Sauber will not appeal Australia disqualification

2011 Australian Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez, Sauber, Melbourne, 2011

Sauber say they will not appeal their exclusion from the Australian Grand Prix.

However the team continued to insist they did not gain an advantage from running a rear wing element that did not comply with the regulations.

Technical director James Key blamed “an error in the checking process” for their exclusion from seventh and eighth places in Sunday’s race.

The team issued the following statement:

After examining all the facts, the Sauber F1 Team has decided not to appeal against the verdict of the stewards following the Australian Grand Prix last Sunday. The two drivers Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi had crossed the finish line in Melbourne in seventh and eighth places respectively, but were subsequently excluded from the results. The post-race scrutineering check by the race stewards revealed that a radius on the upper rear wing element on Perez’s and Kobayashi’s cars contravened the regulations by a few millimetres.

"It did not bring us any performance advantage, but the fact is that it was a deviation from the regulations. We take note of the stewards’ decision," said James Key, the team’s Technical Director.

In the meantime, the Sauber F1 Team has carried out a comprehensive internal investigation. "We have since found that there was an error in the checking process for the relevant dimension on this component. We have already put measures in place to ensure that nothing of this kind occurs again in the future," added Key.

The decision came as a particular blow to the two drivers Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi. Team Principal Peter Sauber commented: "Both Sergio and Kamui put in a tremendous performance on Sunday. They gained no advantage from the inaccurate rear wing. They both fought hard to secure their finishing places and had really earned their points. Notwithstanding the disappointment, we have shown that we have a fast car and two highly talented drivers. It makes me optimistic for this season.”

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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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    80 comments on “Sauber will not appeal Australia disqualification”

    1. This makes sense to me. Sauber was going to spend money and valuable time to fight something they’ll probably lose to anyway. It seems better to drop it, focus on the next race and fight even harder next time.

      I’m really looking forward to how this team fares this year.

      1. *sigh*

        This is Sauber’s way of saying we screwed up, we didn’t mean to do wrong, but there is nothing we can do about it but learn from it.

        But atleast they can feel confident in going forward with their drivers, cars, and the data they where able to gather from the race weekend.

        I wish them the best.

        1. I’m really looking forward to how this team fares this year.

          Me too, I just hope Australia wasn’t a freak accident for the sake of the Sauber team and the Drivers, its a shame they had such an outstanding drives taken away from them.

          Maybe with the data and set up Sauber have the jump in terms of tyre wear, thats what my heart is hoping because its the more romantic of the outcomes possible from this.



          The “sigh” is quickly becoming a regular visitor to the comments section of this site, it’d be great if we could all be nice to each other instead of being patronising for no reason.

          1. Kob and Perez should really be blaming the team and not the FIA for this. But they are good guys and will take it on the chin.

            Seems like if it was just a few mm, their tyre management was really genuine. It fairs well, they are a likeable team.

            1. I’m sure the team will have made personal apologies to both drivers.

            2. Kob and Perez are part of the team, they should be blaming nobody. Obviously more people have a bigger responsibility than others in certain areas, but it goes against the ethic if you sit there pointing fingers.

          2. I don’t get it. Why is *sigh* patronising?

          3. I see what you mean (regarding the sighing), but I felt in this instance it was more of a sigh of resignation at the plight of Sauber?

            1. Sush Meerkat
              30th March 2011, 0:20

              I see what you mean (regarding the sighing), but I felt in this instance it was more of a sigh of resignation at the plight of Sauber?

              its the whole “I’m tired of seeing people being clearly wrong” that makes it patronising.

            2. In general, I would agree with you Sush Meerkat. However, not in this case, where their opions didn’t really contradict each other.

      2. Agreed.

    2. It’s like I said before, they were in breach of the rules. Just because there wasn’t a performance advantage doesn’t make breaking the rules any more unacceptable.

      Still feel sorry for Perez though.

      1. Seems Sauber have come to the conclusion they might be right on the performance part, it wont make a good case arguing they did not check properly before racing those parts.

