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Why the FIA had to uphold Daniel Ricciardo's disqualification

The implications of a different decision would have been enormous for the entire sport.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 16, 2014 (F1plus/Kate Hewitt).- Following a hearing at the International Court of Appeal in Paris (which took place on Monday), it was announced that the FIA were to uphold their decision of disqualifying Daniel Ricciardo from the Australian Grand Prix.

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Of course you can understand why Red Bull appealed against this decision. These sensors are brand new technology. Measuring fuel-flow in a stable car is relatively simple, however to calculate it in a moving car in difficult and testing conditions, is not.

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Red Bull was almost fighting a lost cause. The chaos that would have amassed if they were to have won their case would have sent the F1 world into mass complication.

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Most other regulations would have been questioned. Self-regulations could have been applied. Other teams could have said their components are better than what’s provided – e.g “We don’t like the weighbridge provided by you, we’ll use our own because it’s more reliable and gives out trustworthy data.”

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The FIA’s sensor is the primary source for reading the fuel-flow. If, and only if, it fails, the team can result in using their own calculations. But they must be able to prove to the stewards that the sensor failed. The fact that the FIA disqualified them early on proved that they already knew the sensor was acting accordingly.

It was well known that their had been issues with the sensors. In fact, other teams mentioned that not only were they warned about being in excess of the fuel-flow rate, but they were also losing up to half a second because of it. The difference being: they listened, and complied.

The regulations state that the maximum fuel-flow is 100kg/h. However, because the sensors came after those regulations were written, a technical directive was added to monitor fuel-flow. The technical directive holds no regulatory value, and that’s what Red Bull used to argue their case.

Red Bull were adamant that their sensor was more correct than the one provided by the FIA, but as proven today, that wasn’t to be the case. No doubt that throughout the year fuel-flow and fuel consumption will be a bigger issue than before, and these sensors will be heavily looked at.

Mercedes attended the appeal with the intent of furthering Red Bulls punishment – it was most likely in response to Red Bull interfering with the test-gate tribunal last year. They referenced BAR in 2005, whereby Jenson Button’s car was found to be running 5kg below the minimum weight. Mercedes said that to ensure there is no repeat of Red Bull's offence, a suspended punishment of some kind is necessary.

By disobeying clear regulations, Red Bull has lost 18 points and although no one can take away Ricciardo standing on the podium in front of his own crowd, the feeling is no longer the same.

Although their car showed great pace in Bahrain, that was almost aided by the safety car. This week in China will be crucial to them; so they can see where they in comparison to Mercedes – the clear pace setters.

What are your thoughts on Ricciardo’s disqualification? Do you agree?

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1 Lewis Hamilton 241
2 Nico Rosberg 238
3 Daniel Ricciardo 181
4 Fernando Alonso 131
5 Sebastian Vettel 124
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