Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2012

Renault ‘robot’ to blame for Vettel’s fuel shortage

F1 Fanatic round-upPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2012In the round-up: As Red Bull’s investigation into Sebastian Vettel’s disastrous fuel shortage in Abu Dhabi continues, suspicion falls on a faulty piece of refuelling equipment.

Abu Dhabi Young Drivers’ Test day three

The three-day Young Drivers’ Test at Abu Dhabi concludes today. Here’s the line-up for the final day of testing:

Red Bull: Robin Frijns
McLaren: Oliver Turvey / Kevin Magnussen
Lotus: Davide Valsecchi
Sauber: Esteban Gutierrez
Toro Rosso: Luiz Razia
Caterham: Alexander Rossi


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Fuel equipment likely caused Vettel issue (Autosport)

“Renault suspects that the fuelling equipment, referred to within the team as the ‘robot’, used on Vettel’s car was at fault.”

Pay drivers not ‘villains’ – Razia (ESPN)

“Sometimes the drivers feel like they have been portrayed as the villains of the case, but that’s not true. We are here chasing dreams, and I am here chasing my dream which is to be in F1. I’m a very talented driver and I had results all throughout my career; I was F3 champion, I was third in F3000 and I was vice champion in GP2 with victories. I showed the results that I needed and I think that I have the talent.”

New McLaren wing (Sky)

Images of a new front wing McLaren tested at Yas Marina yesterday.

Five Minutes With… Mark Webber (Red Bull)

“I love what they?ve done in Austin…” (Peter Windsor)

“Richard Cregan, former Toyota F1 team manager and now CEO of the amazing Yas Marina F1 complex in Abu Dhabi, was in relaxed mood when I spoke to him on the Monday after Kimi [Raikkonen’s] win.”

The strangest race in Formula One history? (CNN)

Rubens Barrichello on the 2005 United States Grand Prix: “It was bad because mentally you knew that there was only six cars out on the track. For me, I still had to fight for it but it was a horrible feeling.”

Emerson Fittipaldi on oval racing (MotorSport)

“When you are running in traffic on an oval you must also consider the cars behind you. If someone is very close to your tail, you will feel it. The back end of your car will get very light. Before I drove Indycars I never thought this could happen with a formula car. It is really amazing and it emphasises the fact that you must have your wits about you at all times during an oval race.”

In praise of… Grand Prix 3 (Motorsport Musings)

“And with advancements in the tyre modelling and incorporation of an active differential, players could perform doughnuts for the first time ever. Oh, and they could also tumble upside down for the first time too. These kinds of advancements weren?t trivial.”


Comment of the day

@Cyclops_pl on the coming change of leadership at Caterham:

[Tony] Fernandes is a great businessman yet the team under his leadership failed to achieve its goals. I think he understood that things are not going they way they should and a person more experienced in racing should take the helm.

I would also expect some significant changes in their technical department, it seems that the root of their lack of progress in the last two seasons is over there. Last year their goals were largely overoptimistic, yet this year they seemed to be achievable. Now they have been surpassed by Marussia in the constructors’ championship, so result-wise it?s even a step back. Caterham needs changes.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Soundscape!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell’s final confrontation came to a controversial end in the Australian Grand Prix 20 years ago today.

Mansell led the race but had Senna close behind him. On lap 19 Senna ran into the back of him at the hairpin, putting both out (see video).

That left their team mates leading, Riccardo Patrese ahead of Gerhard Berger, only for the second Williams to retire with engine failure. That meant Berger won his last start for McLaren, despite a late charge from Michael Schumacher in the Benetton.

Schumacher’s team mate Martin Brundle joined him on the podium in his final race for Benetton.

Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

56 comments on “Renault ‘robot’ to blame for Vettel’s fuel shortage”

  1. So it’s the Red Bull designed equipment (maybe outsourced) that’s at fault. Yet people may have got the impression at the weekend from Christian Horner that Renault were culpable at the weekend, particularly in light that it was Renault who issued the command to stop the car – when we now know it could have returned to parc ferme and would not probably not have been tested for fuel

    Red Bull and Renault appear have a unique fueling process not used by any other team. Renault calculate what fuel is required and the team simply put the stated amount of fuel into the car.

