Red Bull’s own measurements showed Ricciardo’s car was illegal – FIA

2014 Australian Grand Prix

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The FIA Court of Appeal rejected Red Bull’s appeal against Daniel Ricciardo’s exclusion from the Australian Grand Prix because it agreed with the view of the Australian Grand Prix stewards that the car exceeded the 100kg/hour fuel flow rate.

The court also refuted Red Bull’s claim the technical directives which describe how the fuel flow rate would be measured did not constitute part of the regulations.

“The court is not satisfied that the appellant did establish that car number three [Ricciardo] did not exceed the [fuel flow limit] of 100kg/h during the race,” it stated in a ruling published today.

Surprisingly it found Red Bull’s own interpretation of its data concurred with the view that Ricciardo’s car had breached the rules. “The appellant’s own estimation of its car number three’s [fuel flow rate] in Melbourne also showed that that car exceeded the [fuel flow limit] during the Australian Grand Prix,” noted the verdict.

Red Bull took issue with the accuracy of the FIA’s fuel flow sensors and proposed its own model for estimating the fuel flow. However the Court of Appeal disputed the accuracy of Red Bull’s method on several points.

“The appellant’s measurement method is not reliable because pre-race measurements differ from the post-race measurements,” it noted. “The difference of 0.14% put forward by the appellant is only a difference between the levels of inaccuracy.”

“On top of that, the test provided by the appellant to demonstrate the accuracy of its method, does not replicate race conditions, such as fuel burning or vibrations, and is, therefore, imperfect.”

“The appellant’s measurement method is not based on physical means but purely on a software model that depends on input data, which cannot be checked by the FIA,” it continued.

The court also found Red Bull’s data was not sufficiently comprehensive: “The appellant’s data do not show all the relevant variables, and the four variables shown by the appellant in order to validate its measurement method are not even equal.”

It further pointed out Red Bull was not at liberty to choose a system of measurement it preferred: “Compliance with this limit must be determined by the officially controlled, uniformly applicable method specified by the FIA in the technical directives. Competitors cannot just pick and choose the method which suits them.”

Having listened to radio communications from the race, the FIA concluded Red Bull knowingly took a chance with the regulations:

“The court notes that the appellant obviously knew the risk of not following the [technical directive] and accepted it.

“Indeed, this is reflected in the transcript of its conversation over the intercom produced under number 48 of the appellant’s written grounds of appeal, where Mr [Paul] Monaghan, chief engineer for the appellant, said that he would defend before the stewards the appellant’s decision not to follow TD/016-14 and to rely on the estimates of its fuel flow model.”

Having rejected Red Bull’s appeal the FIA ordered its appeal fee to be retained and Red Bull to cover its legal costs.

2014 Australian Grand Prix

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Image © Red Bull/Getty

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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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65 comments on “Red Bull’s own measurements showed Ricciardo’s car was illegal – FIA”

  1. Red Bull should consider themselves extremely lucky and, dare I say, privileged, not to be hit with a race ban like BAR was in 2005. This seems like a blunt attempt to cheat, fueled by an extreme arrogance and sense of self-importance.

    1. And people say Christian Horner should run F1 one day!

      1. Well, you can see why Bernie would say that. He’s as slimy and immoral as our great benefactor, the philanthropist Bernard C. Ecclestone.

      2. Well, ‘extreme arrogance and sense of self-importance’ does seem to fit the job qualifications.

      3. …People also say Withmarsh and Dominicalli were too soft for their own good

      4. C’mon this situation is completely sane, RBR was trying to take advantage of the rules that’s F1. This had to happen and things had to be amended and that’s why I wouldn’t ban them solely because there was scope for debate. The way Horner defend his team even though they were wrong is why some people believe he could run F1, those are the qualities of a ruler.

    2. I’d like to remind you that history is written by the victors. RBR made a mistake in all it’s honesty. Calling them cheaters however is a bridge to far for me.

      1. Doesn’t sound at all like a mistake to me…rather, they knew they were playing with fire and took a chance anyway. The warnings were there and were ignored. I doubt a truly honest mistake would have resulted in such a penalty, or at least not it being upheld. The ‘honesty’ would have come out at the hearing if there was enough of it to matter, for example, at least if their own measurements had indeed been accurate.

