Investigation could jeopardise Raikkonen’s title (update 3)

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Three cars are under investigation having failed post-race checks in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg’s Williams and the BMWs of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld failed post-race inspections of their fuel temperatures.

Were at least two the the three disqualified, and the drivers behind them promoted in the points standings, Lewis Hamilton would be world champion instead of Kimi Raikkonen.

The BMW and Williams cars were found to have fuel ten degrees cooler than the regulations allow. Fuel temperature can affect how much fuel can be fit into the cars’ tanks.

Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard were disqualified from first and second in the 1995 Brazilian Grand Prix when it was found their fuel did not match the sample given to the FIA.

The appeal court ruled that Schumacher and Coulthard would keep their drivers’ points, as they had gained no advantage from the fuel, but the constructors lost their points. Were that precedent used in the handling of this case, Raikkonen would keep the championship.

Whatever happens, were the championship to change hands hours after the chequered flag had fallen, it would not improve F1’s reputation after another controversial season.

Update: Further details. Article 6.5.5 of the Formula 1 Technical Regulations states “no fuel on board the car may be more than 10C below ambient temperature”.

The air temperature at the track was 37C and Nick Heidfeld’s fuel temperature at his two pits stops was measured at 24C and 25C. The other three cars (including Kazuki Nakajima’s Williams, which did not finish in the points) were also found to have fuel that was cooler than is allowed at other points during the race.

At 11.30pm British time (8.30pm at the circuit) the stewards are still deliberating.

Update 2: It has been confirmed that the fuel tested was illegal throughout the race, but no penalty has yet been announced.

Nick Heidfeld’s fuel was 13C lower than ambient temperatures at his first stop and 12C lower at his second stop. Robert Kubica’s fuel was 14C, 13C and 13C below at his three stops. Nico Rosberg’s 13C and 12C at his two stops. Kazuki Nakajima’s was 12C below at his first stop but at his second stop it was inside the 10-degree limit.

Update 3: Certain sites are running unconfirmed reports that the original results will stand. Still awaiting official confirmation.

Photo: Andrew Ferraro / LAT Photographic

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “Investigation could jeopardise Raikkonen’s title (update 3)”

  1. Well here’s hoping that THIS doesn’t happen! Although it would be rather a fitting end to this controversial season.

  2. please state sources, if this is true . . it will be interesting to see Madmaxs reation, im sure he will all that he can to not get Lewis the Championship

  3. I hope Kimi stays champion. It would be nice to end this season on the track, instead of in a steward meeting.

    Anyway, I prefer Kimi to Hamilton. In the end, that’s why I want Kimi to keep his title. Will luck finally come Kimi’s way?…

  4. Just when I thought I can finally relax and get a life, then now, the potential for controversy. I love this sport.

  5. Keith, what if this time around it can be established that the drivers could gain a certain performance advantage from the use of these fuel? Would the FIA be forced to deduct drivers points?

    Or will Ferrari be asked to hand over constructors money to Mclaren, while they retain the drivers crown?

  6. Oliver, I wish I could give you an answer with any certainty!

    Going on past experience, yes, I would imagine that if it were proved that they three gained an advantage then they would be disqualified. But surely no-one would want to change the championship result after the race if they didn’t have to – it would look terrible for the sport and it would be so cruel for Raikkonen.

    I have a feeling this may end in the appeal court, which would be a terrible shame.

  7. Sky Sports News are reporting a precedent involving Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard. Both of those drivers were docked constructor points for this offence in the past but allowed to keep their driver points.

    I have no other evidence to back up whether this was in fact the case.

  8. Other than what I wrote in the post? It’s also mentioned here.

    I also heard one person cite Mika Hakkinen’s disqualification from the 1997 Belgian Grand Prix a precedent – where he did not keep his drivers’ championship points. However that was to do with fuel formula, not fuel temperature, so it’s not necessarily analogous.

  9. Sorry Keith. Half asleep and skim reading.

  10. There’s a difference between the earlier precedent and this one.

    Having extra capacity could give you a performance advantage. The fuel used in the previous example did not.

