Le Grand Retour
Paul Ricard 2018
French Grand Prix
Crucial test case looms for FIA and Red Bull
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Apr 2014   |  8:00 pm GMT  |  270 comments

Tomorrow (Monday) the appeal against Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification from second place in the Australian Grand Prix will be heard.

The Court of Appeal, an independent body, tasked with resolving issues like this by the FIA, will be the centre of a lot of attention as this case will be important for the governing body to assert its authority, which has been challenged by Red Bull’s approach in Melbourne to the technical and sporting regulations.

Depending on who wins, it could affect the way that the technical side of the sport is administered as, if the FIA loses, the use of Technical Directives (memos from the FIA Technical Delegate to all teams with updates and methodologies) could be changed.

There is also the wider question of the use of fuel flow meters in F1, with some teams keen to get rid of them or modify their use.

With the Mercedes chassis and power unit package so far ahead in the new technology race, all the teams chasing them are looking for any angle to gain ground.

With the sensor on Ricciardo’s car “drifting” in its readings during the race in Melbourne, and the FIA judging that the fuel use was above the maximum permitted rate, the team was instructed by the FIA to follow a back up procedure during the race, but instead chose to use its own measurement system.

Prior to the start of the season, the FIA had issued a technical directive which explained the methodology for use of the sensors and the required procedure in the event of problems. Red Bull ignored this, arguing that a technical directive is an opinion, not a binding regulation.

Assessing this will be central to the outcome, as will the FIA’s argument that it is not at the team’s discretion to run a different fuel flow measurement method.

Red Bull will seek to prove that at no time did they exceed the maximum fuel flow rate, but the FIA’s argument is that as Red Bull’s alternative measurement system had not been calibrated against a known FIA sensor, by an FIA supplier, then it is not within the technical regulations.

The FIA stewards excluded the car because it did not comply with the technical regulations during the race, due to Red Bull’s choice of back up methodology and because it is the competitor’s duty to ensure that the car complies at all times.

The suggestion was that this was Red Bull challenging the authority of the FIA, part of an ongoing friction, which is also tied up with criticism of the general direction of these hybrid turbo regulations, which was articulated in detail by it’s design guru Adrian Newey in Bahrain.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes that his team has a very strong case and that as the two following races have unfolded, events have demonstrated more information about the use of the fuel flow sensors which helps their case.

“As more races have progressed, issues have become more evident, new evidence has come to light and new understandings have come to light,” he said. “Hopefully we can present our case fairly and get the second place Daniel deserves from Melbourne.”

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If the Gill sensor was continually drifting off zero then applying an offset is not going to work as the offset would need to be in perfect sync with the sensors drift pattern. Its no wonder RB reverted to their own sensor. They are in the game to win races to do that they need reliable datat. If RB were absolutely sure they stayed within 100kg/h limit and can prove it in court then the decision should be overturned. Ric should get his points back. On the question of RB ignoring a directive from CW then maybe the FIA should take action against RB management, a fine perhaps. This solution would keep RB happy, and allow the FIA to save face. Problem solved. So the big question is did RB exceed the max allowable fuel flow rate? If they didn’t then they did not gain an advantage, no advantage the case should be thrown out. What also should be thrown out are the Gill sensors, its clear they are problematic.

kenneth chapman

a good viewpoint there jimmyboy. i fully agree. that said i do fear the worst as the undercurrents tell me that the FIA cannot afford to be found delinquent and that will be a point of discussion between the judges. it shouldn’t be but i think that it will at least be foremost in some minds.

kenneth chapman

was that a prescient comment or was that a prescient comment? hahaha


He got the 18 points in an illegal car so I’m afraid that’s cheating, even through no fault of Daniels.

Alexander Supertramp

I can’t believe some people expect/want RB to get away with this. That would be a total farce!

Btw, loved the fact that other teams can have a say in the trial, especially with Mercedes trying to push RB’s head under water. It’s not as if Horner had any clemence when Mercedes where in trouble last year!


