said on 19th March 2014, 18:44

    RB’s only defense is going to be mathematics. A few assumptions here: RB and the FIA know how much fuel the car started with and ended with; RB/FIA log both their own and the other’s fuel flow meters on say intervals of 1 second (probably more often) via computerized telemetry. It’s trivial to calculate for every second from each sensor’s set of data the amount used, add it all up, and see if RB’s numbers agree with the fuel left at the end of the race, and if the FIA’s numbers are higher — RB win. If not, they lose.

    Philosophical discussion about the “rules” will not hack it; science will resolve matters.

    • hobo (@hobo) said on 19th March 2014, 19:01

      @paul-a – I agree; this is how it should work. But since you are on this site, have an avatar, and a registered name, I’ll assume you’re not new here. Should doesn’t seem to matter.

      The problem is that the rules state that the FIA’s sensor is the only one that counts.

      • Paul A (@paul-a) said on 19th March 2014, 22:55

        Yup — I’ve been here for three or four years… and been following F1 since 1950. In fact “should” should matter. For a sport to be equitable, it has to be understandable – not only to the competitors, but also to the spectators (think “fans” and that terrible WWE word “spectacle”) – and here we all understood from the inception of the 2014 V6 turbos that fuel flow was limited to a max of 100kg/h. Plain and straightforward.

        Now what do we, the fans, have? The spectacle of Ricciardo on the second step of the podium. Five hours later, the technocrats, equipped with a failed fuel flow sensor and a lot of weazle wording in last minute, non-public “rules, clarifications, directives and instructions”, turning the result on its head.

        Yes – they’ve probably got the power to enforce it; nobody, myself included, wants cheating. But if technically Ricciard’s fuel flow did not go beyond 100kg/h, then his 2nd place “should” stand. The technocrats “should” eat some humble pie — what have they got to gain by washing dirty linen concerning a dubious sensor and even more dubious “offset” very publicly? By asking for an “offset”, the FIA have admitted that the sensor failed as designed – they are just as guilty of fudging the numbers as are RB for using their own, more reliable equipment.

    • No, RB lose period. The point is that they ignored the FIAs instructions. They may very well have used the correct levels of fuel for the correct amount of time, but that’s not the point.

      The other teams had the same issues as RB but went with the FIA’s instructions. RB have no leg to stand on, they simply cannot say ‘our fuel flow messurements are more accurate than yours therefore we’ll go with ours thanks.’

      • luggage said on 20th March 2014, 12:14

        Well in the interest of the sport I would politelty disagree and say that RB win as they are the only team in this particular case who are seeking remedy/clarification/discussion on the issue of regulatory fuel flow mass detection. Perhaps inadvertently, they have the best interests of the sport in mind (as well as their own). Why not settle this now instead of putting up with the same old dodgey data all season. If the RB engineers come up with a universally agreeable and relaible method of detection, then thats just good engineering and the reason I love this sport. Why settle for regs that we know need some work.

      • kpcart said on 20th March 2014, 16:09

        maybe they can – the appeal will reveal the answer.

      • They may very well have used the correct levels of fuel for the correct amount of time, but that’s not the point.

        That’s a damning indictment of F1, isn’t it?

        The other teams had the same issues as RB

        We don’t know that at all. We do know that DR’s initial sensor was judged by the FIA to be so faulty that they replaced it, and that this exact same faulty sensor was placed back in the car for the race. Did this take place with any other car?

    • Dwight_js said on 19th March 2014, 19:06

      Mathematics are the only universal truth. I have to think that Red Bull’s numbers are pretty accurate, and that they have proof that the FIA’s offset method is not accurate – it’s the core of their whole argument.

      But as for philosophical discussions, how about the issue of the FIA giving itself the authority to determine the power output of each car by assigning them these approximated fuel flow “offset” numbers, with no recourse for the teams even if the know that the offset is inaccurate and artificially low?

