The Red Bull appeal

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.

296 thoughts on “The Red Bull appeal

  1. Sadly society has moved from “spirit of the law” to “letter of the law” to the detriment of us all…..

    1. Yeah as we saw it in many years’ many cases. That is disappointing to have such bad spirits. It is a kind of unsportsmanship or unfair play at the end of the day.

    2. F1 has been about the letter of the law rather than the spirit for some time now. I think any benefit of the doubt that Red Bull might have had might just be finished now. Their dominance over the past few seasons has turned away a lot of people.

      1. There have always been periods of dominance in the sport. Just to name a few: Alfa, Fer, Merc, Coop, Lot, Brab, Tyr, Mac, Willi and so on. However every dominance comes to an end eventually. I guess this year RBR^s is over and Merc^s starts again.

    3. Sadly society has sailed past the “letter of the law” to “what can I get away regardless of what the law says”, which is far more dangerous.

  2. Horner and those around him are getting tiresome and boorish. We threw him out of parc ferme’ in Sao Paulo in F3000 when he was whinging about something on our car giving us an advantage. He was just ratting around trying to cause issues because he thought he was cock of the walk all the time. The emphasis on the ‘c word here!

    1. I’n not surprised. He always comes across as the guy who’s desperate to be front centre to take the credit for the good times but is very quick to shift all of the blame elsewhere when things go wrong. His persistent blame shifting onto Renault at the moment is getting tiresome, especially considering that Renault’s featherweight and fuel efficient engines are a big reason that RB have been able to design quick cars and win their world titles.

      I’m sure there are lots of great people at RB but in my opinion he’s a classless individual who adds nothing to the sport and ensures that there is very little love afforded to his team from F1’s long term fans.

      1. What you have just described is the difference between Christian Horner, and Martin Whitmarsh. One of them managed incredible success. One of them has just been sacked.

        1. Limelee, I read your response and my immediate thought was agreement but then as in all things F1 the bigger picture has to be faced. McLaren do not design a car in less than 2 months which is the period of time Ron as been back. The current success is all about Whitmarsh and what he has done over the last 18 months for the new car.

          Whitmarsh was moved on based on politics and personal power in the form of I have more shares than you. We should not forget that Ron was part of the decision making process as a board member and this recent ‘process’ just allows him to get his own way quicker which he has every right to do with his shareholding..

              1. You mean like McLaren did in 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2012? Build the fastest car but don’t score enough to win the title?

        2. Whitmarsh is a nice guy, to a certain extent one of the shop floor promoted to the level of his own incompetence. I don’t see what he has to do with Horners’s likeability. There have been plenty of winners in F1 who have come across well over the years.

      2. ” desperate to be front centre to take the credit for the good times but is very quick to shift all of the blame elsewhere when things go wrong. His persistent blame shifting onto Renault at the moment is getting tiresome, especially considering that Renault’s featherweight and fuel efficient engines are a big reason that RB have been able to design quick cars and win their world titles.”

        That sounds accurate but also like the stuff that champions are made of. Look at Senna in ’91 – driving for McLaren (champions the preceding 3 years) with a Honda engine (Honda having powered the constructors champs for the preceding 5 years) and he wins the first four races of the season and all he does is tell McLaren and Honda to get their act together. Williams (who you’d think know a thing or two about what it takes to win a championship) got into a slanging match with BMW. McLaren showed little patience with Peugeot (and gave Cosworth a very hard time the year before). To win you have to push, push, push all the time.

        The real problem, it seems to me, is that Red Bull have chosen to agitate publicly instead of work together behind the scenes like everybody else.

        1. Good post. I agree with everything you’ve put there Bobster.

          There seems to be a whole ‘good guys’ ‘bad guys’ thing in F1 depending on how well you’re liked by the media, as that portray as a massive impact upon the armchair fans who tune in for the odd race. Take Ross Braun for example, at Ferrari when MSC was winning he was a ‘bad guy’ and everytime they pushed the rules people called them cheats, sounds familiar? Yet when Ross went solo with his own team, and ironically pushed the rules way further than anything he did at Ferrari he was a ‘good guy’ because the media love a good underdog, and in the UK they were itching for a regular British champ.

          History shows the same sorts of things, over and over again. McLaren, Williams, Ferrari and now Red Bull have all played the bad guys. The common denominator? Success, and the jealousy of other teams and drivers. You can tack media on to that as well nowadays, given the spin some people put on events.

          Me? Well I respect teams who push the limits, that is exactly what F1 is about. If you don’t push the limits, you don’t deserve to be in F1. I had no issue with Brauns double diffuser, McLarens F-Duct, Ferraris flexi floor, Renault mass damper or Mclarens third brake pedal. That’s what makes F1 so brilliant! I like the intelligent minds of F1 finding ways around problems.

          Personally I think Reb Bull may well win their appeal, because they only have to satisfy two rules around the fuel flow:

          5.1.4 Fuel mass flow must not exceed 100kg/h.

          5.2.5 Cars must be fitted with homologated sensors which provide all necessary signals to the FIA data logger in order to verify the requirements above are being respected.

          If they have data to prove they adhered to rule 5.1.4 then by default it means that the sensor fitted in rule 5.2.5 was faulty. Given the issues multiple teams have had I’d suggest this is pretty likely, and on that basis I think they’ll win that appeal. It’s interesting that even non F1 teams like Porsche are having issues with it as well.

          The FIA need to have an accurate device for fuel flow measurement, and at present they haven’t got that. That creates an unfair playing field within the regulations, potentially different cars in the same team could have different flow rates allowed due to sensor inaccuracies. Perhaps if we get Rosberg getting a favourable sensor and Lewis not then the media will have a different view!?

          Roll on Malaysia!

            1. Please show in the Sporting or Technical Regs where it says you have to follow a technical directive. Marussia’s TP says a TD is technically not a reg, and there are quotes from Whiting himself stating in the past that they aren’t.

              The delegate warned them that per their (faulty) sensor they were over the limit and they would be referred to the stewards. RBR stated they thought the sensor flawed and chose to follow their fuel model instead of the faulty sensor, and the delegate followed through and referred them to the stewards. Both have the right to do what they did, since their is no regulation stating you have to follow a technical delegates instruction, nor that the FIA sensor is the only way to measure 100Kg/h, and the delegate had the responsibility to flag them if their sensor read high (faulty or not).

              Stewards found them in breach based on a TD, RBR disagrees, this is what the new FIA appeals system is for. However as the rules read they have not broken any, so I would hope you present the reg they broke before going off on RBR bashing rants.

                1. I would kindly ask you heed your own advice, as I have read it, and first the Stewards misstate article 3.2, and then proceed to base the rest of their argument off of Technical Directive 01614, which is not an actual regulation.

                  Remember Tyre Gate in which during the appeal the FIA confirmed that a statement from Whiting is not FIA approval.

                  Now Horner has come out and stated at the bottom of each TD it explicitly states “is the opinion of the Technical Delegate – it is not a regulation, it is not regulatory, it is purely an opinion.”

                  I therefore will back my original statement as being correct.

              1. I agree RC, breach of technical directive isn’t breaking, nor ignoring the rules of the sport, unless I’ve missed the one which says Technical Directives are rules?. I think once lawyers get involved that technical directives go out of the window and only the technical regulations will actually matter. Hence my belief that RBR will not be disqualified, I’ve no doubt they have data proving they didn’t exceed 100Kg/h.

                If the FIA don’t have an accurate way to measure fuel flow, they can’t police it. If you can’t police the rules then you can’t be sure who has broken them, and if you’re not sure of that you can’t disqualify someone.

                We’ll see on April the 14th I guess!

          1. Bernie likes the press to be talking about what he wants them to talk about, or, if you’re more cynical, to be talking about anything other than the thing he does not want them to be talking about.

        1. Bernie! Or maybe it’s just that Bernie wants you to hear him saying he wants it, which is probably different. Don’t think anyone else wants Mr Horner to take over, not even Mr Horner!

  3. I’m puzzled by the idea that addressing the issue on “purely legal” terms might lead to RB’s appeal winning. I would expect that the teams are subject to the rules, regardless of what those rules might be.

    So, if the rules say that team principals must stand on their heads and whistle Dixie, then that’s what Horner is required to do even if it distracts his attention from making a crucial decision that affects the outcome of the race. And if RB was told to do This and not do That by the the techincal rules people, and they did That anyway, I’d think they’re out of luck.

    What about this do I not understand? (I don’t doubt that there is something…)

  4. …..and then Red Bull wonder why Vettel gets booed.

    Joe,

    Could you elaborate as far as you can (without getting sued) the back story behind the fuel flow meters. It sounds fascinating.

    Wilson

  5. As someone on the pit wall (possibly Horner or in conjunction with Horner) must have made the decision to ignore the FIA – advice that only a team principal or very senior figure could choose to ignore; I think the appeal was inevitable as no one will want to be seen to have made that decision and then not follow through with their convictions to appeal.

    As soon as Red Bull have a bad year or 2 or Adrian Newey goes off to design a yacht and the drinks company ofloads it I suspect not many will mourn its demise or even remember it existed in the first place.

      1. Yes, that is a point of great concern. Ten years ago, Ecclestone considered Ferrari indispensable to F1. These days it is RBR.

        Financial power = political power = success.

        1. I don’t think the health of the F1 field will ever cloud Red Bull’s judgement. When they’re ready to pull out, they will pull out. You’d assume it wouldn’t be difficult to find a buyer for RB though as it’s an opportunity for a car manufacturer to get as close as possible to guaranteed success. STR would be more difficult as I think it’s been supposedly for sale for a year or 2.

          1. STR is already half-owned by someone else and I believe there is an option to buy control as part of the deal.

  6. Hear, hear. Much as I found myself booing Lewis when he took pole of Daniel (yup, surprised me too!) and feel some sympathy for him the rules are the rules. The sensor is the regulatory device, not Red Bull’s own readings. Red Bull broke the rules, no one else did. A fine for a frivolous appeal is definitely the best (and most logical) way forward. If Red Bull get off here all the teams will be trying it. Then where does that leave F1?

    1. The most irritating thing is Horners insistence in interviews in saying he was shocked and surprised at the exclusion. They had a technical directive explaining what would happen and a zero tolerance edict was announced before it even started. So they clearly weren’t shocked at all. The appeal must have been written on about lap 6. It’s only lucky it was Ricciardo in the seat as he had a lot of home good will – had it been Vettel I think we’d have seen a lynching.

      1. Indeed. Which is why ‘it’s just for publicity’ angle does not add up. If Red Bull wanted publicity, they would have got Vettel to run the race. After the lynching, the fall-out would have almost certainly broken the internet.

  7. I fully agree, Joe, that winning with grace is far better than winning at all cost, but that is hardly likely to be the case in F1 where each team has such vast self-interests which always come before the common good.

    I also have sympathy with Ron Dennis’ view that second place is the first of the losers and for him winning is clearly everything too.

    As for Red Bull, now the post Melbourne dust has settled I actually have some sympathy for them. If they knew from their own separate measuring technology that they were not transgressing the new fuel flow rules it must have been galling for them to be told by the FIA to turn the flow down based on questionable data from the FIA meter.

