Christian Horner, Red Bull, Sepang International Circuit, 2014

Red Bull ‘would do same again’ in fuel sensor row

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Christian Horner, Red Bull, Sepang International Circuit, 2014Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has taken a defiant stance in the ongoing row over Daniel Ricciardo’s exclusion from the Australian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo was stripped of second place when FIA ruled his car had repeatedly exceeded the 100kg per hour maximum fuel flow rate. However Horner said the disqualification had not changed his mind about how to handle a similar situation in the future.

Red Bull claimed the fuel flow sensor on Ricciardo’s car was faulty and used a different fuel flow model to calculate the rate than that specified by the FIA – despite warnings during the race that their flow rate was too high.

But ahead of tomorrow’s race Horner insisted he would take the same course of action again if they faced a similar problem.

“It’s a decision that was made in the race,” he told Sky. “We were presented with the facts: we’ve got a [fuel flow] sensor that we believe to be erroneous, we’ve got a fuel rail that we believe is reading correctly. The regulations are very clear, you make a call.”

“That was the call that was made, we’d make the same call again in the same situation today.”

Red Bull will compete in two races before their protest is heard by the FIA’s Court of Appeal in Paris.

“Hopefully in Paris we’ll be able to very clearly demonstrate that we never exceeded this fuel flow regulation,” said Horner.

“And the most important thing, irrelevant of what happens in Paris, is that we find a better way, moving forward, of measuring the fuel flow. Because it has a big impact on horsepower.

“With our engine we’re already sort of 80 horsepower behind the front running engine at the moment. To take another two, three percent hit on that is massive in a race.”

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Keith Collantine
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55 comments on “Red Bull ‘would do same again’ in fuel sensor row”

  1. No Christian you were presented with the data not the facts. They are the rules and you should stick to them like the rest of the teams.

    I hope they black flag them.

    1. @jaymeehenderson
      Or maybe FIA should make sure that the sensors they supply can actually withstand being used for racing without giving out reading in east and west.
      But of cause it’s a lot more fun to take it out on Red Bull…

      1. All the teams have the same sensors. Where is the outcry from the other teams that did turn down their flow in Australia? Why is it just the dummy spitting red bull team?

        Why the hell should we believe that the red bull fuel rail that they calibrated themselves should be trusted? Better to have a single solution and work to improve it if there is problems. They have become the new Ferrari with all their strong arm tactics.

        1. Has anyone seen Horner give an actual figure for the difference between their measurement and the sensor reading? I can’t find one.

          1. @jaymeehenderson I’m afraid Horner himself doesn’t have one as all he has is beliefs :P

          2. Haven’t seen one either. I suppose RBR is holding this information back and they’ll represent it only at the hearing.

          3. At no point has Horner actually provided any data or information in support of his claim that the fuel rail data is a more reliable method for determining the fuel flow rate than the flow rate sensor.

            All he has said is that the fuel flow calculated from the fuel rail data is “accurate” (a meaningless and misleading comment since no measurement systems have an infinite resolution) – even though the fuel rail data only gives an indirect measurement of the fuel injected into the cylinders (you are having to make assumptions about the pressure within the cylinder as you inject fuel).

          4. That would still be no proof, should he do so.

          5. He said in the above quotes ” 2 to 3 percent ”
            I assume thats what happens when asked to turn down pressure,

        2. @jaymeehenderson
          They aren’t all the same. That is the problem.
          If they were all error prone by the same margin, it would be as easy as programming in a different multiplication factor on the flow reading. Even a monkey could do that over night.

          1. Keep in mind the FIA accounted for the error-prone sensors by implementing an “offset” as they called it into the programming of the sensors, which is essentially the multiplication factor on the kg/h reading that you speak of. So the erroneous readings are essentially calibrated for each “faulty” sensor to bring them into spec, which all the other teams went along with except for Red Bull in Ricciardo’s car.

          2. After practice in Australia the FIA did program a “fudge factor” into RBR’s sensors but still they wouldn’t believe the readings.

  2. If fuel sensor provided by FIA is really as faulty as Horner says, it’s not fair that only FIA sensor’s data is important. If Horner repeats, that he would do the same as in Australia, then he really has a strong case against FIA. FIA should’ve ensured that these sensors would be as reliable as stone. It’s FIA’s fault that teams are looking for loopholes, not teams.

    1. Could it be RBR’s installation of the fuel sensor be the problem.

      In their cars could the sensor be subject to higher temperatures or more vibration than in other cars?

  3. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    29th March 2014, 17:51

    I realy don’t know how this reaction or position can hellp them in Paris. Maybe he’s just bluffing.