      2. RBR made a mistake in all it’s honesty

        Red Bull + honesty ??? Made a mistake?
        If you don’t believe they knew exactly what they were doing and decided to go with it because of their (un)ethos and arrogance, you are incredible naive. They’ve had an agenda with these sensors from the day one. But they didn’t bother telling anyone that it was in 99.9% cases failing on three cars that were modifying what was supposed to be a standardized and homologated piece of equipment.

        And again they’ve been disrespectfully dragging other companies’ names through dirt, based on lies and misinformation, just to get themselves and illegal advantage. They should issue a public apology to the company that makes sensors.

        I mean, I don’t even know where to begin with all that’s wrong with them. You shouldn’t tell people that they are just saying that because they don’t like Red Bull. You should ask yourself why people don’t like them. Why people have a strong distaste for them, even after all the quantitative success they have had.

      3. If their own data shows that they were cheating, then I’m pretty sure it’s warranted to call them “cheaters”.

      4. its worth a read through the actual transcript (in the other article). Describing RB as merely mistaken, or even selective with the evidence is very generous.

        It may even be that only thing to save them from further sanctions was that the court would naturally not want to be seen following Merc’s suggestion.

        1. I doubt any opinions from Mercedes would affect the verdict and if they had decided to actually put RBR on suspension to keep them on their toes for the rest of the season, that would have had nothing to do with Mercedes’ desire. It would have been just been coincidental. The board however found RBR not fraudulent, and left the penalty to stand plus costs of the appeal going to them, since this was race one of this new era and they are getting some consideration for that.

      5. A cheater for me is someone who on purpose ignores the rules to achieve an unfair advantage. The fuel flow sensors differ from team to team with readings so random at certain points. RBR acted in what they thought best. I highly doubt certain fans would treat Mercedes or Ferrari the same in this matter.

        Do understand that in no way I think RBR was correct in their doing. Saying they cheated however, not for me. This is a very competetive sport and every team does what they think is best to go home with the biggest trophy, within the rules. They thought they were in the right but now have been proven wrong.

        Now several sites are posting that RBR has to pay all expenses concerning the court. Just to mention once more how bad and wrong RBR are where as the loser in a big court almost always has to pay.

        I’m pretty sure we’d be having a completely different discussion if we were not talking about RBR, Vettel his team.

        1. Yeah, it’s not like they built a car which was designed in such a way that it would deliberately run under the weight limit during a race, in a way which would deliberately hide it from the stewards. Y’know, like the Mercedes team did. There’s a world of difference between making a split second (poor) judgement to gain a small advantage from an ambiguous situation, especially under racing conditions, and deliberately going out of your way to build something which is literally designed to break the rules.

          I’m amazed that very few people have called Mercedes out on their blatant hypocrisy. Sour grapes I guess.

          1. Haven’t heard anything about that. Don’t they get weighed, both car and driver, after the race? How can they be under weight during the race when they have fuel on board which is still being burned off? If they are legal, presumably, weight-wise, after the races, how could they be under weight during the races? Where did I miss the kerfuffle and the penalties? The controversy and the accusations? Is this brand new info for which we are about to see headlines?

            Just to add, it doesn’t sound like RBR’s decision to ignore the FIA was split-second, but rather deliberate throughout the weekend. They ignored the warnings prior to the race since they knew about the TD before the season began. I fail to see what is ambiguous about that.

            Back to Mercedes. If they have been doing something illegal, then sure it is hypocritical for them to have called for a slight tweak to the penalty for RBR than they got, but I would say that since all teams will be hypocritical when it suits them, the far bigger issue here is that there must be an FIA conspiracy for Mercedes to win, and so it should be the FIA that should be under the microscope here, if in fact Mercedes has been under weight and getting away with it.

          2. I think they’re referring to Mercedes in its previous guise- when BAR received a ban in 2005.

          3. @matt90 Oh dear…thanks for clarifying that. My goodness quite the stretch to go back to BAR Honda days in an effort to slam Mercedes today @Mazdachris Wow. Btw I hadn’t really remembered much about that and so I did a quick Wiki refresher and noted that Mosely wanted more than the 3 race ban they got, but they couldn’t prove deliberate intent to cheat. Just their own interpretation of the rules surrounding 6kg worth of fuel.