    I am sure Red Bull must feel they have a solid case, perhaps along these lines, or they wouldn’t have initiated their appeal otherwise.

    Perhaps the stewards in Melbourne should have seen the common good and quietly let Daniel Ricciardo keep his second place whilst privately sympathising with but also admonishing Red Bull without getting the big disqualification stick out. The five hour delay in reaching their conclusion suggests it was not a black and white case for the stewards.

    1. The problem with feeling sorry for Red Bull, is that all the teams know exactly how much fuel the cars are using at any given point. They understood what the FIA were saying to them and obeyed the ruling in using ‘inaccurate’ measurements over their own. Apart from Red Bull, who as Joe says saw a grey area and exploited it. I have no sympathy for the people who made the decision, I do have sympathy for those in Red Bull affected by this but not in their control.

      Surely if the rule is written, ‘as measured by the FIA fuel flow meter’ then the appeal will fail.

    2. But even McLaren with Big Ron’s old fashioned ‘we take care of ourselves and to hell with the sport’ followed the fuel directives despite Eric Boullier admitting the sensors were a source of concern. When you are getting even more brass balls out than Ron Dennis it might be time to start checking yourself in the mirror…

    3. Good post Joe, I too agree with you, but at the same time “winning at any cost” is far from an isolated (Red Bull) attitude.

      Fans are (usually) in awe of the level of technology and development in F1, but it doesn’t come without caveats, one being the current fuel issue, the nature of which wouldn’t have arisen but for the current technological level to which the cars have been developed, i.e. since advanced computing technology got its iron grip on the sport.

      The toxic mix of racers, business, competitiveness, investors/manufacturers, the IT umbrella through which it is facilitated, all crave a return for their huge investments (in time and/or finance) and it has come to render F1 in this situation, a situation in which the winner could potentially be decided in court, not on the track… as suggested by articles in motorsport press elsewhere.

      Politics and “having one over” on the opposition has always been present in F1, but not with such a climate of mixed mindsets as we have today.

  8. Winning without grace is not winning. Red bull under horner et al sadly seem to not grasp this very basic understanding of what is morally just. It seems short sighted of red bull that they don’t seem to notice that it is themselves ONLY that are slowly but surely bringing down there own reputation. It is sad that after many years of great work SOLELY doing for sport, extreme sports mainly, what others have not – putting the money on the table to give us these great shows, the exposure of red bull has been all positive until they started winning at all costs in F1. Why do so much good for sport/competition & then become the spoilt brat in F1 ? Is there a particular reason?
    They need to find the grace in F1 winning before they undo all the global “good” exposure other sports have given them…… I for one don’t want to dislike them, but sadly in F1 I can’t help but feel they need to come down from the “Hollywood Hills” LA LA mentality, maybe they need an image makeover? Will daniel ricciardo give them that? Yes in part, will Horner?…., poss not!
    ….. time will tell I guess…

  9. Hi Joe,

    Any idea on the costs involved with the appeal process? Is it a fixed-price process for the teams (or covered by the FIA) or is as variable as a typical court process i.e. however long the lawyers want to string it for?

    Wondering if should such a scenario occur for a smaller team – or one struggling for money – whether they could afford an appeal to reclaim their docked points.

    Perhaps Red Bull thought that they had more points to gain than lose by going through the appeals process rather than relying on their car’s ‘genuine’ performance…

  10. It’s a fine line. I understand that RB try to exploit a grey area, that’s what F1 does. In a way it’s not very different from what Brawn GP did for their popular title-sweep. The double diffuser was quite grey, but it Brawn checked with the FIA first and it was allowed.
    RB has now checked with the real world, where they would probably get away with not conforming to unreliable measuring. But the FIA makes the rules in F1, not the real world. So I would think that RB won’t get away with it, because it was communicated on forehand that even if there were doubts, all teams would still need to follow the FIA readouts.
    It may be a shame for Ricciardo if RB get punished, but I doubt that he would have held off the McLaren’s without the extra fuel flow…

      1. There is no doubt that Red Bull ignored the FIA directive, but were the FIA right in issuing the directive that they did? The FIA is watching that the teams follows their rules, but who is watching them to make sure they enforce their rules and their directives correctly?

        To me this an exercise in Red Bull holding the the FIA to account. It’s known that the FIA knew that the flow sensors were suspect, but they instructed the teams to use them anyway. I as fan I do not think that it is acceptable that the FIA directs teams to use equipment where the accuracy of that equipment is in doubt.

        Aside from that, I hope that this appeal uncovers why the FIA has chosen to assess fuel flow in kilograms per hour, when the sensors are unable to measure in mass per unit of time. Doing this means that some sort of conversation rate is needed to convert volume (which the sensor measures) to mass. The problem with this is that the volume changes with temperature but the mass doesn’t. It means that a fixed conversation rate is being used when the actual volume to mass rate changes as the temperature of the fuel changes. This is gives an approximation of the flow rate in kilograms per time, and this, in my opinion is simply not good enough for a sport where precision is everything.

        1. Rules are rules, no matter how ridiculous you think they are. They can’t disregard a rule because they think they know better. The FIA is in charge of governance of the sport and Red Bull, as a participant, are signed up to that. They were specifically told to turn the flow rate down, but chose not to.

          Perhaps should try and run a 3.5 litre engine in the next race and claim that their own engine capacity measuring devices say it’s actually 1.6 litres.

        2. Ultimately it is the FIA’s championship and Red Bull decided they wanted to enter it. The FIA are the rule setters and enforcers, and if they say you have broken the rules then you have broken the rules.

          1. Can you provide some reference that states this? The data sheet I read made no mention of the sensor measuring temperature.

            Even if the sensor does measure temperature it still means that the sensor is applying a range of conversion factors at different temperatures to get a result in mass per time. This is still wrong for a couple of reasons, one being that each engine supplier works with the fuel partner to develop a suitable fuel compound for each engine, meaning the expansion rates for each fuel compound would vary with each engine. This is data that the fuel suppliers would be unlikely to release to the FIA.

            1. Click to access gill-sensors-fuel-flow-meter-2014.pdf


              the relevent bit is in the box under “temperature measurement”

              oh, and the fia sensor spec:
              http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=6&ved=0CE0QFjAF&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fia.com%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fregulation%2Ffile%2FLT%252045%2520-%2520On-Board%2520Fuel%2520Flow%2520Meter_0.pdf&ei=TAwrU_jpM6GK7AbCp4HgAQ&usg=AFQjCNHgHU8YcDGbyR9XeWfHbGUd9Ptitg&sig2=ogC5gUNmaz2sHYNYeaNqPg&bvm=bv.62922401,d.bGQ&cad=rja

              which includes the line “Mass flow can be determined from a calculated density‐temperature equation/lookup table ”

              yes it applies conversion factors. I’ve also seen tech video’s from the fuel manufacturers where they make it clear that they test the spec of their own fuels to ensure compliance, and the FIA must either test it as well, or supervise the testing.

              However that’s all beside the point, trashing the sensor in public appears to be part of RBRs defense strategy, which isn’t helpful to F1; but the offense they’ve been pinged for is 1) not using an approved fuel flow measuring device, 2) ignoring instructions.

              I am curious about whether RB can measure fuel flow any more accurately, but again, that is beside the point.

              1. All the talk about the accuracy or inaccuracy of the sensors (and why they turned out to be a little suspect) is not really relevant. Charlie Whiting had an alternative way to measure the flow in case there was a problem. A Plan B. Red Bull decided to force the issue. One hopes that all the waffle, smoke and mirrors will be seen through by the Court. Legal types are pretty good at waffling but they are also pretty good at not being led up the garden path when the tables are turned. We will see what happens but I tend to think that based on the evidence in front of us thus far – and perhaps there is more relevant information to be added – the Red Bull appeal seems a little tenuous. I certainly don’t think it is wise for Dietrich Mateschitz to start talking about pulling out of F1. That will only add to the impression that they are trying to bully their way to a result that will suit whatever their purpose is…

    1. Brawn weren’t the only team running a double diffuser and it was only Ferrari appealing against it in 2009 originally. I’d class it closer to McLarens f-duct or RBR ‘inventing’ the hot and cold blown diffuser exhaust and maps. It wasn’t a directive it was a clever innovation. The equivalent would be closer to someone running the DRS out of the zone and saying it was the FIAs fault for not setting the beeps correctly in the drivers earpieces but consistently using the DRS after the FIA advised against it. It’s not a design grey area it’s a functional measurement. It’s the same as the weigh bridge – teams often get different readings to the FIA but they defer to the stewards readings. RBR are basically saying that the weigh bridge was wrong so they submitted their own weight calculations and won’t put their cars into random weighing any more. It’s ballsy but rather petty.

      1. They were told to use the fuel flow sensor as specified by the FIA, they did not. To me, this is not even arguable. If they want to run according to the F1 rules, they need to do what the FIA told all of the teams to do.
        If it was left up to me, not only would I reject the appeal, but I would fine RBR $1 million for wasting everybody’s time.

  11. Can you explain the chicanery involved in the tender for supply of the fuel meters? Or provide a link if already explained. I had innocently thought this was a “simple” case of an arrogant team thinking they were above the rules with which other teams had conformed, but it would appear that with Ferrari’s open latter via L de M about potential cheating with these admitted inacurate devices, there is much more to this than appears on the surface.

  12. I’ve always been a massive fan of Adrian Newey, why he’s not Knighted, I don’t know. However, I do sort of feel he’s fallen in with a bad lot. Do you think he has a hand in the agenda set by the team? It counts against him if he does.

    There are obviously some very clever people at RB, but the overall impression is of a team going about their business in an underhand manner, borderline cheating. I’d love a certain Australian to write a fly on the wall account of his time there, but I get the impression that it’s probably beneath him.

    Iain Metcalfe

  13. Seems like a classic roll of the dice to me, they knew they were nowhere with their normal pace so decided to run with a higher fuel rate and argue about it afterwards, it’s notlike tthis kind of tactic hasn’t worked for other teams in the past. If they’re caught out then it’s a fine and no points which for a team with as much money as they have makes it a zero sum game.

  14. The pinnacle of motorsport requires, by definition, that its underlying technology meets that pinnacle. I doubt whether a basic fuel-flow meter falls under the ‘new technology’ category and thus should not have caused problems.

    If highlighting faulty technology is considered ‘bad publicity’ then the use of ‘pinnacle’ to describe the sport rings hollow indeed.

    I hope Red Bull wins the case – they’re simply playing F1 at its own game and have done well out of it in the past.

    1. I concur. One thing turns me off is someone deciding that I should not know something because it is not the interest of the sport. Don’t treat me like a child. I actually find the team’s attempts to get away with things entertaining, in the same way Dallas was. It does the sport no harm, unless perhaps to PC corporate sponsors.

  15. I don’t understand why they need to meter fuel. If the amount is limited in the tank and they burn too much, they will not make it to the end. Why limit flow AND total usage?

    1. Seems silly to me too. They have a fuel tank size of 100l, races longer than 1 hour, therefore will be running at less than 100l per hour most of the time. What difference would it make for them to be allowed to run at above 100l/ph. It could make qualifying more spectacular as well.
      Another thing which puzzles me is, if the injectors are so accurate and all, why aren’t these used as the control device. Too much room for muckery in the software perhaps?