  4. You bet ! Have you ever seen somebody to reckon when they did wrong ?!?! I don’t. Of course he’ll sustain the same “ideea” ’til the end of time. Funny how RBR is the only team with such problem. Funny again how a team like RBR (= the best team, no ?!) did not understand how things work with this fuel sensor. Weird…

  5. Horner’s arguments:

    We were presented with the facts: we’ve got a [fuel flow] sensor that we believe to be erroneous, we’ve got a fuel rail that we believe is reading correctly. The regulations are very clear, you make a call.

    Nobody asked about your beliefs here Mr. CH. Proving something to be faulty is altogether different from accusing it to be faulty.

    With our engine we’re already short of 80 horsepower behind the front running engine at the moment.

    So here you are Mr. Horner hinting that your car did indeed exceed the fuel flow rate cap. I expect more revelations from you ;)

    1. So here you are Mr. Horner hinting that your car did indeed exceed the fuel flow rate cap.

      Either I need glasses or you need em. I just can’t figure out where Christian Horner said that.

      1. @rojov123 In Australia, Ricciardo finished the race at P2 trailing the winner Rosberg by 24.52 seconds which translates to the RB10 was roughly 0.4302 seconds per lap slower than the W05. Of course, there are lot of variables, but running at 80 BHP disadvantage wouldn’t have helped him run that close to the Mercedes. Hence, the car could have consumed fuel in excess of the max fuel flow rate.

        PS. Thanks for your medical advice; but my physicians have informed me that I do not need any glasses. Of course, I can wear sunglasses :P

        1. @seahorse
          In Australia, Rosberg had a sizable lead and hence was most likely managing the pace of the car to bring it home rather than push all out.(His FLap was on lap 19..)
          Redbull’s aero is still way better than Mercedes. Look at the sector times and you will understand.
          So, there you go.

    2. Read the FIA statement after the race. They stated there that they found their sensor to be faulty. The question is not whether the FIA sensor was erroneous or not. RBR don’t have to prove the faultiness of the sensor as the FIA admit to that. The question is whether the directive to apply the offset on the erroneous sensor was reasonable (and more importantly regulatory). RBR claim it’s not (as stated in the document) but we know that e.g track limits are sometimes regulated as directives on the GP weekend and drivers can get penalized for that.
      Personally I don’t think the FIA should be giving directives that change parameters that the engineers have been working to for the last few years on the GP weekend even if it’s supposedly the same for everyone because a rule introduced for all teams will affect different teams differently.

  6. The FIA should just make the directive a regulation. Whether the reader is 95% accurate, or 100%, everyone would have to use it, end of. It’s their own fault they used a directive for something so crucial to the new regs.

    In saying that, however, disobeying FIA orders in a race is jut asking for trouble. Right or wrong, they’ll be under the cosh for defying the mighty FIA

    1. Whiting seems to be saying it is black and white in the rules that the sensors of the FIA’s are what are to be used. So I’m not so sure anymore about some ‘directive.’ I think more accurately teams were warned of the rules and abided them, except for RBR.

      1. they did use the sensor, it’s just that it is fraudulent to tell a team to go slower because the FIA are using a broken standard as a reference. The FIA only have their political clout to cover their behinds in this one. Broken standards/references cannot be used as a basis to hinder the competitors. The FIA screwed it up with their sensor contract, the FIA needs to buy back all the sensors, and apologize to the teams.

        If the FIA want to try and punish the quicker cars they should consider an overt method such as fuel penalties or weight penalties, the later being the cheaper option.

        1. So why is Red Bull the only team making a fuss about this? If the other teams were having issues as tremendous (re Horner) as this with fuel flow I think we would have heard about it. I find it difficult to believe that if the sensors are failing only Red Bull has failing sensors.

          1. What makes you think other teams are not “making a fuss” ? just because its not public ?
            If teams are down on horsepower because they are getting told to turn down pressure then I would bet there is a line up at Charlie’s door of engineers and legal’s seeking this issue end.
            RBR have a case, let it be heard, when the Gavel falls we shall be clear which direction teams must travel,
            Till then remember this is not the Spanish Inquisition,

          2. Mercedes were apparently just running lower fuel flow because they didn’t want to run afoul of the directive. They don’t really want to risk anything since they have so much more power. If RBR and Merc have sensors reading higher than reality, someone else has sensors reading lower than reality. You think someone who can legally run a higher rate because of a faulty sensor would say anything? Other teams have mentioned the sensors have error, they just have not bothered to try and fight the FIA.

          3. @greg. If other teams are having problems then they are handling this the right way. RB should just STFU and do the same. They (Red Bull) are not helping the image of F1 or themselves.

