Red Bull’s decision to appeal the exclusion of Daniel Ricciardo in Melbourne is entirely predictable, but I am not sure what will be gained from this, except perhaps diverting attention away from the team’s lacklustre performance overall since the new cars first appeared. The FIA stewards in Melbourne seem to have had a pretty good understanding of the situation and why the troublesome fuel flow meters were being treated with care by all the teams except Red Bull. I do feel sad for Ricciardo because he deserved a reward for a good drive, even if one can argue that he gained advantage by being able to burn fuel when he needed it.
Still, the ethos at Red Bull, as seen clearly last year, is that winning is all that matters, even if that means crapping on the sport. In my view that is what has happened here. Red Bull decided that there was a grey area that could be exploited and duly exploited it, just as last year they wanted different tyres and piled criticism on Pirelli until that happened. One can argue that winning is all that matters, but I will always argue that winning with grace is better than winning at any cost. In the long term this kind of behaviour impacts on a team’s reputation and that rubs off on the brand as well. I doubt that the Red Bull lawyers will come up with any arguments that the stewards did not hear. Yes, the FIA messed up with the supplier, but from what I hear it was somewhat beyond the control of the federation, as there seems to have been some chicanery going on which caused delays, but I am not sure what the FIA should have done once the mess has begun. One can say that they made a bad choice during the tender process but at the time it was a logical decision. The problem was explained to the teams and they understood the need to avoid unnecessary bad publicity while the problem was being solved. Red Bull chose to do it by their own rules. Much will depend on whether the Court of Appeal looks at the question in purely legal terms, or whether it allows for some commonsense and ‘doing the right’ thing. The verdict will matter because if it is just a legal decision then teams will never again be relied upon to do something in the interest of the sport. All things considered, however, I think that a better decision would be to dismiss the appeal as frivolous and give the team a big fine for wasting everyone’s time. However, I am not a lawyer… So we will just have to see what happens.