    3. Gutted! Would have been nice to see Perez and Kobayashi rewarded for their performances. If anything though, this will motivate everyone in the team to do it again next race and get those points back on the board!

    4. That’s a big shame. An appeal was always going to fail but I really hoped that it wouldn’t. Let’s hope in the annals of F1 history there is a footnote reminding us of what Sauber really achieved this weekend.

      1. I agree. It was worth a try. but at the same time it’s good to just forget about it and move on!

    5. Does anyone have any images that can explain to me exactly what was different on the rear wing? I cannot picture it.

      1. The top bit of the wing was too curved.

        I hope Scarbs doesn’t mind me linking to this picture:

        You see how both the plates in the middle curve upward? The top end of the top one of the two was deemed to curve upward too steeply in relation to its bottom end. Ie. the radius is too small, meaning the ends are coming towards eachother too quickly.

        That’s my non-engineering explanation of it anyway. I’m sure an engineer will come in any moment now and rip it to shreds ;)

        1. Thanks very much Ral. This would surely create an increaded level of downforce though as they are curved too steeply, no?

          1. Geordie_Porker
            29th March 2011, 18:04

            Yes but, in all liklihood also more drag – in aircraft engineering you are looking for a high lift/drag ratio (lots of lift for very little drag – drag just costs energy). In F1 you want a high downforce/drag ratio (I find aircraft easier to picture, hence the odd description!).

            Intrigued by this as there would be a performance advantage (more downforce, so more grip) but at the cost of speed…I can’t help but think that proving whether it was beneficial or not would take so long and be so complex that we’d be at Abu Dhabi before we got a definitive answer!!

            Sauber have done the right thing – they were outside the regs, so just move on and learn. Gutted for them and hope that Perez can repeat these heroics, but I think the stewards/scrutineers were right (for once!!)

            1. Yep it was a mistake. Just like a mistake on track by a driver can cost you points, so can a mistake off-track by the technical team. It’s no different.

          2. Actually this is an anti F-duct regulation, I don’t think it has anything to do with limiting downforce.

            1. Yeah, that’s the bit that confuses me actually. Not being an engineer or aerodynamicist, I struggle to see how the size of the radius of that part of the rear wing ties into a possible F-duct like device. Someone else will have to chime in on that.

    6. Learn from it, forget it, and prove you didn’t gain a performance advantage by winning (or scoring good points) in Malaysia!

      1. There have been many pictures like this. It’s just sad that FIA does not have stricter test to prevent what they actually don’t want.

        This just goes on to show that it is difficult to test a car when it is standing still and extrapolate the performance to when it is running at 300 Kmph.

        1. Actually they could easily increase the testforce to something more like what the wing is subjected to at speed.

          The force (500N or 50kg) they use for testing deflection is similar to what is on it when the car is trubdling along on the speed limiter.

          At that force it can deflect 10mm already. Double the force and double the deflection is allowed.

          At full speed they can have several times this downforce again so it’s not surprising that a deflection of several centimeters is not stopped by the current deflection tests.

          Still, it would make sense to put all cars in a windtunnel to observe the flex as opposed to putting random (feather) weights on it.

      2. I’m sure epilepsy might follow if I stare at that GIF any longer.

        But yeah I wish their wing wouldn’t flex I feel the advantage is making the sport somewhat dull when a Red Bull is for the majority of the time in front.

      3. epilepsy warning,..sorry,..

        1. haha, wow, I think I may be at risk. I feel a bit funny after staring at that.

      4. That GIF is very tricky though. The RB wing doesn’t flex quite *that* much. The perspective on the Mclaren is from a way lower point of view. Just lining up the cars, wings, airbox, does not fix that. Just look at the boarding and lines in the background.

        1. The left side of the wing is definitely touching the ground. I print screened it to get a look (took 5 tries lol).

      5. It actually looks like the whole wing is lower to the road than the McLaren. Perhaps the struts do move after all??

          1. Flex baby Flex. That wing is grinding.

          2. How does that front wing satisfy:

            Any device or construction that is designed to bridge the gap between the sprung part of the car and the ground is prohibited under all circumstances.


