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.