    With Renault convinced at the time there was enough gas in the tank – because they had in fact correctly calculated what was required and instructed Red Bull accordingly – they naturally ordered Red Bull to stop the car because it did not want to risk damaging the engine. As Taffin says, “We were sure at that point that we had the required level [of fuel], so we did not understand why we had this drop in collector level.”

    So a rare Red Bull cock up then. Wonder if fuel robot looks like this (Picture only)

    1. Apparently the same company that calibrates Ferraris windtunnel calibrates the “Robot” :-)

    2. A fuel gage that’s off by 15 or 20% would cause a lot of trouble…

    3. I was thinking this robot

  2. Did Senna get a 10 place grid penalty for that? :)

    1. No, it was considered to be motor racing at the time… ;-)

    2. back then they knew racing drivers could make a mistake, and let it go.

      1. If the likes of Maldonado, Grosjean or Hamilton did that to a rival, people would be calling for them to get a race ban. Because Senna did it, we can turn a blind eye.

        It’s a lesser case of “Suzuka ’90 syndrome”.

      2. It was also the last race of the season.

  3. Ah ! GP3 ! I still have it, in it’s original box !

    I spent years playing that. It was absolutely awesome ! The tracks were very realistic, and while the graphics of the cars weren’t spot on, everything else was great. Racing in the wet was seriously challenging, and if you put one wheel on the grass, you’d spin right away ! At the time, it was faaaaaantastic !

    1. There’s a GP4 too right?

      Isn’t that the series made by Crammond?

      1. @raymondu999 Yes and yes.

      2. I still play with GP4, I love it.

        1. davidnotcoulthard
          9th November 2012, 15:43

          I’m too young to have done that…..
          Ah, well. I think, though, that I’ve found a particularly realistic and challenging game, in my opinion, called Speed Dreams. It’s free and it’s still actively maintained!

          It’s not an F1 game, though….and my PC simply isn’t strong enough to compare it with Codemasters’ F1 games…

    2. Oh dear, I can’t remember playing such a recent F1 Sim. I started out on Grand Prix Circuit which was the first game I ever had on the PC in the early 90s, I also had Indianapolis 500 which I believe is more likely to have “introduced players to the concept of fine-tuning their vehicle in order to get the best performance” something like 10 years before GP3. Albeit it was obviously not an F1 game and there was only one oval track to set your car up for!

      I find it amusing that Dan talks about large and underpowered machines in reference to running a game which is listed as requiring Pentium II and 32MB RAM. We would no doubt have struggled to even fit it on our 44MB hard disk drive.

  4. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
    8th November 2012, 4:28

    Now there’s a big point of contention in F1 – pay drivers.

    The definition is sometimes quite loosely applied to any driver who brings in considerable sponsorship. However, strictly speaking, a pay driver is a driver who, although lacking in merit and results from lower formulae, is still awarded a race seat in F1 by virtue of the financial backing he gives to the team. In essence, he pays the team, not the other way round as is usual.

    By that definition, many normally considered pay drivers actually aren’t. Maldonado, for all his Venezuelan oil money, certainly isn’t – he was 2010 GP2 champion, and now he’s a race-winner. Petrov isn’t really a pay driver – he was 2009 GP2 runner-up, and has an F1 podium to his name. Bruno Senna was 2008 GP2 runner-up. And while he seems adamant on defending himself, Razia doesn’t fit the bill either – he too is a GP2 runner-up.

    Are pay drivers villains? “Villains” is certainly too strong of a word. Nonetheless, it’s undeniable that having pay drivers occupy race seats deprives emerging young talents from getting their deserved chance at top-flight racing. That many cash-strapped teams are turning to pay drivers to sustain their participation in F1 only worsens the situation. For such teams, sponsorship is now valued over true talent, and because of that, we’re seeing deserving but under-funded drivers slip through the cracks, and young drivers being unable to get their chance at a breakthrough.

    1. Are pay drivers villains? “Villains” is certainly too strong of a word. Nonetheless, it’s undeniable that having pay drivers occupy race seats deprives emerging young talents from getting their deserved chance at top-flight racing.

      If you want someone to blame, blame the teams for driving up the costs of the sport. 20 years ago, you could enter and compete in Formula 1 for about $500,000 per season. These days, you need to spend $50,000,000 just to compete with Caterham. And if you want to be a front-running team, you need to be spending something closer to $400 million per year.

