Red Bull allowed to keep Bahrain and Monaco wins but forced to modify car
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Jun 2012   |  10:05 pm GMT  |  271 comments

The controversy over the holes in the rear floor of the Red Bull, which appeared during the Bahrain Grand Prix in a car which has gone on to win two of the last three races, has been resolved.

After much discussion and threatened protests in Monaco, the FIA met with all team technical representatives after the race and issued a clarification at the end of the week in the form of a technical directive – like the ones banning off throttle blowing of the diffusers, issued last summer.

In essence, the FIA had originally accepted the concept from Red Bull as legal. But it was once implemented on the car and having heard representations from other teams about it, they’ve changed their minds and now say that the fact that there isn’t explicitly a rule banning the idea, doesn’t make it legal.

They now say it’s illegal, because it’s presence on the car must contravene other rules by association.

Red Bull’s idea is to have a hole in the floor ahead of the rear wheels, through which exhaust gases can blow into the channel of the diffuser, gaining downforce at the rear of the car, which has been severaly cut by the ban on blown diffusers this year.

Red Bull suffered rear end stability issues at the start of the season, which is why they got off to a slow start this year. The “enclosed hole” solution went a long way towards fixing that problem and the team has scored 45 points including two wins with it – more than any other team in that period.

Now they will have to find another solution to boosting rear end downforce.

This process is similar to the one that rival teams launched – unsuccesfully – against Mercedes over the double DRS system at the start of this season.

Because the FIA likes teams to run ideas past them first before implementation and then is open to reviewing their decision if other teams have an argument which proves illegality, the team is allowed to keep its results during the period the idea is on the car.

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Why people still use to read news papers when in this technological globe everything is presented on net?


Right away I am ready to do my breakfast, later than having my breakfast coming yet again to read further news.


As for the ‘holes’ issue, I think the FIA & Charlie are desperately trying to divert attention away from Pirelli. RBR are just helping out.

As for the ‘LH’ incident. The officials didn’t punish Lewis, they punished McLaren. McLaren let Lewis down. Who do you think Lewis blames for being sent to the back of the grid?


Why would the FIA & Charlie want to divert attention away from Pirelli? They have done eaxactly as asked! when they got the tyre contract they were specifically told not to produce a tyre the same as Bridgestone,make one that will fall off in grip gradually,but fall off a cliff if pushed to far,to create better racing,which it has in spades! they just should have seperated the compounds more at Monaco. You’re 100% right about LH & McLaren

Craig in Manila


Is it fair to assume that, if the offending hole had’ve been in an area of the car that was hidden from external view, the other teams therefore wouldn’t have known about it, it’s legality therefore wouldn’t have been challenged, and the car would’ve therefore been “legal” for the whole season ?



Other sports don’t seem to have an issue with stripping an athlete or team of a victory if they’ve been found afterwards of having breached a rule. Why doesn’t the FIA do the same thing? Surely it can’t be that difficult.


Problem is though that no-one remembers the rightful winner. take the tour de france for example,who was the actual winner after Alberto Contador was stripped of 1 of his titles? who was the winner after Floyd Landis was stripped? even better question who got the medals that Marion Jones was stripped of? It’s too late once the presentation has been made,it costs people and companies millions in lost revenue that they can never get back. by the way the answers to the TDF questions are Andy Schleck & Oscar Pererio,but stuffed if i know about the others?????? LOL


I think the FIA has this the wrong way round and are creating this controversy. RBR have earned those wins with a now illegal design and thats a shame because it may negatively affect the outcome of either of the championships. It’s not fair to penalise RBR and it’s not fair on the fans because they know it wasn’t a level playing field.

Why don’t the FIA change their policy and put these features into a ‘Pending Approval’ state to allow time for appeals. The teams can be allowed to run the designs (and the car would be legal at scrutineering) but if the design does not get full approval then they lose any points gained while it was in a pending state.

This forces the teams to be more certain the designs are legal before running them but also gives them a chance to take a risk and get out ahead of their rivals with something innovative.


the reason it has been dealt with this way is because it is “legal” in some areas of the regs but contrevenes others & as such has been redressed in this way,simply because the FIA were the ones that passed it as legal,at multiple venues. Had Red Bull turned up at Bahrain & won by a massive margin,it may have been looked at sooner,but they didn’t,it took abit for them still to come on,and therefore it probably isn’t the sole reason for their recent success,and probably won’t hinder them too much to open the ends of the holes,aka Sauber etc.You can’t have “Pending Approval” situation,simply because if two or more drivers from multiple teams were able to win the championship at the final round,teams might be tempted to create “pending approval super f1 cars” that it would take months to argue out,leaving a situation where a team can make money as World Champion’s,but then be stripped later,which is too late. ask any lay person who won the tour de france,the year Floyd Landis cheated,and most couldn’t tell you, they’ve had Floyd burned into their memory for too long! By the way it was Oscar Pererio! The same situation would happen,because you can’t hold off the presentations etc. for months on end ,it would be farsicle!


I recall someone from Ferrari saying that they develop ideas and put them in the cars knowing they are outside the rules or at the edge. They think it is worth it if they can get away with it for a few races or more and score more than they would have done.

Every point matters and even more so now the tyres are making it an almost random event. The hole was worth about 0.1s.

Likely there’ll be other holes in the rules which have not yet surfaced…


What should be the penalty for FIA, when they allow the illegal car to race.

Why FIA need someone else to tell them, what is right or what is worng in the regulation that was written by FIA.

Wrong decision from FIA also made the whole situation differnt, let the illegal car have 2 win, which is too much for tight championship.

Even in Monaco, why they allow the suspicious car to race as legal and have some illegally advantage to take the win. I don’t feel it fair to the rest.


What i find a little ammusing is the way people think redbull are being punished for their inginuity that it was their design. I am sure Sauber had a version first but that their’s with the slit to the edge is a legal version and redbull have just copied the legal version and tried to push the boundries and unfortunately it has not worked for them.


Well it has worked for them. They’ve won two races with it in place 😉


This air blown diffuser seem to provide RB8 with rear stability, which shows Neweys genius by allowing exhaust plume and air to flow onto the hole. Now we see how they cope without it, as witnessed in Bharin and Monaco they performed well on slow flowing corners. This could affect traction on the rear end. Mclaren are quick in fast flowing CORNERS, the next big development would be the exhaust plume flow, and i believe Mclaren will be trying to flow the exhaust plume on to the floor or even keep them slightly higher.


Seems unlikely it will have too much impact, they will just put an extra cut in like that on the Sauber and Ferrari designs to make sure it is no longer an “enclosed hole”.


In this case I completely see why the penalties (or none) handed to RBR and McLaren were different. However, I don’t understand why Schumacher was handed a 5 place grid penalty for crashing into Senna in Barca when in 2010 Webber received zero sanctions for rear ending Kovaleinen in Valencia. This is the type of discrepancy that does need look at.


You can’t compare Webber/Kovaleinen and Schuey/Senna! Schuey just plain missed his brake point,while trying to overtake a competitive car,whereas Webber did not expect a back marker in a car that qualified 4 secs off the pace to defend,especially when he was on fresh tyres,Kovalainen on olds & defending against a kers car when he had none! PLAIN SILLY move by Kovaleinen then,but would be axpected now as that car is better.


Both Webber and Schuey were guilty of the same thing – screwing up their braking. Both misjudged the actions of the car in front and were guilty of indecision. Kovalainen moved right to let Webber past, but needed to then move left in order to regain the racing line for the corner. I don’t think he was defending. Senna did the same thing, except he was defending. Two identical incidents in my opinion. My point is that both Webber and Schumacher deserved a penalty, only Schumacher received one. I don’t know if the rules have changed since two years ago, I don’t have copies of the regulations to compare. However, I do know that causing an avoidable collision has always been frowned upon (even Schum was questioned by stewards for rear ending Coulthard in the rain in Spa 98). Ultimately there are far too many penalties in F1 these days (i.e. Karthikeyan in Malaysia) for incidents that wouldn’t have attracted a penalty in the past.


Sorry to say you are mistaken. Kovaleinen,both on the team radio at the time immediately after the incicent, and later when interviewed said ” i was defending!” They played the radio conversation during the replays and analysis during the ensuing safety car,and his interview in the paddock upon release from the medical centre. I feel they are actually finally dishing out penalties for the right reasons instead of the way some drivers got away with anything and others overpenalised for trivial infractions. Mark Webber’s drive through for touching Rubens Barrichello at the start of the 2009 German GP at the start is a classic example of overkill(lucky he was untouchable that day anyway)yet Schuey “brushed” many a competitor in the same way when along side. I believe Vettel should have been penalised for his altercation with Mark in Turkey 2010,but nothing ensued. At least the Schuey’s and Alonso’s,etc. now know they’ll be hit as hard as anyone else,for whatever infraction(except Narain Karthekayen.who should be hit with a ” you’re not good enough penalty of exclusion, PERMANENTLY,LOL,unless he can do a test in a competitive car and show he has actually got the talent!)


2 situations in 2 different season. The regulations regarding penalty’s for avoidable contact has changed since 2010.

For the start of 2011 (At the drivers request BTW) the FIA stewards started investigating every incident & implementing more penalty’s for ‘avoidable contact’.

Carlos Marques

Is it legal (or fair) for the FIA to declare something illegal mid-season? It wasn’t a safety concern. The team spent time and money designing their car around this solution after they were told they were legal. How is it fair they’re now being told to change their design because they’re winning “a bit too much”? Imagine if the Brawn cars were deemed illegal mid-season and forced to drop their double diffusers because they were winning too much. It would have been better for the FIA to declare the design legal for 2012, and allow others to copy, and illegal for 2013 onwards…


The complete transcripts of conversations between Red Bull and Whiting should be made available.

Why did Whiting think this complied with the regulations?

We now have some transparency with the stewarding decisions; lets have the same on the scrutineering front.

This preliminary advice from Whiting should of been made available to all teams. The regulations are a collaborative effort, every team should be working to the same framework.


You can protest at any time if you believe a car is illegal and not in the spirit of the rules. We’ve seen that game play out before of team not protesting until the most inconvenient time for the opponent. And how much more inconvenient can you get than after opponent wins?


How badly do you think this will hurt Red Bull James? history has shown that when a team is asked to take something off their car they lose pace and with the field as tight as it is this could hurt them.


Not so much in Canada, they have time to adapt before races in Valencia and especially Silverstone



I have seen a picture of the alleged slot – hole, which was legal now isn’t. I do follow your comments about how they couldn’t get their cars to work the first couple of races, and now have. But looking at the slot, how much extra down force can it produce. Can that size of slot make such a big difference?


How can anybody here answer that? Only Adrian

Newey, surely. I certainly can’t answer from my

armchair. Perhaps I’ll have a guess.