            Reading “Y’know like the Mercedes team did” sure did not conjure up an image of BAR Honda 2005. It is beyond me how anybody could be amazed at Mercedes’ hypocrisy when it is BAR Honda from 9 years ago that is being referenced. As I said…wow. So it’s shame on Mercedes for what BAR Honda did 9 years ago? Unbelievable.

          4. The cars can pick up weight after the race by driving through the “marbles” and getting the rubber balls to stick to the hot slicks, but I don’t think anyone has the luxury of being ‘underweight’ this year.

          5. @robbie – I’m not just randomly dragging up the past. It was Mercedes themselves who cited their cheating in 2005 as an example of a team receiving a multiple race ban, and suggested that RBR should be treated similarly. It’s particularly disingenuous given that the BAR team (now Mercedes) had gone out of their way to build a car which would break the rules and get away with it, and so they will be very aware of the differences between that situation and this one.

            You can’t just disassociate a team from its history just because they changed their name. The Mercedes team will still consider themselves to be the same team which did the double in 2009, and gave Jenson Button his first win. The team now called Lotus is still a team which will take pride in having won two championships with Alonso, and will equally bear the shame of the Crashgate incident, even though in both cases the cars ran with a Renault logo on them, not Lotus. And the passage of time, certainly less than a decade, doesn’t diminish the fact of what happened. Ferrari’s team orders antics from the early noughties were being referenced as a criticism of the team as recently as last year on here, even though almost every senior figure in Ferrari has changed since then. It’s ridiculous that a team would claim ownership of all the positive aspects of their team history while shrugging off the negative merely because the name of the team has changed. The team which is now Mercedes did deliberately cheat in 2005, and the details of that situation will be better known to them than to anyone else on the grid. To try and draw a comparison with the RBR fuel flow sensor situation is absolute madness. Only could you do so if you believed that RBR deliberately tampered with the flow sensor in order to produce a failure, so that the could use their own metrics instead, which would be completely contrary to the decision taken by the FIA either in the initial disqualification, or in the subsequent investigation. There is no evidence that RBR deliberately cheated, unless you have a very different definition of cheating to most people’s.

          6. @mazdachris Fair enough, although I will reiterate, albeit this coming from Wikipedia, that in fairness to Mercedes, Mosely wanted more penalty than BAR got in 05 but they couldn’t prove intent to cheat but rather a unique interpretation of the rules.

        2. @ardenflo Hmmm…not really. They admitted on their own radio during the race that they were going to take a chance, so they couldn’t have entirely thought they were in the right.

          And I don’t think the conversation would be any different if we were not talking about RBR. If it was Mercedes that did this, people would be jumping on last year’s Pirelli test and dredging that up, and if it was Ferrari people would be dredging up LdM’s poor attitude lately, and their veto power with the rules and extra weight on the board.

        3. “A cheater for me is someone who on purpose ignores the rules to achieve an unfair advantage”

          Therefore they were cheaters.

        4. Juan (@gumbercules)
          18th April 2014, 18:59

          “The fuel flow sensors differ from team to team with readings so random at certain points.”

          Did you not read the part about RBR’s own numbers showing they exceeded the limit and how evan their own measurement is inconsistent and innacurate and is based on inputs that are unverfiable? There was naother article about the case that showed these “random” readings weren’t as volatile as RBR was claiming, and also IIRC that the correction factors make all the sensors read within .1% of each other?

          It’s not like people are hating them for no good reason, there’s just too much pointing at them knowing the risk they were taking and then throwing insults at everyone when they got burned. Their whole handling of the situation has earned more hate then simply being caught.

          This team is led by very smart people, its hard to justify their actions as something like innocent miscalculations.

        5. A cheater for me is someone who on purpose ignores the rules to achieve an unfair advantage

          This is exactly what they have done already or are you working in RBR PR department ?

