Red Bull go for it: International court of appeal to hear fuel flow row
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Mar 2014   |  2:34 pm GMT  |  310 comments

Red Bull ran close to the deadline for submitting an appeal, but the FIA has confirmed that the team has formally decided to appeal the disqualification of Daniel Ricciardo from second place in the Australian Grand Prix last Sunday.

The International Court of Appeal will hear the case, this is an independent court, which will draw four or five judges from the panel of judges which is on the panel approved by both the FIA and the F1 teams. It is a different body from the International Tribunal, which heard the Mercedes test case last year, which deals with disciplinary matters.

It is likely that the hearing will be in the next two to three weeks, probably just before or just after the Bahrain GP.

Ricciardo was disqualified after four hours of deliberations by the Stewards in Melbourne, because the fuel flow on the Australian’s car had exceeded the 100kg/hour limit consistently during the Grand Prix. The allegation is that this was performance enhancing.

It emerged that the sensors on several cars during the weekend gave some problematic readings and several teams had to work with the FIA at some point to find a solution, involving changing sensors, working with the back up system or getting an offset programmed in which made the fuel flow compliant.

During the race Red Bull was warned by the FIA’s technical staff monitoring the flow rate and the FIA says that they gave the team the chance to reduce the flow rate. However Red Bull’s representative told the Stewards that the team considered the sensors to be unreliable based on readings from practice and chose to use their own internal flow model, rather than the values provided by the sensor, which is accurate to +/- 0.25%.

The Gill Sensors 2014 F1 Fuel Flow sensor

Red Bull is confident of success at the appeal, which will require them to prove that their readings were accurate – more accurate than the FIA’s.

It is an important moment because it will set the tone for the season with this new technology and we may well see more of this kind of thing in Malaysia. By going into it in great depth and establishing both the accuracy of the measurement and the FIA’s process for enforcing compliance, hopefully this will prove a test case which establishes the baseline understanding and best practice for the season.

Ideally F1 can then avoid getting bogged down in technical arguments which the vast majority of the audience finds a turn-off.

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Can somebody explain how an offset can correct inconsistent readings? Inconsistent means that the accuracy is varying over time in an unpredictable way. An offset can correct for a reading that is consistently wrong by a known amount, but not for one who’s accuracy is variable. A second point is that you can easily calculate an offset on a test bench where the actual flow is known, but how do you calculate it during a race?

kenneth chapman

@ keith….yes, that is what i would also like to know. i have posted my thoughts on this previously and would like to know what is used by the FIA to set the correct limit? what device do they use that is 100% accurate in order to establish the uncontestable benchmark. without this how can they apply an ‘offset’?.

kenneth chapman

james, maybe some time in the near future you might cobble together a thread that deals with the subject of FIA/team inter relationships.

when operational issues are raised and the FIA decides to make changes by way of technical directives why are they kept secret? according to a couple of articles floating around it seems to be that this is the case. for followers of F1 this is frustrating. if changes are made to the published codes then surely any changes should be an open book.

i can imagine you need a request like this…not. just an idea though as we would all like to know the background of change in these challenging times facing F1.



As the appeal hearing is set for after the next two races, will Red Bull continue to use their own fuel flow meter instead of the FIA one for these next two races. If Red Bull are successful will the other teams counter appeal because they could have gone faster also. In which case could the Australian race points earned be void?

kenneth chapman

i would also really appreciate it if someone here could help me understand this issue better. if the FIA acknowledge that the sensor is giving an inaccurate reading where does that information come from? if they decide that the inaccuracy is beyond their FIA/Gill stated tolerances then how do they arrive at and achieve an ‘offset’ that would restore integrity of accuracy? to do this they would have to have some form of benchmark which is beyond question.

what i would also like to know is this, were all offsets the same across all cars/teams or were the inaccuracies different across all fuel flow meters? if this is the case then this would surely be a form of customising by car/team. surely this is totally wrong for a homologated component. it could well lead to unlawful interference and also charges of manipulation of results?

to my way of thinking no one should have the authority to do this. that includes charlie whiting et al. it changes the status from a ‘sensor’ problem to a ‘censor’ problem!

kenneth chapman

if gill manufactures amazingly accurate products as you say then why is it that the FIA have had to replace them numerous times and when that didn’t work apply ‘offsets’ to try and get some kind of consistent accuracy?

IMO red bull are simply stating that at no time did they exceed the FIA fuel flow limit and they are now going to have to back that up in a court of appeal. ego has absolutely nothing to do with it. do you work for gill?


RedBull is coming off of several successful campaigns, this drives the ego of people already known to be strong in that regard. Their actions remind of Ferrari. Time was when Ferrari said they wanted something, they got it done. Success breeds a sense of omniscience.

Gill manufactures amazingly accurate products, this may well be an error rate which is software driven.


I feel really sorry for Daniel Ricciardo, he drove a great race and deserved better.