Yes, it can make a huge difference. What aerodynamicists call “tire squirt” is the air that the tire is pushing away, parts of it gets into the diffuser. Tyre squirt can reduce the diffuser’s flow by almost 50%, as it is very turbulent, slow air (the higher the speed the lower the pressure, the more downforce). The slots in front of the tire guides air coming from the sidepods to the diffuser, pushing away the tire squirt.

Additionally the downwashing air going over the sidepods at high speeds pushes the exhaust plume down, so it’s hot and fast exhaust gas that gets into that slot to replace the tire squirt, which in turn improves downforce. Not as much as a blown diffuser would, but the effect should still be pretty noticeable.

Of course your mileage may vary depending on your diffuser’s design and other aerodynamic details in that area, but I’m pretty sure other teams will follow Ferrari, Sauber and Red Bull in that respect.


I am well aware of the “Tyre Squirt” problem as it has been around for a very long time. It was know about back in the early 1980’s when I first started following F1. We also have the winds that hit a track, which the cars have to deal with. These also cause major problems with the aero package cars run.

But looking at the size of the slots, it is very hard to believe the amount of pressure this size of slot can generate, and the volume of air and pressure seems a little unreal to make such a big difference in the handling of the car. As for the 50% lost, that has been talked about, but not proven, just a wild guess, and has been repeated on a number of other blogs.


“the team has scored 45 points including two wins with it”?? Doesn’t two wins = 50 points?


From what i have gathered the cars are checked over for rules violations by a different crew at every race. With the amount of money involved in this series why isn’t there a dedicated fia tech crew to travel to every race to check the cars. Pretty puzzeling that nascar/indycar have a set tech crew that travels to every race and checks the car.

As far as whether this penalty is just, sorry but this just smacks of favoritism by fia. Changing the result of a race happened at spa even though maclaren got the ok of hamiltons pass of alonso from whiting they took the win away. I think if you asked the fans fia has little credibility.


Those are spec series, regs are much simpler, should renault lose 2005 and 2006 champs?


It really doesn’t matter whether it’s a spec series or not F1 should have a traveling tech crew. That way you would have people that are familiar with the teams and the cars. The way it is now there is to much of a chance for favoritism. The argument that the rules are to complicated to police is bogus. If the tech crew was to be involved when the rules are being written and checked the cars every race they would be more likely to notice changes. How can it be a good system to have the cars checked by people who only see them once a year?


Absolutte joke IMO! the Red Bull design has noe been declared illegal yet the race results in which Red Bull have raced the illegal design have been allowed to stand?

Have Red Bull become the new Ferrari with seemingly lienient decsions in their favour but other teams (mostley McLaren) getting cained for any breach or regulations?


Oh oh …. Holegate……


The name of my next music album: “It’s not illegal until it’s illegal!”


How could the FIA approve such a clear breach of rules, in the first place? I think this Whiting guy must go. Isn’t he and his assistant who always rejoice whenever Vettel, Bernie’s darling, raises his winning finger?! I have never seen them hugging other drivers except Sebastian.


Oh please, think about what you’re saying mate. Seb gets hugged because he has an extremely high hugability factor. Who of the others would you rather got hugged? I admit Felipe’s pretty huggable but his stock is a little too low to be seen hugging at the moment 😉


Has it been explained why the Red Bull floor with enclosed holes was legal for those three races?

My only guess, and it’s a total guess from the rule and a photo of the floor, was that when viewed from below it appears as a covered area (like a shadow plate). But would love to hear any better informed opinions or statements.


Hi James,

Have you maybe heard how much performance per lap would such a hole give?.


Clearly the FIA misunderstand their own rules. I understand that they approved the design, but all the technical directors and designers knew the design was illegal as stated in the regulations. So for them to allow this to me is typical of the FIA in drawing attention to themselves whether right or wrong to spice the show. I do think that McLaren were trying to get one over in quali.


from the sheer number of comments and differences of opinion here it appears F1 has gone the route of other major sanctioning bodies. the rules have become so complicated and concerned with every little thing it has frustrated the fans who just want to see a race. while it is true F1 is the highest technologically advanced motorsport it has lost credibility every time there is a dispute like this.

Liam in Sydney

Rubbish! I love reading about these technical breakthroughs teams come up with, and may or may not be banned by Charlie. Why are you even reading this entire thread if you are not interested in hearing about the sport’s ongoing politics? Team v team. Driver v driver. After all, isn’t that what such an ultra competitive sport is all about? Isn’t that what makes this sport, at least in part, more interesting?


+1 love it, love the tech stuff and the legalities of it all.

Sure there are drivers involved, but the cars are the pinnacle of hi-tech engineering and physics with hundreds of brilliant minds attacking the same challenge.


hello James and fellow FIAnatics,

I understand the technical aspects of both Lewis and RB rulings but what they have in common is that they leave an “unfair” feeling to the general audience. What they do not have in common is the message behind them:

In lewis case, i agree it’s unfair to lewis but not unfair to mclaren. Underfueling is cheating and can possibly gain you pole position which could lead to “more points” which could lead to WDC/WCC. The punishment needs to be strong enough to dissuade a team to “make a gamble”.

In RB case, there is no dissuasion but incentive to “cheat” (quotations marks, yes I know they were not illegal at the time they won) : if you win 2 GPs using something that is at the end of the day ruled illegal, you keep the gain.

that whats bother me and i think FIA should do something about this. Once the FIA says it’s ok, it should be OK for the season. it means FIA should be more careful and maybe that FIA should only issue a “OK” AFTER review by other teams, and do it in a short amount of time (you still want innovative people to be able to gain from being innovative)


“Once the FIA says it’s ok, it should be OK for the season.”

Remembering the off-throttle-mapping disaster I can see your point, but can that be a general rule?

Some things are not that easy to decide and it is not good to have a car race under appeal until the case it clear.

It’s not good either to make a wrong call first and call something legal for the rest of the season, which the rules say is not. That would raise a lot of questions, because every new part they will develop had to be checked against a rule that says “that’s illegal” and then discussed about according to the exception the FIA made in a particular case. That would be a huge mess and nobody would be able to trust in anything.


It seems grossly unfair that a team show the FIA a design which they want to use on their car, the FIA state it is okay only for the design to be ruled illegal later. It was either legal or illegal at the time of showing it to the FIA. In essence the rule is saying if the FIA state the design is okay and the other teams do not notice it you get it away with it. If I was Christian Horner and co I would be disgusted. Maybe I am ignorant but the process needs to be reviewed. I appreciate some concepts can be difficult to understand and maybe their ‘real world’ effect maybe different to the theoretical effect. In this case it should have been easier. Having followed Formula One for twenty years and being a lawyer I can safely say I have no confidence in the FIA regarding rulings of this nature. Is it a hole? Yes. Hardly difficult. Ferrari and Sauber are also in breach as well, based on the evidence published so far by Formula One reporters.


I am glad I read all the comments before I posted something similar. Most people think there will be a minor technical fix for the bulls next race which shouldn’t affect them to badly. What if this costed them 8 weeks of development though? It’s almost criminal.


Funny how other designers knew it to be illegal but RBR didn’t… Seems the FIA cuts its favoured teams an advantage – Ferrariesque decisions. Is it that that MS lacks?

I wonder what the outcome would be if an independent group of engineers applied the rules to the cars…


Hi James, does this new ruling impact other teams for example Ferrari and Sauber who are known to have somthing similar albeit more legal ha ha.


First of all under the current rules to open holes in front of rear wheels is nothing innovative. It is nothing related with being innovative but more about word theatricals.

Redbull cearly broke the rules they simple came against what has written on the book, but somehow Mr. Whiting didnt see any wrong.

Mr. Whiting is losing credibility again and again. This is just another shame for him.


Peter Ustinov would have had a field day with this. “Ah, an enclosed hole?? you say… hmmmm, eez not a simple matter, vee must refer this to our department of the zee most sophisticated minds… they alone cannot be rushed, who can say how long it might take…”

Serrated Edge



Thats how I see it….

That bloke on the BBC who use to work for Eddie, basically said it was “illegal” if the regulations for the 2012 campaign handed out were to be followed…he even drew it out on a piece of paper for all to interpret.

maybe Mr whiteing watches the BBC forum too, and had never actually seen the ‘holes’ just took RBR’s word….whilst being plied with liquoire and chocolates.


Hamiltons penalty was a joke…not because he shouldn’t have received one but because of its severity. His time should have been disallowed then I believe he would have started 6th…that is FAIR.

I can only assume the Spanish stewards are incompetent/biased or stupid.

Delete as appropriate.

The debate here comparing the two events is diverting attention from the issue. Due to the FIA ruling it legal the result seems fair to me. Hamiltons penalty however deserves much more scrutiny.


“I can only assume the Spanish stewards are incompetent/biased or stupid.”

Or, they were competent enough to implement the penalty specified explicitly in the rules as a result of the last time McLaren trotted this one out.


Was there a performance gain from this, and if so, how much?

The reason why people are comparing the LH penalty versus this situation is because the poor chap and McLaren always get hammered while other teams and drivers don’t.


A one millimeter wide slit to the outside of the floor (which you will probably see from the next race forward) would have fixed the problem and it will have a negligible effect on the downforce. I guess it hardly makes a hundredth of a second difference.

No one would expect that RedBull had an advantage from it, so what’s the fuzz about, you might ask? Well: If Red Bull’s interpretation would have been legal, it could create a whole lot of new possibilities for shaping the floor in quite critical areas around the diffuser. So the teams wanted to know they could put effort in it and rethink some of their solutions, or not. That’s the main reason for requesting a clarification.

It surprises me, however, that the teams have been fair enough not to protest against the results of the RedBulls. Seems there’s some tiny bit of fairness left in this shark pool, but to be honest I rather think it’s just fear that what goes around comes around.


The “poor chap” at McLaren had done it before. The regulation was put in place in response to what McLaren had done. After the incident they then had the audacity to say that it was out of their control.

The poor chaps are bordering on being cheats!


So you think sending him at the back of the grid was ok? He should’ve been send to start in 10th place. He earned his place in the top 10 when he got through to Q3, didn’t he?


Rules are Rules. Should they throw the rulebook out the window just because the team did something stupid?

The rules were made prior to the event and they clearly stated the penalty for an infraction. It was sad for LH but only McLaren are to blame. They knew about the fuel issue mid way and decided to let him complete his lap. Best case they were ignorant. Worst case they knowingly cheated.


How people can criticise you James for reporting this incident is a joke. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and in mine, you always report the news fairly and impartially. Keep up the good work


Hamilton’s fuel issue and this issue with the RB’s floor are entirely different. What it might illustrate is that demotion to the back of the grid was a overly harsh penalty, and either the pole-winning time should have been disregarded or the demotion should have been to tenth rather than last place.


The Mclaren team gave enough fuel to the FIA (1.3 liters) which is enough. Perhaps the FIA concluded that the car was able to drive back to his box and have enough fuel for the test. It isn’t a secret that the FIA is more strict with Mclaren than others.

