Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2019

Ferrari: Leclerc’s extra 5kg of fuel was due to a ‘measurement discrepancy’

2019 F1 season

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has said the extra fuel found in Charles Leclerc’s car before the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was due to a ‘measurement discrepancy’.

A random check of the car’s fuel weight before the race found Leclerc’s car contained almost five kilograms more fuel than Ferrari had declared. The team was fined €50,000 for the infringement, but Leclerc was allowed to keep his podium finish.

Speaking before the verdict was announced, Binotto said: “I don’t think there is very much to explain. There has been a discrepancy between measurements. We are simply waiting for a decision and we don’t know much.”

“We believe that our measurements are all correct,” he added. “So there is one measurement which is not correct.”

The FIA introduced random checks of car’s pre-race fuel weight at the beginning of the season to ensure they comply with the maximum limit of 110kg of fuel per race. Teams have to declare how much fuel they have put in their cars. When Leclerc’s car was checked in Abu Dhabi, it was found to contain almost 4.88kg more than the declaration.

Binotto said his team’s cars have had their fuel weights checked on many previous occasions with no problems. “I think this year we have been checked at least 10 times,” he said. “It’s not the first time, we’ve always been OK and today we got a discrepancy.”

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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...
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35 comments on “Ferrari: Leclerc’s extra 5kg of fuel was due to a ‘measurement discrepancy’”

  1. 5kg, are you kidding? Everyone knows weight is everything… add power and lightness… adding 5kg by mistake? Either this is a measure of Ferrari’s sheer incompetence or something deliberate. Either way, not good…

    1. Well 5kg more of fuel would add more positives despite any weight increase.

      1. No it would not, unless fuel was critical at this track. The only reason to run overweight on the pre race scales is to run underweight, as they might be able to twist the post race calculations. Adding 5kg to leclerc before the race might be a way to run the car underweight during the GP. There is a lot of cheating of this sort in f1. Only the most naive viewer hasn’t realised that there is a big scope for cheating. Last year in austria after the unexpected Max victory, rb engineers were shouting right next to the mic, “Max you need to put on weight”, bad that Crofty was silent for once. I can’t imagine a way to avoid this type of cheating.

  2. So I presume that the actual amount was still less than 110kg? Otherwise slam dunk DSQ.

    It would be interesting to know exactly how much was declared as this suggests that they started with less than 105kg.

    It would be interesting to know if any team ever actually uses 110kg

    1. There’s probably a couple of races where they do need the full amount of fuel – I think a track like Canada is pretty fuel hungry, for example (I think there’s about 2-3 others that need a lot of fuel) @eurobrun

    2. @eurobrun my thoughts exactly. If they had fueled the car over 110 kg, slam dunk DSQ. If they hadn’t, which seems to be the case, then it’s just straight incompetence by Ferrari or an error in the measuring equipment. After all, if they’re overfueling the car, it doesn’t matter if you declare you’ve put 100 or 105 kg, you’re legal anyway.

    3. They always under fill the car and then save fuel during the race, you try and carry the minimum you can get away with.

  3. So the Ferrari is carrying more fuel than it should…coming on the back of allegations recently that they were putting more fuel than allowed into their engine….obviously just coincidence, but the size of the fine is colossal….so some observers may think they bought their podium today.
    Fortunately any result today has no effect on the championship, but I will be interested in what the other teams have to say

    1. Interesting, isn’t it @jop452. It would be kind of funny if it turned out that the great power boost Ferrari had/has was about putting in a bit extra fuel to be able to use slightly more than allowed

      1. Vettel’s car was not checked!!! “A random check of the car’s fuel weight before the race found Leclerc’s car contained almost five kilograms more fuel than Ferrari had declared.” Vettel might have cheated too!

    2. If Ferrari had got their number one driver kicked out, Vettel would have had a crack at not finishing behind them in the championship, so absolutely has an effect.

    3. What I am most interested is how did Sky knew exactly what was going on from the start of the race. They knew yet it didn’t matter? Who told sky and why?

  4. Well as I posted on another thread, it’s either a case of someone overfilling the tank or a problem with ferrari’s measuring equipment. But surely, the first thing the authorities should do is to check the other car.
    Did this happen?

    1. Unfortunately, FIA is not interested in doing that. Michael Masi is fine with random choice and thus cloud of suspicion over Ferrari and Ferrari International Assistance only grows further.

    2. …the first thing the authorities should do is to check the other car.