“Officer, honestly, I wasn’t going over 60 Km/h. Seriously. Your radar must be broken. Here, let me show you my reading from my home-made speedometer.”

Seriously, RB didn’t follow a directive from the FIA. Other teams followed the directive and their performance took a hit. Red Bull didn’t follow the directive; therefore they gained an advantage. Even if they were within the flow limits (as they say they were) they gained an advantage (because others may have been within the flow limits as well but were forced to lower their consumption). In my view they deserve to remain disqualified.


Who said the other teams followed the FIA directive to apply an offset? Where did that information come from?

kenneth chapman

the key phrase here in your post carlos is ‘they were forced to lower their consumtion’. do you mean lower than the mandated allowance or do you mean the actual current rate of usage which would’ve been the calbrated FIA offset rate?.

if the former then that would be a disadvantage and a rule reversal and if the second then that would mean that the offset was wrong? can’t have it both ways.


If it turns out that your speedometer was right after all, you still shouldn’t win the case because then everyone else will want to use their own.



If your hypothetical home made speedo is more accurate than the police radar why shouldn’t you use your own?


A couple of weeks ago the German press (Auto Motor Und Sport) were reporting that Red Bull and Torro Rosso were modifying the sensors before sending for calibration. In addition the cars with the highest drift and failure rate were Red Bull and Torro Rosso.

Doesn’t appear to have been picked up by the English speaking press.

How come?


The fact that Red Bull were asked to apply an “offset” to the reading from the FIA sensor proves that the sensor was inaccurate. If such sensors cannot be relied upon to produce accurate and precise readings then they should not be used. Acknowledging that it’s inaccurate and applying some kind of adjustment factor to its readings is NOT the right thing to do. If the ruling is in favour of the FIA, then it is saying that the truth and the facts don’t matter, that the only thing that matters is what the FIA arbitrarily decide. Hopefully that won’t be the case.


It seems my view of events is supported by others in the tribunal. Also it seems that in spite of RB’s claim, their method of measuring fuel flow is not quite as accurate as they have been saying in the media. That makes their media claims even more outragous in my view and a blatant attempt to affect the outcome of the tribunal. They are also trying to pull the wool over the eyes of F1 fans but thankfully it’s mainly only RB fans who are falling for it. The result of their ignoring the FIA directive was to gain .4 secs per lap. Therefore DR gained his position on the podium by cheating and therefore his points cannot be allowed to stand even if was not a party to the decision to cheat. The verdict should be given tomorrow.

kenneth chapman

heavy stuff there dredds. have you considered what position you will take should the result be found in favour of the dissenting party? i should think that there will be no place to hide.

i personally think that there is a great deal of ambiguity in the case as presented by the FIA but if the tribunal find against the dissenting party then so be it.


Thats Mr Dredds to you. 🙂 Only joking. Today all is well in the world and the tribunal has delivered what I think is the correct decision. It shows the Red Bull claims had no substance as I expected. I can understand why some are not happy for DR because he is an innocent victim in this for sure. RB on the other hand are to blame for him not scoring significient points on his debut. They are the culprits in this. They have accepted the decision and I think thats the best way forward. I’m sure there are some who still aren’t happy with it but the topic is now closed as far as I’m concerned.


Well Kenneth I would have been surprised at any other outcome. RB’s transgression was not about DR or the fuel sensor but the way they challenged the authority of the stewards. RB then coumpounded the issue with a media campaign to try to sway the result of the tribunal and some of what they said was misleading. I am not anti RB but in this case I was anti their approach and methods. However in the past I have praised both them and their drivers. When Seb was in Torro Rosso I predicted in a post somehwere when he would dominate the sport. The following week he won at Monza. Anyway you wont find me criticising teams or drivers except when they do things I dissagree with. There are still plenty of people maintaining that the tribunal was biased, the sensor is the problem etc but for me the issue is finished.