Some people refer this season as one of the best since a very long time. I disagree with this statement. It is all about tires and not racing.

How can this sport become more open to a larger public, when it is so confusing. Even long term supporters get confused in what they are seeing.

Now a race start hard for the 3 first laps, after they all cruise to look after their tiers. If they push, they may reach the cliff and have to back off. We have DRS which makes passes very easy.

Drivers are not allowed to practice with their cars outside the practice sessions. (I don’t now any other sport where this is also applied)

Penalties are driver by driver case. F1 is living thanks is great past.

Top Gear made a good segment on NASCAR and why it is better, more popular and much more easy to understand and follow for a very large audience than F1.

F1 is a first a big business and if you want to make more and bigger money you need to make it simple and easy for the biggest number of people as possible.


Some consistency is needed from the FIA. They are in favour of cost cutting, but reversing decisions, like they did with the Lotus suspension system, and now with Red Bull, means a waste of resources for teams having to redesign their cars because the FIA have changed their minds. Get a grip!


“Now they will have to find another solution to boosting rear end downforce.”

Surely it will be adequate to cut a tiny slit to the edge of the floor?


I’m not a big fan of changing the regulations (or their interpretation) during the season.

Can anyone tell me the number(s) of the regulations (technical I assume) that Red Bull were out of compliance with?

I’m assuming they are a) ambiguous or b) conflicting or both.

Jake Pattison

It would be better to make the modification mandatory on all cars.

F1 is supposed to be about finding better ways to do things, not punishing teams for R&D.

Maybe they are just worried about RB dominating the rest of the season.


Does this imply that the cars which competed with the said feature are non-compliant at the past events, or should this be considered as a rule change?


So the lesson Is to put whatever you can on the car and win races before it’s declared illegal. Thanks for the heads up FIA


Does anyone have an idea of how much performance they gained from this floor ? 0.2S , 0.3S ? Or is it purely to help stability ? Either way Seb is going to have a lot more cucumber episodes from now on… Haha


Why has it taken the FIA 3 races to address this? Don’t they scrutineer the cars each race? Unfortunately, this could be seen as setting a precedent now that you can run an illegal car but keep your points if caught.

Remember what happened to Benetton in 94 getting excluded for two races, or BAR being rubbed out for 2 races in 2005 for technical infringements.


The BAR situation was entirely different. When being asked by the FIA to drain the car from fuel, they left 15 litres in the tank. That’s because BAR hat a car that would be underweight when completely drained from fuel. BAR argued, and used fuel consumption data to back it up, that their car has never been underweight and they argued, if I remember correctly, that the car would not properly function when it had less than these 15 litres of fuel on board, because of the fuel slosh (the fuel being pushed to the walls of the tank under braking, acceleration and during cornering). The FIA did not accept the claim and said that it could not be guaranteed that the car had never been underweight, remember that these times we had re-fuelling during the race. Fuel was not considered a legal ballast.

In fact the cars needed to be scrutinized with no fuel left and this was a clear rule.

By leaving fuel in, BAR cheated.

Also, they never asked and never got an okay by the FIA to do bend the rules like they did, but that’s pretty irrelevant in this context.

Benetton, in 1994, ignored a black flag. I do think it was a very harsh rule, but taking the points for this particular race wouldn’t have been a punishment either. Ignoring the black flag a team could change the result for other teams, by influencing their strategy, holding up people, putting drivers under pressure, thus forcing them into mistakes, changing the world championship results. So there had to be a punishment that hurt more than just a few thousand dollars of fine. I guess a 1-race-ban would have been enough though. Anyway, this situation is hardly comparable, a black flag is a clear rule.


“The ‘enclosed hole’ solution went a long way towards fixing that problem and the team has scored 45 points including two wins with it – more than any other team in that period.”

Two wins would make it at least 50 points. By my count Red Bull have scored 82 points across the Bahrain, Spanish, and Monaco grands prix, which is a bit over half of the points they’ve scored towards the constructor’s championship.


Was this same process in place back when Renault’s mass damper was banned, or did that play out differently?


As this is far from the first time that a feature Charlie Whiting has told a team is legal turns out to be the opposite, the teams must be wondering why they bother asking his opinion.

On another subject, can James explain why drivers can use DRS anywhere they like during practice and qualifying but it’s apparently too dangerous during races?

Brisbane Bill

They ask so that, if and when a design element is proven to be illegal, they don’t lose any points gained by having it. If they didn’t ask and it was declared illegal they would lose all points.

DRS isn’t necessarily more dangerous during races but they don’t want to make overtaking too easy the whole way round a track – just in the most obvious and traditional places to prevent a much slower car from holding up a faster car and potentially destroying a much more exciting race up the front end. Having said that, usually in practice and qualifying, cars seek to find space on a track to run in free air – in a race they are bunched together and could actually put themselves in dangerous positions by attempting passes in non-traditional passing zones.

eric weinraub

The whole FIA/stewarding system is broken and has been for some time. The teams are infinitely more sofphisticated and have tons more resources to exploit rules fashioned by middling bureaucrats. I give RB credit for the tenacity to not give up on blowing their diffuser by any and all means. So what if the blowing had been banned! When you consider that they won 2 races before losing the tech you’d have to say it was worth it. What you have to ask yourself is what impetous do teams have to follow rules when there is no penalty.


The middling bureaucrats who write the technical regulations come from those same teams. It’s called the technical working group…

The FIA is just supposed to solve the arguments.

It’s quite funny that people so far are hurling abuse at the FIA when the regulations are developed and agreed by the team engineers initially…


Come to think of it, that could be the reason why Webber wasn’t really happy with his win in Monaco.


Jeremy Irons in the movie Margin Call said “Be first, be smart, cheat”. How true. FIA needs to be very smart, but they’re not.

Expect tons of comments from the hole in the back.


This is absurd. No wonder F1 has a reputational problem that never seems to improve.

How could the FIA deem something legal then after speaking to the other teams deem it illegal because it contravenes other rules by association? Why wasn’t the guilt by association initially identified?

James on another issue – why is Christian Horner the only spokesman for the Red Bull team? Is this about message control? I have never seen another team member – excluding drivers – interviewed.


“How could the FIA deem something legal then after speaking to the other teams deem it illegal because it contravenes other rules by association? Why wasn’t the guilt by association initially identified?”

It looks to me that FIA thought that was legal until some smarter people from other teams pointed out to them some bits in the FIA rules which contravene. Seems some people in FIA don’t understand their own rules.


Dr. Marko?


Yes he’s sparingly quoted. He’s really a head office man rather than a team no. 1 man isn’t he?


Great ingenuity by Red Bull as usual.

Complaining about Hamiltons penalty for running out of fuel compared to this is typical and expected but still laughable.


No matter what the form of racing, trackside scrutineering and technical regulations are two very different things. RB’s results with the holes should stand simply because both cars passed srutineering at the three venues.Now they’ve been given a clear ruling the holes will become slots or dissapear. Surely the performance gain of such a small aero component is negligable anyway. As far as Webber’s win in Monaco is concerned, He could’ve won in any of the top ten cars!!


This is bull poop.

I’m most unhappy about teams agreeing not to protest Monaco to not politicize the event, this allowing an illegal car to win.

Nothing agains Webber, and I’m sure Rosberg would not be excited to win that way, but fair is fair.


It’s not an illegal car until the FIA says it’s illegal. It’s not retrospectively applied unless they kept quiet and tried to cheat. If you ask for an interpretation of tax law, get an approval and then a new oversight changes the tax law you don’t have to repay old taxes.

If red bull had kept quiet and the FIA hadnt inspected it before it would be different. That’s the difference between a rule and a ruling.

Yes it’s legal semantics but that’s what laws are.


Point it now we know 100% that it was illegal, and if result was protested it would have been ruled as such.

As you can see my point and issue is clearly with decision of teams not to challenge Monaco results.


But if they did protest directly after the race it would still have been legal as it was passed at scrutineering.


What a comedie!

Look, I am not a RedBull fan, but since they got the FIA to look at the design and they were allowed to have it on the car, they should keep the points.

In the end, is not RedBull’s fault. But someone at the FIA needs to get fired. Someone made the wrong decission the first time and they have to support the consequences.

This becomes embarrassing now.

Brisbane Bill

I think that is going a bit far. Yes, it does initially appear inconsistent and confusing to the casual observer. However, consider that it is usually only Charlie Whiting’s view as to legality that can be offered to a team initially (maybe with input from one or two other FIA people). They have a very difficult line to walk in regard to keeping a team’s intellectual property and designs secret until they hit the track. One man cannot think of everything and he does not make the rules – just has to interpret them from a technical perspective. So if the rules don’t give him enough black and white clear direction then he has to provide a view that can be challenged when someone else interprets a rule in a different way. Admittedly, there might be a better process for establishing an “FIA view” when such designs are presented but they don’t want to stifle innovation nor get it delayed by lengthy review procedures and red tape as those delays cost teams – especially if they are trying to play catch-up to early season hotshots.


It’s their rules. What do you mean if the rules don’t give him enough black and white clear direction? Then they have to adjust the rules to give them that.

You cannot have rules that are being interpreted one way today and a different way tomorrow. That is misleading for the teams.

Whoever said those holes are legal in the first place, must’ve had a reason to say that. If now they decided the holes are now legal, it means the person who said they are legal must’ve missed something the first time. That’s someone not doing his job right.

Tornillo Amarillo

They keep the win in Monaco because nobody wants joding Mark Webber, he is so cooool!

Or is it because he is already a Ferrari driver? 🙂


As I said before I did believe it was illegal. I agree with first three comments- its not consistent and some rules carry greater penalties than others as they are written into the operating regs whilst others are technical regs -carry less weight. Rule book should be in “one place only” and official disputes should not be decided by open meeting of the teams ( this needs to happen when the rules are being written ). Now that minute mistakes by teams can cost a GP regs need to be more balanced.

James , I would be interested to know how this effects Saubers floor slot and any other teams. Guessing we will hear more on this soon. Many thanks.


So who’s making the rules? The FIA or the (other) teams?

Let’s be clear here—the FIA approved the modification. Then, having seen how it worked, effectively asked the (other) teams how they liked it.

It seems to be OK if the (other) teams either don’t feel that a modification provides too great an advantage, or if they can copy it the idea easily. If not, all hell breaks loose.

Engineers finding ‘innovative’ solutions is part of the game here. I don’t really like it any more than anyone else if the team I support is disadvantaged by another team’s innovation (F-Duct, Flexi-wing, Double DRS etc.), but I find this a lot more interesting than the current tyre lottery that seems to have the greatest bearing on who wins and loses.