            No part having an aerodynamic influence and no part of the bodywork, with the exception of the skid block in 3.13 above, may under any circumstances be located below the reference plane.

            1. good question. i predict some hasty rules being introduced.

            2. This is slightly false data though, as it is common knowledge that the McLaren is one of the stiffest cars on the entire grid. Also, the mere fact that the wing flexs more than another team’s doesn’t make it illegal, it makes it clever.

            3. @sam3110,

              The rules quite clearly state that aerodynamic parts touching the ground or even coming below the reference plane is illegal.

              We’re not talking about flex tests anymore. They are now simply driving an illegal car based on 100% clear rules.

            4. Well I wouldn’t hold your breath about the ‘rule breaking’ RBR wing being banned any time soon. It is a joke that they’ve been allowed to use it for 9 months. But if the rules not going to be enforced properly what would you do if you were RBR?
              Everyone knows it passes the static test but breaks the rules on track, the test is flawed so they get away with it.

    7. Sauber is a sharp, mature team; they made a mistake they will correct it, and make sure it wont happen again.

      I’m sure there is a podium in the season for one of them.

    8. Well they’re both mobile and designed to be so.

      All the justification of “we pass the tests” is nonsense. Maybe I’m looking too hard but the fact that McLaren stood to gain most from their banning last year is a bit convenient when we’re talking about the FIA. Now they would look silly clamping down on it so they won’t (a repeat of the mass damper farce)?

      Funny how TV technology is good enough to detect whether someone retained a gained advantage (yes, I’m on that again) and sensors aren’t, but TV footage is inferior to stationary load tests that don’t accurately reflect racing conditions.

      1. E-mail and formatting fail!

        1. I almost didn’t recognize you!

      2. My view is that all the teams are in the same boat so why all the fuss. The fact that it’s based on passing the test has been clearly established, the other teams are complaining not because of any high moral values, but because they clearly can’t achieve as good results.

        All wings will flex a certain amount under enough load, the only way to put a limit is to specify a test, this has been done (and then strengthened) and Red Bull/Newey continue to have the best solution. This is what F1 is about, building the best car within the rules.

        The mass damper farce really annoyed me, Renault came up with a great solution and it was ridiculous to suggest it was a movable aerodynamic device – that was another case of the other teams complaining because they hadn’t thought of it and didn’t have as good a solution as Renault. I think the FIA is playing it right on this one.

        1. Funnily, I also think it shows how hypocritical Newey’s assertion that the double deck diffusers were against the spirit of the rules, I bet he was mad for not thinking of that one first.

          1. I think i read that newey actually thought of the double deck diffuser but was rejected because the way he presented it was against the rules….

    9. They did the right thing. There is no way the FIA will overtunr such a verdict after many days. Even if it was found out their cars complied. Just like how you can’t appeal a drive through.

      Their car is fast and if they can hold on to good relaliability they can achieve similar results. Just that with other teams sorting out their problems it wiil be just that slightly more difficult.
      But they will surely do well this season.

    10. Bigbadderboom
      29th March 2011, 17:14

      Good call all at Sauber, there was no argument simply, caught out. But they must draw optimism from Melbourne, they were genuinly quick, showed good race pace and firm reliability. Maybe having a flutter on Sauber scoring some good points this season.

    11. Millimeters. I have some choice words for the officials about that that I can’t repeat on here since Keith tries to keep it family friendly. No warning, no place docking, just straight up exclusion. Unbelievable.

      1. Rules are rules. Exclusion is the penalty for breaking these set of rules, whether by millimeters or more.

        I’m sorry for Sauber but that is the way things go in motorsport.

        1. Several drivers got warned for “blocking” in qualifying. Vettel and Buemi obviously went off track and had an advantage.