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 19th March 2014, 19:54

        That is indeed the bigger more troubling question, and why I believe it right for Red Bull to appeal. They clearly ignored the FIA directive because they felt it was wrong and felt justified in doing so. They would have known that a DQ was at least possible and were apparently confident enough to argue their case in an appeal.

        • Ajae Hall (@ajanu) said on 20th March 2014, 0:09

          They must know that they broke the “You have to use this sensor regardless of readings” rule. The best they can hope for is updated sensors, or a better way of calibrating them/verifying the offset.

          • luggage said on 20th March 2014, 12:20

            1. They weren’t necessarily not using the sensor (they changed it back per FIA direction) just ignoring its data.
            2. It’s a good time to fight for a better calibrated sensor if they are that bad, and without racing to RBs own data all race, they might never have the data to make that improvement happen

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 19th March 2014, 19:14

      That is too simple @paul-a, and not just because this if F1 :)

      First, as far as I read the sensor takes a measurement at 100Hz, and that gets integrated every 5Hz (I think it was 10Hz, but thanks to the irregularities in the sensor readings, they now take twice the period, and thus twice the number of data points of 100/5 = 20 points) to remove spikes from the output.

      Even then, there is a margin of error in the measurements; the FIA solve that by giving a ‘correction factor’, which I read to be: .96 -> if you stay below a measured value of 96kg/h at all times in the race, you are safe.

      This was all known ahead of the race, according to this article, at least before the end of the Bahrain, the procedure was declared by the FIA; the teams can’t decide on their own to something different, and evidence is largely teams just took that correction factor (which probably reduced their performance) as a given, making sure they were below it.

      Apart from Red Bull with Ricciardo’s car, where they decided to test the resolve of the FIA, and gain performance over the rest of the field (knowing full well the competition was holding to the FIA procedure!). That makes it rather less likely that they would win.

      It might mean that FIA will have to work harder to find a different way to determine the fuel flow, but they won’t allow teams to use their own fuel flow model to decide whether they comply, that would be asking for trouble.

      • hobo (@hobo) said on 19th March 2014, 20:50

        @bosyber – If this is accurate “if you stay below a measured value of 96kg/h at all times in the race, you are safe,” then the 100kg/h flow rate is moot. If they really have a +/-4% margin of error, that is huge. And it would mean that when the sensor indicates 96kg/h, you may be at 100kg/h, you may be at 92kg/h or anywhere in between. That is a significant range in terms of consumption and I would assume a drastic impact in terms of performance.

        Nothing I have seen was quite this drastic a range, but regardless, if you’re going to require these sensors in a sport measured on thousandths of a second, and the result is potential disqualification and loss of points worth millions to the teams, they need to be better than they are. (…actually, they need to scrap the flow rate altogether.)

        • Ajae Hall (@ajanu) said on 20th March 2014, 0:13

          It was on Twitter (I think James Allison) that Merc were running at 96%, which I agree is insane. There is no talk of the people who were able to run 102kg/h because their sensor read low. Assuming Red Bull is correct and their sensor was reading high, there must have been one reading too low. Even if not, the rules of statistics say there will be soon.

        • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 20th March 2014, 9:55

          If they really have a +/-4% margin of error, that is huge.

          I believe you may be misunderstanding, here.

          Sensors do not (generally) come out of a factory giving exact values. You do not just plug them into a system and it immediately shows “78.3kg/h”. It will give a voltage, or a resistance, or a frequency, which must be transformed into the value you want.

          In addition, they will not all show exactly the same value for the same fuel flow. The must be calibrated. This involves putting known values in and seeing what the sensor reads. These values can then be used to work out what the real fuel flow is from whatever you are getting from the sensor.

          They can then go out of calibration, for many reasons. A bit of dirt getting trapped in them, or them being knocked or getting too hot etc. At this point they must be recalibrated. In this case (if I understand correctly) the FIA determined that the calibration was out, and the offset they told Red Bull to use was a basic recalibration: The sensor is now reading slightly differently, multiply the values by this to get the real value.