OK, so the tyre lottery creates excitement, just like waiting to see what number is on the ball that pops down the chute, but is that what F1 is about…? I confess, I was on the edge of my seat for the last 10 laps of the Monaco race, but if I wasn’t a Webber fan (or maybe an Alonso/Ferrari fan, ’cause Fernando seems to be able to create opportunities out of nothing), I would have gone to bed after the pit stops.


I’m not sure if this situation can be compared to Hamilton running out of fuel!

In that instance, he was in direct violation of a rule that the FIA had stipulated and hence sent back..(now its debatable if he deserved to go all the way back as opposed to being sent back to 10th)

Here Red Bull asked FIA that they would like to run this hole and the FIA said it is legal. They ran it, and when other teams protested it, they reconsidered it and declared it illegal.


Ultimately the problem is the penalties. Someone needs to sit down and review the whole system backwards – i.e. “this penalty” is incurred by “these infringements”. The pinnacle of motor racing needs to be the pinnacle of many supporting systems – technological, legal, financial, etc….


Yes it does make the FIA eledgability scrutineers look a bit silly, but having been in their situation myself I fully understand how things like this happen. I imagine Charley and his cohorts okayed RB’s idea when it was first presented because on the face of it, it remained within the wording of the rules. But once the legal eagals and tech people in other teams saw the thing, they were able to point out other ways of interperating those same rules and associating them with other rules thereby introducing an element of uncertainty, so of course Charley had to issue a clarification. Unfortunately the decision went against RB, but as Knox (above) pointed out they will probably still be able to use the concept if they cut a narrow slit to the outside of the floor like Souber aparently have so the hole is not technically “fully enclosed”. Either that or a new rule will say that there cannot be a hole there!

It’s a shame these sort of things are happening, it’s making it hard for anyone to come up with any sort of inovation/invention/clever idea, etc to try to gain any minute benefit, in fact it seems pointless to even try because it’ll probably be banned!


Liam in Sydney

But they did benefit! They outscored all other teams, and gained two wins, using it before it is banned. Not bad for a small hole cut-out. 🙂


Cost cutting F1 style.

Develop an idea that the FIA says is legal, implement it, prove it works, listen to the other teams moan about it, get it banned by the FIA.

Spend millions developing another idea…


For those wandering, The reason Red Bull won’t be excluded from past races is that the cars were legal under the rules at the time. The hole’s been there for several races & has passed all legality checks to this point.

Whats changed is that the FIA have issued a rules clarification which now makes the hole illegal.

For those linking it to Hamilton’s penalty in qualifying at Spain. Completely different situations.

McLaren broke the clearly defined technical regulations, Its very clearly written in the rules that any technical infringement = disqualification.

Stewards had no other otions avaliable & coudn’t have given any other penalty.

Look back through history & you see other situations where rules clarifications have made things illegal have also resulted in all previous results been allowed to stand (MIchalein tyres in 2003, Renault’s mass dampers in 2006 etc…..).


Minimalist regulations, please.


I think running out of fuel and the ”the hole in the floor” are quite different issues. If you show your intention to the FIA and they ok it and then it passes the scrutineers.then it’s legal until the FIA says its not,at no stage did RBR try and hide it, I think if they had made a change which was deem illegal and had been hiding it it would be a different story and they would have been penalized heavily.

The reason nobody protested was because it was a relatively cheap option to get extra downforce and any team could do it,I bet half the teams had already made a jig and had the laser cutter ready,which now they will have to bin.

Now Hamilton fuel thing is a rule you must have a define amount of fuel for testing and return to the pits under your own power,you can’t say well we see that rule differently and under our own power means I can send have the pit crew to come push me in.Probably the only thing I see with it is it makes boring television,guys stopping cars on tracks waiting for the FIA taxi service to pick them up,guy gets to parc ferme ,waves briefly before being whisked away.nothing beats seeing the guy who put in a great lap pulling his car up jumping out standing up on his car giving a pump in the air.

Anyway in both incidences,I don’t care if RBR has a hole in the floor or if drivers pull up early on the track. What I hate seeing is teams bitching and moaning when someone does something clever and they havnt,then when all said and done and it’s legal they all have a crack.


There is no consistency in f1 at all. You can go back over many years and drag up all sorts of incidents like many people have on here recently such as schumachers many controversies in 1994. The bottom line is if red bull are illegal now they were illegal 3 races ago it’s totally unacceptable for them to keep the points they have gained with an illegal design. Imagine the uproar if that was Hamilton or Schumacher who had benefited!!


I agree with Fernando Alonso on this one, if the FIA keep banning anything that makes the specific car unique, and subsequently fast, F1 will start looking more and more like GP2, with the cars looking basically identical and performing as such. I get that some things they ban are for the sake of safety but other things are just simply for the sake of banning something that makes the car fast.


My take is that, in Hamilton’s situation, there was a clear violation of an easily understandable rule: you need (what is it?) a litre of fuel, in the tank, for testing post qualifying, and need to drive the car back to the pit lane.

The issue with the Red Bull is the rule which states: “All parts lying on the reference and step planes, in addition to the transition between the two planes, must produce uniform, solid, hard, continuous, rigid (no degree of freedom in relation to the body/chassis unit), impervious surfaces under all circumstances.”

That paragraph was obviously struck by a committee, and perhaps not with English as the primary language, because ‘impervious’ (at least according to my dictionary) makes no sense, and offers no clarity. And there in lies the problem: lack of clarity.

I certainly don’t wish to defend the FIA, but after having been on a national, non-profit, Board …. let me say that drafting rules, or policy, that is clear and concise can often be difficult. Shouldn’t be, but is.


Impervious means not allowing anything through. In this instance it means NO HOLES, or even some kind of cloth patch, which would allow some air flow through but give the appearance of being solid. Mind you all FIA rules are drawn up by committee, but then there are at leats 12 committees of people looking for things that have not been explicitly banned.

Jack Flash (Aust)

Playing devil’s advocate on the poor wording in the FIA rules (typically):

“impervious” to what? The rule doesn’t state what impervious means in the context of the floor requirments.

So FIA??? — “Impervious” to solids, liquids, gases, plasma, electro-magnetic radiations, sub-atomic particles?…..

Is the floor supposed to stop (be impervious to) all of these, or just gas/liquids in aerodynamic terms? Would have been halpful to put that bound condition into the reg-set somewhere perhaps.

I know my above example speculations are just totally ‘ad-absurdium’, but they illustrate how you can drive a lorry thru the FIA’s rule wordings. Not just there, but everywhere in their regs. JF


Impervious to Vettel’s finger


And how long did this take?? ‘Oh, sometime after another race we think our inquiry will be done.’

As the legal folk might ask in an investigation, “So who benefited?”

The teams are scrutinized to the nth, too bad the powers that be do not have to account for what they do and why.


Is it true that whilst the FIA have the responsibility setting the sporting and technical regulations, it is actually up to the stewards of the meeting to scrutinise the cars ahead of the race?

If so, how has an innovation that, once it is on the car, contravenes regulations get past scrutineering twice without comment?


My understanding is that the teams themselves have allowed the results to stand. They could have forced the issue by protesting the results after the grandprix at which point when this descion was made it would have resulted in the cars being disqualified after the event and results points lost.

So blame the other teams not FIA



James, why do you think Whitmarsh, Brawn and Domenicali decided not to protest in Monaco?


Because F1 is primarily business, not sport. And Monaco was their brightest shop window. Protesting there might have given them a win, but delaying and overturning a Monaco result would have been news far beyond that of the F1 community (I doubt you’ll see much of this ruling on the mainstream print pages/news channels today). Bernie might say all press is good press, but there are times to sit on your hands.

They allowed the glitz to continue, their sponsors enjoyed the parties and everyone who matters in the direct sense went home happy. That’s worth far more than a single race outcome.

Only the fans have the mistaken belief that sport can come before business… and all the teams know these same fans will groan and mumble, but enough of them will carry on watching all the same!

James Clayton

On McLaren’s side of things, protesting the Monaco result would have handed Alonso a bigger lead in the Championship.


It would also have handed Hamilton 2 extra places placing him 3rd thereby awarding him 5 extra points placing him closer to Alonso.


Sauber lost their points in Melbourne for a similar issue, why does Red Bull get to keep their points?


Because there was no room for interpretation in the Sauber case?


You can guess.

Probably something to do with clearing it with FIA first.


Completely different situations. I am surprised by the lack of understanding in the comments section, pretty sobering.

James Clayton

Same as the McLaren/Fueal argument really. Sauber was (admittedly extremely marginally) in breech of an already defined regulation.

Red Bull have just been handed a new ruling that the floor is not legal.


The only sensible way forward is for rulings on legality by the FIA to be binding.

Sometimes teams spend millions on new developments that have been approved only to find they are banned after a race or two.

This can’t be right.


THe problem is they only get one side of the arguement first the arguement for something, The arguement against only comes later when other teams notice and feel that it is illegal. At this point it is cleared up. Rather simple really. You can’t expect teams to give opponents the chance to copy their ideas before they get the cahnce to use the soloution themselves by showing them the design idea / concept they are planning to run past the FIA.


I do appreciate your point but the FIA agree and enforce the rules therefore they should be perfectly capable of interpreting them without the need for input from rival teams who wil always be biased against anything that gives a rival an advantage.

After all, any gain by one team will inevitably be short lived because all the others are then free to copy it.

Surely a team is entitled to a few races where they have an advantage if their engineers are so clever that they come up with something that’s truly innovative.

That’s what makes F1 so fascinating.

The last thing we want is for F1 to become like an expensive Indycar or Formula Ford.

I would like to see the design restrictions relaxed to permit much more clever design. Not perhaps quite so much that we see another Brabham fan car but you probably get what I mean.

Johnny Cochran

Your (moderator) elected not to post my last comments regarding the fairness of the FIA in overseeing the rules and penalties imposed when such rules are breached by the teams where I asked if there is a precedent about an F1 fan legally taking them to task regarding such decisions. Equivocations as exemplified by this latest decision not to punish this holey floor issue should not be allowed to stand.Who exactly guards the praetorian guards?


Must have contained banned words. The sentiment wouldn’t necessarily have been the reason it was trashed



Tom in adelaide / James Allen

That is weak and I’m disappointed.

The rules say, after Q3 you have to come back to parc ferme. There is no dout about that. Hamilton didn’t come back to parc ferme!

Whiting said to Redbull in Monaco:

“Your car is fine. Go with it!”

Now FIA says: No. In Montreal it is not allowed.

THIS does not make any sense. Only because it is Redbull and not McLaren the rules are clear.

Liam in Sydney

These two points of argument are unrelated and bear no resemblance. One is about correct car fueling, and one is about aerodynamic devices and flooring. How is it even possible to link the two?


I agree with points posted by readers from 1-3 (as these are the only ones that passed the moderator so far).

Honestly, these inconsistencies are beginning to get on my nerves, and it’s kinda tiring ya know…


F1 is a complicated sport and such complications are never easily understood by oft poorly informed F1 fans in Britain.