      1. Remember the fuel flow limits were argued in by the manufacturers to enforce efficiency – the teams agreed it in the technical working group. They all WANTED this rule, Renault especially – as at the time they thought they were more fuel efficient than the competition – so despite a lot of oeople getting in a twist over the fuel flow rate – remember it wasn’t imposed by the FIA on a whim. It was part of the new formula discussions from the early days.

    2. My understanding is that the fuel flow rate limit (which applies all of the time) is there to prevent the engine suppliers from having to modify the engine designs to pump out enormous extra amounts of horsepower in practice and qualifying. Remember that in the mid-80s the engine suppliers, without any fuel flow limits, would run the engines at the physical limit of survivability in qualifying, pumping enormous amounts of fuel into the engine to provide top end cooling. I remember being at Brands Hatch in 1986 and during qualifying a haze of unburnt fuel hung in the air all around the circult after the qualifying runs.

  16. Totally agree! My view was that RBR are actually guilty of bringing the sport into disrepute. The cynically manner in which they have behaved (yet again) exposes F1 as a whole to bad publicity and ridicule.

  17. Good point there, Joe. Thank you for the article. My opinion exactly. Maybe the sport is run in certain „grey areas”, but FIA (for its part) should do its job properly and enforce the rules everybody agreed to.

    1. In a Sky F1 program most of the audience felt Red Bull were out of line and the overwhelming view of people seems to be that Red Bull are the culprits in this case. There seems to be little sympathy for them and the only sympathy that is expressed is for Daniel Ricciardo as far as I can see..

  18. let’s face it joe , there has always been chicanery in F1 , it’s just that RBR have turned it into an art form
    which is why most people no longer regard F1 as a sport …as the mafia are reputed to say , it’s only business

    1. Colin, please enlighten us as to a time in the sport/business that teams didn’t try to circumvent the rules.

        1. The best teams never cheat? Like McLaren in 1976 and 2007, Lotus in 1980, Benetton in 1994, Tyrrell in 1984, Ferrari in 1999, Renault in 2008, Brabham and Williams in 1982, so they never cheated, really?

            1. 1976 Spain. 1999 Malaysia. Both cases proven by the measurements of the race stewards, beyond any doubt. Although those cases were both washed clean for political reasons to keep the title fight open until the last race. 2007 Ferrari confidential data, costing Mac 100m and the constructor’s points. Case proven. Although at times there were rumours concerning confidential data involving the Toyota and Renault teams as well. Rio 1982, the infamous water tanks that in fact had the purpose to race underweight. Both leading cars disqualified, case proven. 1984 Tyrrell thrown out of the Championship after being found racing underweight. Case proven. Singapore 2008, Briatore and Symmonds thrown out of F1 following the race fixing betrayal. Hockenheim 1994, a fire on Verstappen’s car after a minor employee of his team removed a filter to speed up refueling. Lotus 1980 is anyone’s guess, I give you that one, after all the Lotus double chassis car was not allowed to race, however opinions were divided whether it was actually illegal or not. A bit like the Brabham sucker in Sweden 1978.

                  1. No idea. As I have explained many times, I do not get comments linked to threads. I get them all together

  19. Whether they used too high a flow rate is open to debate, but a meter calibrated and given the deviation chart/table is just as good as one which is spot on.

    The real question is why they were excluded, was it for the fuel flow rate or because they decided they would use an alternative measurement method, when that decision and option was clearly stated to be that of the FIA only. This was a direct challenge to the authority of the FIA, as I put in an earlier post “Who do they think they are, Ferrari?” (Had it been Ferrari, an appeal would have been a foregone conclusion)

    The decision to appeal has diminished Christian’s profile in my view, I had always thought of him as straight. Of course he may have been forced into it by his powers above,which does not improve his position.

    Mind you at €8000 a pop these ultrasonic meters ought to work, they are not cheapo market stall devices. They are also used in LMS and WEC. All they can measure must be speed, (via doppler) then because the speed is measured at an orifice, once that orifice coefficient has been plotted it is possible to calculate the volume or flow, as far as I know ultrasound cannot measure volume or flow directly. But I would imagine that friction/turbulence through the rest of the unit must affect the flow rate unless the flow is first aligned like that in fountains in Las Vegas.

  20. I tend to disagree. the FIA made a mess of things and is now attempting to punish Redbull for having the impertinence of taking advantage of the situation.
    As for the good of the sport, all people are going remember that a guy in his home GP was booted from the podium because of some arcane chicanery dreamt up by the bosses in Paris, which has far more resonance with the public, Mind you, Redbull should forget about receive any help in the forseeable future.

    1. As I have explained, everyone knew that there were problems with the system and they all basically agreed not to make a fuss over them. The FIA has its hands tied somewhat and thus the teams were asked to do something for the good of the sport because this sort of stuff does not need to be in the public eye. Red Bull decided otherwise presumably because the pre-season coverage was so bad that they wanted to make an impression of some sort and so pushed the limits. They were warned about it but chose to ignore the FIA in Melbourne. They got booted up the behind as a result. Now they are appealing.

      1. While I understand why, surely when teams aren’t renown for working to the common good then as in this case RB’s stance (or someone else), should always have been expected.

        And the better alternative was always to come clean about the flowmeters and clearly set out the interim ground rules publicly rather then rely on any team’s discretion.

        In fairness to the FIA, I’ve never known any sensor in use anywhere in my industry that hasn’t (within the software) the facility to apply an offset simply because nothing is perfect in this world and if it happens to be then in time it won’t be.

  21. Red Bull seem to be headed towards the dubious honour of being the most hated team on the grid. Thus far most of the fan’s opprobrium has been directed towards Vettel, who seems ever more unpopular, but I agree with your observation that the whole brand now seems grubbied by Horner’s manoeuvring. Will there come a time when Mateschitz recognises the damage being done and clips Christian’s wings.?

    1. Without being in the inside, it’s hard to tell whether or not Chris Horners wings need to be clipped. Perhaps they may already have been, and CH might not have called the shots?

      1. While Mr Horner has done nothing other then continue to live up to my expectations of him. So in essence I cannot say I’ve ever been disappointed in his behaviour.

        The ‘live up’ you understand is a figure of speech…..

        1. Why does everybody assume that this is Christian Horner’s initiative? Perhaps because nobody likes him much, while everybody (including me) likes and admires Adrian Newey. Nevertheless, this sounds more like a Newey initiative to me.

          Isn’t he the one designer in the pack who doesn’t consult Charlie Whiting about new developments, but rather relies on his own understanding of the rules? Whether this is purely based on a justifiable confidence in his own intellect, or whether it might also be partly a lack of respect for Whiting, we can’t tell.

          In this case, Whiting has instructed the teams to apply a negotiated offset to the readings from the sensors, but the rules talk only of using the sensors, they say nothing about negotiated offsets. There may therefore be no legal basis within the rules for the stewards to disqualify a car because of failure to follow Whiting’s instructions (i.e., if Whiting’s instructions were not grounded in the rules). The alternative view may be that in the event of failure of the FIA equipment, the proper course of action for the team is to do what it believes to be right and be prepared to defend it if challenged.

          If so, that sounds just like what Adrian Newey would do.

          I think this may be what Joe is getting at when he says ‘legal’. The trouble is that AN/RB may be legally correct, but even if so, their way of doing things may not be workable, while going along with Whiting may not be legal but it would be workable. And arguably ‘sporting’, which is perhaps Joe’s main point.

    2. Of course the flip side might be Herr Mateschitz taking his toys away, which would leave 4 drivers out of work ( plus hundreds at team HQ’s ) and 18 on the grid. As neither of the 2 remaining Regie powered teams would have an earthly of winning, Renault would also follow suit, leaving 16 on the grid. Since Renault created all the fuss over 1.6turbo engines, this would probably result in them being replaced….which would be great!! I see that Grosjean has placed his head over the parapet, and says that the new rules aren’t fun for the drivers. He claims that unlike previously, the driver can’t drive at 90% ( and I thought they were flat out? ), and that now there are times in the race when drivers will be at 30% performance??? And there’s people here who think this to be a huge improvement in F1????

        1. Yeah, we know that the Lotus team are in all sorts of bothers. However, Grosjean always strikes me as a sensible guy who doesn’t have a side to him, nor any agenda. His comments therefore seem to be generalized rather than just critical of his own team and car performance?

        2. I see now that Mateschitz is threatening to leave F1 if it doesn’t suit his plans anymore. While it’s probably just hot air considering his love for the sport and the fact he owns 2 teams and a racetrack, the threat itself should be seen for what it is. A wealthy individual trying to dominate and dictate to a sport and there’s only one reply to that. Bye bye and dont let the door hit your ass on the way out. If people lose their jobs because of RB leaving the sport as someone suggested the blame will lie soley with the team and their petulant approach. Threats, espcially those that involve “I wont play with you unless I have……” type of approach leave me cold. A company whose existence is based on marketing would do well to consider that approach. Me, I drink Monster. 🙂

          1. Well Bernie might get Jean to let F1 have Force Majeure if Dieter went, as can you see the Board of Renault continuing to spend mega Euros on Lotus & Caterham as their best chance of wins in F1??? And neither Merc nor Ferrari would seem willing suppliers to those two outfits either…so Bernie would be asking all to run out their 2.4’s again…save costs see?

        3. Is it really that simple? I remember Lauda once said: you win once and everyone congratulates you but then if you go on dominating everyone starts to hate you. That exactly is happening to RBR now. Just like people hated Ferrari when Msc was dominating in the red car. This is just history repeating itself, albeit with different main actors.

          1. Not true. I think the way one wins is important, but these days there are some folk who don’t understand that. Never played cricket, obviously…

      1. Mateschitz won’t be leaving the sport anytime soon, he sells too many cans of fizzy pop for that. If however he did decide to go, the team staff at both teams would very likely find jobs with whoever bought the teams. Renault wouldn’t leave either, having spent millions developing the new engines, they need to recoup their investment, even if they did then Honda would pick up the slack.

  22. Joe, would Red Bull have chosen to pick this fight if Vettel had remained in the race, or would they have turned the fuel flow down and banked the points? Are Danny Ricciardo’s points worth less to the team and thus a bartering tool with which a political point scoring exercise can be undertaken against the FIA, with the intent of improving Vettel’s competitiveness if the appeal is won? I wonder if anyone warned Ricciardo how tough life as a no.2 driver at Red Bull can be.

  23. When I was growing up in the sixties there was an expression – “it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.”

    Today with all the $$$ in sports it’s – “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.”

    Maybe I’m an idealist, but I always liked Hanna Arendt’s argument against Machivellism – since the universe as we known it is infintite, this pulls us in a never ending cycle of cheating.

    I really hope RB fail. Ethics should count for something.

    1. Nah… the whole point of cheating with race cars is to do it in a way that’s so clever they can’t catch you… what’s gauche is doing it blatantly enough to get caught… which RB surely knew they would be before the start. They were then told they were caught early in the race… when they were given the chance to un-cheat… which they refused.

      So, whatever this is about, it’s something other than winning.