          Red Bull had countless of illegal things removed from their car last year. Thinks they most likely drove with initially.

          Why come down so hard on Sauber for such a minor infraction?

          1. I agree with Patrick. And I don’t think it’s all down to “rooting for the small guy”-syndrome.

            I’ve supported Ferrari since I found out about the F40 (the road car. Heh, Enzo would spin in his grave if he knew people would come to Ferrari the wrong way around) and I thought they should have been handed a penalty of some sort at least for their moving floor. Which, now that I mention it, reminds me of a certain specific other bit of aerodynamic bodywork which has clearly been designed to not move under the tests but does move under the stresses experienced at speed…

            1. The rules are often applied inconsistently which is unfortunate. It should always be as David A described.

      2. If you do that Joey, where do you draw the line… a few mm, a few cm, etc. Let’s try to keep at least some things objective in terms of applying the rules please.

      3. Millimetres is Formula 1 can result in altering the air-flow over the car by many litres/second. Not something that can be ignored.

      4. Joey-Poey, come on, in such advanced technology, millimetres can mean A WORLD of a difference!!
        Especially if the relation between the cause and effect is not linear, but exponential.

    12. how much is the loss of 10 points going to cost sauber? it’s at least $1M per point, right?

      1. Depends on what place they finsih at the end of the year. Most likely its going to cost them at least 2 mil

        1. I’m not sure that this race doesn’t just increase their profile for sponsors, and the extra publicity might even help with that.

    13. This is the second saubers grand prix to be disqualified, it was mika salo in melbourne in 2000 for running an illegle front wing so lots of controversy in saubers team.

      1. I would hardly call 2 DSQ’s in 11 years lots of controversy.

        1. And that’s why West’s comment must’ve been ironic, RIISE.

    14. Initially I was really annoyed about this and was just about to get on with bashing the FIA. However, if the rules are infringed then action needs to be taken. Performance is subjective and it is hard to prove or disprove. Letting Sauber get away with this would set the precedent.

      That said, I was really disappointed for the drivers and the team. All that hard work and for no points. I have every confidence they will bounce back and be just as good if not better. Perez can still be very proud and at least everyone will remember his first race!

    15. Congratulations to Sauber, I like teams that are committed to the sport. They broke the rules and have moved on. I hope this year the team can get back into being strong midfield runners. Losing Red Bull and Petronas really killed them but this year reminds me of the old Sauber of the early 2000’s. Fast, aggressive young drivers and a good solid car.

      I can see Sauber having a strong line up for the future as both drivers are well supported and quick.

      Very best to them this year.

    16. This kind of pedantic applying the maximum punishment for a very small thing is confirming my resentment of FIA, when it comes to handing out punishments. No consistency, no reasoning. If it was a big important team, they would have agreed that it should be corrected for next race, and maybe a small money fine I suspect. I really feel sorry for Sauber, Kamui and Sergio.
      It seems as if some things are punished severely and some things not at all, more or less randomly, or FIA can be pressured if You are a big team or it depends on the teams individuals relationship and chemistry with top FIA individuals.
      There is no way the promoted teams have deserved the points they have now been awarded – it is absolutely nonsense.

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        30th March 2011, 2:59

        No consistency, no reasoning.

        The rules are pretty clear: if your cars fails scruitineering, you get disqualified.

        It’s true that the stewards did not disqualify Rosberg, Kubica and Heidfeld for illegally-cooled fuel in Brazil back in 2007 – but disqualifying them would have handed the championship to Hamilton, and they didn’t want to make a championship-changing decision like that. They didn’t have any conclusive evidence, that the cars got a performance boost, either. And it probably didn’t help that Kazuki Nakajima also had cooled fuel, but was ignored by McLaren because he finished behind Hamilton and his disqualification would not have changed the result.

    17. Should have docked the TEAM points from the constructors
      championship for Sauber, but NOT docked the DRIVERS points from the drivers champ.

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        30th March 2011, 2:54

        Why? Because their drivers scored points?