The FIA clarification is perfectly understandable and perfectly in-line with previous F1 guidelines and rulings. I am surprised James Allen takes issue with it. To confirm:

“It has been argued that, as it is not explicitly stated that fully enclosed holes cannot be located in a surface lying on the step plane rearward of a line 450mm forward of the rear face of the cockpit template, then they may be located in such areas ……………….. we now disagree with this view and consider it implicit that fully enclosed holes may not be located there.”

In former years it would be McLaren who stretched technological innovations to the limit. These days it is more often Red Bull and Mercedes. How times change!

Warren Groenewald

In those former McLaren years you’re talking about, it was the same designer pushing the limits thats now at Red Bull


Quite so. And Ross Brawn at Renault and then Ferrari and now Mercedes.


I don’t take issue with it…what gave you that idea?

My point is that I can see why the wider fan base might find it hard to understand how the two situations have such different outcomes

That doesn’t mean I can’t see the difference, nor that many of the well informed fans here can’t clearly see the difference – they can!


Given how confused people are with James’ simple reply to a previous post, I’m really amazed we see 24 cars race at all, and not 12 team lawyers battling it out!

The FIA might help itself out (and newer fans to the sport) by making public their rulings in more layman’s terms. ScarbsF1 blogs a nice piece ( on the THREE regulations involved here and explaining how it’s a gray area between an explicit rule and inplicit rule that Red Bull exploited.

Also, given the parc ferme rules, wouldn’t it be better to have the teams protest, say, up to FP4 rather than after the race? Would lessen the chance that we witness a result on track that is subsequently overturned.



If Red Bull had run this -without- checking it out with the FIA first (which I understand they have a right to do), would they -then- have been at risk of retrospective action if at the point the feature was first noted it had been assessed as illegal?

And, how is this “implicit” business different from the arguments used unsuccessfully against the f-duct and the double DRS? (except that this time it’s the FIA saying it, of course)?


James, do you think that the other teams will live to regret not protesting an earlier race result? As you point out, Red Bull have scored well with this design, at the end of the season it could be decisive.

I think it is good that they didn’t – F1 would look even more ridiculous if the Monaco result had been overturned. The concern has to be that if the FIA continues to allow these situations to arise, the teams will feel they HAVE to return to the old days of protesting any result they don’t like.


It seems as though the FIA doesn’t want to get involved unless another team makes a formal protest. Is there a reason why they aren’t more proactive?

Liam in Sydney

The teams see and hear everything, right from the start. They go away and discuss what a competitor’s part does, and whether they want to copy it. After they have arrived at their own decision they are not going to copy it, or it might be prohibitively expensive to copy, do you hear rumblings about illegalities on a competitor’s car. Every comment made by a team principal or technical director is politically motivated in my opinion.


How is the Redbull solution different to the Sauber/Ferrari floor?

If I was RBR, I’d protest them.


that link you posted shows you exactly how one is legal and one isn’t! one is a hole, the other is an elaborately shaped, continuous floor edge.


Sauber and Ferrari have connected the “holes” with a slit to the outside of the floor, making them a part of the outer shape (so they cannot even be called a hole). Engineers and mathematics can be very specific about definitions.


Loving this season but what a strange decision. The teams do not want controversy to damage the sport but surely this sends out a very strange message to the wider F1 audience?


“Now they will have to find another solution to boosting rear end downforce.”

Or just laser-cut a microscopic slit to the hole as other teams are doing. Sure, that may make a microscopic difference to its effectiveness, but they’ll get to keep most of the gain.

You have to ask though, since the FIA so frequently and directly contradicts itself by stating something is legal and then ruling the exact same thing illegal: what exactly is the value of the FIA in the first place? Their word as to a design’s legality is obviously worth nothing, and they’re the ones responsible for the flimsy rules in the first place…

Should we not perhaps be moving some people out of their jobs and replacing them with people who can give the correct ruling the first time around, and come up with a rule that can’t be simply talked around?


Its pretty simple really how this happens. A team come s up with a soloution the then argue why it is a legal soloutin to the FIA there is no-one argueing against its legality. This only happens if / when other teams notice the soloution and are not sure of its legality so question it and argue the case for its ileaglity. The FIA then has two sides to make a final and firm judgement. I think this is fair. The only other way would be that if your team came up with an innovation you would have to share it with all the other teams first then let all teams argue for its legality or not. But this woukld mean that if it was legal the team that thought of the idea would gain nothing because all the teams would know the idea at the begining and would all implement it at the same time. = No reward for innovation.


There are over 70,000 components and measurements on a typical F1 car and it is not a spec series so different engineers will come up with very different solutions. The FIA does a pretty good job technically of saying ‘these are the regulations – stick to them and if you’re not sure ask us, or complain about someone else’s design and we’ll look into it’.

The judicial law changes all the time, we have juries and judges making interpretations of wording, we have case by cases basis aversions, we have precedents and appeals and repeals. If this is a human construct it will not (and by definition cannot) be an exact and incontrovertible set of objective decrees from the engineering gods.

If there was no controversy in F1 we would have only two scenarios – either no rules at all or a 100% spec series. Anything other than these and we’re down to human interpretation of clauses and judgement calls on motive.


That’s a little bit harsh; it’s surely not too much to ask that the FIA can understand their own rules, make a decision based on a team’s design, and stick to it? Their continued flip-flopping on the regulations does the sport absolutely no favours. Remember how much of a farce the one-off EBD ruling was last year?


Yes, the governing body should consist of Engineers to design the regulations and Lawyers to make sure the parameters and the wording of these rules is air-tight.


FIA’s complicated rules and such inconsistent rulings only makes it confusing for the less informed fan and annoying for the informed ones.

Why cant the rules be simple?

Why are they not able to run a single year of F1 without controversy?

Seems like they design the rules to encourage controversy. Sick of it.

I am sure many like me are waiting for a clean, straight, fair motor racing competition to rival F1.


I think the FIA aren’t doing enough to out-think the engineers. Surely they can come up with rulings that explicitly state “what is” and “what is not” acceptable.

Even if the rules do end up being complicated, there is so much riding on these rules and the enforcement of them, that Charlie and his crew can’t be complacent.

Geniuses and wordsmiths are running rings around the FIA.


Coming up with rules that can’t be simply talked around is incredibly difficult. Using natural language to outlaw a concept without being overly restricted is non-trivial. It is impossible to envisage every single possible interpretation and trickery ahead of time.


Fair point – try to work out how you would word the regulations…

It’s not as easy as you think.

“The floor shall be a solid, flat plane without any openings or holes and the edges of the floor must be paralel to the reference plane”

Does that cover it? Or have I missed something?

What about holes for electrical cables etc?

Jack Flash (Aust)

You’re right. All RBR need to do is cut that very narrow slot in the outer hole edge, to avoid a ‘totally enclosed hole’ definition (like Sauber has for example). It will only make a small difference to the solutions aero effectiveness. No biggie. They’ll keep most of the benefits of the feature, and work on other areas of improvement (like Adrian always does).

RBR will not loose any sleep over this edict.

The bigger question is why the FIA and Charlie Whiting continue to be so inept at consistency in technical regulation ajudications. The flip-flop on interpretations and allowances is not good. Take your time FIA, make a decision, and stick to it already. JF.


“You have to ask though, since the FIA so frequently and directly contradicts itself by stating something is legal and then ruling the exact same thing illegal”

Reason for this is usually that they see something as been legal but then other teams put forward differing interpretations & the FIA then look at the different interpretations & rule on it.

Take the F-duct, McLaren saw it as legal (As did the FIA) but other teams have other interpretations of the rules, The FIA looked at these & heard other teams thoughts & then made a ruling based on all the evidence put forward.

Going back further was Mclaren’s 3rd brake pedal, It was legal for a couple months untill several other teams put forward differing views & opinions, When they took a 2nd look the FIA decided it should be banned.

Also as with other things the FIA ban them when they see them going in a development direction they don’t like. The off throttle diffusers for instance, They were perfectly happy with the initial concept but as it developed it got to a point where it was clearly doing more than the initial concept.

Also consider that when rules are written, There written by a dozen people within the FIA. There then looked at by hundreds of people at each team who have far more resources than the FIA & there specific job is to look for loopholes & areas to push limits.

James Clayton

The F-Duct was banned due to safety concerns. McLaren had it built into the chassis so the vent was opened and closed by the drivers’ knee as they pushed down on the breaks and lifted off.

Other teams couldn’t implement this design into their chassis, so they had drivers taking hands off steering wheels and all sorts to stall the ducts.

Banning it on these safety grounds seemed a little bizzare to me, as the following years all chassis would have been able to incorporate a McLaren style solution.


Couldn’t agree more. This FIA wiggle room where they can say one thing the contradict it by later saying another looks more like a political tool to me. Could the Mercedes DDRS issue have been an apeasement tool to take away the pain of the reportedly poor dear Merc got in terms of payments distribution. It’s making the ‘sport’ harder to have faith in.


The FIA dug their own here on this issue by saying their rules implicitly banned the hole. Since it was implicit or ambiguous, the FIA can’t disqualify retroactively, but instead clarify. This is similar to how courts and law work.

Personally, how hard is it to see that they had a hole in the floor when it was banned ?!

Finally, the problem with the FIA is that they just don’t have the resources to go against some of the most analytical people in the world, who are paid millions to make 4 wheels go fast.

I think the FIA should have a more generalized rule set when it comes to car design, but that would increase team costs now wouldn’t it ? >:)


Seconded. It seems like a waste that such an expensive sport is managed so ineffectively and inconsistently.

Tom in adelaide

Running out of fuel sends you from pole to the back of the grid. Having an illegal car…….lets you lead the WCC. This sport makes no sense.


There is a huge difference.

Hamilton was caught with a car that was, in effect, running light, something McLaren had been previously warned about, so an appropriate penalty was dished out.

Whilst, Red Bull had a letter from the FIA stating that the floor design was legal, so they raced it. A rule clarification has now declared the design illegal, but to enforce this retrospectively would be madness.

What if all results on the Michelin tyres declared illegal late in 2003 were over turned? McLaren would have lost out massively then, all the results from the season would’ve been removed from the record books.

Swings and roundabouts.


@ Tom in adelaide

To be fair, since Red Bull were taking advantage of a grey area so their car wasn’t illegal at the time whereas the Mclaren fuel issue has a clear rule saying if you get caught, you will be eliminated from qualifying


”and now say that the fact that there isn’t explicitly a rule banning the idea, doesn’t make it legal”

Luke Clements

Running the car with less fuel is intentional cheating that breaks known and accepted rules.

Running a new device or slot that you have taken to FIA and had it approved, only to then have Ross Brawn…err sorry…other teams whine about, and then get the FIA to change the the ruling is not the same thing.

The lesson to take from this is, only put new devices eg. Double diffusers and double DRS’s on your car when your names Ross Brawn. Otherwise, forget about it!