    3. Guys, every single one of you – every single one – seems to have ignored the fact that the FIA themselves considered Red Bull to not be fraudulent. Read again: THE FIA SAID THEY WERE NOT CHEATING.

      1. Well I personally haven’t used the word ‘cheaters’, so not every single one of us has ignored anything. Can you show me the literal quote where the FIA said “they were not cheating?” They acknowledged that they were not fraudulent in terms I presume of rigging the device, or fudging numbers intentionally, or whatever other way they could have intentionally done some funny business, yet they intentionally elected to ignore the FIA, and intentionally took a chance, and they have been dsq’ed for it, which also means they broke rule(s). So if they are proven to break rules, and even after an appeal a heavy penalty remains, and they were not cheating, then what particular adjectives are preferable?

        Embolden all the words you want, but don’t try to make them sound innocent here. They claimed they knew better than everyone else, segregating themselves from the rest of the field in Australia, yet didn’t even have their own facts straight, and yet tried to pass themselves off as the victims ever since Australia, even claiming their case was getting stronger. They ran their car at over 100kg/hr throughout the race. They certainly were not righteous and law-abiding.

    4. The FIA concluded that Red Bull weren’t cheating but that they are simply incompetent.

      This has to be one of the most embarrassing verdicts yet. They go in there on their high horses and then FIA demonstrates that in fact RB’s own fuel model is flawed. Even worse, their graphs supposedly showing the sensor was faulty were themselves incorrect.

      They need a lot of burn lotion to recover from this.

      1. It seems there was some ‘immature’ decision making at RBR.

  2. So where was this “strong case” for Red Bull?

    1. There wasn’t.

    2. I’m guessing it was just that because DR continued to do ok in the subsequent races, he couldn’t therefore have been all that advantaged in race one. If I’m right it is just more bad assumption making on the team’s part that something happening after Australia could affect the outcome of the appeal. I must say I at least thought their measurements would have been accurate but inadmissible, so I’m quite surprised a team of this calibre got it so wrong…or maybe they just knew exactly what they were doing and were just trying to take a chance and sell it.

    3. probably buried somewhere in their software @cyclops_pl, or maybe it only looked like that after getting a bit high on too many cans of Red Bull.

  3. Trenthamfolk (@)
    18th April 2014, 17:36

    Very interesting, I do wonder what was going through the minds of Horner etc… they sounded so confident… Looks like RBR have been firmly put in their place, now let’s see them do what the’re good at…

  4. Hahah, what?! So this is the real truth, after Horner repeatedly said their measurements proved they were under the max fuel flow rate! So they were wrong on both counts, – ignoring the FIA, and believing their own sensors. I think they should apologise, and maybe berate their own measurements for being inaccurate, in the same way they berated the FIA’s hah.


    1. My first thought too…. laughing out loud. Very embarrassing indeed, but when I start to think about the endless denigration of the sensors, complaints about FIA, downright moronic bogus about “a strong case” and even threats to leave F1, I can only say it is revolting. That is regardless whether it was due to unparalleled incompetence (extremely tough to believe that one from the most professional and strategic team on the grid) or the knew very well all along.

      There are two things I don’t understand:
      – Why are there no consequences at all? (To have an illegal car removed from the grid is in no way punishment)
      – How can anyone in their right minds defend this in any way?

  5. You would’ve thought Redbull’s lawyers would’ve told them to drop the appeal rather than turn up in court with such an embarrassingly weak defence.
    The FIA should’ve come down harder on them and increased the punishment. Not for just the blatent attempt at cheating but for being so pathetic in their defence.

    1. They were probably blinded by their arrogance to see how weak their defense was.

  6. Red Bull Racing’s arrogance and disregard for the sport in this case are utterly astonishing.

    They spend weeks disparaging the FIA, the technical directives and the manufacturer of the fuel flow meter; over what was already a very unpopular disqualification.

    Then when the truth comes out we learn that not only is RBR’s alternative method of fuel flow calculation inadequate and inaccurate, but that it also shows them to have exceeded the fuel flow limit. Unbelievable.