        If they’d finished 11th and 12th, you wouldn’t care less. But because Perez scored points on debut and because Kobayashi also picked up a few points, it’s suddenly a great tragedy that they lost out.

      2. Oddly enough… they were the ones driving the illegal cars, so yes they should lose their points.

        1. yes, and strangely enough Ferrari broke a rule about teamorders last year and they was punished accordingly – NOT. And there are lots and lots of examples that braking the rules are not punished fairly and equally in all cases. Look at the spy-gate: Even though FIA couldn’t prove that McLaren had used the data to improve their car, they was out of the constructors competition and got a heavy fine. It has been said that Renault also had the data, but they wasn’t fined. The McLaren drivers knew about it, and commented the data, but were not punished. Strange. And Schumi was punished for overtaking in Monaco, even though all signals on track indicated that the race was on again – strange.
          I don’t say Sauber shouldn’t be punished, I just say that FIA should improve the righteousness of the punishments. To hand points to other teams for a small measurable, but probably performance wise insignificant breach of the rules seem silly. But let us see next races if Sauber can keep it up.

          1. I just say that FIA should improve the righteousness of the punishments.

            That was one of the big things Jean Todt promised: reform of the way penalties are handed out. You’ll notice that 2007 controversy, the introduction of the team orders rule and the prosecution of Flavio Briatore were all done under Mosley. Todt has already reformed the way stewardship is conducted by abolishing the team orders rule and introducing driver stewards. Sauber were disqualified under a clear-cut technical infringement. They shouldn’t be let off the hook simply because there have been previous cases of inconsistent handling of the rules. That would only defeat the purpose of what Todt is trying to do.

    18. That’s better they admitted whatever it is they have to pay the price so instead of wasting money why not concentrate more on this season.But tough luck for both the drivers who raced beautifully.

    19. who checks to see if a wing is a few ‘millimeters’ higher? wow that is strict! sad for sauber. had an awesome seasons start.

    20. Why not do a pre-test scrutinizing and then post race, if anything changes, it means the team would deserve a tough sanction as it would be intentional with a plan to cheat, but a manufacturing error in the mms that does not lead to a performance advantage should be dealt with a slap on the hand. a 5 spot demotion for the team on the next race and probation for a further 3 would be the best and fair way to go about it…

      and to those of you who will start cringing, i would say the same if it was Red Bull, Ferrari or any other team…there is a difference between an honest mistake and the will to cheat…

      1. a manufacturing error in the mms that does not lead to a performance advantage should be dealt with a slap on the hand

        But there’s no way to prove that it was a manufacturing error. Certainly not on the spot. Sauber didn’t find out about it until they carried out an internal investigation into what happened.

    21. RE: some of the comments about this performance attracting Sauber some more sponsors. I really think Sauber’s lack of sponsorship shows a real disconnect between performance and sponsorship. It seems that worse teams like even Virgin have more traction when it comes to sponsors just because of the Virgin name, Branson hype and Branson’s connections. I mean last year they were pretty solid and they had essentially zero sponsorship. Not worthy of their position. I wish BMW had helped their transition period a bit more. They could have at least stayed on a year or two supplying engines and the valuable brand name. At least they left them with some of the best infrastructure/capacity this side of Woking/McLaren.

      Speaking of infrastructure and facilities, I’d love to see an indepth piece that ranks tiny Sauber’s amazing facilities compared to the other teams and how much they can even utilize that capacity with their shoestring budget. I’d bargain they only have human resources to utilize a fraction of that potential. It’s really a case of every extra dollar they’d get from sponsors making a huge impact on performance.

    22. A few millimetres out? If it were Ferrari then that would be appealed. They would claim that it was inside manufacturing tolerances and so within the rules. That’s how they got away with illegal barge-boards once, and I think the difference then was 5mm. One law for them, one for the others still seems to apply, no matter how many rule changes are made.

      1. Ferrari were initially DQed then appealed.

        Sauber were initially DQed and didn’t try to appeal.

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