It’s been like this for years and years, from Ferrari to Brawn GP to Mercedes. Nothing he does outside the rules or where a rule doesn’t explicitly ban it is ever rejected. Everything else eventually is.


The rule about the fuel was already in place. It was known and understood by teams.

Red Bull’s ‘floor hole’ innovation was put past the governing body and given the OK. Now they change their minds. Fine, but that should not be applied retrospectively. That would be totally unfair as they had previously said it was OK.

The decision is the right one.


They cannot give out retrospective punishments i.e how do they know its worth tenth or would Webber still get pole possion without the hole

Its the teams fault not speaking up and now seeking clarification.

Hamiltons penalty is a diff ball game, mainly a proceedural breach.

Makes sence to me.


Except they never ran an illegal car. If they try to run the same car again, then it will be deemed illegal. Rules and their interpretation change. This is normal.


It makes perfect sense, even if Hamilton’s penalty was harsh (in my opinion removal from Q3 would have been enough).

The car was deemed legal numerous times, Red Bull weren’t hiding anything. If the technical people had deemed it illegal at the start, Red Bull would not have used it, so how is that the fault of Red Bull?


The point your missing is the car was never illegal in the first place. RB ran the idea with the FIA first who agreed with said idea and then the fia and teams talked the matter over with the Fia then changing there minds.Now after this period is when the car becomes illegal and since the car was never raced after this time there are no points to take off them.


One thing Bernie HATES is changing the winner of a race after the race. Yes, I know he is not in charge of punishments, but we all know he is in charge of everything at the end of the day…


yes,we saw that in spa in ’08


I am a fan of McLaren and Lewis and accept a degree of bias ‘may’ cloud my judgement.

So please can a neutral or RBR fan explain how this is even close to parity.

The FIA Must have the serious hump with LH or McLaren. Seems so out of sync.


Totally agree! They should be stripped of wins and points for all races that the car was deemed illegal. Oh wait what they did wasn’t technically illegal there was just no rule for. McLaren did something by mistake which led to something illegal and was punished as if they did it on purpose. Which is worse?


I think mclaren knew on the out lap that they had underfueled, then lied about it. Could have aborted the lap. Should Renault lose the 2005 and 2006 wdc’s because the rules were clarified later?


This is correct. It was a mistake that led to the car being under fueled, but they discovered it before Hamilton had left the pits and then sent him out anyway.

So to me, at that point they intentionally put the car on the track when they knew he wouldn’t have enough fuel to get back following completion of the session.


It would be interesting to know what led the FIA to clear the design in the first place and then change its position, but I suppose we’ll probably never know. Presumably only one of those positions can be correct, and the fact they’ve changed it necessarily casts doubt over the assumption that they’ve made the right decision this time.


I guess that’s the grey area in the rules. As the FIA had this run by them from RBR before they implemented it, it was deemed legal. But after a protest from other teams, and to me in the spirit of the rules/sport it is now illegal.

You can’t punish someone for a past crime after you change the rule/law.

I’m far from a Hamilton fan but that was a harsh penalty, however they set an example of him and you can be sure they and no other team will do that again, accidentally or otherwise. Martin said himself he sure of called Lewis back it, yet choose to keep him out there to complete the lap, knowing fair well they wouldn’t have enough fuel to get back to the pits and provide a sample. They gambled and the penalty handed down was much harsher than they expected.

Even if was only a 5 grid spot penalty it wasn’t worth the risk, no idea what they were thinking to not call him back it.


The rule about fuel is clear and everybody knows that, along with the penalties that go with violating the rule. On the other hand, the Red Bull car has not been found illegal (on the contrary, FIA has found it legal before), but rules have -now- been clarified in such a way that such a floor solution as present in Red Bull is forbidden. At least that’s how I understand the situation.


The car had been declared legal. Thus Red Bull ran a legit car in the last 3 races.

Only now after further review has the car been declared illegal. And if you followed the wording “that the fact that there isn’t explicitly a rule banning the idea” means in essence a new interpretation has been created to make it illegal. You can penalize after rewriting the rules.

Makes sense to me.


Yes, there isn’t an explicit rule that declares this legal, but based on the premise that “the update was against the spirit of the rules”, the FIA/Whiting should have rejected the innovation. Then immediately change the regulations.

James, do you know who ultimately approves the technical updates? Is there a panel or is it just Charlie?

Btw, I don’t know why people are bringing up the LH grid penalty. It has nothing to do with this particular regulation/issue.


Exactly.I never really understood the situation we had in ’07 either,when the car was illegal but still the WDC points stood


Didn’t even run out of fuel … had 1.3 litres in the tank. The offence was stopping out on track, and not making it back into the pits under the car’s own power.

The RB8 looked good in Bahrain and Monaco, but remember in Spain that Webber got lapped by Maldonado. Having said that, Vettel looked faster than Button that race weekend, on similar strategies.


Tom / James – I don’t think that’s a very good point. Perhaps if McLaren asked FIA beforehand if they could run out of fuel after setting pole, and we’re given permission to do so, and then they received their penalty you could suggest inconsistencies.

After giving RBR permission to run this floor, the FIA couldn’t go and deduct the points they had amassed over the past few rounds could they?


Very good point – I think many casual fans will find the sanction side of this confusing

There is a clear difference between situations, in a regulatory sense


The only thing about the Hamilton incident that I find ‘confusing’ is why the fuel rule is not implemented during the race (where the points are handed out!).

In Bahrain several drivers including Vettel and Rosberg parked up immediately at the end of pit lane after crossing the finish line due to insifficient fuel – exactly the same as Hamilton!

I know people will argue that fuel in qualifying is more important but I disagree.

Vettel was racing to stay ahead of Raikkonen and had he been in fuel saving mode (as he clearly should have been) he may well have been unable to defend against Raikkonen. This may well have gifted Vettel and Red Bull championship points that they didn’t deserve. Conversely, it is widely believed that in Hamiltons case he would still have qualified on pole with the correct ammount of fuel as he was 0.5 seconds faster that Maldonado so the lack of fuel was far less important than in Vettels case.

There was no mention of changing the rules after this incident unlike when Mclaren first ran low on fuel in qualifying in Montreal (where they also received a large fine despite not breaking any rules).

I find this extremely ‘confusing’.


You seem to have drawn comments from 13 casual fans 🙂

Good to see your site as such wide reach. More chance for me to go on and on out tyre wear 🙂




I’m pretty sure if most first time F1 watchers read a paragraph on each penalty, they would understand totally. So not sure I agree with you James. This is not a complicated or confusing situation at all.


No James it’s not a good point, the car wasn’t illegal, FIA didn’t tell them to stop using the design where as Mclaren’s blunder is 100% illegal and written in the rule book, you have to give credit to Vettel and even Webber for their good performances and that will continue for Seb, don’t be bitter because Hamilton is failing like he usually does, it’s not Redbull’s fault that Hamilton couldn’t make use of the best car whilst he had the chance, as Stoner said about Rossi, I’ll say it about Hamilton: ambition out weighs talent.


the car WAS illegal! just because a scrutineer fails to understand a rule does not make it OK.

It is the agreed interpretation that has changed. If the FIA had not been asked beforehand the car would have been disqualified. It is down to the stupidity of the FIA that the wrong result stands.

Unfortunately it shows just how much the backroom lawyers do in modern day F1. If the FIA employed better staff a teams costs would be much lower as they wouldn’t waste as much time trying to bend the rules.

Personally i think it would be fair if the RED Bull points were reduced by – say 5 places.


+1, can’t the FIA retract the points they won with an illegal car?


…and Maldonado gets only a 10 place grid penalty for deliberately turning into a fellow racer on a track with no run-offs. And a second offence at that too. Ridiculous.


I thought the car is legal if it passes the post-race scrutiny. What I don’t understand is why it took so long for the FIA to act. The holes weren’t hidden.


You can’t test a car for every rule there is, that would take too much time. The FIA only tests a subset of things and what they will test nobody knows, even though there are some important things they will test all the time (such as ride height, weight, rear wing radius, diffuser height, etc.).

Sometimes it takes other teams to spot something that may stink. The FIA will then sit and discuss the rules and at some point they would hear other teams to make their point, if there are still any doubts. This takes time, for the teams to prepare their argument and for the FIA to validate.

It’s better to do it properly this way than to quickly shoot from the hip.

Mind you that the interpretation of this rule is pretty important – not that RedBull gained a lot there, but the FIA have to guess the aftermath of their decision too and if RedBull was right, that could possibly open a lot of opportunities for the designers in a critical area near the diffuser, so they better make a bomb proof decision.


Absolutely 100% Agree


Really? You think that’s a good point? Then I’m really confused. You said yourself:

“In essence, the FIA had originally accepted the concept from Red Bull as legal. But it was once implemented on the car and having heard representations from other teams about it, they’ve changed their minds…”

So Red Bull running a floor that had been ruled legal by the FIA deserves a greater punishment than running an underfueled car in qualifying?


The point that it is confusing for fans is a good one


Excellent point also


The difference is, it was initially deemed legal by the FIA/Whiting. After further review, it was deemed illegal. RB sought clarity on the situation first, got the go ahead and went with it. The fact that it was ‘signed off’ by the FIA at first meant that the penalty (rather the lack of) is not as severe.

On the other hand, you have Mclaren and their fuel trick/blunder. Rules were firmly set in place. They broke them… and paid the price.

Note: Mclaren broke rules which were already in effect and well documented. Hence their penalty 🙂


James, the above point doesn’t seem to be a “very good point” at all. These penalties all makes sense and it seems that making off the cuff remarks about this reflects a narrow minded understanding of the going ons within F1. This sort of stuff happens all the time through the history of f1, and the application of penalties in the situations mentioned makes perfect sense within the context of the sport and it’s history. It’s disappointing that someone with your background would make such an easy agreement to that comment.


I mean it is confusing for a lot of people to understand.

That doesn’t mean I can’t differentiate


Not sure that it is a good point as the FIA had initially approved the use of the innovation. If Redbull runs the innovation in Canada then they should be disqualified as the rule has only just been reinterpreted.


Is that a good point?

I mean wouldn’t the closer comparison be if they had originally said it was okay to run out of fuel, let you run qualifying and then later change their mind and then disqualify your result?

I see youre getting at, but punishing Red Bull for a mistake made by the stewards seems a bit more backwards than punishing a team for a mistake that they had full knowledge of and then tried to cover up.


Perhaps it has been decided by all teams that in order for a team to be innovative in dvancing (pushing the boundaries) they agreed to not punish after the fact. The FIA was made aware prior to its use in another fact that minimizes the penalty. These attempts at creating advantages also have as history shows provided the fans and sport alike something to focus on between races and I am sure the publicity does help finances long term. Punish the team heavily and we would see very little if any attempts from any teams and we would lose our side shows like the double diffuser, etc.

