Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2019

Leclerc keeps Abu Dhabi GP podium as Ferrari are fined for fuel infringement

2019 F1 season

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Charles Leclerc has kept his podium finish in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix following the stewards’ investigation into the starting fuel weight information supplied by his team.

The stewards decided against issuing a sporting sanction to the team despite finding that Leclerc’s car contained almost 5kg more fuel than Ferrari declared. The team has been fined $50,000 for the infringement.

Stewards’ verdict on Ferrari

The stewards heard from the team representative, FIA technical delegate and the FIA head of single seater technical matters.

[Technical directive]/014-19 required teams to declare the amount of fuel that they intended to put in the car for the laps to the grid, the formation lap, the race, the in-lap and any fire-ups that would be needed. The Technical Delegate was able to confirm the fuel mass put in the tank by checking in accordance with the procedure specified in TD/014-19.

There was a difference of 4.88kgs between the team’s declaration for car 16 and the technical delegate’s measured fuel mass.

The team’s declaration was therefore inaccurate and constituted a breach of the technical directive. This in turn constitutes an infringement of Article 12.1.1.i of the International Sporting Code.

Accordingly, the stewards determined that the team should be fined €50,000 for its inaccurate declaration.

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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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61 comments on “Leclerc keeps Abu Dhabi GP podium as Ferrari are fined for fuel infringement”

  1. Not even a black & white flag was waved/shown for Ferrari?!

  2. One more rule to delete from the rule book. Ferrari was “relaxed” after the race saying they know their procedures which apparently include cheating and just paying fines. Nice to be on team red, sucks to be every other team that has had technical violations.

    1. Ferrari always gets away with things compared to other teams, I feel it’s because in the past they pumped the most money into F1 over the years, it’s about time the FIA got their house in order and start to apply the same rules to every team, and stopped being biased in favour or Ferrari and its drivers.

    2. People seem to forget when Mercedes has technical rules overlooked that they have exceeded. Any one remember constant tyre pressure breaches. When FIA couldn’t keep track of it no longer, it all became a non story. At least Ferrari got a fine for it.

      1. Agreed. The Mercedes bias (or, in most cases, Ferrari hate) on here is unbelievable sometimes.

        1. Yes paranoia should always rule in F1, shouldn’t it ?

        2. Exactly, if this was another team nothing would be said.

    3. What about Mercedes testing tyres on degradation bottas and Hamilton where the drivers and the youth team got the penalty points and they did nothing great to be a silver arrows

  3. Ferrari’s last gasp attempt to make sure Vettel finished in front of Leclerc in the standings failed then…. ;)

    1. Certainly appears that way. I’m certain they expected for Leclerc to be disqualified only, and not to face a fine. … it would seem apparent that there is something also in Vettel’s contract that is probably going to cost them more than the 50K euro fine as well..

      1. Jeez, really. The size of you guys’ tin foil hats must be of outrageous proportions.

        1. I know, some of the things they come out with are mind numbing.

    2. What so your trying to say that ferrari deliberately sabotaged leclercs car to get him disqualified so vettel would finish ahead in the championship?

  4. Mmm… could RBR bring 2020 car and just pay the fine, because it is not exactly 2019 car?

    Could Mercedes attach jet-engine to Valtteri’s car, pay the fine, and just pretend it is a new version of Turbo?

    1. Renault and Haas has been kicked out of races for breaching various rules… how on Earth 5 undeclared kilos of fuel is not a breach constituting expulsion from the race?

      1. Rosemary Weston
        1st December 2019, 20:40

        Totally agree that 5 kilos of extra fuel not declared is cheating, its the mafia once again running formula 1, all the other teams should out ferrari by cheating, what is this showing up and coming new fans, in orher words why dont we just cheat, I was a female midget car racing driver . This is not good for the sport , well done to the McLaren team

    2. It’s unclear what, if any, possible advantage Ferrari could gain from declaring an inaccurate quantity of fuel in the car. As long as it is below the 110kg limit I am not sure why this rule exists. I don’t think all technical regulation penalties incur the same penalties but anything that could potentially provide a performance advantage usually results in a disqualification, regardless of how minimal the impact was.

      1. @keithedin, it was brought in as part of the mechanisms that the FIA introduced earlier in the season over the whole question of whether teams were cheating the fuel flow monitoring systems. It forms part of the manual checking of the fuel weights that goes on to double check that the total amount of fuel used over the race distance is less than the permitted maximum allowed.

        @sham, the reason that I have seen given for why Ferrari were not disqualified is because it was a Technical Directive that they broke, not a Technical Regulation – it’s a subtle difference, but it has a major impact as a Directive doesn’t have the same legal force as a Regulation (more about the directive here https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/fia-monitor-fuel-physical-checks/4339766/ ).

