Vettel wants rules change after “very bitter” disqualification

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel accepted his disqualification from the Hungarian Grand Prix but admitted it felt “very bitter” to lose his podium finish.

The Aston Martin driver was stripped of second place after the team were unable to extract the required one litre sample of fuel from his car after the race. Although they initially insisted there was sufficient fuel in the car, further analysis revealed this was not the case, as some had been lost due to a leak.

Aston Martin, therefore, dropped its bid to appeal against Vettel’s disqualification, which cost him his second place.

“I guess rules are rules,” said Vettel. “Obviously we didn’t know we had a problem, to be honest. When we checked, the fuel wasn’t in the car and we got disqualified, but we thought it was in the car. I don’t know for the future whether there’s a better way to handle this, but I don’t think there was much that could have been done.

“So it’s very bitter because, first I think we did not have an advantage, second there was no intention or no way that we could actually explain that too little fuel was in the car. So something happened over the course of the race, a leakage or something that the fuel was simply wasn’t there anymore.”

Vettel would like to see the rules revised to avoid teams being disqualified for similar infringements.

“Looking back, I think it’s clear the rules are as they are and we got disqualified. Looking forwards, obviously it’s very bitter and I think in the circumstance that, obviously, I understand better because I was the one who suffered from it. You don’t wish that [for] anyone else to happen and it should probably have a little bit more tolerance.

“But what exactly you need to write down on paper in black and white, I don’t know, that’s for other people to come up with.”

The biggest blow for Vettel is the points lost in the championship, he said. “I was on the podium. It gets erased from the books, but it doesn’t get erased from your memory. And I think the team feels the same way.

“What hurts us most, as I said, is the points that we’re just not able to keep and to count at the end of the year.”

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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...
Keith Collantine
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27 comments on “Vettel wants rules change after “very bitter” disqualification”

  1. But there was an advantage.
    They burned more fuel than they could have done if they adhered to the rules.
    Thus either they gained some power or made more noise.

    1. Not necessarily. Teams usually fuel their cars with less than the legal amount, anticipating pace car laps, etc. If they had started with 95 kg they did not burn more than allowed. The required sample is for analysis to confirm the fuel run was the same as the fuel submitted.

      Reply moderated
    2. someone or something
      26th August 2021, 15:15

      But there was an advantage.
      They burned more fuel than they could have done if they adhered to the rules.

      What? No.
      They were never under investigation for exceeding fuel limits. As Vettel himself ist quoted in this very article, they had a leak. Meaning: The fuel seeped out of the tank unused.

      1. I’ve never heard of a leak, and it doesn’t seem so clearcut from Vettel’s words either: “a leakage or something”.

        Is there any reference other then here/now that it was actually a leak?

        1. someone or something
          26th August 2021, 16:15

          No idea.
          The thing is, there’s even less support for your theory. And exceeding fuel flow limitations is not the kind of offence you’d expect not to be made a major fuss about. You wouldn’t be hearing “They couldn’t provide a sufficient fuel sample”, you’d be hearing “Our data clearly show they used too much fuel”.
          And that’s not even addressing the fact that there’s no point in committing such an obvious and easily monitored offence. On a race track where fuel consumption usually isn’t marginal, much less after a wet start and a Safety Car …

          1. I never claimed, not even considered, that they were ‘exceeding fuel flow limitations’.
            Nor do I claim they did it on purpose. The ‘technical malfunction’ they spoke about earlier could be as simple as the total fuel usage being under-reported.
            I simply assumed that (not knowing that – or if – there was a leak) that they used the additional fuel; leaving open if that created extra kinetic energy, or if it was just lost as noise (or heat).

            PS the original title of this article was something like: “Vettel said disqualification was unfair as he did not get an advantage”

          2. someone or something
            27th August 2021, 9:57

            You may have not have claimed it, but I wonder how that’s supposed to be logically consistent with the rest of what you said. How else are you supposed to burn more fuel than you are allowed? You either have to exceed the 100 kg/h or the 105 kg/race limit, or, most likely, both.
            Now for the ‘malfunction’: There are two separate fuel flow meters in each F1 car, both set up to measure the fuel flow at different rates and changing their configuration randomly, in order to capture even the tiniest anomaly that may remain undetected because it happens to be synched with the sampling rate.
            Where one sensor might fail or be deceived, how is that supposed to work with two sensors working independently from each other?
            And why haven’t we heard a single comment from any FIA or team representative saying anything that remotely supports your theory? At no point has anyone alleged that Aston Martin tried or succeeded in gaining an advantage. From the moment the investigation began, all that was ever mentioned was a technical infringement: Aston Martin being unable to provide a sufficient fuel sample from Vettel’s car. And Aston Martin complaining, at first, that this was due to improper use of a fuel pump by the FIA. Before realising that the missing fuel was indeed not just hard to access, but not there anymore.

            PS the original title of this article was something like: “Vettel said disqualification was unfair as he did not get an advantage”

            Well, duh.

        2. I believe that scarbsF1 mentioned that it was a leak, and appears to have been due to a problem with the fuel pressure pump.

    3. It wasn’t as easy as that, that is why they appealed. The fuel flow meter that FIA installed on the cars showed that there was the required amount of excess fuel in the car as they requested. But they couldn’t extract the fuel out because it wasn’t in the fuel tank.

      The rules say that you need to be able to produce the required amount of fuel at any point. Then there is the fuel flow meter that checks the amount of fuel in the car. The difficulty is to know how much of it is in the tank at any given moment especially at the end of the race.