            @Ajae Hall. Again, I find it difficult to believe that Red Bull’s sensors falsely read higher flow rates and other teams’ sensors falsely read lower flow rates. Come on, there would be a distribution of high and low readings across the teams. I assume the teams all run their own flow tests through the sensors and pick the best ones, so there wouldn’t be some sort of weird probability skew for flow experienced by Red Bull alone.

  7. Can’t really wrap my head around Horner’s argument when from what we know, according to Whiting, it is very clear in the rules that the FIA fuel flow sensor is how the rate is to be determined. We had also heard that if a team wanted to use a different method to measure they would need FIA’s permission.

    It’s more and more clear to me that RBR must have gained an advantage from ignoring the FIA during the race, or why else would they risk being dsq’ed? And Horner seems to be admitting that by saying they are already down on HP without having to go with the FIA’s sensor readings and an extra 2 or 3% loss is ‘massive.’

    I think what is more massive is being dsq’ed.

    If RBR wins their appeal, then I guess the rest of the teams will have to appeal the appeal as they will have been disadvantaged by RBR getting away with doing their own thing in Australia. Or at least if I were the other teams that’s what I would be doing.

    1. It seems quite clear to me. Even if the sensor was faulty the team stills needed FIA approval to make the change. That’s why they in trouble. The measurement or the actual fuel rate don’t come into it as far as the rules go.

  8. Horner’s argument makes a lot more sense if you assume it’s not intended to win an appeal but merely to muddy the waters in the eyes of the audience. Maybe somebody at RBR decided a DSQ or two would be less costly than an already disgruntled sponsor watching the car come home out of the points on pace.

  9. I think this is the only way RBR could sort their problems, another time Adrian has succeeded with this extreme car the RB10 to create an important amount of downforce proved by the performance of the 2 RBR cars in rainy conditions in Australia and in Malaysia when aero grip counts more than horsepowers, more downforce will creates drag which will lead to more fuel consumption. If the problem was the sensor itself then Horner should have asked to change it but he didn’t he asked to remove the fuel restriction of 100kg/h which prove that the problem is with their car not the sensor and giving the fact that Adrian Newey would never back off a centimeter with his extreme ideas the ideal solution for RBR is to moan about the sensor in order to get a rule change
    I suspect that they are deliberately stressing the sensor to provoke its failure maybe with the MGU-K magnetic fields

  10. Even though the disqualification was ok – I’m really annoyed by the FIA. All they had to do was to deliver a rock solid solution to enforce the rules and make the competition fair. But instead they managed to land face first in the manure yet again.

    1. I think they did deliver a rock solid solution, and RBR ignored it. Inconsistent or not, the rule is that fuel flow will be measured via the FIA’s sensor within the fuel tank. By having all teams do this there is a level playing field, even if the sensor can be improved. Horner admits it would have cost them 2 or 3 more percent HP going with FIA’s sensor, and would have to assume others were having the same reality, so he did it to gain an advantage.

  11. Red Bull are just too stubborn. The situation was clear for all teams and to be honest, the disqualification was a long time coming in my opinion.

    1. That’s why they are more successful than most.

  12. The bigger picture that Red Bull seem to be challenging is whether or not FIA directives are authoritative. Weren’t the 2013 tire issues partly solved by FIA directives on degree of allowable camber and tire side swapping? Are teams required to follow FIA directives or are they allowed to just run their own program? What would have happened to Red Bull last season if they had violated the tire directives and not passed scrutineering after a race? Would they have successfully claimed that the directives were not regulations?

    To me, that is a much more important issue going forward than the fuel flow sensors themselves. Red Bull and any other team certainly has the right to protest or question any FIA regulation or directive. The more teams that band together over any issue, the more likely the FIA will listen.

  13. Mark in Florida
    29th March 2014, 20:12

    It’s all just politics, they were busted in Australia and they have to play it out for all it’s worth. They knew that the fuel flow was too high but with all of the problems with the car’s performance they took the risk. The eighty horsepower deficit is in his head, Seb did manage to qualify second today. Red Bull will catch up with the other’s top teams soon enough. Then we will be tired of seeing them on top of everyone again.

    1. I for one would rather see them on top of the hill again than have a bunch of Merc’s up there.

  14. Horner’s horsepower argument on these new hybrid PU is deceptive, because he doesn’t say if the supposed deficiency is as a result of a poorly configured hybrid system or specifically from the ICE alone.
    And I very much doubt that because of the times Redbull have been setting, and when you compare their times to the other Mercedes engined teams, then you begin to wonder if he isn’t smoking something.

  15. I really don’t like the way Red Bull is handling this situation, they are basically saying when Charlie Whiting gives out a directive, which of course is not part of the sporting regulations themselves (duh, that’s a no brainer), that because of that you can ignore whatever this representative of the FIA orders you to do. That’s just not how it works, the other teams know that when Charlie hands out one of these things you are obliged to follow them, there can be no argument.