        Now, that particular Technical Directive did refer back to the Sporting Regulations – whilst the Technical Regulations specify certain constraints, such as the minimum fuel for a fuel sample, the limit on the maximum fuel allowance is a Sporting Regulation. I believe that they are still officially in compliance with the Sporting Regulation to which that Technical Directive referred to, which was on the total fuel limit.

        It therefore means that what Ferrari did doesn’t breach the Technical Regulations, as the car did still comply with the technical specifications, or the Sporting Regulations, as Leclerc doesn’t seem to have used more fuel than he was allowed to use. I believe that is why the only thing the stewards can penalise Ferrari under is the Sporting Code, as Ferrari have technically complied with both the sporting and technical regulations, but disobeyed the instructions of the stewards on how the race weekend would be run (the section of the ISC that the ruling refers to).

        1. Thank you for bringing clarity (as always) to what is a murky rulebook!

          1. @phylyp, I am glad you found my explanation useful – that said, I would certainly not mind if the regulatory system was simplified so such explanations were not needed in the first place.

            Having to continually cross reference across multiple different documents can be rather confusing, and it does not help that, as technical directives are usually not open to the public, the details of those tend to depend on journalists having friends within teams that are prepared to share the details with them. I think many would agree that greater transparency would be a welcome step, as well as reducing the number of documents you need to cross reference to.

        2. Agree; also, indeed: another unnecessary rule to remove!

          Furthermore, it seems from the way the regulation is written, that the teams declare their intentions. However, intentions may change (during the two hours left to the race) before they get implemented! I do not find regulations about possible updates with regard to this matter…

        3. Excellent response thank you, I thought Ferrari were getting off lightly after other teams had been disqualified for breaches, but your explanation makes sense…tha is again

  5. I was under the impression that a breach of the technical regulations was an automatic disqualification.

    1. This in turn constitutes an infringement of Article 12.1.1.i of the International Sporting Code.

    2. @sham It was a breach of a technical directive rather than the technical regulations.

      Technical directive’s tend to be more about procedure & recommendations so breaching a directive does usually result in a less severe penalty.

      1. That’s the kind of thing that makes other sports find F1 a big joke.

        1. Why? They’re not the same level of offense.

          Its in football when comparing a manager getting a yellow card in a game for being super rude (something that happens dometimes and mostly forget) and clubs poaching youths under 15s, which is a big regulations breach.

  6. I don’t like the verdict, I think it should have been disqualification.

    However, I don’t like even the fact that the decision was made post-race. I would have been happy if Leclerc had been forced to start the race from the pit lane as a penalty, much like breaking parc ferme rules between qualifying and race.

  7. While it wasn’t stated, I’m assuming, that because the difference was an overage and thus the car was heavier than “normal” they just went with a fine. Had Ferrari put less fuel in, they could have been deemed to have gained an advantage and would most likely have been DQ’d or made to start from the pit lane.

    1. Why? I don’t see what is declared to have any effect on performance whatsoever, but I might be missing something

    2. @velocityboy Extra fuel which they could use when they are exceeding the the fuel flow limit without the sensor detecting it.

      This check is included to make sure teams are not cheating with the fuel flow. Then a team, which was already under suspicion of cheating in this regard, is caught red handed with a lot of extra fuel on board.

      1. @f1osaurus, why with only one car? If they were cheating I’d expect it to have been done with both cars and in a way that was far less likely to be detected. As I don’t always immediately assume Ferrari are cheating, I’m thinking this is an administrative error where the party writing down the fuel amount and the party putting in the fuel had different instructions.

        1. I think that Vettel’s car was not checked, because Michael Masi says not all the cars are checked for this specific detail!

        2. I suspect you’re right, that this was a case where someone wrote down the wrong number, but what about other teams which have made “administrative mistakes”? Haas had a car Disqualified from the 2018 Italian GP because they mistakenly thought they had an exemption for a corner radius on part of the floor of their car. We had Renault disqualified this year because they thought some software was legal, but the Stewards deemed it was a driver aid.

          1. @drycrust Both Haas and Renault didn’t really make an administrative mistake, they had illegal cars.

            The Haas that was disqualified was illegal with regards to the technical regs. Them thinking they had an excemption was a mistake, but it doesn’t mean the car became legal.
            Same for Renault basically, sure they might think something is legal but if the FIA or stewards think otherwise, then it’s not legal.

            The Ferrari yesterday was in compliance with all technical and sporting regulations. The only error was of administrative nature.

      2. Have you read the specs of the fuel flow meter? They all come sealed from Calibra (sole source supplier for all teams), accurate to 0.25%, tamper-proof sealed, and the regs are clear that “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”. Many years ago there was some question as to their accuracy (100Kg/hour), but that seems to have been straightened out, and in the last month or so Ferrari have been thoroughly investigated and not been found to have cheated. Next year there will be two sensors (cost reduction?)
        On the other hand, I have always disapproved of the whole idea of fuel flow control. Each car can use up to 110 Kg for the race — and that’s simple enough. And today’s fiasco of “pre-race declaration” is glaring bureaucracy in a sport which now requires more lawyers than drivers.