      1. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
        8th November 2012, 5:54

        “Villains” was the word Luiz Razia used, and I disagree with his assessment. However, the fact of the matter remains, there are 24 seats available, and all 24 are occupied, so there’s no room for anyone without lucrative sponsor backing to muscle in. That teams require pay drivers to offset the massive costs is logical, but to allow under-qualified drivers to race in place of those who are more deserving of race seats, is undesirable and should not be so prevalent.

        One solution lies in reducing the costs associated with F1, but it’s highly unlikely that any form of RRA will ever be passed. So for the moment, we’ll just have to accept that pay drivers are a reality of the sport.

      2. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
        8th November 2012, 5:57

        * by “disagree with his assessment”, I mean, pay drivers are not “villains”.

      3. Thats not true, there is no team driving up the costs of the sports, thing have changed since the 20 years you are talking about , and its the economy which is driving every thing up, car components , parts, shipping, and running the team, you name it. 20 years ago you could buy a new car for$1000.Now new cars starts from$10,000 so things have changed.

      4. @prisoner-monkeys, please provide data for your statement that in 1992 you could run a team for $500,000. In think it’s BS.

        1. Maybe you meant 1972.

        2. Ferrari were said to be offering Senna something like $20m per year at the time he was trying to get a seat in the Williams. I appreciate that this was a huge sum of money and from a top team, but surely not as much as 40 times a whole F1 team’s budget?

          That would indicate a bigger gap from the front to the back of the grid than at the peak costs of a few years ago. I would be very surprised if Michael Schumacher could ever have commanded an annual salary of 40 times Minardi’s entire budget at the height of his value.

          1. Drop Valencia!
            8th November 2012, 22:36

            MS was getting $50m in 96 so maybe 10 times Minardi budget, still pretty impressive that tobacco era…

    2. Sergio might be a great driver and future Champion. But there is a distinct differences why he got a drive in Sauber and why Kimi did get his drive.

      And that’s the main difference, as you mention most of the guys are good enough, but it is progressively harder to put yourself in a good position to drive F1 by just winning everything.

      I know it’s going to be a not very popular opinion, but. Considering how many drivers there are in Venezuela or Mexico as oppose to Finland and Italy. It saddens me too see so much talent going to waste due to lack of financial backing (even at lower Formulas).

      This is why Germany is so successful, they have an extreme battle for survival all the way from Karting, but at the same time they have strong tradition of Motorsport that leads to the financial backing. And those few drivers who survive and able to keep on top are the diamonds.

      1. harsh as this sounds, but as people live longer/the sport gets safer and as people enter the sport younger and younger, it’s no surprise there’s a shortage or race seats.

        1. There’s always been a shortage of racing seats I think. Except back in the old days it was much easier to start a privateer team. Nowadays you need some serious money, and that money has to come from somewhere.

          I guess we can all bash pay drivers, and the whole culture surrounding them. But I wonder, would a team like Williams still exist if it wasn’t for drivers such as Maldonado? And if it did, would it be any better than a team such as HRT?

          1. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
            8th November 2012, 13:57

            In my view, Maldonado isn’t a pay driver. He has the credentials to have gotten into F1 on merit – you don’t become GP2 champion simply by having powerful sponsors. That he has PDVSA backing is just a bonus.

          2. It’s hard to read a comment comparing Williams and HRT. One has the history and pedigree of a very successful independent team with many famous drivers and championships to its name. The other? Not so much.

            There’s no denying that it’s been a lean few years for Williams and Maldonado’s backing money has helped them through, but they’re no HRT.

          3. @bobthevulcan I wonder if Maldonado would’ve gotten a seat if it wasn’t for the $40 milllion (according to Joe Saward) a year(!) brought in by sponsorship that got him the seat. Didn’t HRT have a $50 million budget? That makes a huge difference. As for being GP2 champion, he replaced Hulkenberg. In my opinion it’ll be hard to argue that he replaced Hulkenberg on merit. That involved money, lots of money.

            Maybe the comparison with HRT goes too far. As for the history of Williams, that doesn’t mean a thing today. Williams used to be a championship winning team, today they are clearly not. If it wasn’t for a pay driver like Maldonado (in my opinion he is still that), Williams probably wouldn’t be where it is today.