kenneth chapman

@ the dreddster…. very disappointed at the result, obviously, but without knowing what the collective reasoning for the decision was i will keep my powder dry.

as i said earlier, time to move on to the next controversy and maybe some racing in between


Reading the reports it now seems Red Bull had the option of using the 3rd chassis sensor but chose not to and can’t prove that their own measurements are any more than a different form of ‘estimate’. How is this even in doubt now? They dug themselves a bigger hole with those admissions…

Hilarious to hear Mercedes lawyer use the exact same phrase about permanent exclusion that Red Bull demanded after the Merc tyre test. Bet even Horner had to smirk at that reversal of fortunes…;)


F1 isn’t Red Bull’s business. If they burn the house down it won’t matter to them. Flexing their muscles and breaking the rule making process, or turning off the public through Newey and Vettel’s comments on the new formula won’t matter to Dietrich Mateschitz. Worst case scenario he loses some money on his F1 investment.


Why is there a vocal lawyer representing Mercedes in a FIA hearing concerning Red Bull?

Mercedes said that what occurred in Melbourne was a “flagrant breach” of the regulations.

“Red Bull thinks it is entitled to pick and choose between the measurements” they say.


If there isn’t a problem with the modifications made by RB to the Sensors, why did the number 2 car finish five and a half seconds ahead of the four time World Champion. Vettel’s car was stuck down in sixth place with no sensor problems.

RB needs to install the sensors exactly as they come out of the box. Not change, modify or alter them as they wish.

In the last race Daniel’s car stopped sending data from the sensor before the end of the race.


James, how else might cars differ in forthcoming races if RB successfully argue that a technical directive is not a binding regulation?

Will teams no longer constrained by those directives be able to take advantage of that even as soon as the next race and how?

Could such changes be enough to alter the teams current race pace and reshuffle the pack?



That’s the problem for me, a couple of examples Of what will happen if RB win this.

Massa in Brazil last year, got a drive through penalty for going over the pit lane line. Charlie gave the penalty because in his opinion he did it to often (every one was doing it a bit).

Perez got a penalty for passing of the track (can remember which race). Another Charlie opinion.

If RB win this case and the above happens this year you will not take the drive through because the race stewards have no authority. Keep your advantage on track and hope to keep your points on appeal. Because you might be able to prove a millimetre of tyre for one milli sec was ok!


Good Point.

A can of worms will be opened if RBR wins this case.

kenneth chapman

looking forward to the opening of the can. bring it on ASAP

kenneth chapman

@ chris…. time to lighten up a little. my comment was supposed to be taken as TIC. obviously i missed out there eh?

i do agree in principle that F1 can be somewhat of a joke at times but despite all of that i am still an avid follower. 60+ years of motorsport for me and i’m not about to give up now.

what is unique about F1 is the ability of the contestants to be continually testing the ‘waters’ over a very broad spectrum and the intrigue that accompanies that is quite fascinating, to me that is. off track and on track, combined, make for great entertainment.

as for the RB comment i will await the release of the final report of the ICA before commenting. i am somewhat disappointed but fully expected this outcome. funny that.


Why are you so keen on this Kenneth?

Red Bull have used technical directive to their advantage in the past to assist in their mighty 4 doubles on the bounce and only now when things are not going so well do they question them.

Anyway, why are you so keen to see the things go pear shaped for F1, if all the teams start picking and choosing which TD’s they follow and which they ignore the “sport” will become even more of a joke then it is already, why would a fan of the “sport” want this?

kenneth chapman

well elie the entire issue has come about precisely due to faulty fuel flow meters. without this faulty component there would be nothing to argue about.

most often bad laws get repealed after community dissent. truth in sentencing is one excellent analogy.

what we are witnessing here is a disagreement between a competitor and a ruling body. if the rules are wrong then they are there to be tested. quite clearly one party says that the rules are wrong as they believe that in order to conform they would be unduly penalised. the other side says never mind whether we are wrong we are running the show and you will do what you are told.

i tend to always take the view that if there is any ambiguity then by all means put the issue to test. only then will there be any clarity.

either way there should be some resolution that will be carried forward for the benefit of all. red bull are apparently the only ones to carry the weight of their own convictions. given the fact that other teams have benefited by the DQ it is unlikely that they will lend any support. c’est la vie.


