Ricciardo disqualified from Australia podium, Red Bull to appeal
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Mar 2014   |  2:36 pm GMT  |  882 comments

Daniel Ricciardo’s breakthrough result of second place in the Australian Grand Prix has been taken away by FIA stewards as the 24 year old was disqualified for a fuel flow irregularity. Red Bull immediately responded that it would appeal the decision which robs the 24 year old Australian of his first F1 trophy after 51 races.

The outcome is also set to be badly received in Australia, with one local newspaper preparing a front page headline “Grand Farce”. Race organisers are working hard to secure an extension to the contract to host the race, which expires after next year’s event. THe new rules for 2014 have made the sport far more complex and although technical exclusions have happened throughout the sport’s history, it is highly regrettable that it should happen to at the opening round of the new formula and to a popular Australian on home soil on a breakthrough day.

The stewards issued a statement after four hours of investigation and deliberation, advising that Red Bull had been notified during the race that the flow rate was exceeding 100kg/hour, which is the maximum in the regulations. The statement added that the team was asked to turn the rate down but declined to do so.

It is a very complex matter, but it revolves around the new flow rate sensors which are supplied to all teams by the FIA, they are an approved part.

Sources within other teams indicated that all weekend there has been a lot of to-and-fro between teams, engine makers and the FIA over the sensors and Red Bull had twice changed the sensor on Ricciardo’s car after being unhappy with readings during practice. The unit fitted to his car during the race is the original one he used in Friday practice which was subsequently swapped out. The replacement unit did not give satisfactory readings to the team or the FIA and the team was instructed to remove this sensor on Saturday night in parc ferme.

The nub of it is that Red Bull decided that the sensors were unreliable and applied its own offset rather than the one that the FIA included in its calibration. The FIA observed that it is up to them – not the team – to give instructions on what measures to follow in the event that wrong readings are suspected.

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

What I am interested to know is can RBR’s behaviour in the next few races affect the appeal? If they adhere to the FIA sensor readings from now on, is that almost an acceptance that their approach in Australia was wrong?

I am also struggling to reconcile the gap between this being described by the FIA as an absolute limit, yet teams were given warnings during the race and an opportunity to reduce their flow rates. Surely the time for warnings is during free practice and once qualifying starts, exceeding that limit once is a slam-dunk exclusion from the session?


It seems to me that the whole point of this fuel limitation & flow & hybrid KERS is to pay lip service to being seen as ‘green’, i.e. making attempts to reduce emissions and reduce fossil fuel usage. The ultimate conclusion to draw is that racing ends altogether! Night races at certain venues use hundreds of 1000 watt lights; so much for being green. There doesn’t seem to be any other logical reason for this fuel restriction. The designers/constructors should be allowed to build their cars to produce as much power as possible within the constraints of engine capacity, surely that is what racing is all about and how it used to be, not going slower than last year’s cars, as these latest ones are. That is ludicrous!


They’ve been slowing down the cars for years one way or another – check out the various lap records from the current circuits; there are several recent ones, but most are from around ten years ago.

As for being green, that’s the image F1 is going for and as far as the actual cars are concerned they are greener than they were, but you’re right; it’s mostly a big farce.


“This parameter (fuel flow rate) is outside of the control of the driver, Daniel Riccardo.”

That’s a peculiar statement by the stewards. By definition this parameter is outside the control of Red Bull. The rules prohibit the teams from being able to make adjustments to the cars via radio signals. The only possible ways Ricciardo could have lowered his fuel flow rate was to lift his foot or use some different engine mapping, and that is under the drivers control. The fuel flow is ultimately under the control of the driver and his throttle foot.

“The team used a different sensor on Saturday but did not get readings that were satisfactory to them or the FIA”

If the fuel flow readings from Riccardo’s car during qualifying were not satisfactory, why were his qualifying times allowed to stand? And if the readings were satisfactory enough to allow his qualifying time to stand, why was the fuel flow sensor changed at all?

These are questions journalists should be asking of the FIA.


They can lean the engine to reduce fuel consumption so it is in control of the driver who will be told by the team which setting to use.

The team also access to other engine telemetry which is what Red Bull was following, which is in breach of the rules.

From what I gather the sensor only monitors the flow rate it does not control or restrict it.

Only the stewards/technical regulators can give permission to make that change from the Primary sensor (the FIA one) to another, it’s not up to the team to decide for themselves.

This is basically the team umpiring themselves which in sport does not work.