        1. I’m not a big believer in the conspiracy theories, but it’s going a bit far to say there is no chance anyone’s playing games with it. All they have to do is get the temperatures of the fuel and within the sensor to be slightly different and the flow will not be correctly measured. Arguably, it’s even permitted by the wording of the rules.

    3. You won’t have to use the specified amount of fuel. It’s your choice if you want to make use of just 40kg fuel

  8. Is the fine in US dollars or Euros? I see both are used in the article.

  9. Given this was known before the race, any single infringement for a TD should ideally result in a drive through penalty. Attributing a cost to mistakes isn’t a fair or consistent approach.

    The driver can then do his best to undo the impact and the fans know the drivers on the podium are the final finishing positions.

    I hope F1/the FIA sort this mess out soon. If rules are broken, have blanket “before the chequered flag” solutions to punishing them.

  10. What is this? Breach of technical regulations means disqualification – unless the FIA has changed their stance on this. Nice to know that in the future you can be just fined for running an illegal and potentially dangerous car.

    1. Careful with the silver-tinted glasses.

      Technical directive, not regulation. They are 2 different things.

    2. Read anon’s post above, explains it quite well.

      Technical directive, not technical regulation. Its like comparing a speeding ticket and a DUI death accident. Both are illegal, but one is way way more serious than the other.

      And hey I thought it was suspicious at first as well but after reading the explanation, its quite clear. And I’m no Ferrari fan.

  11. Does anybody know how much fuel was declared?

    1. How much fuel was LeClered?

      1. Sorry misunderstood your question:(

  12. Ferrari could turn up to the grid with jet engines strapped to the cars & they’d still only get a fine from the incompetent FIA

  13. I still don’t get the point of this rule. Why does it matter how much fuel they SAY they put in? Obviously teams can put as much or as little fuel they want in the car. The flow is measured by a different sensor and it’s not affected by the total amount of fuel.
    Maybe they want to fuel save for half the race. Maybe they want to finish with 20KG extra. And they can say they put 2 tons of fuel in it. Why does it matter and how does it affect the race?

    1. If you have a starting and ending weight, the difference is usage, and must be under the 100kg/hr limit.

      1. But if the FIA weigh it independently regardless of what weight a team declared, that doesn’t really matter, does it. This is about them declaring the wrong amount themselves. If they weigh both the starting fuel and the post-race fuel themselves, they have the straightforward math they need to calculate this.

        And if the FIA use the excuse of not checking every car, that’s more laziness/lack of thoroughness on their part.

        1. If you need to run more to finish the race and have enough left over for the rules, then it would be because you are using more fuel. In other words, if you need more fuel than the competition, then you are burning more fuel than them. In this league, I am not sure how that would not violate the flow rules, because to burn that extra fuel means you need to flow that extra fuel.

          1. Oops sorry, that reply was supposed to be for Cristian S.

  14. I would like to know if this bending of the rules was related to what Ferrari had to change a few weeks ago with their systems and if that is why the race officials “randomly” selected the Ferrari to be checked. Also, I would have thought that once the violation was discovered in 1 Ferrari, the other Ferrari would have been checked.

    1. @jimfromus Well that was the thought that crossed my dirty little mind as well. It would either be a case of a slip of the finger while filling the fuel tank – “Whoopsie, that was a bit more than I meant to squirt in!” – or the measuring equipment at the red team is incorrect.
      Whatever the case, as a suspicious type of person I would have seized the other team car and done the same test on that one as well.
      If the team budget is in the hundreds of millions of euros/dollars per annum, then $50,000 is less than a round of drinks.

  15. And lastly, if this was a mere breach of a directive and not a regulation, why, oh why, did it take the stewards 5, 6, 7 hours after the race to reach a verdict? Did they have to find a way to call it a breach of a directive instead of a breach of regulation in order to let the results stand? I know the announcers had a bet on BOT reaching the podium. Would book makers have been severely impacted by a BOT podium via a LEC penalty?

    1. This is a good point. I get not being able to do it pre race given the timing but should be more than enough time to do it in race.

      Maybe they were afraid they’d make it too lenient like the previous unsafe release that had no time penalty and a measly 5000 fine or something.

  16. I think is was because the TV commentators kept banging on about a technical breach and insisting that it was a black and white DQ if they were found to have been in breach that has caused most peoples shock and the usual “Ferrari get away with everything” calls.

    It’s been much more clearly explained now so I can accept the fine ruling. I still find one of the Renault DQ’s a bit galling though – theirs wasn’t a technical breach but still got a DQ through some obscure reasons.

  17. Another “discrepancy”.
    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).

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