      My completely unfounded theory is that they did it to (a) ensure lots of TV billboard time, (b) change the team’s mood from sullen to celebratory, and (c) ensure that everybody’s talking about something other than how slow their cars and Mr Vettel are.

      Seems pretty thin, but still… what else could it be?

  24. That really sums it up. I hope RB will get what they deserve after more than one questionable interpretation of the rules and intense lobbying behind the scenes in their favour.
    They now need someone who told them enough is enough!

    1. I believe that a US firm called Hyspeed LLC and Britain’s Gill Research and Development Ltd worked together to win the FIA contract for the Ultrasonic Fuel Flow Meter. After they had won the bid there was some kind of falling out with key people switching roles and I believe there was then an intellectual property dispute over the system which compromised the development process. As I understand it, the whole thing is subjudice at the moment, so it is all a bit of a mess.

      1. Oh I hadn’t heard that. Thanks
        I’m hoping the understanding of the sensors will ramp up as the season progresses. It’s no excuse for RBR though.
        There also seem to be problems with the DRS activation, but no one is gaming that problem

  25. This is quite a thorough hatchet job you have done on RedBull. Porsche has just come out against the defective and inaccurate sensors as well. Are you preparing a smack down article on them?

    Somehow I think your tone would by very different if it was Williams or McLaren protesting the fuel flow sensors.

    You can rest assured. Your check from the FIA for services rendered is in the mail.

    1. You don’t know the FIA, do you? In any case, your post is pretty disrespectful so I am happy to tell you to go read somewhere else. I’m not interested in your whining.

      1. How exactly am I whining?

        As you wrote the sensors are problematic at best. Outright defective at worst. .
        The entire point of the sensors is to make the fuel flow rate equal for all. That is not happening. The sensors should be disregarded and RedBull thanked for initiating there removal.

            1. Disregarding the sensors until everything’s wonderful would mean be they’d just pump fuel in like crazy during qualifying with no concern whatsoever for fuel limits…this would be equivalent (more or less) to letting them run special qualifying-only engines…

            2. Pre-season Charlie mentioned that the sensors could be double-checked against telemetry from the cars that showed what was going through the injectors. So FIA are not just thumb sucking here.

          1. I believe there is a safety element to limiting the flow as well, especially with the turbos. Without the fuel sensors I suspect that Mercedes would be even further down the road too.

        1. Red Bull should be penalised for bringing the sport into disrepute just to satisify their own ends. It could be that the problem is with the Red Bull packaging because their rechnology is also “immature”. It’s the combination of the whole package that seems to be creating the problem and the rest of the teams are happy to work on finding the optimum setup for the sensors.The fact they tried different sensors on the RB10 indicates to me that the problem lies with Red Bull. You are assuming way too much with little to back up your view other that slighting the FIA. At least you seem to be in the minority and just biased against the FIA at best and at worst in the pay of Red Bull. The entire point of the sensors is not to make any thing but to set a limit and to regulate the fuel flow to create an even field of play on track. That is something that Red Bull have consistently acted aginst. Red Bull should be given a 3 race ban or excluded from the championship for delinquent behavour IMHO.

        2. This is my understanding… Total fuel usage is okay for the race. But for qualifying? How is the FIA meant to govern fuel usage for qualifying? If teams are allowed, say, 200kg for a weekend, no-one will test. If teams are allowed to juggle with fuel during the qualifying session, they will save all fuel for 3 oil guzzling laps, and saunter around on hybrid for all the out/in laps. A constant fuel flow meter, or at the very least, a fuel flow meter which limits usage PER LAP, is the only way to actually govern fuel use, once you follow through the logic. Note that a fuel flow meter does not need to be accurate, just calibrated correctly against actual fuel usage. This process worked without problems for 91% of the teams. 91% of teams wished to gain points for BOTH their racers, rather than using their expendable driver to gain publicity for an unpleasant and unhealthy drink. 😉

        3. CC2002, I agree with you that Joe was unfair in accusing you of whining, personally I though your post was rude, insulting, ill informed and downright disrespectful, but I couldn’t see any whining.

    2. It should be noted that Alex Hitzinger, technical director of Porshe is A FORMER REDBULL RACING EMPLOYEE!
      Get the jist CC2002 (Div)

    3. Your allegations are totally disrespectful. Who are you to imply that Joe is biased and would accept a cheque from anybody. I strongly suggest you keep your remarks to yourself and Joe, I suggest you ban this quidam

    4. If all the other teams accept there is an issue and accept the FIA’s solution and directive why should Red Bull be allowed to get away with it. They were warned time and time again during the race weekend and during the race. In my opinion the FIA gave them too many chances.

      The appeal won’t come down to whether Red Bull’s readings were right and the FIA’s wrong. It will come down to did Red Bull follow the rules and directives set down by the governing body. The answer to that seems to be no.

      You seem to be suffering with some kind of team fan boy tendencies where most of Joe’s readers are about the good of the sport. I’d suggest you try the BBC comments section if you want to start harking on about favouritism.

  26. Spot on Joe, why Pirelli caved to them last year I don’t know, it must be similar to Man United under Fergie – they always got what they wanted……. As you said winning without Grace!

    1. Silverstone was the reason why Pirelli had to change the tires, the negative reporting could have seriously damaged the firm, had the tires kept on exploding.

  27. If you think Red Bull wins by cropping on the sport I wish I were a reader of your observations during the Schumacher – Toft era.

  28. Watching the various players in F1 assiduously destroy the sport is an attraction in itself. From crash gate to RBs exposing the little fudge going in with the fuel rate sensors, I’ve found another spectacle, a bull fight fast approaching it’s climax, perhaps. It’s clear many fans have been attracted to aspects of the sport that don’t appeal to me, so I cling to things like the political eye gouging and neck throttling amongst the old and the wise. New fun is found with Toto and Niki whipping out a new paternalistic pat on the head to us fans. But if Malaysia is the same procession of spaced out vacuum cleaners, then I will stop watching the races. I’ve stopped watching many favorite sports over the years for various reasons, so I’m afraid I mean it, Joe.

    1. The key question is whether Bernie Ecclestone will be impressed by your gesture… if there are millions of you perhaps.

  29. >>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. << Could not agree more Joe.

    But I think also relevant is they feel that Bernie's whining on about the engines is a green light for RBR to have a go at the FIA. Has two elements, as mentioned before it is a distraction from issues in Germany and as you rightly point out a distraction from the cars woes. Horner likely sees this as win, win situation. Help his buddy and help himself.

    RBR can hide for a few races behind we had a good car, but for these fuel sensors. Just like the we had a good car, but for these damn tires. I am with Luca on this issue, the rules HAVE to be enforced this year and the FIA need to grow a pair and hold RBR to account. Now is the time for the slap down of the teams life with a scathing report to boot and a suspended portion of the sentence, that can fall from on high the next time they move out of line. Otherwise they will just feel they lost one battle, but continue to wage the war. Especially with issues in Germany unresolved and in need of a additional smoke screens. Triple or quadruple points for the last race as an idea may not work at this point so something bigger will be called for.

    The other part of this is that the RBR mentality for years has been ANY publicity is good publicity as they are the "bad boys" of motor sport. What they have forgotten is that one day that can blow up in your face and they destroy the whole brand with a miscalculation about the consequences of there actions.

    It has happened with personalities before and this marketing is akin to personality and not product. This demise will be fanned by the media outlets that like nothing more than to kick someone when they are down especially when they were arrogant before. The problem for them is that "bad boy" marketing appears to work, right up to the point that you pushed it too far and it no longer does. You end up believing you are better than anyone else, right until the behavior proves you wrong.

  30. Your thoughts on the sheer arrogance of RB, given the rules (same for everyone), align with my feelings too.

    But the techie in me would like to know exactly by how much RB – and particularly the Renault PU performance benefited from the extra fuel flow and by how much Merc and Ferrari PUs would have benefited from the same increase.

    These PUs are so complicated that extra fuel may not be contributing to extra power to the wheels DIRECTLY from the COMBUSTION engine but could be perhaps enabling extra (heat) energy (running a higher exhaust gas temperature) or extra off throttle energy (running higher turbo speeds off throttle) to be recovered strategically directly into the KUs or batteries. Each manufacturer’s PU having maybe different efficiencies dependent on the method of extracting USABLE power (via combustion or electric) from the same AMOUNT of fuel.

    Personally I think the fuel flow RATE limit rule is a result of “clever fools” tinkering in an attempt to make it the same for everyone. The absolute AMOUNT of usable fuel restricted to 100kg should be the defining limit and HOW you use it up to the teams. IF however that means at certain circuits and at certain altitudes and certain ambient temperatures, 100Kg of fuel is in excess of, OR is deficient to, that required when running FLAT OUT then so be it. It would just mean at least some circuits COULD be driven flat out for the WHOLE day and the others might need more strategic thought to fuel usage. You’d still get the full range of gambits over the year and it would be easier for the fan to understand what’s going-on (this is a flat out race – this is a PU strategic race) and gives maybe a chance for apparent underdog PUs to be competitive – eg a Renault engine running a hell of lot better on more fuel flow (Riccardo) in a race where 100kg of fuel is guaranteed to get you to the end.

    1. I’m hoping Joe will have had some chats with his pals on the technical side and thus will be able to help us bettter understand the performance benefit of RB’s scheme… or maybe Scarbs knows?

  31. Yes, a whole lot of hyperbole around the equipment when in fact the team transgressed several regulations of a non-technical nature. On the basis that the other teams knowingly (and with discussion with the FIA) accepted the consequences of using the sensor, Red Bull can indeed be said to have enjoyed an advantage.

    I was sure that the team would decide not to appeal having slept on it. The question is, was it Marko’s decision to appeal or Hirner’s? And given Mateschitz’s relationship with BCE, why didn’t he overrule it?

    I trust the the Red Bull Ring fully conforms to all the standards set by FOM and FIA?

    1. Could it be that BE might be pulling some strings here, given his criticism over engines? Like I surmised earlier, might Chris Horner’s wings already have been clipped?

    2. It doesn’t matter who made the decision, Horner is the team principle and the buck stops with him. Team principles are held responsible for everything their team does.

  32. Well said Joe, glad to see there are still some F1 journo’s with the balls to say it like it is.

  33. My wife phoned my daughter and, while on the phone, told her that the Red Bull had been disqualified “How were they cheating this time?” was her immediate response. Red Bull bring that sort of characterisation down upon themselves. They also ran an illegal camera position on the front of the car which they were allowed, this time, to get away with – If it didn’t confer an advantage, they wouldn’t have done it, it wasn’t done to save cost on the wiring! They took a risk with the fuel flow and it failed, I suspect that they gamble on all the other teams running 5% down in order not to infringe, while their interpretation allowed them to run through 5% more fuel than the others in the hope that they would get away with it by arguing the inaccuracy of the supplied system. Imagine if someone other than Usain Bolt set his blocks 99.7 metres from the finish line as he disputed the accuracy of the Olympic measurers; this is what Red Bull have, in effect, tried to do…

  34. If RBR were advised – repeatedly – during the race, as the FIA stated, and no obvious action was taken – even if the FIA fuel flow sensors were or are poorly calibrated, could the Driver points/position be reinstated and the Teams points left as disqlalified? If the driver didn’t know of the FIA warnings and couldn’t do anything differently anyway, and he didn’t appear to gain any advantage, why penalise him? RBR may well regret the challange!