Red Bull should have sought a ruling on the sensor, if authorised they could ignore the FIA sensor and go by their alternate method. They would then been in the clear.

At worst they would have lost some time on a number of laps while the decision was made (assuming they proved it was faulty).


When a driver on a public road breaks a rule and is issued a fine captured via a speeding camera, the driver has the right to appeal. If they can prove they were not speeding via GPS data etc and the camera is proven as faulty, the driver has their points reinstated and the fine is revoked even though the rules state the speeding camera is the designated equipment for measuring the speed. Pretty sure this is the law in most countries.

Is this not the same situation as Red Bull and Dan face?


If after the appeal process Red Bull are found to have been in the right then yes, Dan should get his 2nd place and 18 points reinstated.

But by the sounds of it that’s a big if…


They fuel flow rate issue is irrelevant, the real issue is that RBR have chosen to become their own umpire.

The rule is

5.10.4 b “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”

and for this reason only the appeal won’t succeed.

RBR should have lodged a protest with the stewards that they believe the FIA fuel flow sensor to be faulty, providing other data as evidence. Some laps later a decision would have been made, if in their favor then the would have been authorised to make the change away from the Primary sensor and this situation never would have happened.

RBR should never had made this decision themselves and certainly followed instructions to correct it when given fair opportunity to do so.

It’s all RBR fault.


“The fuel flow rate issue is irrelevant”

Reality is irrelevant? If a policeman clocks you on his radar gun as exceeding the speed limit, is it irrelevant whether his radar gun is reading accurately or not?


The only hope that RBR can have is that they prove the sensor was faulty and have the disqualification for the breach changed to a team fine.

This also should have been dealt with during the race, but as usually the stewards sit back and leave it ’til after the race.


I feel sorry for Ricciardo. His Austrian Red Bull team has really let him down.


It is unfathomable to me that the driver has to suffer the consequences of RBR’s cock up.


so if red bull had put a 3.5 v10 in ricardo’s car without telling him he should be allowed to keep his points then?


Yep 😀

Besides, it’s not like anyone would have noticed that his engine was a little louder than the others 😉


come on, flow control is not that difficult

100KG/H = 100000g/H = 1666,66g/min = 27,7g/sec fuel that is allowed to be used by the engine at MAX.

divided by 6 cyl. = 4,6g per sec per piston. now you can play with this numbers and take the rpm into account (max 15.000/min 😉 1666,66/15.000/60/6 … )

maybe all of you understand now what is meant by this rule and just why they introduced it.

take THIS amount of liquidenergy – NOT MORE per sec/min/h and show us how much kinetic you get out of this … everthing else is allowed – regenerating heat, breakingengergy, turbo, boost, intercooler ….



James, if there’s a limit on the amount of fuel used in a GP, what is the point in a fuel flow limit?

Why not just say, “You may use 100kg, use it how you like”?

I really don’t get why there’s a flow rate restriction.


Perhaps this is a dumb engineer’s point of view, but as far as the appeal is concerned, surely it’s the simplest thing in the world to pull the sensor from the car and verify its accuracy?

Stick it on a bench and plumb it up to a fuel pump along with a couple of other independent sensors to correlate flow rates, and then run the pump at rates from zero to something well beyond 100kg/hr. Grab measurements from all the sensors at all flow rates and compare.

If the sensor in question measures the same thing as the others in the test, then the disqualifcation stands. If the sensor deviates by more than a fraction of a percent, then its opinion is chucked in the bin and Ricciardo gets reinstated.

Also, if this is an area that warrants disqualification, then that sensor better have quadruple redundancy. This may or may not be the case, but it’s sure sounding as if there’s a single unit that if it’s faulty, could really screw over a team.


If Red Bull did ignore the FIA and go against their advice they deserve more than their disqualification. Smacks of their arrogance. They are poor loosers and do not like it if things dont go their way. End of!

Look at it this way, if the shoe was on the other foot and RBR got even a whif of Mercedes or Mclaren exceeding their flow rates they would be the first ones banging down Charlie Whitings door!


I think this is a great example of where FIA transparency could greatly improve the fan experience.

I have no problem with the disqualification after the fact, what I am struggling to understand is why the FIA communication to Red Bull was not shared with the public during the race? It’s easier to accept if you see it coming during the race and are not blindsided when you read the race reports next day.


