Esteban Ocon, Force India, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

Ocon says he was “disqualified for a stupid reason”

2018 United States Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Esteban Ocon described his United States Grand Prix disqualification as “the worst feeling ever”.

The Force India driver was stripped of his eighth place finish after he was found to have exceeded the maximum fuel flow rate during the first lap of the 56-lap race.

“Pushing the whole race, getting good points, and getting disqualified in the end for a stupid reason is probably the worst feeling ever,” Ocon wrote on social media.

“Our mistake,” he added. “Anyway not giving up for sure.”

Ocon was one of two drivers to be disqualified from yesterday’s race, along with Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, who also committed a fuel use violation.

Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer said the team hadn’t encountered the problem before and that Ocon hadn’t gained an advantage by exceeding the limit.

According to Szafnauer the team’s data showed Ocon’s fuel use over the whole lap had been within the required limits, but there had been a “spike” in fuel use which exceeded the maximum level.

“I think what happened is there was a spike, a flow and then a trough so if you look at it over a lap it was neutral. So it just depends if that spike – if you look at it over a lap there’s no infringement – but it depends how finely you chop up the data.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2018 F1 season

Browse all 2018 F1 season articles

Author information

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...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories 2018 F1 season, 2018 United States Grand Prix, F1 newsTags , , ,

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 21 comments on “Ocon says he was “disqualified for a stupid reason””

    1. According to Szafnauer the team’s data showed Ocon’s fuel use over the whole lap had been within the required limits, but there had been a “spike” in fuel use which exceeded the maximum level.
      “I think what happened is there was a spike, a flow and then a trough so if you look at it over a lap it was neutral. So it just depends if that spike – if you look at it over a lap there’s no infringement – but it depends how finely you chop up the data.”

      Interesting. But the fuelling system (pumps and all) are by the team/PU supplier and not the FIA, so they’d have to get to the bottom of it.

      In any case, that answers the question of how a car had an engine map that requested a higher than permitted rate of fuel flow – it didn’t, there was some other blip in the control systems or the pumps.

      1. You know when the tv remote is out of batteries and you press the button harder, because that will definitely help? That’s whar happened here, but it actually worked

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      22nd October 2018, 15:05

      I’m surprised that 2 out of 20 cars were disqualified when their sister cars weren’t.

      What does Szafnauer mean when he says “if you look at it over a lap there’s no infringement – but it depends how finely you chop up the data”.? Did they did exceed it over the lap?

      Second, we haven’t seen 2 fuel infringements in a race before. Is it this track that caused that?

      As for points, this pretty much gives Perez a massive point advantage in the battle between him and Ocon this season.

      In the WCC battle, it makes it less likely for Force India to catch up with Haas for the 5th place.

      1. @freelittlebirds – What Szafnauer means is that context matters. If fuel flow slightly exceeds the limit for 1 second, and the other 109 seconds of the lap are at or below the limit, then from a whole lap view, the car is under the limit and fine.

        If you chop that lap up into 10 second segments, the car will be over the limit for 1 out of 10 seconds in that one segment, but will probably still look okay in that segment. But if you chop it up into 1 second segments, then any infraction is disqualifying.

        And it sounds like the rule that is applied is any spike above the limit is unacceptable.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          22nd October 2018, 18:10

          @hobo thanks for clarifying – I was confused by the statetement in the article:

          [Ocon] was found to have exceeded the maximum fuel flow rate during the first lap of the 56-lap race

          I assumed that the FIA had determined that Ocon had exceeded the flow rate on the 1st lap on a lap basis, not at a particular moment in the race. If that were the case, then Szafnauer’s comment would be contradictory.

          Still, it’s strange that 2 cars were in violation at the same circuit and in one case the driver didn’t gain an advantage.

          1. @freelittlebirds – To be clear, I am not sure how the FIA determines it. It may be on an entire lap basis, but it sounds otherwise.

            And it is strange that 2 cars broke that rule but the teammates’ cars didn’t.

      2. For example, lets imagine the flow limit is 100 kg/h. Then, the first second the fuel flow in the FI is 110 kg/h and the other 99 seconds (asuming a lap time of 100 seconds) is 90 kg/h. On average, the fuel flow on that lap was 90.2 kg/h. It was way under the limit. But that first second it wasn’t. So that is why Szafnauer ends his interview with the remark: “if you look at it over a lap there’s no infringement – but it depends how finely you chop up the data”.