      2. There is one distinction with that argument though. The only way for a young driver to get noted is to race successfully in the junior formulae….in Europe. So drivers from other locations such as South America face a disadvantage since they perhaps need more backing than their European counterparts. For example, there is a lot of karting in Mexico but the backing necessary to support a lot of young drivers is astronomically big as the costs are way higher due to reasons I mentioned before

    3. Nonetheless, it’s undeniable that having pay drivers occupy race seats deprives emerging young talents from getting their deserved chance at top-flight racing.

      And midfield / back-marker teams going out of business deprives all emerging drivers, talented or less so, from the chance of competing in top-flight racing.

      1. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
        8th November 2012, 13:52

        Fair point. It’s the teams’ prerogative to secure funding so as to sustain their operation, but to do so at the cost of meritocracy is truly unfortunate.

  5. Well, as Brian Kinney said, there is nothing noble about being poor.

    For sure, it would be much better if F1 drivers were selected solely based on their qualities, potential and performance in the lower series. But unfortunately this is not the case. And I guess that every professional young racing driver thinks that he is better than his competitors or at least on the way there. So there is no reason why he should be ashamed for using every opportunity to get to the top, including accepting sponsorship. Maldonado shouldn’t feel ashamed for accepting money from Chavez and Karthikeyan shouldn’t feel guilty for being sponsored by TATA. They didn’t create and maintain the current system. FIA, Bernie and the teams did, they should bear the responsibility for that and change it.

    1. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
      8th November 2012, 8:37

      Well said.

  6. That Renault Robot was designed by an ex-employee of Ryan Air.

  7. “Renault Robot to blame.”
    It’s so unfair of them to pin the blame on Piquet like that.

    1. Haha… Love it!

  8. I believe that the Renault engine is one of the most sophisticated & evolved engine on the grid even with engine Freeze Renault modified it under the authorization of the FIA under the excuse of reliability problems & even so the engine is still unreliable , we all remember that the off throttle exhaust activity was also for reliability purposes just like the system that controls the fuel level with two tanks. So i think that the excuses of Renault are irrelevant i don’t think that they started Seb from the pit lane deliberately but i believe that the fragility of the Renault engine is the strength of the Red Bull engineers ,
    BTW there’s an impressive video of Sebastian Vettel’s front wing during it’s change in the first pit stop in Abu Dhabi Gp , when the mechanic in charge of the change pulled away the nose of the wing flexed in a very strange manner
    Adrian is very known for designing cars on the limit & this is a proof of it but there’s only 2 gp left on the calendar & this maybe will cause some polemics & controversial situations especially that Ferrari were questioning the FIA of the legality of the RB8…+gomma%21

    1. Are you accusing RBR of cheating again? Justice was fully served by Vettel starting from the pit-lane if that is your opinion. I don’t understand the front wing flex either, but the very front of the nose is surely not a very influential aerodynamic part.

      And if you believe the Renault engine is unreliable, explain to me this: Red Bull, Lotus, Williams and Caterham all run the Renault engine, yet (discounting alternator failures since they are supplied by Magneti Marelli) there hasn’t been one Renault engine failure. I think that’s a pretty good reliability record (which matches Ferrari’s this season).

      All I have ever heard about the Renault engine is that it is a very good engine because of it’s drivability and fuel economy in the races.

      1. And now for our daily argument between @tifoso1989 & @vettel1 !

      2. you missed the whole point ,i hope that you read all my comment & not just selected some quotes i said that “Renault engine is one of the most sophisticated & evolved engine on the grid” let me explain one more time for you :the engine is not “UNRELIABLE” & but Renault are always trying to improve the reliability by providing solutions that are sometimes controversial because they influence the performance of the car like the off throttle exhaust activity & now the system that controls fuel levels….
        As for the wing it’s not about the nose or another part it’s about the technology of composite that is implied & if the front nose isn’t an influential aerodynamic part so why it differs from one team to another ?

        1. The very front of the nose is just to smooth of the end of the nose essentially, I don’t think it really affects any aerodynamic properties of the car significantly. Red Bull’s seems to curve around the front of the car to give a smooth profile, so I think that’s probably the reason that it is required to be flexible and no more.