Jamie Cottage

Would love you to put this to some big wigs in Canada…!!!


Good point?

Red Bull asked FIA. FIA say it’s not illegal.

It would be very unfair if FIA punsihed anyone for doing something they themselves said is legal.

Wasn’t it a similiar case in 2005 with the Renault “mass damper” (or something like that). Legal first, then banned.

“that the fact that there isn’t explicitly a rule banning the idea, doesn’t make it legal”

This must have cropped up with other things too; “mass damper”, “double diffuser”, “f-duct” and so on. Couldn’t FIA come up with a better way of handling things?


Are there many instances like this where the FIA has deemed it legal or one team has been running something for a period of time before it gets put on the back-burner? e.g. mass dampeners when Renault had those. I don’t recall them losing points.

Whereas this case as opposed to running out of fuel that rule is explicit whereas this was open to interpretation much like the double diffuser. Only this time it has been challenged and won by teams rather than being made completely legal by the FIA.

To me, it is the FIA screwing up. Why does the FIA – when a team that gets clarification around the interpretation of the ruling as RBR did – not send it all to the other teams at the same time?


I’m not sure I agree. Running out of fuel is analogous to running underweight; a clear violation of the rules that gives a clear and indisputable advantage. Running a car that the FIA themselves said was legal and then changed their mind on is not a clear and indisputable advantage, as anybody else could’ve run the same concept at the same time, had they chosen. (That is, unless you believe the FIA would simultaneously tell one team that a design was legal, and another team that a conceptually identical design was illegal.)

It would be absurd for a result to be taken away from a car that the FIA had declared to be legal before the event was held–are the teams supposed to be able to predict the future and know when the FIA’s representatives are talking out of their own rear ends?

That’s not to say the situation isn’t idiotic, mind you; just that it isn’t as unfair as is being suggested here.


I beg to differ…

The Fuel rule is clear cut in black and white. A rule was broken, a penalty was enforced.

In this instance, the FIA had already deemed the floor legal. I would be unfair to strip results. If they were told it was illegal in the first place, they would not have run it.


Its clear in the rules that after qualifying you must have fuel to give as a sample, but its not clear about the enclosed hole on the floor. By running out of fuel it was a clear violation of the rules, the hole however did not completely contradict the rules and it is true that if you read them in a certain way, the hole could seem to be completely legal. Admittedly I can see the problem of consistency, but putting Hamilton to the back of the grid in the first place seemed very heavy handed and a bit of an over reaction from the stewards, I think being put back 10 places would have been a lot more reasonable.

The Red Bull design was also passed by the FIA before the other teams began to appeal. So they didn’t act against the rules at all.


Not really. When I re-read the last paragraph I understood why there is no penalty. It was legal at the time because they had it checked out and approved. It is only illegal from now because there has been a change of heart.

Lewis got a penalty because he couldn’t produce a sufficient fuel sample, and the rules were clear before the weekend started.

Sorry Lewis fans, but McLaren broke a rule, Red Bull did not. If they run the hole again at Canada then sure, penalise/ban them. That won’t happen because the rules are clear before the event, just like the fuel sample rule.


I have to disagree.

Red Bull sought and specifically got permission for the design

Mclaren running out fuel was not specifically permitted and therefore the rule operated prospectively

It would be largely unfair to retrospectively penalise a team which did the right thing and obtained permission.


I don’t think anyone disputes the rulings. It’s more about the penalty each offence carries.


This is weird.. Hamilton got the last position for little fuel from Pole in Spain.

Now Red Bull can keep the wins but only has to reset the Car.

I am nor a Mclaren fan neither Hamilton’s, but where is the consistency in the penalties?


I think it that there is a kind of silent agreement between the teams that they do not protest after a race. If they do it, they do it before the race on thursday. This is because it is not good for the spectacle to change the winner after the race has finished just because of the fact that a protest was not done earlier. So as no teams protested on a thursday (presumably because they did not really believe Redbull was gaining enough from the hole to make a protest) the Red Bull car was not found illegal during a race. The hole was declared illegal after the races but only for the future. At least the way I get it, any dispute that is not protested after sunday is considered closed for previous results.


The consistency is there. Let RB get away with everything, and penalise the black English driver.


+1, and +1 again!


Yeah! thats what Ali G says! lol


They’re both completely different things!!

The situation with Hamilton was never accepted as legal and the team tried to deceive the stewards when caught

Red bul had their floor hole accepted as legal by the FIA then the decision changed, not their fault if the FIA cant make up their mind. Can only play the cards you’re dealt…


This is interesting…you have evidence that McLaren tried to deceive the stewards over the refueling botch up? I’ve not heard anything like this before…in fact Martin Whitmarsh seemed very open when speaking to the Beeb about the affair. Please expand Dylan?


From what I understand, they get to keep the results, because up until after the race where clarification was sought, the RBR rear floor was considered legal when RBR asked the scrutineers.

It’d be bad form to say tell a team: “yes you can run that”, only to then say: “actually when I said yes? I meant no” and take away their win.

Liam in Sydney

Yes, it would be ridiculous to even compare this floor hole ban with Hamilton’s fuel error penalty. That comparison is just silly.


To be fair, as I understand it, the rule and penalty for McLaren mistakenly light fueling the car in Barcelona was clear and well known before the season started. The penalty might seem harsh, especially on Hamilton who did nothing wrong, but really that was entirely McLarens own doing.

The Red Bull issue is a little less clear to me. From reading the regualtion, it would seem Red Bulls floor was always illegal. But the FIA where fine with it until the other teams threatened to protest and then sought clarification on the rule.

I’m confused as to how the floor passed scrutineering to begin with, but given that it did, I don’t see how they can take points away from Red Bull. At the same time, it seems as though an illegal car has won 2 of the last 3 races.

A bit of mess really, which probably could have been avoided.


That was my take when I learned of the Red Bull design. The FIA cleared it to race when it probably shouldn’t have.

The “hole” is ahead of the rear wheels, so it seems clear that it was intended (at minimum) to have a venturi effect, and dubious for that reason alone: The flat-bottom rule is intended to prevent just that venturi effect.

The “hole” channeled exhaust to the diffuser, so it seems clear that it was intended (at minimum) to increase the effect of the exhaust gasses on the diffuser, and was dubious for that reason alone: The ban on exhaust blown diffusers is intended to prevent exhaust gasses from providing downforce.

Alone or in combination, these factors screamed that the Red Bull design (to use the obvious phrase) “contravened the spirit of the rules.” The design accomplished effects that the technical regs sought to ban. The other side of that is that engineers – especially in the aero era of the past 35 years – make a living by creative interpretation of “the letter of the rules.”

After all this time, I would think that the FIA would realize that they should simply say, up front, “this is the effect we want to eliminate. Any system, any design you run that has this effect, no matter what it looks like, is illegal.” On that basis, Red Bull’s design should never have been allowed to run in the first place. It would have saved a lot of time, effort, money and controversy.


Completely different incidents. The Red Bulls managed to pass scrutineering by the FIA for multiple races. Lewis Hamilton’s Mclaren failed to pass scrutineering for qualifying.


The difference is Hamilton didn’t explicitly seek a ruling from the FIA giving him permission to run the car light in qual. RBR did the right thing, FIA stuffed up the original ruling and had to backflip.

Are we really suggesting that cheating twice (running underfueled and then lying about force majeure) is the same as seeking an FIA technical ruling?


Andrew, nobody is calling McLaren a liar here. To accuse them of such a lofty charge without any evidence is just baseless. I recognise they have been called for it at Aus a few years back in the Dave Ryan debacle but, when it’s clearly in the rules like this and they’ve breached it once, it’s hugely unlikely that they would try and play dumb. The FIA would and, indeed, did come down on them like a ton of bricks for infringing this reg for the second time.


I would totally agree with you!

Make no sense for keeping the wins with the illegal car!!


I would agree if the cars had been declared illegal.

But they haven’t.


Hi someone,

If the technical regulations require clarifications after the post-race srutineering, then both scrutineering and race results stand, because in the Bahrain-Monaco case, both the FIA and RBR shared the same interpretation of the rules at the time of post-race scrutineering. Incidentally they also remained unchallenged by any of the competitors, whatever their motives for not doing so (one could argue there was more than sport at stake in Monaco).

The timeframe of the rules should not be underestimated.


One could argue that the cars have been illegal, because the rules have been clear enough (when I have read them I thought they were). Any team could build something illegal and say “Oh, I didn’t know the rules meant that” and ask for clarification at that point – that would not work. Red Bull have successfully made the FIA believe that there has been room for interpretation and the FIA itself, by approving their solution in the first place, has made RedBulls point. So the FIA can’t punish RedBull, if they want to stay credible.

What’s the difference to the Mercedes double DRS and the Williams/Toyota/Brawn double deck diffuser and the McLaren F-joint cases, where the FIA did not change their mind? There was no room for interpretation, the rules allowed it, the offended teams could prove it and other teams failed to bring hard facts to the table that would show they’re wrong. Simple as that.


What some are failing to see is that the car was legal until the FIA changed their mind and clarified the ruling. RBR did not race with an illegal car and should not lose any points. They were upfront with their design with the FIA and the cars passed scrutineering at every race up to this point.


The FIA has clarified the interpretation of the rules, that’s all. See scarbs blog for further details.


Exactly…take the points from both wins and points for the next RB placing


The design was legal until today.

Changing the results makes no sense at all.


Yes, I mean if not totally rip them of their winning points to 0, but there could have been some deductions for using false design.


Why would penalise a team whose were legal at the time of the race? This makes no sense!

Your reasoning equates to penalising ANY past car (from 1950 onwards) that doesn’t meet the technical regulations applicable from Canada 2012 (the next race).

That way, only the past 6 race results would stand (with RBR being penalised) in the whole 62 years of the sport.


The difference is that the Red Bull Racing cars did not infringe technical regulations at the time of scrutineering.

McLaren chose to ignore a rule that was in place at the time of the event (and did not even make it to scrutineering).

Article 6.6.2 was added to the technical (not sporting) regulations because of McLaren shortfuelling Lewis in Canada 2010.

Nothing weird as far as I am concerned. It might pay to look at both sporting and technical regulations to understand why such or such decisions are taken.


I beg to differ. The car DID infringe technical regs when scrutineered – just like the RB front wing broke the regs last year. The regs have not changed – it is the agreed interpretation that has been revisited. It is just like a court ruling being taken to appeal – the law does not change but the judge takes a different view point into account.


Damien: do you understand English? AS a journalist you should be ashamed of your response to my comment. You agree that the rules have not changed yet you are adamant that the Red Bull cars were not illegal during the last few races. If they were legal they would not have to be changed! The fact is they were deemed to be legal because the stewards had not been given an adequate interpretation of the current rules.