    1. “…and he didn’t appear to gain an advantage” How do you get to that point, it certainly wasn’t by the application of logic. If he had an increased fuel flow he would be able to use more power – Seemples.

      1. Magnussen was catching him when he was told he did “not have a fuel problem” by the team….advantage?

  35. I don’t know how big or heavy these fuel flow systems are but couldn’t they install 3 in parallel to be able to apply a “3 judges” system of error management?

    1. I think they would have to be installed in series with two agreeing, otherwise you are flowing three times the fuel. Remember, the sensors don’t control flow, they only measure it.

      1. Yes of course, you are correct. I meant to say in series! Would seem to be a pretty good way of eliminating any doubt. You could even add and divide by 3 if all are within a certain tolerance.

  36. why are there a need for a fuel flow limit? to me it’s unnecessary. I know it was implemented to prevent one team from having an unbeatable advantage, but we see now that even with the meter one team has done just that. they are useless and the FIA should remove them as a requirement. But their ego will show itself and they will blindly force it upon the sport because it was “their decision” and they can’t ever look bad.
    I am also curious – what is the actual horsepower advantage between 96 and 100 kg/hr assuming the same engine?

    1. Assuming power is a linear function of fuel burned, a 5% increase in fuel would mean a 5% increase in horsepower. If the ICE is producing 600 hp, that’s an extra 30 hp.

    2. The technical working group brought up and agreed on fuel flow rates, it wasn’t imposed by the FIA from above. All the teams, especially Renault powered, wanted a strict fuel flow control as part of the regulations.

      I think the FIA is an odd organisation but it does get a lot of stick for decisions others make sometimes…

  37. As far as I can see it seems that the FIA approved meter is the official way that the fuel is measured. In that sense the accuracy is immaterial and Red Bull can prove beyond a doubt and until they are red in the face that they never went over 100kg per hour, what the meter says is the measurement, not what actually happened.

  38. The problem with such teams as Red Bull is that they practically are just sponsors. They think differently than “genuine race teams”, such as Williams, McLaren, or Ferrari for that matter. F1 is probably one of their biggest marketing assets as of now. If – at this point – they think they cannot hit the front page each time a GP is on (and thus selling less of the said energy drink), they get nervous, because their numbers are down. They never quite got to the same point with their NASCAR program, so they simply pulled the plug.

    They got so successful in F1 that if only just season goes by without any major results, they might easily say it’s not worth it any more and go somewhere else, but that wouldn’t happen that quickly, they would still try to convince everyone they are the best, one way or another.

  39. Joe, you always present a thought process that must be admired. RBR knowingly stepped outside the box and should suffer the consequences. It’s always easiest to blame someone else or something else rather than one’s own actions.

    DTM is starting to look rather more interesting than F1.

  40. “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.”

    Isn’t it telling that you, Joe, felt the need to explain that cheating isn’t admirable?

    In John Steinbeck’s novel, “Cannery Row,” one of the characters made this observation (about the Red Bull team ethics):

    “It has always seemed strange to me,” said Doc. “The things we admire in men — kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling — are the concommitants of failure in our system. And, those traits we detest — sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest — are the traits of success. And, while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second.”

      1. Well, I did cause Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” to be mentioned recently. I reckoned that Pope on an F1 blog was a first.

    1. Can I present a counter-example? Frank Williams is a tough, uncompromising competitor. In 1997 there was a practice up and down the pit lane of intercepting and recording other teams pit to car communications. This was known about, it was illegal in some countries in which races were held, but teams were allowed to get away with it. In the aftermath of the final grand prix of that year Ferrari tried to prove, using their recordings of communications to the Williams and McLaren cars, that Williams and McLaren had colluded to contrive the race result.

      Jock Clear, Jacques Villeneuve’s engineer that year, was asked if Williams knew that this went on and if they did it. He said they knew, but they didn’t do it and that nobody would even have suggested it to Frank Williams because Frank laid down standards for his team and made it clear that HOW they won was important too. There were things that Williams would not allow in his team, even though everybody knew that you could do it and get away with it, because he considered those things to be wrong.

      Not only does Williams have that sense of ethics, but he makes sure that it’s conveyed to everybody in his team and in advance: This is how WE go racing.

      1. Absolutely right. Those who cheat are ultimately only cheating themselves because deep down they KNOW that they won unfairly, no matter how hard they try to forget it. Real winners are fair.

  41. I just wonder if part of RB’s rationale in ignoring the FIA was to just get some miles on their troublesome car with Ricciardo being the sacrificial lamb in the quest for data.

    With more fuel going into the engine it would tend to run cooler as well, obviously assisting the car to get to the end of the race.

    SV had to play it straight rather than his image suffering another cheating slur on his name.

  42. Another thought – why didn’t RB swap the sensors from car to car to show it wasn’t an install issue?

  43. Well done Joe.
    I would have like if you have said it when RbR was the king of the hill.

    Since long time ago, I think that Horner is a ‘Bernie’s child’ (somes folks said “bernie’s dog)… with the right nationality.

    Next step ? Redbull must leave F1!
    it’s a marketing team, exactly like Benetton….

    1. Elendil, some would say “Bernie’s poodle”, perhaps especially since the odd video of an interview (?) between the two of them appeared two or three years back.

      1. You are right, A-P.
        And moreover, Team Principals during FOTA’s meeting said some wrong things and had been very amused to read this thing analyzed by Bernie in the press.

        And few weeks after, RbR had leaving FOTA (it’s a short abstract).

        For me, when F1 is too politic, the Sunday we only seen show.

  44. The only real winners in these kind of things are the lawyers, who get paid handsomely whatever the outcome.

    They knew full well the problems with the flow meters. Instead of doing what every other team did, which was to live with it, in the interests of the sport until some kind of solution could be found, they decided to pick a fight. They must be really desperate to do this, in view of the recent shenanigans concerning the state of their cars at the moment.

    It doesn’t look good to the outside world, potential sponsors etc when the sport drags itself through courts and legal processes like this.

    So because of that, I hope that their appeal fails, and they’re slapped with a ruddy big fine.

  45. Joe,

    Slightly off topic but can you shead any light on KK’s crash at the start of the race. I understand he has a brake failure / issue and that the stewards accepted this and hence no punishment. My question is, was this a ‘brake by-wire’ issue and it’s being kept quite?

              1. Do you actually try and be difficult to get along with Joe or does it come naturally? Although I bow to your knowledge about F1, I often think while reading the comments section that you are a bit foul mooded and intolerant. Sorry to have to put it that way.

                1. I think you might need some punctuation in this sentence, as I am not sure if it is intended for me or someone else. On the same basis as “Let’s eat, people” and “Let’s eat people”.

                  1. Yes my punctuation was a bit lacking, apologies for that. It was meant for you, Joe. I have found you to be more abrasive than normal and I, for one, have not been enjoying your responses to your readers. Considering the fact that these are the people who buy your weekly blog, you may try at least to be a little bit more accommodating to those who are not as “in the know” as you are.

                    1. Charity is something that is given selflessly and one does not expect the people accepting the charity to call you a wanker because they wanted a different kind of rice, or whatever.

                      I get nothing from the vast majority of readers of this blog and in consequence when they give me grief I have an understandable tendency to tell them where to stick their complaints. You get what you get and it comes free. Enjoy it. If you prefer I will charge for the blog and then I may be a little more accepting of trolls…

                      Anyway, I don’t have a “weekly blog” so how can anyone buy it? If you wish to complain at least do me the service of understanding what I do.

                2. Oh, good grief… he clearly tells us things we wouldn’t know otherwise, educates a bit about how things work, publishes opinions that challenge his own, publishes baseless attacks on his own integrity, does this without any barrier to access to the blog, and puts up with a lot of moronic nonsense from cretins. (God only knows why.) So, he gets crotchety at times… so what?

                  p.s. More often than not, whoever he jabs at has it coming. Not always, but usually. If you can’t take a little bit of pretense-free rough edges, well, grow a pair… he never said he was any good at retail guff-taking.

                  p.p.s. My theory is that he’s practicing to be a curmudgeon whenever he decides to quit all the F1 travel (if he doesn’t drop dead in pit lane first).

                    1. All well and good but I am a very happy soul by nature. The supposed grumpiness comes from giving short replies to comments because I don’t have time to do more and because I refuse to put up with trollish behaviour. That’s it. I am insanely patient, as all those around me will attest.

  46. Hi Joe: You do realize that you may need to order a new face very soon. Bernie; CVC’s suits; Vijay Mallya and now RB must be working overtime vigorously sticking pins and razors into their abundant supplies of Joe’s faced-pin cushions and bobble heads. We currently have a dwindling band of Journalists like you who are not afraid to speak- truth- to-power; who prides their objectivity, honesty; independence and integrity above getting select leaks; being invited to parties, etc. We thank you.

    About a year ago JA wrote that whereas all the other teams will first seek the FIA’s approval before using new parts or upgrades; RB will, instead, first affix new upgrades to their cars and wait for Charlie Whitting to catch them. Often Charlie will say “take that off and don’t let me see that on your cars again”. So the only penalty they faced is not being able to use such upgrades in the future. RB probably were expecting to be told okay you may keep 2nd, but don’t ever do this again.

    Should RB wins its appeal, then the sport will see a free-for-all by other teams regarding all the rules and regulations of t he FIA

  47. Hi Joe,

    Is any team contending that the FIA mandated meters are not consistent, meaning there are ‘good ones’ and ‘bad ones’? Or is it possible that the way a meter is integrated into the package could give an advantage to a team that is lucky (or smart) enough to have the right installation?

    Modern ECU fuel metering must be extremely accurate – the engine manufacturers would have known for months what the delta between the FIA meter and their own was at max fuel flow.

    Based on your comments Joe it sounds like there was a gentleman’s (and Monisha’s) agreement to use some sort of known conversion table everyone felt was fair, but someone at Red Bull decided it applied only to gentlemen!

    I have a hard time hating any F1 team for pushing the limit – otherwise I would hate them all. As a Webber fan and hearing your latest comments about Red Bull I may have to add them to my ‘not cool’ list, but how can one root against Adrian Newey?

    Thanks Joe – sparkling commentary, as always.

  48. Terrific post Joe. Cuts through all the crap and the stuff from Horner post race, which I’m sure cut no ice with anybody with an ounce of common sense. Tells it how it is which will certainly make uncomfortable reading for fans of RBR. I remember, about 3 years ago, reading Jackie Stewart’s autobiography entitled, ‘Winning is not enough’. I enjoyed the book lots and thought the title to be a well-chosen one. If anybody ever writes a book about the dominance of RBR in the years to come (which I won’t be buying), then ‘winning is all that matters’ would seem to be an apposite title. Shame that they feel the need to behave in this way as I have a huge amount of admiration for Adrian Newey.

    1. Re: the notion that ‘winning is all that matters’ would be an apt title for RB’s story…

      That’s clearly not the case here. They knew they were getting caught and they proceeded down that dead-end path… which did not and will not result in winning anything, points-wise.