I take no issue what so ever that Any team argue the rules especially if they are ambiguous as often they can be & I welcome a resolution that clarifies it equitably and reasonably for all.

I cannot. Will not, will never accept a team that makes its own rules during the course of an event when every other team it is racing – Abided and adhered by those rules with the same tolerances. When all parties acknowledge ( I might add signed to in a concorde) that the governing body is the FIA and only they can issue a directive during a race.

Otherwise whats to stop any team saying ..”well I dont agree with kerbs so I will just cut around them where I can gain an advantage but the others can do it if they like..”

Any team has every right to question-dispute- challenge-the rule makers – before the season starts, before a race, after a race-BUT NOT DURING A RACE & not before every other respondent to those rules has had an input into any changes- DUE PROCESS- they are all signatories to those rules. I cannot believe people can just disregard this completely- its astonishing actually -and part of the regulations.

I can run through every regulation again and highlight exactly how i think it applies but I have a feeling we will get just that shortly..


Luqa & Kenneth – there was a defined tolerance for the sensors and they were applicable to each and every team. It is factored in allowing for the manufacturers stipulated variation. Why is it up to Red Bull to define that variation.

Lets go one step further and ask what is Red Bulls measurement- their fuel rail rail sensor- is it a homolgated measuring device ? Do all the teams know its specification?? Who the hell are Red Bull are they the governing body??.. Who authorised them to change te rules??. If the FIA “fixed” the result ad you ridculously suggest- they did so with known and agreed parameters of racing

kenneth chapman

just so as i see your point elie with more clarity…you agree that the FIA can, at will, tell a team to adjust there performance parameters during a race when their own FIA homologated fuel sensor shows an aberrant reading?

is this not an attempt to influence the race outcome? i do agree that this issue is full of unanswered questions and hopefully some clarity will result from the appeal.

just to shore up your opinion and offer me some enlightenment could you possibly point me to the written statement that the FIA can issue a directive during a race and that directive cannot be challenged.

i guess that we will soon know what the result of the tribunal is and we can all move on to the next controversy.



It was the FIA who wanted to change things DURING the race.

By the FIA’s own admission their mandated equipment was faulty, not by a contestant amount, but drifting back and forth. The fudge factor FIA wanted applied wasn’t good enough and detrimental to the competitor in the opinion of RB. In fact FIA even claimed the 100ltr/hr flow rate was exceeded during the SAFETY CAR phase, which is absolutely ridiculous. Sorry, to many inconsistencies and attempts to manipulate the results by the ruling body.

Due process would mean NOT interfering during the race, but resolving the issue afterwards- which is exactly what RB did. I don’t understand your issue


Well explained! Agree 100%


RB are struggling technically, so why assume that their sensors/measurements are correct while the FIA specified ones are wrong?


The FIA asked for an “offset” to be applied to the readings from their sensor: that proves their sensor was inaccurate.


It proves that one of the sensors was inaccurate….


And how did RB calibrate its own rail sensor(s) independently??


RB has been modifying the sensors to fit their cars and seem to be the only ones having problems.

The FIA stated last month, that beginning with the May race no modifications will be allowed to the sensors.


This is true, they have been drilling/tapping them and installing differently to as was intended and I believe fuel has been entering the electronic part of the sensor.


I think the court of appeal will agree with red bull on the fuel flow sensor – given that Red Bull will have plenty of technical evidence since then.But Red Bull will fail on the Sporting Regs and the FIA being the only mandated body to specify the methodology in the technical regs-this aspect is in both sporting & technical regs-No where does it say a team can adopt its own methodology when racing… This issue is far more than a “fuel flow sensor”..issue I wish people could understand that.. Lets see…


My understanding of the regs are;

1. You must have an FIA fuel meter installed. They did.

2. You must not have more flow than the mandated limit. RBR claim they did not.

Didn’t see anything else but the above

Craig in Manila

I think that it’s brilliant that, even when their cars are not competitive, Red Bull can get their name mentioned over and over and over again in the media.