        • A margin of 4% on the accuracy is ridiculous. As stated, lap times are measured to the nearest thousandth of a second. If the fuel mass flow cannot be measured accurately than the maximum fuel flow of 100 kg/h regulation should not be enforced until a more accurate live measurement method is put in place.

      • Even then, there is a margin of error in the measurements; the FIA solve that by giving a ‘correction factor’, which I read to be: .96 -> if you stay below a measured value of 96kg/h at all times in the race, you are safe.

        That’s not the way it works, based on my reading of the few facts we have. It seems that every single sensor has a different “offset” applied to it which supposedly brings it into compliance. But compliance with what? Given that the sensor ITSELF is supposed to be the sole means of measuring the fuel flow you have to wonder how they calculate this offset for it.

    • Breno (@austus) said on 19th March 2014, 21:59

      They can win in the aspect they were in the right rate, but they lose in following the protocol.

      • In other words the sporting regs and the technical regs are in conflict, hence the need for the hearing.

  6. atomjani said on 19th March 2014, 19:47

    Both the FIA and the manufacturer whom I presume to be well connected are poised to make a metric tonne of money off these sensors (£8000 per sensor also used in LMP1) hence the fierce support in face of legitimate problems. Red Bull are going to get screwed in the long term as you don’t see even McLaren or Ferrari go against FIA technical decisions so publicly and I’m sure the FIA are not pleased about that. However I do believe that Red Bull are right but they are going about it the wrong way. If you pay x million a year to be part of one of the most advanced sports in the world the least you expect is a solid set of technical regulations and proper scrutineering so you can build your cars to said regulations.

    • JoeP said on 20th March 2014, 7:08

      Surely you realize the logical fallacy at the heart of your comment, given that the FIA F1 regulations are not written in a vacuum, and, in fact, both technical and sporting working groups comprised of some of the best minds on the teams’ side of the F1 are contributing to the regulations??

      And evidence, please, that there is a FIA conspiracy afoot to sell faulty sensors to the benefit of FIA coffers???

  7. Lancer033 (@lancer033) said on 19th March 2014, 19:54

    it was only a couple years back that Sauber was excluded from the 1st race of the season because of their rear wing. As I recall, the FIA even said it was a just an unintentional manufacturing defect and the team didn’t get any performance gain out of it, but rules are rules and Perez lost out on points for his 1st F1 race.

  8. Christheobserver said on 19th March 2014, 19:58

    RBR got caught. They ignored what everyone else did and went their own way in calculating fuel flow. This is nothing more than crying over a bad decision. But that’s RBR for ya. Ricciardo is just caught in the middle. As you can guess, I am happy to see RBR get slapped down a bit. I am very tired of seeing them cheating, if in the spirit of the rules only.

    • JoeP said on 20th March 2014, 7:10

      Exactly.

      Shameless, willful cheating by RBR, who’re seeking to undermine the authority of FIA to enforce the very rules that RBR and all the other teams agreed to explicitly when they inscribed for the season to compete…

    • kpcart said on 20th March 2014, 16:14

      the disqualification may stay after the appeal, but by doing what redbull did, it might have been a necessary evil to fix a system that is innacurate, this could benefit everyone in f1. they are not cheating, they never have, that is just your view, who do you support? McLaren? Mercedes? Ferrari? each of them have been accused of cheating before too, they are corporations, all the same, don’t take it so personally.

  9. Diego (@ironcito) said on 19th March 2014, 20:14

    From what I’ve read so far, it appears that the disqualification of car 3 is fair. The issue with the fuel flow rate sensors being inaccurate was already known, had been discussed, and the FIA had stated that the flow sensors reading was to be used for checking for rule compliance, whether said sensor was accurate or not. So Red Bull screwed up.

    However, the larger issue remains that the teams are being forced to use inaccurate sensors, and to offset their engines to make up for those inaccuracies. That can provide an advantage or a disadvantage, according to how lucky one gets with one’s sensor. That should be fixed.

    And then there’s the even larger issue of why have a fuel flow rate limit at all, but that’s a different discussion.