      What they have achieved is a whirlwind of attention to themselves, wrapped in obscure technical BS and palace intrigue. Rather than sitting back with the other also-rans and reading stories about the performance of Mercedes, McLaren, the new kid beating Button, and Williams having new life, they’ve managed to keep all the headlines about themselves… keeping the name of their product on everyone’s tongues… portraying themselves as somehow abused… and getting everyone to pick sides… you’re either for RB or you’re against them.

      They’re gonna end up with no points, just as they would have had they abided by the rules… but they’ve made themselves the story… which isn’t easy to do when your cars are slow… but they’ve managed it nonetheless.

      This is about winning only if you judge that by media attention rather than who ends up with points in the race…

  49. How is it possible that astrophysicists have recently managed to narrow down the Big Bang timeline to the first trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second but the FIA can’t manage to find a brains trust that can design a fuel flow meter that reflects actual undisputed fuel flow? Surely there’s enough money in their coffers to come up with an acceptable reference tool to eliminate controversy, particularly when the results of this poor design have added even more to the current uncertainty in Grand Prix racing.

    1. Maybe because the astrophysicists have years to check their findings, recheck and then have a look at them again before publishing them? F1 instead has a clear deadline for when the equipment has to get on track, and measuring has to be done in real time in an enclosed, hot, vibrating environment running ever changing software Max.

  50. All my respect for you Joe! Not many in your profession really say what’s on their mind. We, the fans, can only comment on what’s being reported by the media, but I can imagine that almost always key details are kept secret.
    Keep it going.

  51. I agree with you wholeheartedly Joe, I believe that Red Bull have brought the sport into disrepute in this instance and should be punished. There seems to be very little sympathy for them amongst the majority of people and it’s about time they were taken down a peg, I was very annoyed with the way they put pressure on Pirelli last season and they are trying it on again. Horner says that it is an immature technology but so is the RB10 and who’s to say that their problem with the sensor is not down to the car and the way it’s packaged? They dont even listen to their engine supplier and have had the most problems of any team to date because of it. It could well be that the sensor is being compromised by issues unique to Red Bull and they now want to have it removed from the sport. I suspect they are also going to play a disruptive game to buy themselves time to catch up. If they dont want to play by the rules then they can go elsewhere. They would not be missed as much as they think and while they should be given credit for what they have acchieved, they do not yet have the kudos of Ferrari, Mclaren, Williams or even teams like Lotus or Marussia who are genuine racers IMHO.

  52. I find the whole fuel limit (and with it the flow monitors) business tiresome — a burden to the spirit of good racing. I understand it’s the rule and the teams have to now live with it, but what a stupid rule. Give them enough fuel to run the race and stop messing around with artificial limitations.

    You can apply a similar argument to tires as well, but that’s a topic for another time.

  53. Lacklustre performance? Strange… I was under the impression that, on pace, they finished 2nd in the race. A true lacklustre performance it seems.

      1. Testing? How much can you read into testing? Mario Andretti once famously said: when the flag drops, the bullshit stops.

  54. It should be noted that Alex Hitzinger, technical director of Porshe is A FORMER REDBULL RACING EMPLOYEE!
    This is why Porsche have backed Redbull and come out against the fuel sensor and they are the only people to have done so.
    Not heard much from the Renault Sport people who’s engine injector flow this argument centers upon have we?

  55. Exactly. They are good enough to not need to pull this kind of stuff, theoretically. If Ferrari were trying to pull this kind of thing, it would be more understandable.

    I yearn for the historical days of McLaren and Williams dominance, where (largely), both designed a superior car then drove it to victory, or made a mess of things and owned up to it.

  56. RBR seemed to have put themselves in a really stupid position. Until their appeal is hear they either:

    1) carry on using their own measurements and ignore the FIA mandated sensor, then they are likely to be disqualified again (if the FIA sensor says a higher flow rate)

    2) carry on using their own measurements and ignore the FIA mandated sensor, (if the FIA sensor says a lower flow rate). Then could turn up the fuel flow rate to higher than permitted according to their readings Then they are legal if they don’t turn up the flow rate they undermine their appeal. (if they win the appeal for Australia they then would then prove themselves illegal for subsequent races.

    2) use an offset, if required to comply with FIA requirements
    This undermines their appeal.

    3) have a FIA sensor that agrees with the RBR readings close enough for no disagreement.

    Almost all options are poor, there maybe others i’ve not thought of.

  57. Bet they wouldn’t have been so keen to use their own, more accurate measurement if the incorrect reading from the FIA sensor was allowing them to use a higher flow rate…

    Hopefully the FIA will make that point and kick out the appeal.

    I think the teams (apart from Red Bull) and the FIA should be given a lot of credit for dealing with the problem in a sensible way, whilst the teething problems with the new cars are resolved. I think they have learnt some lessons from Indy 2005.

  58. I can agree with Red Bull being in trouble because they explicitly ignored the FIAs instruction to use their calibrate method for the faulty sensor and used their own calibration method
    The FIA seems pretty adamant that using your own method is not an option, even if the FIA’s is wrong.

    I cant agree that they had an unfair advantage
    If their own method was actually more accurate than the FIA (Which is still yet to be proven) – then they were simply maximising the letter of the rule , using up to exactly 100% of the allowed 100kg/hr.
    That’s common sense F1 – Read the rule book thoroughly and maximise the letter of the rule to the edge

    Teams that weren’t having issues with the sensor may already have been using up to exactly 100kg/hr, so Red Bull would have been at a disadvantage to those teams if they had to use a measurement tolerance (eg: If they had to run at 99% of the limit)
    Do we know if every team was given a FIA method to adjust for a faulty sensors, or was it just Red Bull?

    If they were actually exploiting to get 200kg/hr, that would be an unfair advantage.

    1. Actually – that could make the next DRS style gimmick – Last 10 laps you are now allowed 300kg/hr fuel use 🙂

      Do you have enough fuel left to do it?
      Will your engine grenade?
      Low fuel high horsepower = fast racing

  59. There are two things I wish I knew about this:

    1. In what way are the sensors problematic? Are there inconsistencies from one to another? If so, then custom calibration per unit would seem a proper adjustment (which, as I understand from the FIA’s statement, was done via Saturday consultation between FIA and RB). Or are there inconsistencies for a given unit from one moment to the next, in which case one can only hope they even out over time. Are the sensor problems the former or the latter (or both)?

    2. Since the renegade RB model was using the same amount of fuel over all, it must have been using a bit more Here and a bit less There. Given that, I wonder how much performance improvement was obtained, and how much of that gain was obtained from what (more oomph from the petrol engine, more power to the battery, different temps, what?)

    Joe, I realize that you are neither a mechanic nor an engineer, but after spending a hundred years in pit lane, I’m sure you know some who will whisper. Are any of them talking?

  60. Christian Horner is correct in that the technology is immature. Using an ultrasonic sensor to measure the density of fuel and velocity of fuel delivery is not an exact science. Its basically a sonar sensor which are extremely environment dependant. To expect it to work to 100% accuracy in environments where the tech has never worked before is ridiculous. The tech requires the teams to supply info back for it’s working results to be verified and thus supply the FIA with it’s working range on any given machine.

    The fuel delivery system doesn’t deliver on weight, it delivers in litres. Red Bull convert these litres into the weight of fuel being delivered at any one time using a conversion factor. The FIA asked Red Bull to adjust their working because the sensor saw that the amount of fuel being injected amounted to more than the allowed amount.

    Horners initial strategy here is to prove the fuel flow limits are unenforcable rules because the variables involved do not allow for consistency. The hope being that the rules are removed and this will hand back the advantage to Red Bull, whose Renault engine is clearly designed for delivering more fuel for maximum performance.

    Horner is clearly well known for his ability to politic rule changes to serve his own purpose, seems to be the same here

  61. Red Bull’s actions will have ZERO affect on me. I will never purchase or consume a Red Bull drink nor will I allow my employees to have them in the office.

    I think they are a disgrace to F1 and are not in it for the ‘sport’.

  62. Joe, you’ve frequently touted the recent transformation the FIA’s legal system from one of judicial fiat, to the current system that purports to work more like the rule of law. This new system alleges to give the teams a fair shot in appeals, with evidence taking precedence, rather than secret decrees by the FIA’s president.

    In this post, you’ve embraced a complete return to the bad old days of judicial fiat. Not only punishing Red Bull for not actually having broken any rules, but throwing in a fine for good measure. A punishment not for breaking rules, but for the ultimate sin of having embarrassed officialdom.

    Don’t you see the huge step backwards such a ruling would create?

    Like you, I strongly disagree with Red Bull’s actions. You are absolutely correct when you say they’ve put their interests above those of the sport. The solution is not to steamroll their appeal and rule by fiat. The solution is to provide proper regulations that will allow the FIA a flexibility to deal with situations like this going forward.

    When the FIA makes a ruling due to a force majeure situation like this, that ruling should have the force of a written regulation. If it does not, it is not the fault of Red Bull, it is the fault of the FIA for not authoring proper regulations.

    If no regulation was violated, the FIA’s best action is not to punish a non-infringer for having embarrassed the FIA, but by immediately plugging the loophole used by Red Bull.

    This won’t assuage those of a vengeful nature who believe strength only comes through fear, but it would send the appropriate message. The message would be that the FIA respects its rules. That the FIA has a valid, fair, and unimpeachable appeals process.

    Yes, the FIA would be admitting they were tricked. By by immediately changing the rules to prevent it from happening again, no other teams would try such a scheme. What’s more important? The FIA’s self esteem, or that the sport has trustworthy legal process?

      1. That’s a false choice.

        The FIA should never have allowed Red Bull to take the grid with a bespoke fuel measurement device. The FIA have the right to make such prohibitions. They have done it many times in the past.

        During the race, the FIA could have demanded that Red Bull lower their fuel consumption on pain of a black flag.

        The FIA had the power to fix this. That the FIA failed to use this power is no fault but their own.

        Frankly, I’m not clear as to whether Red Bull has broken any rules or not. Is it a violation to reject an explicit FIA directive (or was it just a suggestion)? If violating an FIA directive is a violation, they’ve clearly violated the rules. If not, they would seem not to have.

        This will be THE pivotal test of the FIA’s appeal process. If the court fabricates a violation against Red Bull, the FIA appeals court will lose all credibility. It will be the Mad Max era all over again.

        We can have one or the other, a transparent, credible legal system, or a system that ignores the evidence in order to punish offenders that embarrass the establishment.

        Which would you prefer? They are mutually exclusive.

        1. I think you misunderstood something there Random. Red Bull did not have “a bespoke fuel measurement device” instead of the official Gill sensor, the sensor was there where it should be.

          But RBR just decided to ignore its readings because calculations based on the fuel injection rates (from the sensors on the Renault engine) showed they were not putting more than 100kg/h in even when the official sensors did show they were going over the limit.