I have no problem with the disqualification after the fact, what I am struggling to understand is why the FIA communication to Red Bull was not shared with the public during the race? It’s easier to accept if you see it coming during the race and are not blindsided when you read the race reports next day.


A couple of facts: Red Bull was doubting the FIA’s flow meter results, but expects every other team to trust the readout of their own sensors? They can’t be serious about that.

Isn’t it far more likely, that they were desperate to use every bit of power they could wring out of that Renault engine, one that was reported to have not enough power beforehand, and were relying on the strategy that the reports about the inaccuracy of the flow-meter would provide enough arguments to circumvent it?

For the ones who don’t understand why fuel flow must be limited: It’s the only method to limit power as the boost is not limited. If you took the flow-limit away, you could easily pass the car ahead with one giant short boost – easy overtaking being what people already were criticising with DRS.


I keep hearing quite a few people complaining about the fuel requirements, ers, etc and how it doesn’t resemble motorsport anymore.

It’s my impression that F1 has no choice but to go in this direction because of outside pressures. Climate change groups and lobbies against fossil fuels have become very powerful and I believe that these moves are an attempt by the FIA to stay relevant and not fall foul of a very powerful lobby. (Indycars PR move to ethanol also comes to mind)

Like it or not the landscape for motorsport is changing. Imagine the difficulty in securing new races, permits, etc should F1 be labeled as eco unfriendly. I would be curious what you think James as you are more privy to inside information like this.


Correct me if I am wrong, but the FIA advice to turn down the fuel flow is just advice and not enforcable. In the same way that Charlie Whiting’s direction at Belgium 2008 that Lewis didn’t need to hand back the position to Kimi was irrelevant.

So if Red Bull can prove their data and show the fuel flow was fine, they will be re-instated.


I hope so


So RB cheated , I don’t think I feel bad for DR – cause he won;t have been in the 2nd place if RB had not cheated ! So its not right to say that DR would still have been 2nd had the flow been correct !


RB felt that the corrections provided by the FIA for the sensor, which apparently did not perform well, were wrong and they would have been penalized in the race if they followed the instructions, though the sensor was not their fault. Hence, they decided to make their own estimate on the flow rate. FIA on the other hand cannot penalize RB for using higher flow rate in the race as FIA cannot prove that Ricciardo’s car has used higher flow rate than 100kg/h at any moment, because their sensor is not working properly. However, they have penalized RB for not following the instructions, which possibly would have resulted in lower flow rate in the car than the allowed one. I don’t think that RB can fight this back as it is not about the flow rate but about not following the rules/instructions.


Exactly…especially as it appears other teams had to correct their sensors and take a hit as well, and complied.

No regulation will ever be perfect – all that you can ask is that it be consistently applied. The teams run mandated ECUs that also probably have a small variance in them (and their sensors) as well…and have for years. All you can hope for is that it is close enough so that other factors tend to outweigh any discrepancies, such as the driver, set-ups, etc.


I don’t want to take too much away from Daniel as he drove a good race and qualified well, but it would be good to know how much of a potential advantage (or gain) Red Bull got from making their own calcs rather than turning the flow down as the FIA asked. Towards the end of teh race Magnusson had caught up to Ricciardo and was within DRS but then dropped away, was this a fuel saving exercise on the McLaren side or linked. James, are you able to explain how much of an advantage this may have given Red Bull please?


Am i the only one that thinks the FIA will have to back down?

If horner is right and other teams did not even run a sensor, why on earth does the FIA have the right to bully DR when the FIA might not even have all the fuel flow data for every team.

Disqualify more teams maybe?

I see an potentially egg faced FIA here. I’m glad RBR have done this and look forward to the outcome.


It’s not quite as straightforward as it might appear – so far as I read the regulations.

Regulation 5.1.4 of the Technical Regulations reads simply ‘Fuel mass flow must not exceed 100kg/h’. At first blush, that’s a question of fact irrespective of what data is available to the FIA – i.e. if Red Bull can demonstrate that the fuel mass flow never exceeded 100kg/h (whatever the homologated sensor may say), there is no breach of Regulation 5.1.4.

Then one has Regulations 5.10.3 and 5.10.4 which provide for the mandatory fitting of homologated sensors.

5.10.3 Homologated sensors must be fitted which directly measure the pressure, the temperature and the flow of the fuel supplied to the injectors, these signals must be supplied to the FIA data logger.

5.10.4 Only one homologated FIA fuel flow sensor may be fitted to the car which must be placed wholly within the fuel tank.