I think RBR was extremely arrogant, we can’t have every team on the grid using their own sensors. Like it or not it is the FIA sensor that should count, not the team’s and from what’ve read the FIA have backup sensors. I hope RBR don’t win the appeal, I’m not saying this because it is Red Bull, I would say it for any other team. If they win it will undermine FIA’s authority and will open the door for a free for all situation which can’t be good.

kenneth chapman

@ zx6dude….where are these back up sensors? are they Gill sensors? have they had ‘offsets’ applied to ensure their accuracy?

surely you don’t support the fact that the FIA’s authority is being tested because they are the FIA and should be able to enforce the usage of dodgy fuel flow meters and not come up against any appeal?

F1 is supposed to be the ‘pinnacle’ of high tech engineering wizardry being applied and supplied to the motor racing elite. from my understanding [limited] renault are also parties to the appeal. i certainly hope that ricciardo’s results are restored. he has played no part in this.

if red bull are proved to be wrong then so be it. however if they are right then some form of compromise must be worked out between the teams and the FIA until they can get some accurate data measurements that do not vary from each and every installation and race. from what i have read these problems have been bubbling away for months and still the FIA have not come up with a it any wonder that teams have queried the logic of applying offsets to an homologated component. if anything red bull should be congratulated, not denigrated, for bringing this issue into the open.

failure to do this will render the season a failure IMO.


“Red Bull is confident of success at the appeal, which will require them to prove that their readings were accurate – more accurate than the FIA’s.”

It could very well be a win the battle, but lose the war kind of result. I mean, they could very well prove that their readings were better than the official readings, and still lose the case because rather than follow the rules about addressing the problems, they decided to make up their own. I don’t think these sorts of things ever end up well, except for Ferrari, but who knows, RedBull has money and money talks in F1 and in particular in FIA.


a. The Technical Directive starts by stating: “The homologated fuel flow sensor will be the primary measurement of the fuel flow and will be used to check compliance with Articles 5.1.4 and 5.1.5 of the F1 Technical Regulations…” This is in conformity with Articles 5.10.3 and 5.10.4 of the Technical Regulations.

‘b. The Technical Directive goes on to state: “If at any time WE consider that the sensor has an issue which has not been detected by the system WE will communicate this to the team concerned and switch to a backup system (emphasis added.)

Job done.


There is a gap there. The FIA did not instruct them to switch to a backup system, they instructed them to keep using the system but make an adjustment. Is that a backup system?

Then again, what is the primary measurement – it clearly can include a measurement which the FIA consider then adjust to come up with the right answer.

There might be some wriggle room, but in the end Red Bull have significant form in bending the rules well beyond a fair interpretation (bendy front wings with skids when RB knew that the prime directive was that it was meant to be rigid – they took the proverbial).

I fully expect Red Bull to get a further ban for the petulant way they have both refused to respond to the stewards’ in race instructions.

F1 doesn’t want Red Bull winning again especially with the suspicion that they are being a bit too clever with the rules, and banning the team for a race or two might be on the cards as it is normal for the FIA to increase the penalty if they feel that the appeal is ill-founded.

If Red Bull do it again at the next race then I can see them getting black flagged, and we know what happens to drivers who ignore black flags.

kenneth chapman

@ ian spencer….i would look at the ‘bendy’ front wings from a completely different viewpoint. the wings were made to conform with the FIA’s strict rules re ‘deflection under load’. they did and the FIA then had to change the test load parameters and set a different benchmark. red bull complied. are they to pilloried for doing nothing wrong?

as i have stated many times, i have no love for red bull as a team however their ability to produce superb racing machines should not be criticised. if anything all the other teams should be the ones being criticised for not being able to match them with expertise and peerless engineering solutions.

this season may well be the season where they falter and fall behind and if so then they simply have to do better.


RBR disobeyed the tech regs. They are guilty and have received a fair penalty.

kenneth chapman

you’ve got in one…..delete the entire thread.


I don’t think technical problems like this are a turn off at all, I find it infinitely more boring when the headlines are “Lewis breaks up with girlfriend” or something like that.


I still wonder if Red Bull got away with technical fiddles in the last four years; maybe they are too clever for the FIA, or intimidate it?

I also think F1 needs to be very careful. If driver skill does not quickly become the main subject again, audience numbers will drop, sponsors and TV will offer less money and a slow death spiral will take hold.


I’m not sure why the Gill Sensors would lead to engine reliability problems. I suspect it has to do with computer hardware compatibility.

Maybe there is a lag? Maybe the sensors breaks when combined with other ECU?

I highly doubt that Red Bull intended to cheat after FIA already know they are using a different sensor.

In the end, as long as RB proves they never went over 100kg/hr flow rate. I’m sure they will be let off because they never committed any wrong doing.


Regardless of guilt/innocence, I have two questions:

1. What are RBR likely to do in Malaysia if the same situation arises?

2. By going through this process are they likely to reveal anything about the performance/efficiency characteristics of the Renault engine?


The interesting thing will be if RB win, then what? All the teams disregard the sensor readings if they are disadvantageous? Or go with the approved sensor if the tolerance is advantageous?

FIA really can’t afford to let RB win this one.