  63. This is yet another example of overregulation. I agree with Geoffrey Raymond most fully. However the rules are in place and must be followed. Regretfully the parasitic lawyers will as always ignore intent and other idealistic / moralistic approaches and proceed down the legal path It makes the sport look stupid and if they are successful with Red Bull the next time there is a loophole to exploit another team (or more likely RB) will try again

    1. It’s not new to stretch the rules, or cheat as it is sometimes known as. What is new in this case is to break the rules knowingly, and tell the rulebook overseer, the FIA, that you are breaking them! Plain daft I would say, as whilst I am not in favour of this restricted racing, if a rule says you have to comply with this or that, if you choose not to, then how can you complain if you then get chucked out of the results? And to then go to an Appeal seems really stupid, unless you like giving money away in fines! I don’t get all the animosity toward RBR. To me they’re not any different to any of the other teams, except they have had the one of the top 2 or 3 best designers working for them, for several years, and one of the top 2 or 3 best drivers as well. That together with great staff and an hugely successful engine design team from Renault, has combined to make a highly successful outcome. It’s not rocket science, and one can trace this system back through F1 and other motorsport series. Just because a team wins a lot, why whinge about them? Everyone used to whine about Loeb winning so much. I just liked watching the guy at work, and he was a genuinely nice bloke to talk to as well. Now VW are doing all the winning, no one is whinging much yet, but they will be by next year….
      I thought Ricciardo did a very good job, but I would only hold that view if I can be sure he was not aware that there was this stupid cheating going on. If he was, then he wasted a good drive by going along with it, although I guess if he had complained, he might now be looking for another drive.

  64. Who are you kidding Joe. Innocent until proven guilty. Spirit of the rules? Come on! The rules are written in such detail because no one follows the ‘spirit of the rules’ ethos. Was the ‘f-duct’ in the ‘spirit of the rules? Of course not. Did it cost the other teams a fortune to emulate it? Absolutely.

    This isn’t club day stuff. Millions ride on the WCC points. Of course RBR was going to appeal. Can the stewards prove that RBR used more than 100kg/hr? Which way was the flow meter out? what is the percentage of error? Is it possible that one flow meter allows 100.03kg/hr & another 99.78Kg/hr yet blow show throughput as being 100kg/her?

    I get that you are all sick of the RBR show but there is little point on going on a witch hunt for them on such issues. Why didn’t McLaren drivers loose WDC points when McLaren had Ferrari documents?

    RBR certainly have a point & I am looking forward to seeing what the outcome is, either way

    1. You come here to learn what is going on in this sport. If you don’t like what you read, tough! You clearly do not understand the point in question.

    2. Simple way to answer this, if all the other teams used the FIA readings, why couldn’t RB just avoid problems and do the same (!)

    3. I seem to remember that the unofficial line was that Lewis and Fernando were given immunity in order to encourage them to testify what they knew.

  65. How do we know that Red Bull’s readings are any more accurate than the FIA’s. ..would there be any way to check or is it going to be their word against the FIA’S. ..In which case this could lead to this happening at every single race? -and not just with Red Bull

    Also although Directives aren’t officially ‘the rules’ as I understand it…what’s the point of having them if they aren’t worth anything…therfore they must have some merit?

  66. I understand the point in question. However I think that the article was somewhat lacklustre in comparison to your usual. Your articles are usually succinct without loose ends. However – “the troublesome fuel flow meters were being treated with care by all the teams except Red Bull”. How were RBR mistreating their flow sensor? “one can argue that he gained advantage by being able to burn fuel when he needed it” How much over the 100kg/hr was the alleged breach? Then you go on draw a parallel “just as last year they wanted different tyres and piled criticism on Pirelli until that happened” So RBR magically had a hand in all those blowouts did they? They may well have had good reason for wanting the change in construction but the rationale for getting the change across the line was not of RBR’s doing now was it.

    “Red Bull decided that there was a grey area that could be exploited and duly exploited it”. Is that not what all teams do? Would you disagree that this is exactly what Brawn did in 2009? Different what McLaren have done with their rear control arms this year? Flexi floor anyone?

    “Random’ deserved a better response than the one line you gave him/her. It would appear that Random highlighted you contradicting yourself & had some legitimate questions for you that you chose to ignore. Random deserves a better response from you.

    I enjoy reading your material Joe & have great respect for you but to be honest I was a bit surprised by this one.

    Cheers

    1. Interesting choice of words. I dont agree with Joe on everything but in this case he was absolutely correct. There was no grey area being exploited here as the teams and the FIA had already agreed an approach. Just becauuse Red Bull call it a grey area does not make it so. They tried to manipulate the rules during an event that would have given them an unfair advantage. I have to say this behavour combined with their behavour last season over the tyres simply shows their real approach and it has nothing to do with sports or sportsmanship.

    2. How about doing something really left field, and having race cars that are fueled up to race for the whole distance? Kinda gets rid of the spurious **** rules for the hoovers, and if people disagree, I’d love to hear comments on the new look F1 by racers past. Everyone here is now arguing about fuel flows…jeez, it was supposed to be a Grand Prix! The way the sport is going, the next rule change will be to cut holes in the chassis floors so the drivers can run along like Fred Flintstone…come to think of it if holes get cut in the chassis floors, Adrian Newey should be able to get a new advantage!!

    3. I never expect a detailed answer from Joe. As he says, he truly doesn’t have the time.

      It would be nice to know why he’s no longer supporting transparency and the rule of law from the FIA court of appeals. He was quite the supporter of those changes, but is now supporting justice by fiat.

      1. I support good sense and what is best for the sport. If you cannot see that in those case, I’m afraid you have a massive pair of blinkers stuck on your head.

        1. Good sense overrules justice? Down that path lies tyranny.

          What place is there for a transparent, credible legal process when it’s discarded the moment it interferes with a nebulous standard like “the good of the sport”?

          Joe, you yourself have frequently heralded this new legal process. Now you’re asking that it be ignored because Red Bull’s conduct has offended your sensibilities?

          Red Bull has equally offended my sensibilities, but I don’t believe the rule of law should be abandoned every time a scoundrel abuses a loophole.

          Lofty claims of the court’s reformation have thus far gone unproven. This will be their truest test. I expect them to fail this test and take an action much as the one you suggest.

          I’ve never believed there was any true reform of the FIA court, though I’d like to be proved wrong.

            1. Oh please. My position may not be entirely popular, but unlike some, at least I’m steadfast in holding it.

              The law should be the law. Especially in cases when the defendant is a scoundrel. Any court can punish an obviously guilty man. It’s the execrable innocents which test a court’s real mettle.

    4. I think the point was that the teams agreed to treat the result of the fuel flow meter as the official reading therefore all team would need to follow it. How much it was out by is irrelevant from this standpoint. Since how would we know if other teams didn’t have this problem and they choose to follow the FIA’s order. How would the FIA answers to the other team if they make this exception for RB?

      Kinda like the situation in Malaysia last year, when Vettel overtook Webber, they agreed to do something before the race and Vettel choose to ignore it

  67. Why is saving face for the sensor manufacturer and the FIA who initially chose and still supports them to the point of handing out directives and rule changes on a minute-by-minute basis despite their failing to deliver a reliable product so important? More important to you, in fact, then making sure that all teams compete on a level playing field?

    I get uncomfortable when people invoke ‘the good of the sport’ in an attempt to hide their own ineptitude.

    Build a bloody working sensor! Define the operational environment, if you need to. And tell the teams in due time to implement the necessary changes.

      1. Oh I’m certain that we (well, the FIA and RBR, mostly) are in a legal mess right now, I was just pointing out that it all went down hill from the original tender, or, maybe even from deciding to mandate a sensor that had yet to be built.

        Let me be frank, I don’t care about the specific outcome of this appeal, I’m sure Daniel will do fine and be on the podium again in no time, he might even win a race soon, if the Renault situation gets sorted.

        But as a spectator, I’d much rather not Formula 1 devolve into the sort of pop off valve silliness CART had a couple of years back. We don’t need a set of performance-deciding sensors that can’t be properly calibrated to work to the same standard across the field (or, as I mentioned, can’t be calibrated properly to achieve identical results in widely differing environments.)

        I’d love to see data comparing the fuel flow sensor data with the common ECU known levels of fuel injected across the field for the Melbourne weekend. Alas, I fear that data may mostly be used to come up with a better ‘fudge factor’ to hide the former’s ineptitude for the upcoming races.

          1. Sure, as most things are. If only the clearly demented idiot on the other side saw the wisdom of one’s own position and carried on as they’re told.

            I’m sure this ‘children in the sandbox’ bickering never gets old to them, does it? 😉

  68. RBR exists to give publicity to Red Bull.
    As I understand it RBR were aware at an early stage of the race that if matters continued as they were Ricciardo would be disqualified and they would need to appeal. They continued as they were. This was, I assume, a calculated decision.
    They achieved an excellent level of TV coverage and a very well received result from the home fans at the time.
    Following the inevitable disqualification an appeal was, of course, essential or it would have been clear that they knowingly cheated. A failure on appeal could simply be spun as an honestly held view that the Tribunal did not agree with.
    The essential job was therefore accomplished with the added advantage that, if the appeal failed, their number 2 driver would not start the next race ahead on points of their number 1.

    1. This sums up my view. It was great publicity, having Ricciardo on the podium in his home race and first race for RBR.

      The DSQ is collateral damage, the appeal merely going through the motions.

  69. Joe
    It is always a pleasure to read your take on these kinds of matters. I could not agree more with your analysis, Red Bull broke the rules irrespective of the question of consistency, and they payed the price. I just hope the governing body sees what this ploy for what it is. It is very refreshing to know there are voices such as yours which are not deterred in writing the hard words against F1. The words that at times paint the sport or rather some aspects of the sport with not the most pleasant of brush.

  70. Hi Joe,
    Long time reader, love the blog. A question if I may: given that the FIA was monitoring the flow rate during the race and warned RB that it was not in compliance, why was the car not shown the black flag when they failed to make an adjustment? That would have sent a clear message to all teams – could it be the FIA wanted an appeal?

    1. Yes, during the race, the FIA could have black flagged the car after the team failed to heed the FIA’s directive.

      They could also have forbidden the car from taking the grid with a bespoke fuel sensor. They’ve prohibited countless components in the past.

      Red Bull’s actions were bad for the sport, but the FIA allowed them to do it.

      If the FIA did give Red Bull a direct order and the team refused, that would seem to be an obvious violation of the rules. Was it an order, or was it just a suggestion? That might be the point on which this case pivots.

      1. Red Bull don’t have a bespoke ‘sensor’ they have a mathematical model, a simulation, of what they anticipate their fuel flow given certain conditions. This is not the same as a physical sensor. The FIA physical sensor was what was on the car during the race, RBR just decided not to pay attention to the telemetry from it.
        This seems to be a common misconception among commenters on this story here and on other forums and article comments.

        It’s almost as if people are commenting on this without having read the stewards report… imagine that!?

        1. Read the stewards report? Er, ah. Guilty as charged, though it seems even our host hasn’t done so.

          It still does not explain why the team wasn’t black flagged during the race for refusing an FIA directive to turn down their fuel flow. Or was it just a suggestion?

          This would seem to leave Red Bull in the uncomfortable position of having to prove a negative. If they’re forced to prove they’re under the fuel limit, they will have no definite means of doing so. It will be their word against the FIA.