On a narrow reading, this provides no more than that there is such a homologated sensor fitted. I.e. there is not necessarily a breach of the rule in a situation where (i) the fuel flow *in fact* never exceeded 100kg/h; notwithstanding (ii) that the homologated sensor recorded (wrongly) that it did.

The decision then refers to a ‘Technical Directive’ which apparently provides as follows:

“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”

So the question is really – what is the effect of the Technical Directive? Does it have the effect that, unless the Technical Representative directs otherwise, the fuel flow is deemed to be that which the homologated device records? Or to put it another way, if the car complies with the Technical (and Sporting) *Regulations* read alone, can a Technical Directive change the interpretation of that?

Of course, the question only arises if Red Bull can demonstrate, in fact, that the fuel flow never exceeded 100kg/h notwithstanding what was recorded by the sensor.

NB too that the FIA’s reasons do *not* rely on any breach of the sporting/technical regulations occasioned by simply ‘disobeying’ an ‘instruction(s)’ given by the technical representative during the race: the most that seems to be made of that point is that Red Bull repeatedly passed up an opportunity to bring themselves (safely) within the Technical Regulations, according to the Technical Representative’s information provided by the sensor; it is not said that they were disqualified for not obeying the instruction, rather they were disqualified for alleged breach of the regulations.

[PS – it was interesting to see in passing that there is a regulation to prevent obvious gaming of these Regulations: ‘5.10.5 Any device, system or procedure the purpose and/or effect of which is to increase the flow rate after the measurement point is prohibited’ – prohibiting a mechanism to pool fuel after the sensor and then use it at whatever fuel flow rate they like.


Long time reader, first time poster,

As an Aussie who has followed F1 since Alan Jones won his WC, I can say that the sport took a MASSIVE PR hit yesterday.

Australians are avid motor racing fans(as you could tell from DR’s reception on the podium)

and the entire country was behind him, but the question asked today was (rightly or wrongly)was WTF?

To the hard core F1 fan we can understand “tech issues” but to the people seeing it for the first time or wondering if it was worth following, all they saw was DR being disqualified, one radio station even said ” please Red Bull, stop hiring Aussies cos we are getting sick of the bulls#$%t”, the world is about “perception” and in a lot of fans minds that is reality.


I agree! We were all set to purchase our 2015 Melbourne GP Tickets after a brilliant race and weekend on Sunday. We were all on such a high after the race. Monday morning I awoke to the DR disqualification in disbelief. I know the rules are there to keep the play fair, but these new rules are like fitting governors to race cars, what’s the point? Stop calling it Formula 1 and Call it Formula Fuel Endurance! As a long term F1 Fan I am severely disappointed by this ruling. Especially where there is a complex and difficult new formula to abide by. They could at least let Red Bull demonstrate that they had or had not exceeded their fuel flow limit through their own fuel metering model. The technical point is whether or not they did exceed the 100Kg/Hr during the race. The fans don’t give a flying toot what device, reliable or otherwise, is used to measure it! I feel sorry for DR but even more sorry for F1 fans and the huge Australian following that was at Albert Park. A great weekend and a great Race totally marred by bureaucracy. I will hold a review of the FIA decision myself in the coming weeks, and the outcome of their appeal decision will determine whether we invest a substantial amount of our time and money to attend next years race! Great work to all of the drivers especially the three that appeared to finish 1,2 and 3 on the podium !


Is “the fuel that the injectors are providing to the engine” referred to by Christian Horner necessarily the same as the fuel measured by the fuel flow sensor? Could Red Bull have developed some cunning scheme involving diverting/recycling the fuel, using it for cooling, but not supplying it all to the engine?


Renault are being strangely quiet over the whole affair… Wouldn’t it be their components which had been overclocked?

kenneth chapman

renault have publicly stated that they are supporting red bull in their appeal.


Given the sensors and the fuel rate are the rules surely if there is doubt about the technical accuracy of the unit then any protest should be upheld. The FIA needs to get the sensor to perform corectly before it can penalise teams.


A valid point but it was noted beforehand that the sensor may not be working correctly and the FIA then gave Red Bull an offset to use. Red Bull chose to ignore this despite several warnings. If the reports of Ferrari and Merc being warned are correct (and that they subsequently adhered to the FIA warning) then this is just a sign that Red Bull are being, well frankly, a bit egotistical. If they had changed the offset as warned at least there would have been consistency across all teams.

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