      They spent as much fuel as you are aloud during the race that didn’t change hence they haven’t gained any advantage.
      Still no excuse to not be disqualified though. The rules are clear cut in terms of sample collection.

  2. 20 cars per race, 20 races per year, so over 3 years there are 1,200 opportunities to have a car with fuel infractions. Yet 1 driver has had 2 infractions and the rest none.

    1. @jimfromus Hamilton also had one in 2012. Spanish GP and coincidently also, not only QLF but Q3.

      1. @jerejj, but wasn’t Hamilton due to McLaren cutting it very fine (given the penalty, enough they were on the wrong side of the rules) with how much fuel they put in, so that was an actual infraction rather than equipment failure as seems to be the case here? (and didn’t the FIA clarify the rules afterwards to make it the current more stringent and clearly defined rules; Not sure about that one). Still point stands, and w/o this rule I think it is pretty clear a lot of teams would spend more effort to carefully calculate to the gram how little fuel they can get away with especially in qualifying (I bet Ferrari would be champion of it, they allegedly have some experience doing special things with fuel amounts ;)

    2. @jimfromus it is not exactly as if this is a frequent issue for Vettel though, given that the disqualification from qualifying in the 2012 Abu Dhabi GP was 9 years and 170 races ago. Why are you trying to make such a big issue out of this when the two events you are referring to are nearly a decade apart?

      1. The other Vettel incident I am referring to was in brazil a couple of years ago. His team “incorrectly” reported the amount of fuel they had in the car. Ferrari was putting more fuel in their cars than they officially reported and then they were bypassing the fuel flow meter. This led to a rule change and another fuel flow meter being required. This prior infraction was found when they measured the amount of fuel pre race. This time the officials couldn’t get the correct amount after the race. I think the problem was caused by a device that doesn’t allow the wrong amount of fuel to be extracted prior to the race. The officials must have thought this too which is why they checked post race and not pre race. We’ll see if this coincidence occurs again.

        1. @jimfromus it would seem you have both the wrong driver and the wrong race, as there does not seem to have been any such investigation.

          What you seem to be describing is the investigation into Leclerc at the 2019 Abu Dhabi GP, where Ferrari fuelled his car with an additional 4.9kg of fuel – I don’t know where you seem to have got the idea that it was Vettel or that it was the Brazilian GP. https://www.racefans.net/2019/12/01/leclerc-keeps-abu-dhabi-gp-podium-after-fuel-penalty-investigation/

  3. Just stop the car right after the finish line from now on

    1. This is what they did in DTM for sometime. They changed the regulations so people wouldn’t do that. I think just leaving the car on track while everyone drives it back is probably against sporting regulations and unsportman-like.

  4. The fuel leak was effectively a mechanical failure which is an occupational hazard if you are a racing driver. Drivers retire for mechanical reasons all the time and it is just accepted as part of the sport even if it can be unfair at times.

    On that basis I am not sure how any rule tweaks can be made here.

  5. Maybe the disqualification should have been for operating a race car on the track in a dangerous condition – leaking fuel.

  6. so they operated an illegal car the entire race…if it was using more fuel than required..

    1. someone or something
      26th August 2021, 16:24

      How do people keep getting this idea?

  7. I think the thing that seems lost… even on Vettel, is that he had a fuel leak and he only had 0.3lts left

    Had the team not have put the extra litre of fuel in the car required by the rules he now want rid of, he would have had -0.7lts of fuel left in the car at the end of the race

    That is of course impossible… so he would have failed to even finish the race, stopping m half way round the track on the last lap

    1. @the-edge Yes exactly. He simply would not have finished the race if not for that extra fuel added. So he’s arguing to turn his DSQ into a DNF.

    2. someone or something
      27th August 2021, 10:10

      @the-edge

      he would have failed to even finish the race, stopping m half way round the track on the last lap

      You’re not completely wrong, but seem to forget about the lap of honour. If the team had known the exact amount of fuel remaining in the car, they probably would’ve told him to switch off the engine after crossing the finish line, and they would’ve been fine. A normal race lap is said to burn about 1.5 kg of fuel, and considering that F1 engines aren’t very efficient at slow speeds, it’s not unconceivable that you still burn 0.7 kg on a parade lap.

      1. I didn’t forget about the lap of honor… Vettel didn’t do a lap of honor. His team instructed him to stop immediately after crossing the finish line

        “After crossing the finish line, Vettel parked his car at the side of the track at Turn 12 after being ordered to stop by Aston Martin over the team radio.”

        https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/vettel-loses-second-in-f1-hungarian-gp-insufficient-fuel-sample/6640811/

        Simply put… had teams not been required to carry an extra litre of fuel for testing post race Vettel would not have finished the race

        1. someone or something
          27th August 2021, 15:56

          You are completely right, I forgot about that.

  8. With my tinfoil hat on, I suspect something fishy. May be Aston Martin have a secret fuel tank which is feeding extra fuel. The fuel might still be in the car but extracting it would mean exposing the secret fuel tank. AM didn’t know about the secret fuel tank (as they get if from Mercedes) and hence they decided to appeal the disqualification. Mercedes my have told them informally to rescind the appeal as this would expose all the Mercedes cars.

    In serious-ness, F1 already has too many rules which aren’t black and white and the rule book is way too complex. This was one of the few black and white rules. Let us not listen to Vettel and modify the rules here as well

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