  7. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    18th April 2014, 18:22

    I suspected this might be the case. This appeal was a strategic response to a grave error on the part of Red Bull in Melbourne, but instead of throwing away the second place, Red Bull cleverly decided to test the regulations and the FIA in search of both clarity and and, if by some miracle they were successful (I say “miracle” in the sense that their case rested on software’s interpretation of the fuel flow not the fuel rail hardware), a potentially extensive advantage over the field. Personally, I would have imagined such flagrancy would have resulted in further sanctions from the FIA, a suspended race ban or the like, but it appears not, with draconianism seemingly confined to engine component usage in 2014. Have no doubt, whilst it looks folly on the part of Red Bull to have appealed, they knew exactly what they were doing…

  8. Yup, the verdict seems completely fair to me. The main piece of evidence Red Bull relied upon were those graphs showing that the fuel flow rates ‘drifted’ in FP1, according to Red Bull’s fuel flow model. However there are a couple of flaws with the graph: 1) it does not show all necessary parameters; 2) the model does not take into account things like engine vibrations; and 3) the FIA can’t validate Red Bull’s model. Especially that third point is significant: Red Bull’s entire appeal can be rejected purely based on this point.

    However, Mercedes’ claim that they should receive a more severe punishment is also rejected. The report doesn’t say much about this, but they do refer to the conversations on the Red Bull pit wall during the safety car phase, discussing whether they should turn the engine down or not. I guess that, based on that, the court concluded that Red Bull did not act fraudulent.

    I’m convinced Red Bull knew they had no case, because they simply couldn’t present valid evidence that they did comply with the regulations. There are just a few results of this appeal: Red Bull got some more media coverage (‘any publicity is good publicity’), but they have to bear the costs for the appeal. Red Bull’s reputation in the paddock certainly won’t improve either. So yeah, why they decided to appeal will remain a mystery.

    On a different note, I think that, after the Mercedes case last year, the new institute seems to be doing its job fine. I’ve read both reports and in both cases I completely agree with the conclusions they drew.

    1. I can’t see where Mercedes were even at this hearing with any representatives, so I certainly wouldn’t expect a ‘rejection’ of anything related to their opinion of further sanctions, which seemed to have been through the media, not through any official means. Hence the report correctly ‘doesn’t say much about this.’

    2. It’s even worse:

      The Court noted that several graphs actually showed that parameters had changed from one lap to the other

      Mercedes didn’t ask for a more severe penalty, but a suspended penalty for another breach of the same rules. Stopping RB from being so arrogant again.

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      18th April 2014, 20:39

      @andae23 – yeah I agree. Two good decisions so far.

      In terms of a further punishment for Red Bull – I can’t see any reason for that to happen. It’s no different to running under the allowed weight limit – if you do it, you get disqualified from the race. Simple.

      1. …unless maybe if you start telling the whole world that FIA’s weights are wrong and threaten to leave the sport, start a media storm and a costly appeal while bragging arrogantly about your “proof” which still show you are under the weight limit, proving only your own negligence of the rules and for which you should be punished indeed.

        And if I may; “further” punishment is incorrect here when they where in fact not punished at all. An illegal car cannot qualify so no action has been carried out.

        1. I suppose @poul that is because it only shows Red Bull are serious about F1 in the way that Ferrari is too: always quick to throw their weight and noise around when things don’t go their way, but not about to really leave either; maybe it just shows the FIA they are there to stay :p

    4. @andae23 – And the FIA have made it crystal clear that teams cannot pick and choose which rules to follow and how they will be followed. Yes, technical directives must be followed or there will be consequences.

      I appreciate how the governing body handled this all the way through without emotion or politics clouding the issues. Just the facts. RBR was given a very fair chance to comply in race. The court was not swayed by other teams to add more penalties, suspended or not. When the governing body acts in this way, it adds clarity to the regulations and potential future enforcement.

  9. i just keep wondering where is that last year champion that is no where near the top today lol poor vettel

    1. Give him a break . A man is only as good as his tools . But yeah , it’s a refreshing change.

      1. By the same measure, a poor workman is one who exclusively blames his tools…

  10. From an engineering point of view I’m truly disappointed in Adrian Newey, there’s no way he could’ve known with 100% certainty that either the FIA meter was wrong or that their own model was right.