    • Dwight_js said on 20th March 2014, 17:15

      @ironcito
      “…it appears that the disqualification of car 3 is fair.”
      “… the teams are being forced to use inaccurate sensors… That can provide an advantage or a disadvantage, according to how lucky one gets with one’s sensor. That should be fixed.”

      I don’t quite understand how you can simultaneously hold those two opinions. They seem mutually exclusive to me.

      • Diego (@ironcito) said on 20th March 2014, 20:19

        Well, I meant “fair” because the issue had been discussed and the FIA basically said “yes, the sensors are inaccurate, but we will use them as reference regardless”. Red Bull seem to have no excuse in that regard. But yes, it’s unfair because of the second thing.

  10. Olivier42 (@olivier42) said on 19th March 2014, 20:23

    There is one party we have hardly heard anything from regarding this… it’s RBR.
    Maybe they are keeping their cards close to their chest until the appeal, or maybe they do not have any cards.

  11. Santiago Ontanon (@santiontanon) said on 19th March 2014, 20:27

    I think arguing about whether RB is right nor not is out of the question. F1 is a sport, and has rules. If you want to participate in the sport, you follow the rules. If you break the rules you are punished. What RB are doing is equivalent to trying to argue with a Soccer referee, telling the referee that you determined that the goal that was invalidated was actually a goal because “I have a high-speed camera that shows there was a goal”. You might be right, but the rules state that it is the authority of the referee to determine what is a goal or not.

    So, sad as it is, since I was thrilled with Ricciardo’s performance, this is a Sport, and has rules. The FIA determines the rules.

  12. BarnstableD (@barnstabled) said on 19th March 2014, 20:36

    Could someone explain why a fuel flow limit is even needed?

    If the cars have a limited amount of fuel to complete the race with, why can’t they just use this as they please through the race? They would still need to reach the finish so they couldn’t exactly run at over 100kg/h of fuel the entire race anyway.

    Surely having no limit, if anything, would add to the team strategy, mix up the racing, reduce costs and eliminate disqualifications such as Ricciardo’s at the weekend.

    • Andreas said on 19th March 2014, 21:04

      I suppose it’s to limit the max power. Otherwise you’d have cars running with 1000+ bhp in qualifying and momentarily during the race, which might be dangerous. Not to mention boring – if you think DRS has made it too easy to pass, imagine having a 2-300 bhp advantage going down the straight…

    • JoeP said on 20th March 2014, 7:14

      to emphasize and encourage improvements in engine efficiency – partly for the technical challenge (and the influence engineering has on the competition), and partly for marketing, to sell the F1 series as greener and cutting-edge real-world relevant…

  13. Uzair Syed (@ultimateuzair) said on 19th March 2014, 20:41

    I hope Ricciardo will then get ”undisqualified” from the race and retain his 2nd place!

  14. TMF (@tmf42) said on 19th March 2014, 21:22

    I’m really curious how this pans out in the WEC – having reverse flows means they also have multiple sensors in 1 car and the manual offset guesstimations they did in F1 probably won’t work.

  15. Makana (@makana) said on 19th March 2014, 23:18

    So what happens in race 2 then; will RBR comply and jeopardize their pace (as Horner implied) or defy the FIA again banking on clear absolution. Proper reasoning suggests that if the sensor is indeed unreliable; they should do the same thing they did in Australia. If they find a satisfactory solution with the sensor come Sepang; then they effectively lost the appeal.

    • JoeP said on 20th March 2014, 7:17

      There’s absolutely no provision in the rules for ignoring the sporting or technical regulations just b/c a team believes theirs is a better solution! This is crystal clear to anyone who reads the tech + sporting regs for F1, plus the FIA intl sporting code.

      If anything, RBR should – at conclusion of appeal (IF they file) – receive additional punishment for abusing the appeal’s process. As I stated above, the sporting code ALREADY makes clear that not gaining a perf. advntg = / = justification for noncompliance…

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