          Was the off-throttle blowing an attempt to improve reliability? I though it was purely an engine re-map for performance gain (although I could be mistaken). Engine maps were allowed to be changed under the rules at the time, and all the top teams used the blown diffuser (including McLaren who run the Mercedes engine).

          I don’t honestly think the three big engine suppliers’ engines differ hugely, just that some have certain traits that differ from the others (such as the Renault’s driveabilty and the Mercedes top-end power). I don’t think the Renault’s has anything specific to it that makes it more succesptible to problems/ more complex.

          1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
            8th November 2012, 16:43

            “I don’t think it really affects any aerodynamic properties of the car significantly.”

            Are you having a giraffe? Every single designer in f1 will tell you and indeed have already said during multiple interviews the front of the car is the most important part since it directs the flow of air to all the other parts.

            If the camera mounts are pivotable by hand they will be pivotable by a couple of hundred kilos of down-force during a corner there by creating an aerodynamic advantage. Also the camera mounts do not get load tested only the wings do the rest of the car is crash tested but not load tested to find flexing body work cheats. Yes i use the word cheats because although everything on an f1 car moves it is against the rules to design something to flex excessively and specifically for the purposes of finding performance thank you and goodnight.

      3. @vettel1 as you said, Renault engine never failed this season. Wait, actually it failed 2 times as far as I concern even though that was not engine blow class failure. I remember Maldonado should retire in Malaysia due to engine problem. I don’t know another case exactly but I saw a site shows engine allocation and reliability statistics, it said Renault engine suffered at least 2 trouble.

        1. @eggry – as I said previously though, were they not the Red Bull/Lotus alternator failures of which Renault doesn’t manufacture? Granted, Maldonado did have an engine failure in Malaysia but I can’t remember any other Renault engine failures. There’s been plenty of Renault KERS issues though, particularly it seems on Webber’s RB8.

          I think the lack of engine issues this season is a testimate to the ever-improving reliability of all the engine manufacturers’ engines. Magneti Marelli have rather skewed the statistics though!

          1. @vettel1 alternator failure is not engine failure. KERS failure neither. That’s true today engine is too reliable but if you have choose the one has worse reliability, that’s certainly Renault because other engines actually never failed.

            Maybe we’d rather say Renault power package(not just engine) is unreliable.

    2. @Jimmy…..(your name is too long!) – what I’m saying is the part of the Red Bull’s wing that was flexing during the nose change isn’t really an area for performance gain. I am well aware of the importance of the front wing as a whole in the shaping of the airflow for then entire car and also it’s downforce-producing capability. I am not talking of the front-wing itself, merely the very nose (the yellow part on the RB8) of the car. Flexibility there would not really be of any performance gain.

      1. Apologies @jimmy, I wasn’t actually intending to tag anyone! It was a reply to the above comment.

        @eggry – I reckon that is a fair conclusion. Renault’s engine doesn’t have any inherent problem with reliability but certain aspects of the whole power-train package (supplied by Renault or others) are unrelaible, such as the alternators and KERS packages. Perhaps though that is more down to the teams that use them, as we all know that Adrian Newey doesn’t like any space going unused and a tight profile (which can create cooling problems etc.).

  9. I agree with what Fitipaldi had to say about oval racing, the problem for me is I simply don’t find it entertaining. Racing around many broadly similar tracks with little change during the lap for the amount of laps there are is tedious and boring to watch in my point of view.

    Perhaps F1 should trial a race on an oval next year while waiting for the completion of the NJ circuit and just maybe I might alter my view. Until then, I’ll stick to watching track racing with a variety of corners and braking/acceleration zones.

    1. @vettel1 It’s difficult to even draw comparisons between oval and track racing. Oval racing requires an immense amount of strategy completely different to that of track racing. I think the F1 cars produce too much turbulent air to be able to just be dropped on to an oval as they stand and I don’t think we should be having two different spec cars for ovals and tracks. Stick with tracks I say, the oval market is well catered for.

  10. Pay drivers stopping young talent from getting seats! WAIT! If there were no pay drivers bringing in money to the teams, how many teams would we have? Say we lost 4 teams due to insufficient funding (without the funding they may fail to qualify within the 107% rule)….. where would those talented young drivers get their seats?

  11. Love how it says 5 minutes with webber and the video is only 3:16 long!

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