  71. I wonder how many more times Red Bull can get away with openly criticising the actions of the FIA like this to further their own interests. Surely sooner or later the FIA will bite back.

  72. The question is, if Red Bull are so adamant that their sensors are right and the FIA’s wrong will the continue to use their own data until the court appeal and risk WDC and WCC points for several races.

    I would bet that they will follow the FIA directive from now on to be safe, which, if they do is pretty much an admission of guilt.

    1. It’s still a non-event isn’t it? It’s just the same as if the FIA found that RBR had 2000cc engines instead of 1600cc engines, if the rules say X you can’t say I ran Y because it is better…RBR must be either incredibly stupid, or just thought that if they ran with an illegal advantage, they would get loads of airtime and advertising, instead of running around at the back with the Lotus,Caterham & Marussia cars.

  73. It’s interesting to note that the results of a poll on the issue on the Red Bull website are not accessable. I wonder why. “This Page is Not Accessible to the Public
    You do not have permission to view this report.”.
    Red Bulls behavour cannot be acceptable on any level IMHO because they were trying to bully their way to a result. Even now they are still trying to force the issue and dont seem to care that what they are doing is damaging to the sport.Do they not realise that what they tried to do was to change the rules during an event to give themselves an unfair advantage? I guess the people at Monster are happy though. 🙂

  74. I think the Coulthard and Matheschitz whining about new regulations is unprofessional – what´s that, “Wings for Bernie”? They better should realise that they have a sound problem at home at their Red Bull Ring Austria where only a certain amount of noise is permitted every year, and will be measured constantly, so the less noisier the cars are the better it is for the future of their project.

  75. It is amazing how many appear to have not made the effort to read the other comments first. A little time searching found the official press releases about the fuel meter being homologated, but nothing about it being good for only thirty days as opposed to one year as required by the original R.F.P. The simple fact that the meter measures only flow rates allows for significant error due to temperature related density changes. And 8,000 euros each? This is going to get messy.
    (Note – all this info was gleaned from the comments on this topic )

  76. Maybe they should go testing for 3 days in secret for a better understanding of the sensor’s inaccuracy befor the hearing.

  77. Joe, do you think the FIA delaying the hearing (or rather deciding not to bring it forward) is them setting a challenge to Red Bull. Along the lines of ‘keep doing your own thing and risk losing all your points from 3 races’.

    This controversy makes me long for a NASCAR approach to discipline, where the series owner’s ruling is final.

    1. I have no idea why the hearing is delayed… but I do enjoy the image of the RB braintrust sitting around thinking, “Oh, hell… now what do we do?”

  78. Biased opinion ahead.

    I don’t think Daniel’s performance should be discounted by the breach of the regulations. I doubt an advantage over the rest of the field was gained. More overcoming a disadvantage caused by the calibration of the fuel meter.

    If Red Bull wasn’t confident enough of the accuracy of their method of calculating the fuel flow, they wouldn’t appeal the charge of ignoring the advice of the stewards during the race. Especially as that would require the calculated fuel flow readings to be taken into account.

    Mind you. Any of those assumptions, especially with regards to what Red Bull (or any F1 team) might or might not try on, could be as reliable as the offending fuel meter.

  79. on March 22, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Reply Gabor Vajda (@Gabor_V)

    Joyce. Actually, a comment thread is very much like a chapter in Ulysses.

    As I catch up with the thread, how about

    “Stately, plump Norbert Haug came down from the pitwall … “

  80. Where do you draw the line here? What if the sensor was out by 5% with the FIA insisting on adhering to its readings, leading to a 1 second per lap defecit? Or 0.5 seconds per lap? Or 0.1s? There is no way to make that up to Red Bull after the race. Saying other teams lowered their consumption misses the point – the measured flow rates are varying car by car.

    It’s beautifully simple to measure the sizes and weights of cars and fuel, using one piece of equipment for every car.

    But with fuel flow rates there is actually no such thing as an instantaneous measurement of flow, it is fundamentally a quantity divided by a time, measuring it with consistent accuracy is extremely difficult: teams use different fuel suppliers, different fuel viscosities, different temperatures due to different car designs, there are problems with bubbles, sloshing, backwash, oscilating flow, and vibrations.

    You could say Red Bull are acting as whistle-blowers here. It is fundamentally unfair to have sensors that vary so widely in performance (and prone to failures) dictating the performance from car to car. The general quoted accuracy for these sensors is 0.25 % which is 1 in 400, when lap time is measured down to 1 in 1000 seconds. A bad sensor could mask months of work on aerodynamics or other areas.

    Unenforceable rules have been dropped before: the ban on team orders was dropped, and the ban on traction control was dropped until the standard ECU came in.

    Also, the rule dicates maximum flow rate based on RPM, which requires RPM readings from the standard ECU, so why not use the fuel injector readouts from there as well, as in the fallback solution for when this flow sensor fails? I cannot see the use of these sensors lasting much longer.

    1. No because the FIA had a back up way to measure the flow. Red Bull employed their own Plan C which the FIA deemed unacceptable.

  81. I think the this Red Bull win at all costs attitude doesn’t really work with what they (as in the drinks company) are trying to achieve. I think the team has become a bit unpopular with people not wanting to see Red Bull win again, this is understandable and would happen to any team in their situation, much like Ferrari was in the 2000s. The difference here is that they are a fizzy drunks company rather than a car manufacturer showing off their engineering prowess. They have done well of a cool extreme sports type of personality but a win at all costs F1 team doesn’t really fit with that, yes push super hard to win but by effort, skill, talent, luck etc rather than rule bending/lobbying etc.

    I think if the objective is to sell more energy drinks an exciting team with a bit of a ‘rockstar’ image winning 3 times ina row would be more popular (and sell more drinks) than an increasingly corporate team playing games to win. Afterall in 10 years time when they have left F1 will the drinks company use their previous F1 success for anything? I could see a manufacturer do that, a title 30 years ago gives them a rich history but has pretty much no use to a drinks company, it’s all about the here and now for them.

  82. The important question is why did RB do this and why are they now appealing, despite not really having a case?

    “Because winning is everything” carries some weight, but only if they had a sniff of winning anyway, and it seems to me that the Merc was some way up the road regardless of how quickly the RB could feed its remaining fuel into the engine.

    So it must be something more fundamental to do with their Renault powertrain and they see the FIA device giving them a long-term / insurmountable disadvantage…

    1. A guess is that it is cooling related. Red Bull has rather advanced aerodynamics, and it could be that it doesn’t provide enough air cooling for the inter-cooler. That could be countered by running rich, which, if the fuel flow restriction is in place, costs horsepower.

      Red Bulls point about knowing the real fuel flow is moot. It is a model, and to get accurate readings that can be trusted a lot of other sensors would have to be trusted (like for example system voltage, fuel pressure etc). It opens up a lot of room for innovative measurements… Red Bull could possible also swap the fuel injectors for some with larger flow capacity, and thereby counter the model readings.

    2. It’s a good question. Other than that they knew that they were looking at a possible race win (it being the first race of the season and thus something might happen to Rosberg’s car), it doesn’t make a lot of sense. They could have backed off, kept Charlie happy and still got some useful points. I was thinking that they wanted to get some good press for a change – Ricciardo on the podium at his home race might do that for them – but they’re never really worried about the press in the past. My guess is it’s just an error of judgement. The team has got used to throwing it’s weight around and getting what they want – forcing a climb down over engine mappings, making so much stink about the 2013 tyres that Pirelli eventually capitulated – so they’re trying it again. Who knows – they may yet get away with it.

  83. Joe: You certainly have stirred up a hornets’ nest with this particular post thus stimulating some interesting points – counter points between you and some RB supporters; some RB apologists; as well as some thoughtful observers.

    This site seems to be the only place where such sustained and engaged exchanges are taking place. Over at the Beeb, Andrew often gets grief for just about anything said about McLaren or Hamilton;; but he does not respond. Unfortunately, JA does not tolerate dissent so one would never find comparable types of healthy point – counterpoint exchanges on his site as we are witnessing here. It must be the Libertarian in you that is permitting such sustained dialogues.

    If I may go off topic for a second, Petrobras is currently mired in a myriad of scandals; in what way do you think these developments might adversely affect this Brasil’s state-owned oil giant partnership with Williams?

    1. Thanks for your kind words. It is nice to have occasional positive feedback! As to Petronas, I doubt it will have any impact.

      1. Well it is a great blog, no doubts on that! I’ve always enjoyed your journalistic output, in various magazines over many years. Here is a better spot than most, as in most cases one can venture an opinion, without mass fanboy trolls mouthing of at one! Mostly there is intelligent comment, and, in my case some tongue in cheek left field stuff, although not all of my comments are so. Just as an aside, I heard it said somewhere, that this is the first time in 32 years that the name Rosberg has been on top in the WCD points….well deserved I think, Nico may not be as brash and bold as his old man was, but he is a more than decent peddler, and deserves his top placement. I wouldn’t be sad if he went on to finish first at year end, he seems a nice guy when interviewed, although it’s only recently that the media has taken much interest in him.

    2. This is a great site Joe, thanks. The fact that you contribute so actively helps the level of debate tremendously, and I appreciate the ad-hoc English lessons (on the principles of principals)

  84. Hello Joe, I appreciate your insights, and also your record of the heroism of racing people during the occupation of France.
    I am interested in Constitutional Law here, and law consistent with that.
    It is almost certain that those contentious, variable, and unreliable F1 fuel flow rate sensors do not comply with Commonwealth Law, as they are required to do when used in Australia. Briefly, to run you through it:
    Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900.
    The first eight of nine Sections are also known as “The Preamble”, which cannot be legally interfered with or altered. Section 9 is the Constitution itself.
    Section 5 is titled “Operation of the Constitution and laws “. The relevant part of this is as follows.
    “This Act, and all laws made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution, shall be binding on the courts, judges, and people of every State and of every part of the Commonwealth, notwithstanding anything in the laws of any State.” Obviously this also applies to corporations, whether they be Australian corporations, or any foreign corporations in relation to their operations here.
    Section 51 of the Constitution defines the legislative powers of the Parliament.
    Subsection (xv) “weights and measures” gives the Commonwealth responsibility in these matters.
    This is defined by the Commonwealth National Measurement Act 1960.
    The National Measurements Institute, of which there is a branch in the capital city of each State, is responsible for this under Section 10 of that act.
    “Measurements to be ascertained in accordance with appropriate standards of measurement, certified reference materials or certified measuring instruments”.
    Obviously measuring devices on which the public relies, such as fuel bowsers, weighbridges, and scales used in trade are regularly checked for accuracy. It is clear that the reliance on those F1 fuel flow rate sensors at the Albert Park Grand Prix does not comply with the law. And the use of those non-compliant devices is unfair to the drivers, teams, and the public; as the results of a race are not a trivial financial consideration.
    If you want to read the eleven subsections of Section 10, you should be able to access the National Measurements Act on austlii I think you can also get it on clrg.info , which is the web site of the Community Law resource Association. (I hate computer logic and processes which are not simple to me; but I could transcribe it for you, because it will take me a while to do that accurately as I cannot touch type. Incidentally, the 25th and last line after the eleven sub-sections is “and not in any other manner”.

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