6 Conclusions From The Red Bull Appeal Hearing
Yesterday the full ruling from the FIA appeal court and reasoning behind it was released by the FIA for
public viewing, this brings some interesting conclusions and pointers. The full report can be viewed by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.
1) Red Bull cannot prove that they did not cheat
61. Based on all the above, the Court finds that the Appellant did not prove that its fuel flow model estimates the fuel flow (very) accurately and/or more accurately than the FFM Sensor 73 and does not find any element in the present case that could prove that the Appellant’s car No. 3 did not exceed the fuel mass flow limit of 100kg/h set out in Article 5.1.4 TR.
Red Bull’s whole argument was based around them being able to prove, using their own ‘more accurate’ measurements that they did not exceed the fuel flow rate as specified in the regulations, and that the technical directive issued which states that they must use the FIA sensor is not officially a rule.
The court of appeal have found out that Red Bull’s own measurement of the fuel flow rate includes computer modelling which cannot be proved to be 100% accurate.
2) The team could be causing their own sensors to fail
During the hearing, Fabrice Lom the FIA head of power-train said:
“The teams that are modifying the sensor. If you take the picture of the sensor, you have two connections, and some teams, Red Bull for example, are removing these connections and putting in their own connections. If it [the new connection] is a bit too long inside, it can touch and tube where the measurement is done.”
This statement from the report shows that the way Red Bull install the sensor can cause it to fail, making this sensor issue one of their own making.
3) The team’s fuel supplier could also be causing failures of the fuel flow sensor
Lom also said during the hearing that the Total fuel that Red Bull uses can damage a seal in the meter and lead to complete failures.
“We discovered and now we have identified the issue, It is an issue that is now understood well and we know that it only affects the reliability of the sensor. We discovered that there is a seam, an o-ring in the sensor, that doesn’t support the Total fuel chemical composition so the seal is damaged by the fuel, which kills the sensor.”
Echoing the point above, this shows that the Fuel used by Red Bull (Total) is also causing malfunctions with the sensor. The team has a duty to make sure its supplier beings appropriate fuel for use with the mandated equipment. Ongoing if the fuel is not changed it can really damage Red Bull’s chances in races if they are constantly having to change their fuel flow rate like they should have done in Australia.
4) That technical directives laid out by the FIA do need to be followed
33. According to the FIA, where the rules of the sport establish a strict performance limit, as provided for in Article 5.1.4 TR, compliance with this limit must be determined by the officially controlled, uniformly applicable method specified by the FIA in the Technical Directives. Competitors cannot just pick and choose the method which suits them.
This is a clear warning to all teams that the directives issued by the stewards are important parts of the rules and are a clear guideline on how teams are expected to act if they are to stay within the rules.
5) The appeal demonstrates an arrogance of the Red Bull senior management
Whilst Red Bull will have known this above information before the hearing, it strikes me as ridiculous that the team did not take the official stewards decision in Melbourne on the chin, instead deciding to drag the sport and its rule making process through a court case. It really does seem crazy that Red Bull’s senior management thought that they could prove that there method of measurement was better and more reliable than the governing body’s and challenge the very essence of the new regulations. The arrogance against the sport, its governance and its competitors is staggering. No team can ever be bigger than the sport.
6) The Mercedes / Red Bull rivalry continues off the track
The Mercedes F1 team also sent their lawyer to the hearing to question take part and question the ‘witnesses’ in this appeal case. Their lawyer tried (and failed) to get the panel to hand down a more severe punishment to Red Bull likening the case to that of their own team (in its former guise of BAR Honda) back in 2005 when they raced with an illegal fuel tank and ended up banned for two races. The Mercedes Lawyer argued that the Red Bull team should receive a suspended race ban of ‘no less than three races’.
The full report can be seen by clicking here
As always please have your say by entering a comment below or tweeting me @PG_F1.