I sortof feel sorry for Petronas as they’re no-doubt paying a fortune to have their name on the side of those Mercs but, even when the car is dominant, it’s “Red Bull” that is constantly being talked about.


This is like a policeman stopping me for speeding and i say no officer i was doing 60 all the way. Would it stand up in court even if i had filmed my speedo? No because the officers speed gun would be the all they care about, as i could of “alterd” my speedo. How can the court take Red Bulls figures, because they can make them, whatever they want them to be.

I now Mr Loophole got celebs of speeding by saying the speed gun wasnt calebrated properly etc. But the differnce is that when said celb was stoped he didnt say sorry officer your gun is wrong and carry on at the same speed, sticking a finger up. What Red bull should of done is complied at the race then make a complaint about the quilty of the sensors after the race. They didnt choose this path (in my view) to gain a advantage, thats why i think they will loose.

But this is F1 so who knows.


Honest question. Why so biased against Red Bull, James?


Not biased against anyone.

Where do you see bias in the post here?


It’s worded like Red Bull is the bad guy here. Like Red Bull isn’t just proving that they didn’t break the rules, they’re challenging the authority of FIA to gain any advantage over Mercedes.

Or are you just worried that what will the sport be if technical directives become what Kimi uses before the race?



“Don’t forget I talk to everyone: all the teams, the FIA, FOM etc. So I’m not sitting in a study coming up with weird angles!”

Fair enough.

Sometimes it’s not perfectly clear what’s speculation and what isn’t.

Thanks for the honest answer.


No, they feel they have a case and that they can prove they didn’t use more fuel than permissible

The way they have challenged the FIA’s authority here is interesting, though. Don’t forget I talk to everyone: all the teams, the FIA, FOM etc. So I’m not sitting in a study coming up with weird angles!


James, why did none of this controversy come up during subsequent races?


What I don’t understand is how the offsets were determined. There must be some ‘B’ method the FIA stewards used to come up with what were supposed to be reliable offsets. What was the ‘B’ method based on, team data?


Nicely and succinctly put James. TD’s prevail throughout regulated industry for those very reasons and you ignore them at your peril. I believe RB have to be mindful of the ‘double whammy’ effect in the unlikely event that they win, in other words it becomes ‘fair game’ for their competitors as well who are already ahead of them. Let’s not forget that there were other runners in the exact same position as RB during the race and that they listened and responded respectful of the instruction – so they are likely to not be impressed if it comes out in RB’s favour, and perhaps they’d then be entitled to appeal or challenge an unfavourable outcome?


Horner has happily agreed that technical directives are enforceable before – here’s some of his quotes from 2011 and 2012 – sounds as if he thinks the FIA is doing a fair and equitable job to me…

“I think the regulation is quite a grey area,” Red Bull’s Christian Horner acknowledged to Sky Sports, “and I think a clarification will come out before Montreal that will tidy it up through a technical directive.”

Horner: I mean Martin’s interpretation is interesting. My understanding is that Mercedes are firing on over-run. There has been a series of technical directives that have happened since Valencia and the latest technical directive is quite clear in that engines that have been run in previous configurations the FIA would take into account on an equitable basis. Mercedes argued that they’re over-running that they currently do was permitted, which was granted….I think the FIA have responded in a right and correct and equitable manner as all the engines aren’t the same. They operate in different ways. They have different control codes. They are the only ones that are privy to all that information.

If he’s happily accepted FIA technical directives when they allow the Renault engine to alter performance or when the car keeps it’s points (he also kicked off about technical directives during the f-duct saga) it’s a bit rich to say they suddenly don’t apply when it is against him.


Good Point AuraF1 +1.

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