    That said, it would be easy to show that the tank was never close to capacity so no advantage was gained.

    I started the day wanting Lewis to win, but not this way.

  11. Sky probably got it from here!

  12. Haggis, you might have a point there, but with cooler fuel perhaps more can be pumped into the car in less time, allowing them to do faster pit stops?

  13. Keith, yeah we wish we had answers, but ultimately this scenario is quite different, because in the last case you referenced, there was certainly no performance advantage, I believe then, it was just a regulatory mix up, but in this situation, with the high temperatures being experience at Interlagos, and also the high altitude, a significant lower temperature as they had there would result in a very dense fuel and massive performance advantage.

    In this case, it wont just be Mclaren calling for disqualification, other teams aswell will want to see them disqualified, such as Redbull for instance.

    I just cant stand this post race scrutineering, after podium ceremonies and free champagne, although it doesnt affect the guys on the podium in this instance, but has in the past.

  14. Why on earth would there even be a regulation regarding MINIMUM fuel temperature? Is it a safety thing? Does cooler fuel somehow make the car more dangerous? If not, who cares what temps the teams use? Let them freeze their fuel into ice cubes for all we care. What a bizzare rule. And with so many dumb rules in the sport as it is, it shouldn’t be too surprising that one of them reared it’s ugly head at a moment like this!

  15. For crying out loud…

    The driver’s championship is over. Kimi won it in a great fashion today (thanks to Massa). Hamilton made the ROOKIE mistake of going after Alonso; he could have just let him go and be content with a 4th place finish.

    Sometimes, you don’t have to win all the races to be a world champion; and as a rookie he did not just realize that. While it is not good for the sport; it’s definitely a nice way to become a world champion.

    I seriously hope they don’t change the points; which would give Hamilton the championship. Punish the team; fine them; and just let the driver’s championship be as is.

  16. Eric it is a performance issue not safety, if the fuel is cooler, then they can get more in during the pit stops, hence gain an advantage on other teams. I am expecting the FIA to keep the same result, however I wonder would they have had to take so much time had this race been earlier in the year – I think not, they would have disqualified all 3 in an instant!

  17. doesnt it strike you all as odd that two very separate teams are involved in this??? I hope, for the sports sake, that it turns out to be an error in the test equipment/procedure.. I wanted Hamilton to win, but not this way.

  18. “Certain sites…”

    any more details? Eurosport seem pretty confident in declaring no penalties. are they usually a reliable source? i’ve no idea.

  19. Grand

  20. At the moment I can see four sites reporting that, including one in Spanish and one in Finnish, but they don’t give any details to give me any confidence that they actually know what’s happened and they aren’t just guessing.

    No hard details, no link love from me :-)

  21. cheers. tis’ tough work being a formula 1 fan in ’07 isn’t it?

  22. from the renault blog:

    “It’s 9.50 on Sunday evening, I’ve just been texted to tell me that no penalty has been incurred by BMW and Williams.”

  23. Well, i believe that they will not be punished. There is no clear advantage of performance (cars get heavier and tyres grain more so they get slower) and there were previous cases were the drivers weren’t punished. Even so, i should remember that in the last investigation before this one, the drivers weren’t punished!

    Congratulations for the title Kimi (even if it’s only in the track)

  24. What if they had the custom air-con units set to full chill in the boxes, then the fuel while fuelling could easoly be 20C :)

  25. Good grief – can this season get any madder?

    Just when I was thinking how well the stewards had done: not punishing Massa for his extra lap, not bringing out the safety car unnecessarily, nothing that could be interpreted as favouring any driver!

    I really hope that nothing comes of this. Really.

  26. It can never be easy can it. But if they did have fuel temps 10 degrees or more lower it does add to the horsepower of the car. I hate to say this but if it is true than they should be disqualified. I think the steward do not want to change the outcome they are going to let McLaren appeal (which they did) and let someone else decide. It is my opinion that if this race was in the middle or the beginning of the season or for that matter if the outcome of their decision would not be earth moving the Sauber BMWs and the Williams would (and should) be disqualified. Now this is a real sh***y way for Hamilton to win, but cheating is cheating

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