Independant from the outcome:

Isn’t a error of 0.5% too much? Imagine they are fighting for milliseconds and they have 2 identical cars, but one sensor reports 99.75 as 100 and the other 100.25?


Regardless of the rights or wrongs (for what it’s worth I believe both RB and FIA to be wrong but RB edge it due to ignoring their governing body) nothing highlights what is wrong with F1 more than this episode.

A new era of F1. The most dramatic changes in years. Phenomenal debut drives and are we talking about the technical innovation and exciting new drivers?

No it’s a technical regulation challenge, unknown result and a bumbling Charlie Whiting looking like he’s out of his depth and begging for retirement.


Not that i want to dive into a new conspiracy..

But i cant imagine they would have taken this risk with Vettel.


It’s not a conspiracy to suggests that a team of RB’s caliber would weigh the risks versus rewards.

If they are going to try something like this, RIC is the logical person for 2 reasons. He’s not Webber with co-equal no. 1 status.

The second reason is that it’s the first race of the season and RB wasn’t expecting points from this race anyway (considering the issues they’ve had). This is the race to do this in.

Better to sacrifice 18 pts now(or 15/12 depending on if they they followed FIA instructions and there was a resulting reduction in performance), then just give up potentially hundreds between the two drivers running their engines at less fuel flow then what is allowed.

That Merc had the same issue and had to sacrifice their fuel flow just shows how much of problem this is. That they had the time in had to do so is irrelevant. Lucky for them. Otherwise, I’m sure they would have been screaming.


I think RBR looses, just due to the classic”wife’s” law:

Rule 1. Your wife is always right

Rule 2. Should your wife be wrong, then Rule 1 autmatically applies.

Just change wife for FIA (due to the “reading” and “FIA will tell if you can exclude the sensor”.

Written with a smile (from somebody who’s married to a Spanish wife)


Ignoring the FIA advice to reduce the fuel flow is irrelevant. Teams do not have to follow this advice and there are plenty of precident cases for this (Belgium 2008).

The key issue will be if the Red Bull flow rate proves they didn’t break the flow limit.


James, would I be right in assuming that it would be a relatively straight forward process to use the weight of fuel that went in, the weight of fuel remaining at the end of the race and the full data of the telemetry through out the race (to measure revs etc) to work out the true fuel usage at any particular moment and confirm if it went over the maximum flow rate at any point based on this telemetry?


Flow rate doesn’t reflect fuel used over the race distance. Fuel flow rate varies over the GP so it isn’t always at it’s maximum limit.


James, I know for a fact that the FIA intl sporting code applicable to all motorsports says that all FIA license holders agree to submit fully and w/o reservation to ALL FIA regulations (sporting and technical), and that a car determined not to conform to the regs is still an offence, even if no performance advantage obtained.

This is clear as day in the opening portion of the Code.

It would be helpful perhaps for you to point this out to the readers and raise the question of what possible appeal RBR can make, since even IF they somehow “proved” their car wasn’t “illegal”/non-compliant, they STILL refused to follow FIA directive during the race and so willfully chose NOT to submit to the int’l federation’s authority!!


It’s obvious why RBR ignored the FIA directive mid race.

They would have run the numbers and the reduced fuel flow would have seen Ricciardo well down the field and perhaps out of the points altogether.

Better to bank the “points” and challenge afterwards rather than get nothing on the day and have no options.


The fuel flow rate was introduced as the reference control point in order to force/direct designers to rely more on those regenerative power systems, as performance enhancers, opposing to a brute engine power outputs. Since Renault power units started on the back foot with regenerative power devices this was the obvious way how to curb those deficiencies in the short term.


What if the same scenario plays out in Malaysia and Bahrain?

How many race results will be provisional for weeks post event?

We finally have some new blood taking it to the established leaders and now this!

I am passionate about my f1, but this has left a sour and most disappointing result … Or lack of one!


I think the word inconsistent is the issue here also. If you had a fuel gauge in your car the was inconsistent and gave you the wrong information and this caused you to run out of fuel, would you be happy to have the manufacturer tell you to just make the metal adjustment or would you demand to have it fixed or replaced?? i know what i would want to happen.

I can understand RB’s argument here and if the FIA themselves have acknowledged there are problems then they are the ones who should be held accountable to supply something that is capable of consistently giving correct readings. This type of “close enough is good enough/make an adjustment” is plain and simply just not good enough for this top level of competition.

Regardless of what team it was, a sensor that is not calibrated equally throughout the field and was proven by multiple teams to not be accurately calibrated is disadvantageous to all teams suffering issues with said technology.

I think the FIA has made too many changes all in one hit, Sure the reduction in overall fuel per race is fine. Allow the teams to use the fuel in what ever way they choose. Have the sensor installed in a testing and development capacity throughout the season and work with the teams on the guise that next year the fuel flow system will become active. Thus giving the FIA and the manufacturer of the sensor time to ensure they get it accurate and consistent.

Just my view on the issue.


Did you noticed one thing. Many of them ( teams) had problems, they cooperated with officials and their results are standing. Only one of them deem to be more equal then the others…..

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