    He’s still a great designer but maybe he should stay away from the pitwall for a while, he and the other engineers just got carried away with the prospect of a podium rather than use their heads and think of the consequences.

  11. GB (@bgp001ruled)
    18th April 2014, 18:56

    and ricciardo is proud and happy of having steped on the podium, that nobody can take that away: well, it must be easy in a illegal car!!!! how can he be proud, he had an illegal advantage, thats not something to be proud of!!!!

  12. How interesting! So given a choice to assess new technology/differential performance, can we assume RBR would more probably “take the risk” with Ricciardo’s car without his knowledge?

    1. Of course . Not bad for a number two team .

  13. The part of this was “FIA ordered its appeal fee to be retained and Red Bull to cover its legal costs.”
    Its seems like Red Bull knew that the only outcome of this case was they may end up having to pay for this.

    1. *The best part

  14. Then Dan Fallows is going to McLaren !!!!! I still cannot believe their arrogance, sorry for Vettel who gets the boos instead of Horner.

  15. The difference of 0.14% put forward by the appellant is only a difference between the levels of inaccuracy.

    Can someone please explain this point to me in greater detail? I’m failing to fully grasp what makes it special. I vaguely interpret it as stating that say there would be a 0.06% inaccuracy tolerance anyway, so essentially that requires to be in addition to that difference (i.e 0.06 + 0.14 = 0.2%). But a proper clarification would be much appreciated :)

    1. @vettel1 I’m going to make an educated guess and say that they probably mean “margin of error”.
      If I remember correctly most of these sensors have at least 0.25% accuracy, so yes 0.14% falls within that spec.

  16. Of course RBR lost the case. They were never going to win because if they did, then all the teams would have had those sensors off and in a pile on pit lane in about 30sec flat. That would have meant a loss of control for the FIA and that was not going to happen. Do you honestly believe that a team as big, successful, and technologically sound as RBR would have gone into the hearing with their own data showing they were at fault. Here is the crux of the FIA’s statement: “The appellant’s measurement method is not based on physical means but purely on a software model that depends on input data, which cannot be checked by the FIA“. Personnaly I think the whole limited fuel flow rate is ridiculous. If you want to encourage efficiency, just give the teams less fuel and let them figure out how to make it last for the race. Regulating the fuel flow is pointless.

    1. That bold phrase means Red Bull could claim whatever they want and FIA couldn’t check it. meaning this could never be used as an alternative for a proper fuel flow meter.

      The problem was that Red Bull’s own model is flawed, that their evidence was incorrect (showing different graphs claiming they showed the same) AND to top it all off, their own data showed the fuel flow limit was over 100kg/h. Triple whammy.

      The fuel flow limit is needed for safety and engine development cost issues. It’s not for energy efficiency. The engine power must be regulated by some means. Turbo pressure regulation has proved troublesome and fuel flow regulation seemed simpler and less easy to cheat on.

  17. A clear violation of one rule. A stupid rule may I say, but a rule nonetheless. And a stupid decision of RBR in trying to bend it. Well judged by the FIA Court of Appeal. Not the first team to try to do it and won’t be the last. Period.

    Transform this into a discussion arena for the anti-RBR fanatics is pure nonsense and a huge waste of time.

  18. Good for the sport.
    I wish every team was treated the same way.
    We may not like the new rules, but they have to obey them.
    That simple.

  19. From the F1 Fanatic post of the verdict:
    Paragraph 30 – According to the Appellant, its own estimates showed that car No. 3 had not exceeded the FFL during the race.

    Paragraph 35 – The FIA then adds that the Appellant’s own estimation of its car No. 3’s FFR in Melbourne also showed that that car exceeded the FFL during the Australian Grand Prix.

    So Red Bull said both that the car did not exceed the limit and that it had exceeded the limit (my bold).

    1. James Clayton
      22nd April 2014, 4:16

      The key phrase in paragraph 30 is “According to the Appellant”

      So… the appellant *claims* that their own data “showed that car No. 3 had not exceeded the FFL during the race”

      In paragraph 35, the appeal court found that claim to be untrue.

  20. At least this test case has established once and for all that the directives must be followed.

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