      That’s an interesting question. If you look at Renault’s duel Disqualification at the Japanese GP, you’d have to say “Yes, both cars need to be checked”, because both of their cars were checked and subsequently Disqualified (whether or not I agree with that isn’t the issue here), so to be fair every time one car has a violation the other should be checked too. However, it plainly isn’t guaranteed that both cars will be checked. One could argue that if “maybe” the other car was guilty of the same infringement, e.g. Haas (or should I say “Ferrari powered Haas”) at the 2018 Italian GP (where only one car was found to have an incorrectly shaped floor), so then it is “nice” of the Stewards to overlook the prospect that the other car has the same rule violation (on the assumption the other car will also fixed by the time of the next GP). If so, then why were both Renault cars Disqualified? Why not just one as in this last Grand Prix?
      The general rule is every team should be treated the same, but … somehow that doesn’t seem to be.

    3. The $50.000 fine may well consist of 2 batches of $25.000, one per car?

  5. Gavin Campbell
    1st December 2019, 23:57

    I’d assume it was sub 110Kg (which is the limit I think – or is it 105?). So they simply declared the wrong amount of fuel – it’s a bit strange as it doesn’t really affect anything. But also it means in theory they put 5Kg more ballast in the car – as they would of tuned the engine performance to use the amount they thought they had going in.

    Also if they’ve been checked 10 times this season that’s a pretty big risk to cheat (by that much) on purpose. No one mentioned fuel during the weekend so I don’t recall it being very fuel limited either (so everyone was probably well under the 110)

    1. They aint trying to cheat, do you thnk they would risk tarnishing their world wide reputation ust to win a race.

      1. I see what you did there.

    2. Yeah I suspect that’s why they were only fined and didn’t penalise on the race itself—the 5kg ballast would’ve been penalty enough.

  6. Seems difficult to believe Ferrari would make a mistake of almost 5kg of unaccounted fuel. What do they use to fuel the car, a tin can and funnel? The important number is, where they in excess of the limit of fuel allowed.

  7. Another fact.
    After 3 races.

    Since the new FIA-directive, the performance of the Ferrari cars has gone south.
    Especially on the straights (even though they changed to less rear wing).

    1. @rebelangelfloyd

      Since the new FIA-directive, the performance of the Ferrari cars has gone south.

      Really? There was lots of footage of the Ferrari’s having the legs on every other team down the straights.

      1. far from the 0,6+ sec per straight, with less wing…

        no poles anymore…
        More than 4+ sec’s in every race…
        no victories….

        1. That may just be the effect of dragging an extra 5 kg of fuel along that nobody knew about ;)

        2. Also its track specific too, and this years car has not enough downforce so if you have a power advantage you put on more rear wing, its what they did in the US gp.

        3. @rebelangelfloyd, I’ve seen comparisons of the wing types that each of the top three teams brought to Abu Dhabi, and Ferrari do not appear to have been running a lower downforce package than either Red Bull or Mercedes.

          Their aero package was their usual medium high downforce package – if anything, they might even have been running a slightly higher rear downforce configuration than Red Bull were. It was frequently remarked during the race weekend that Ferrari were having major problems with overheating their tyres, especially the rear tyres, through the third sector, and that Ferrari seemed to have tried running a slightly higher rear wing angle in the hope of compensating for that (though it seems that it had a rather limited effect).

    2. Not to let the facts get in the way of a good story but:

      in Monza LeClercs top speed in qualifying was 349.7 km/h compared to Hamilton 342.5 km/h a difference of 7.2 km/h

      in Yas Marina LeClercs top speed in qualifying was 327.2 km/h compared to Hamilton 321.1 km/h a difference of 6.1 km/h

      If Ferrari have lost any straight line speed its minimal. The reason Ferrari struggled over the weekend was the same reason they struggled in Baku, Hungary and well, pretty much everywhere prior to the summer break. Their car cant do corners.

    3. @rebelangelfloyd If there is one thing media hasn’t got right is that Ferraris straight advantage is clearly still there and they ran full wing in abu dhabi, .4 quicker in s1 and s2. Maybe they can still ran whatever magic in Q, all Ferrari engines did qualify well in Brazil.

  8. 5kg is a huge amount of discrepancy. There’s no way this is a small ‘measurement’ error. This is Ferrari just being shady again. Trying to cover up some of the PU performance loss maybe .. because of being caught cheating earlier

    1. Is it more than a little ironic that the most secretive F1 team is the one with the veto?

  9. I’d be quite happy if the fuel pump had a “measurement error” and added an extra 5KG of unleaded to my car.

    But 5KG is F1 is HUGE, so that doesn’t wash with me, sorry.

    1. But would you be happy paying back 10k per litre when the error was found?

      Pretty hefty fine if you ask me

  10. that has to be a disqualification..Why even mention it if you’re not going to punish them appropriately..

  11. I’m not understanding any reason/advantage to intentionally under-report a legal amount of fuel in the car unless it is published pre-race (I doubt) and could effect another team’s strategy.

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