    This is Red Bull trying to break down the system in order to gain from it purely because they haven’t gotten their act together.

    Concerning their precious ‘data’, no way in hell the FIA will accept any data that is not controlled or better homologated by themselves and why would they? For all we know Red Bull has programmed this to never exceed that 100 kg fuel flow, I’m not suggesting that is the case but you get my point, the FIA just can’t be sure this information is correct or not.

    This campaign they are unfolding in the media: bashing the sensors, bashing the regulations and directives, threatening to leave the sport. It’s basically a form of blackmail, what on earth happened to this team? They used to be in F1 because they loved the sport but those days seem long gone.

  16. Is there a limit to how many of these sensors a team can purchase? It seems they could just keep trying different sensors until they find two that read lower than the actual rate.

    1. it has been reported that mercedes have bought upwards of 50 of them so that they can sort/test them to get ones that read for their benefit. they have spent a reputed 250,000 ponds! there are none left for the other team and it was mooted that red bull only had 3/5 units! with mercedes grabbing all the available sensors other teams are disadvantaged.

      red bull seem to be the only team with the ‘cojones’ to take the FIA on and good luck to them. where winning or losing a race is calculated within thousandths of a second it is an FIA major fail.

      1. As RBR have admitted they started development of the 2014 car too late, and Mercedes started early. Could it be that Mercedes saw the problem and therefore took the opportunity to buy and select the lower reading sensors.

        That wouldn’t be illegal and to me looks like a very sensible decision by Mercedes.

      2. I highly doubt FIA would allow Mercedes to corner the market on sensors.
        And I have no problem with a team taking the FIA on where warranted, so why didn’t they do this before the season started? Ignoring the FIA’s demands during the first race, as it turns out, wasn’t the right approach. They decided they knew better than the FIA and the other teams and so tried to advantage themselves during the race.

        1. well robbie., if you have been following the story you would be aware that the FIA are aware of what mercedes have done and they have no problem with it. as for taking on the FIA before the season started how could that be? until the first race there was nothing either team/FIA could do about it. you assume that they tried to take an advantage. you are wrong. i they have never ever exceeded the flow rate.

  17. When it comes right down to it, Red Bull are wrong to have broken the rules, and FIA should have found a better way of measuring the fuel flow before the season started.

    1. And if this is the best way there is to measure fuel flow, what then.

  18. When it comes right down to it, it’s ridiculous that this even matters. When I go to an F1 race, I want to see motor SPORT, not an exercise in fuel conservation. Are you with me? Then join me. I don’t know how, but together, we’ll make sure our voice is heard, and that Formula 1 returns to its roots.

  19. Its an interesting stance RBR have taken. Essentially they’re saying, we’re not following the spirit of the rules until you can adequately police them… Every other team has taken it on the chin, and have knocked off the fuel flow a little here and there, however RBR say that if you can’t police it 100% adequately, then we’re not following the rules.

    Some might say this is an example of how they push the limits, imho, I believe this is whats wrong with many sports, not just F1. If I liken it to a legal paradigm, no one likes it when someone breaks the law, whether it is theft, murder, or a misdemeanor when the said person gets off on a technicality, sometimes the spirit of the law/rule needs to be enforced, as much as the technicalities may sometimes provide loopholes to get people off the hook.

    This is a little murky in RBR’s situation, because they claim innocence to the breach in rules, however, every other team is following FIA directives, so in that alone, perhaps RBR can be seen to be taking a small advantage out of the situation. If I was the FIA, I would change the rule, and add a line in there stating something along the lines of, if a team has been given prior warning and has taken no action in rectifying the issue, then that alone constitutes a breach in the rules.

    1. there is no such thing as the spirit of the rules. it is every man/girl for himself.

      1. @kenneth chapman there is no such thing as the spirit of the rules. it is every man/girl for himself.

        The last time I heard that quote, it was – every man/women for themselves.

  20. There’s only one reason any of this is happening – Red Bull are down on power and want the regulation about fuel flow to be removed. This is absolutely deliberate and planned. It was no coincidence that it was Ricciardo’s car that had the problem in Australia – it was calculated to have the maximum public outcry. Red Bull knows that playing to the gallery is the best way to get their way – it worked with the tyres last year. Lets just hope that the FIA have the stones to tell them get stuffed this year.

  21. This story and the comments appears like the fight between RB’s supporters v/s everyone else. :P

  22. Well Christian …. Renault 80Hp down on the Mercedes engine …. I think not, given your race competitiveness so far this year.
    More over, other teams using using mercedes or renault engines, must also be wondering if they are getting the same version of the engine, or if the Mercedes team or in Fact Red Bull have little electronic tweaks that gives them just that bit more.

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