If the speed limit is 30mph driving at 35 is illegal no matter what a policeman’s speed camera says. Using a new camera that is correctly calibrated does not mean you should still be allowed to drive at 35mph and get away with it. The rules haven’t changed – a new camera has simply proved that you have been breaking the limit. The results stand because the policeman said he didn’t think the limit had been broken… but don’t break the limit tomorrow.

If the FIA were a bit less stupid they would have considered their rules a bit more carefully before stating that the Red Bull floors were OK. Had they done so the Red Bull cars would correctly have been disqualified. It is only because they muddied the water that the results stand.

The same can be said for the flexible front wings. The FIA were incredibly feeble when they modified the front wing tests. To have a rule that says the wings must not flex was, of course, very stupid in the first place as everything has to flex or break. Seeing the Red Bull wings badly scuffed due to scraping on the track surface proved they were flexing far more than any other car. Maybe they should have erosion limits like the underfloor “plank” – a clearly definable test that cannot be left open to interpretation.

The only reason the other teams did not protest was down to their fear of opening a can of worms and seeing their own cars being protested for their own tweaks and peculiarities. Doing so would mean the results being created in the courtroom rather than on the track.


Hi John,

No, the Red Bull cars did not infringe the rules at the time of post-race scrutineering. No protest was lodged either.

If the understanding of the interpretation of the technical regulations changes after scrutineering, then the clarifications to the said rules take effect from that point on.

Results cannot be changed retroactively. A good example of that is Singapore 2008 where proven cheating occurred.

It might not be fair to some but that is the way the sport is administered, with the FIA being judge and jury.

Others think it is a good system because it provides stability in knowing race results are final post scrutineering, unless another team makes a protest.

As such, both RBR cars were legal at the Bahrain, Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.

PS: I don’t recall RBR breaking the technical regulations last year, but I might be mistaken. Please send a link of a relevant article if you can. I’d be interested to see what happened then. Thanks.



6.6.2 Competitors must ensure that a one litre sample of fuel may be taken from the car at any time during the Event.

Except in cases of force majeure (accepted as such by the stewards of the meeting), if a sample of fuel is required after a practice session the car concerned must have first been driven back to the pits under its own power.


Does this mean Hamilton could have stopped at the pit exit in much the same way as some do after races?

Or, does it mean that it is in fact illeagal to stop early after a race? (a common practice)

Or, does it mean that the rule only applies to samples taken after a practice session, not after quali?

Not super clear cut, or maybe my english is lacking.



As far as I am aware, stopping at the end of the pitlane is the same as stopping on track. It would happen because of force majeure i.e. one or more components on the car has failed or is failing.


Turns out quali is in fact called Qualifying Practice.


The difference is that knowingly running a car light is, and has always been the ultimate no-no, it has always resulted in disqualification, indeed, Mclaren should consider themselves lucky that BOTH cars were not disqualified from the session, or both cars disqualified for the race.

Red Bull’s infraction was not so clear cut, if it was the other teams would have made official protests.


Alex, McLaren were not penalised for running light. They were penalised for being unable to return to the pits under their own power due to under fuelling the car. It’s not exactly the same, and you are right that it would in theory give them a slight performance advantage, but it’s nevertheless a different situation to BAR for example and an important distinction to make. The BAR fuel tank design was present in both cars and would therefore affect both. Under fuelling Ham does not impact on JB.

To exclude both cars for one operational error would be grossly inappropriate and heavy-handed in the circumstances.



You must be able to prove that the car is above minimum weight at all times. Because BAR had a secret compartment with fuel in, they could not prove the weight of the car was never below minimum weight.

Hamilton’s car obviously was not under the minimum weight limit, because if it was, the stewards would have reported THAT too.

And as for DMyers earlier comment about how do we know he wasn’t light on his first run – because he made it back to the pits, that’s why.

I thought the penalty was harsh, but reading the regulations, was the only one that could be applied. Personally, I think the regulation is wrong and should be better worded, but that’s what you get when you create rules as a knee-jerk reaction to an event.

20/20 hindsight would have had McLaren saying “Abort the lap”, but they interpreted the regulation wrongly – as did Red Bull in this case.


Thanks for the comment Jon, but I think “running light” and “running out of fuel or stopping to avoid running out of fuel when the rules explicitly demand you return to pits under own power and retain 1 kilo of fuel” is the same thing, both result in a light car.

The actual performance advantage or lack thereof is irrelevent.

I’m a Hamilton fan so there are 2 things that tick me off, 1/ Mclaren, they knew about it on his outlap and ignored it, thinking they would get away with effectively running light. 2/FIA for mandating the 1 kilo rule, it complicates things, it can create more of these type penalties and it deprives us of cars running out of fuel on the last lap, (or in the case of qualy the inlap) some of the best endings were when cars ran out of fuel but we will likely never see that again, we will get the alternative, where a car crosses the line, maybe in 1st, only to be disqualified hours later… a very dissapointing situation, a minor example we have already had was Maldo missing out on celebrting his Pole lap properly… if a championship result comes down to a gramme of fuel 20 minuites after the other guys celebrations I will be gutted, and it would be a VERY bad look.


Okay, but when everyone actually takes their heads out of the sand, the realworld result is that a technical infringement that caused no change to the qualifying result met with a maximum grid punishment, while a technical infringement that blurred the rules and was eventually found to contradict them has resulted in a huge points benefit that will undoubtedly affect the championship. The problem in both cases is FIA, but there seems a fair amount of injustice here.


>the problem in both cases is FIA


I still have no idea how the FIA is interpreting the rule, which rule was “implicitly” broken, or whether or not a hole would be OK if it didn’t feed into the diffuser.

I only know 2 things:

– this has been banned on exactly the same grounds that the double DRS, er, wasn’t; and

– this is another example of a team playing by the rules, giving the FIA every opportunity to satisfy itself that a particular design is legal, getting the all clear, and then having the FIA turn round & say, no, actually, we’re changing our mind (and the rules) now, because, er, we feel like it. Just like that Lotus braking stability widget, or the mass damper.

The FIA is such a shower. It’s just unbelievable.


While that may be the case, the rules were broken. Indeed, how do we know that Hamilton’s initial Q3 time was set with a similarly light car? We don’t, and the stewards did the right thing.

The Red Bull case is all about interpretation of the rules, and it’s happened before. Renault’s mass damper system was deemed legal for more than a season before the FIA decided it was a moveable aerodynamic device. This is how the rules evolve, and is an intrinsic part of the sport. I don’t have a problem with it.


Mclaren didn’t run hamiltons car light ‘knowingly’. As they explained it was a human error by an engineer with the fuelling rig. They were punished correctly but talking about disqualifying both cars from the race is silly.

James Clayton

To be fair, they released the car, knowing that it didn’t have enough fuel in it. They had time to rectify the mistake, but choose not to.

I think the penalty is harsh and needs re-evaluation, but the description of what happened pretty much matches the definition of ‘knowingly’


Disqualify both cars from the session? This situation is not the same as the BAR situation of 2005. Hamilton’s penalty was correct and within the rules. To kick both cars out, the FIA would have to prove that McLaren knowingly sent Hamilton’s car out light…that was never proved.


In both of these situations, the penalties weren’t variable or negotiable.

There are rules to the effect of you have to finish qualifying with a certain amount of fuel left in the tank and that if you don’t you are disqualified. No ifs, ands, buts or questions, no discussion about the severity of the punishment.

It’s the same story with the Red Bull hole. The FIA specifically cleared the hole and accepted that it was legal before each of the three races Red Bull had it. Only afterward the FIA said that they had made a mistake and the hole was indeed illegal, but they had already told Red Bull that they were allowed to race it at the previous the previous three races. The fault here lies with the FIA, Red Bull is innocent and a retroactive punishment would be extremely unfair.

Those are the facts, it’s an unfortunate situation but those are the rules. The concrete rules and FIA are totally to blame, they need to sort this rubbish out and get their act together.


You’re comparing apples to chimpanzees. Hamilton’s situation clearly broke the rules. Red Bull cleared their design with FIA before it went on the car. FIA has now changed its position and the loophole is closed.

More fool the other teams for not managing the same trick.


Comparing Apples to Apples Schumacher causes a Potentially Dangerous accident gets 5 place grid penalty.

Hamilton’s mechanic leaves him a little bit short on fuel he gets put to the back of the grid.

Fair proportionate?


Exactly – also see Maldonado’s penalty for a much worse example. Maldonado was dropped 10 places for a deliberate swipe, but Hamilton was dropped 23 places for a technical breach.


agreed clearly unfair, Hamilton should have just lost his Q3 result , and started from 10th, as it was only Q3 the rule was broke. I also agree RBR must have something up there sleave , because it seems they always manage to bend the rules scott free


Hamilton did not brake the rules, its the teams responsibility to fuel the car. Constructures points disallowed would have been a more effective punishment.

But something must be going on with RBR and the FIA. A wing clearly flexing for all to see cleared, a clear infringement of the written regs regards ‘holes’ – I may have to put ‘a team of dubious integrity’ behind their name every time I mention them.

Strange, they can do no wrong it seems.


Until every driver is required to design and build his own car, tune it to the track conditions, and service it himself during the pit stops, F1 will continue to be a team sport.



eh lol what the… o_O Here is what you wrote “Hamilton’s situation clearly broke the rules. “

So how didn’t you say Hamilton didn’t break the rules?!

Back to the topic. Yes it was Hamilton’s team, not him.

And RBR DID break the rules when it was stated clear that no holes should exist on the floor as a result of banning the blown exhaust system.


I didn’t say “Hamilton broke the rules”.


Hamilton’s penalty was written in the rules.

Red Bull at race time were in the clear, but now it is clarified that their setup was illegal.

In the legal system somebody might get away with something, but then the courts clear up the issue preventing future confusion. The FIA ruling is similar to this.


I think the difference is McLaren was already warned in the past. Whereas Red Bull actually got permission for such design.


Yup, it seems that this as been dealt with cleanly and quickly for a change. Well done F1! The FIA can change their minds but cannot penalise RBR for something they initially gave the nod to. An efficient end to the issue (which amazes me as F1 usually manages to turn molehills into mountains – probably deliberately if Berie has anything to do about it!).

By the way, Monaco is an utterly awful race and should be done away with at the earliest opportunity. I reject all the claims about glamour and history, I want to see these cars RACE! Every year I consider the Monaco weekend as almost a non GP weekend, who out of the viewers really looks forward to this ‘race’?


Monaco is a better experience when viewed live compared to on TV. That’s why everyone loves it because they’re so much closer to the cars compared to the other tracks.

I saw Button drive the MP4/26 around Dublin today and the fact that they allowed the crowd to be so close as the cars went by made it a much better experience.


How is it clean to have teams not protest a race result when they knew, and we now know the car was going to be ruled illegal?



Give me turn 9 at turkey any day.


I love Monaco, admittedley not for the racing but for the appreciation of the challenge the drivers face.

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