        1. According to the F1 website the maximum fuel flow rate allowed is 100 kg/h, this equates to a maximum fuel flow of 27.77777778 millilitres per second. I suspect my spreadsheet has actually rounded the last digit up, and that in fact the sevens are just reoccurring to infinity. This, to me, is a difficult number for an engine management unit to process because there is an element of error in it. Say you use a 4 digit number, if someone rounded that up to 27.78 ml/s then they could be accused of cheating, because that rate is actually above 27.7777777 (reoccurring). Alternatively, if they set the maximum flow to 27.77 ml/s, but then you’re missing out on just under 1/100th of the maximum fuel flow allowed (or a fraction less than 1% of your maximum power). While in my examples I used a 4 digit number, what sort of number does the FIA expect teams to use? An Arduino has something like 4 different types of numbers, each of which has subtle differences from the others.
          When the Stewards said there was a spike in the fuel flow rate, one has to wonder how far above 27.777777 (reoccurring) ml/s it was. No one seems to say how far above the maximum fuel flow rate this spike was, so I’m guessing it was very small, so maybe that could have been a consequence of simple rounding within the EMU.
          It is odd that this happened on two cars at the start of the race, so I’m guessing this was a combination of events that only happened at the start of the race.
          As I understand it, the EMU software comes from Mercedes, or Ferrari in Magnussen’s case, so why just two and not all the other cars?

          1. @drycrust – your comment is wholly applicable to Ocon, and your question about how Perez and the other Merc cars were unaffected is valid.

            However, there is one correction: Magnussen’s penalty wasn’t a fuel flow issue, he exceeded the 105 kg / race limit that was put in place, and that occurred on the last lap of the race, despite the pitwall warning him he was “critical” on fuel consumption.

            1. Thanks for the correction regarding Magnussen, I hadn’t read the articles about his disqualification and mistakenly assumed both disqualifications were for the same reason.

            2. To add a little bit to the issue of fuel flow rates, in Claire-Speak, don’t fail to avoid discounting the fact that fuel flow-rate is limited by mass of fuel per unit of time, not on a volume basis.
              With the current rules and capability of the various fuel suppliers to effectively formulate pretty much anything they want, by organic means, there will be variations in fuel density as well as the chemical and combustion properties. Each of the teams will have their own supplier and I suspect there are differences in what Esso, Shell, Petronas etc. provide to their various teams. Does Renault use the same fuel as Red Bull, guaranteed not, but the power units are similar (we assume).
              I expect that the teams have ultimate control over fuel useage (total for the race) and rates, which influences available power. Hence the issue (in isolation) for Magnesson and Ocon.

      3. It was exceeded for part of a lap – a large part of the lap (hence the disqualification stuck). The FIA has 20 timing loops at Austin (the maximum number a F1 track can have), and I believe they can get updates chopped on a “per loop” basis. Technically, they can disqualify someone if they exceed fuel flow for only one timing loop, though I’m not sure if they actually do – or indeed if anyone has exceeded it for merely one loop. If the rest of the lap was far enough under-limit, it would explain both Otmar’s and the FIA’s positions.

      4. The issues on Ocon and Magnussen’s cars were different. Ocon’s car exceeded the maximum fuel flow rate on the last lap while Magnussen’s car used more than the regulation 105kg of fuel to complete the race.

    3. I am very confused about Sainz’s Penalty as well. I have seen plenty of people leave the track like he did at Turn 1 and not get penalised. Also, Vettel did exactly as he did and got no penalty. Not that it mattered much in the end.

      1. Sainz overtook a car, Vettel didn´t.

        1. No, he let ocon pass him and then 2 o 3 corners later he overtook ocon again. So he shouldn’t get the penalty

          1. No, he did not let Ocon pass, he didn´t at all. In fact, Sainz was never BEHIND Ocon after rejoining the track.
            Besides, VET was ahead HUL and OCO before leaving the track, while SAI was behind. That’s the “slight” difference.

      2. sainz’s penalty seemed extremely harsh when held against what vettel did. sure, vettel didn’t gain a place, but he almost certainly avoiding losing a place by braking too late for T1 and running wide. it’s all a very unsatisfactory argument anyway – if there was a gravel trap there we would not be talking about these awkward grey area penalties.

    4. Engine Regulations … pretty straight forward. No monkey business is permitted.
      https://www.fia.com/regulation/category/110 Technical Regs., Engines, Fuel Delivery

      5.10.3 All cars must be fitted with a single fuel flow sensor, wholly within the fuel tank, which has
      been manufactured by the FIA designated supplier to a specification determined by the FIA.
      This sensor may only be used as specified by the FIA. Furthermore, all fuel delivered to the
      power unit must pass through this homologated sensor, and must all be delivered to the
      combustion chambers by the fuel injectors described by Article 5.10.2.
      5.10.4 Homologated sensors which directly measure the pressure and temperature of the fuel
      supplied to the fuel injectors must also be fitted, these signals must be supplied to the FIA
      data logger.
      5.10.5 Any device, system or procedure the purpose and/or effect of which is to increase the flow
      rate or to store and recycle fuel after the measurement point is prohibited.

      I believe it was C Horner that commented after Australia 2017, that they purchased hundreds of the FIA Homologated sensors just to find the hand-full that gave the highest fuel flow rate.
      Rules are rules and averaging flow rates doesn’t cut it. It is surprising that there have not been more disqualifications for this. Wonder if they have started clamping down.

      1. @rekibsn, what I find curious is that there do not seem to have been any complaints of major issues in the WEC, as the fuel sensor which is used in F1 has also been deployed in the WEC without any real issue.

    5. Fuel management, tyre management. Maybe we should the whole thing management instead of racing. And we could call the drivers for managers.

    Comments are closed.