Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 17th March 2014

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The month of March

Alonso ‘very happy’ to share Ferrari with Raikkonen (GMM)

Aussie GP furious with F1’s purring engines (GMM)

Rivals face struggle to catch Mercedes (GMM)

Red Bull confident of winning fuel flow appeal (GMM)

Another Red Bull storm in F1

Disqualification not unusual for Australia

German fans ‘turned on’ to new F1

Mercedes utterly dominant


The month of March
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The precursor to GP2 was known as International Formula 3000. This category was originally run in 1985 as a replacement for the expensive Formula Two championship. It’s third champion was the enigmatic Stefano Modena seen here driving his Onyx Marlboro March 87B-Cosworth to victory at the 1987 Birmingham Superprix meeting. His victory here formed part of his successful campaign which culminated in his being crowned the 1987 F3000 champion.

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Alonso ‘very happy’ to share Ferrari with Raikkonen (GMM)

Fernando Alonso insists he is “very happy” to have a “strong opponent” to fight against at Ferrari this year.

Some believe the Spaniard cannot possibly have supported the team’s decision to replace the subordinate Felipe Massa with the former Ferrari champion Kimi Raikkonen. But Alonso insists Massa was no pushover. “Sometimes he was even faster than Michael Schumacher when they were together,” he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. “But my four years were fantastic with Felipe, so I expect nothing other than my coming years with Kimi to be fantastic too.”

Finn Raikkonen had a poor race return with Ferrari in Australia, but Alonso tipped him to get up to speed quickly. “He’s very, very fast, perhaps the fastest of us all, or at least he is considered as such by some,” he said. “Last year, he battled for the title with a Lotus, an achievement I rate highly because I do not think Lotus are so strong,” Alonso added. “I have a very strong opponent in the team and I am very happy about that, whether you believe me or not.”

He said all the recent speculation about their relationship was “understandable”, given the new season and a “winter in which nothing much happens”. “This has become a routine for me, especially since I’ve been with Ferrari, because it was also said it would be very difficult for me with Felipe,” said Alonso.

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Aussie GP furious with F1’s purring engines (GMM)

Organisers of the Australian grand prix are furious with F1’s new low volume. Even some of the sport’s stalwarts were alarmed in Melbourne when the 22 cars purred towards the first corner in Melbourne on Sunday.

“At first I said ‘Just take out your earplugs, it’s the same as before,” triple world champion Lauda told the German broadcaster RTL. “But I have to honestly say I was slightly disappointed today on television, especially at the start. Simply something was missing,” he added. “Before, it (the sound) was right down to the marrow. We need to get used to it but it has lost some of its attraction,” said Lauda.

World champion Sebastian Vettel said driving in Melbourne felt more like being at the wheel of “a vacuum cleaner than a racing car”.

F1’s most experienced active driver Jenson Button is also worried, especially after a V8-equipped demonstration car did laps at Albert Park at the weekend. “Oh my god I miss that,” he said. “It sounded amazing. Those were great years for the sound of the engine, but that is no more.”

Most in the F1 paddock are disappointed, but Australian Grand Prix corporation chief executive Andrew Westacott has revealed he is actually angry. “We pay for a product, we’ve got contracts in place, we are looking at those very, very seriously because we reckon there has probably been some breaches,” he told Fairfax Radio on Monday.

But Lauda, who is dominant Mercedes’ F1 chairman, said it would be wrong to tinker with the engine rules just because the sport is now quieter.

“Everyone wants to do something about it, but you can’t just change the exhaust pipe, you’d have to redevelop the whole engine and the mapping,” he said. “That’s just way too expensive. Please do not change the engines just to make a bit more noise,” he exclaimed.

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Rivals face struggle to catch Mercedes (GMM)

Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification aside, the Red Bull ‘crisis’ appeared far less severe in Melbourne than it did over the winter. Together with struggling engine supplier Renault, the reigning world champions have made a big step forward with the RB10, but boss Christian Horner warned that there is still a mountain to climb.

“We have one second per lap to catch up,”
he told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, after Ricciardo finished behind Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg on Sunday. But Horner agreed that Red Bull has finally emerged from the dark and now has a base to build upon for the remaining 18 races of the season. “Our season began here in Australia,” he is quoted by Italy’s La Stampa. “We basically skipped winter testing.”

That winter season showed that the expected favourite, Mercedes, is currently on track for the 2014 title. “We knew they would be in front when we got here,” Williams’ Felipe Massa is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace. “But the race also showed a strong Red Bull. When they solve their problems with the engine, they will have a car to fight with. McLaren showed that they have a good car too, but the race also showed that we have a car to be fighting with them,” added Massa, who was punted into retirement by Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi at the first corner.

Winner Rosberg, however, tipped Mercedes to only get stronger from now, revealing the Brackley team will use the two weeks before Malaysia to make the W05 “even faster and more reliable”. Niki Lauda said the German drove “like a god” in Melbourne, while the Welt newspaper said “Rosberg is the new Vettel”.

World champion Vettel’s Red Bull failed in Melbourne, and the team’s Dr Helmut Marko pointed a clear finger of blame at Renault. “They have underestimated some of the problems (in preparing for the 2014 rules),” he said, “and also not correctly calculated the necessary time frame”. Marko said he hopes the problems are all solved by “the summer”, when Red Bull wants “to be close to Mercedes”.

Indeed, Mercedes’ Lauda said the German squad cannot relax in the face of Red Bull’s problems, saying the RB10 is clearly already “really fast. That is why we need to develop our car quickly, so that what happened last year does not happen again,” he told German television RTL, referring to how Red Bull recovered an early-season dip to utterly dominate in 2013. Lauda said “thank god” when contemplating that Renault is still grappling with its turbo V6.

Also struggling to face up to Mercedes’ current dominance is Ferrari, after Fernando Alonso finished just fifth on the road on Sunday. “I would have liked to be closer to the podium,” the Spaniard is quoted by El Confidencial, “but it was impossible. With the Mercedes engines … it was almost like another category,” said Alonso. “I was behind a Force India and it was impossible to overtake. Before the race, I could sense that we were behind Mercedes, but maybe not so far,” he added.

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Red Bull confident of winning fuel flow appeal (GMM)

Former F1 team owner and boss Paul Stoddart has tipped Red Bull to win its appeal against Daniel Ricciardo’s Melbourne disqualification.

In a complex ruling, Ricciardo’s car was excluded after the team rejected the accuracy of an FIA sensor and relied on its own measurements to comply with the rule governing the maximum allowed flow of fuel into the engine. “We wouldn’t be appealing if we weren’t extremely confident we have a defendable case,” said team boss Horner.

Stoddart, who sold his Minardi team to Toro Rosso owners Red Bull in 2005, tipped Red Bull to prove to the FIA that it didn’t cheat. “The Renault engineers would’ve known exactly how much fuel was going into that engine,” the Australian told Melbourne radio 3AW on Monday. “We’re talking teams with budgets of $400, $500 million here — they have far better equipment than the FIA.” The correspondent for the London newspaper The Times, Kevin Eason, wrote: “In the other corner (to Red Bull) is the FIA, essentially an amateur organisation with a budget a fraction of the F1 teams.”

Stoddart tipped Red Bull to be able to prove that Ricciardo “did not gain any advantage” and that it decided to ignore the FIA because it was the “right” thing to do in the circumstances. Horner explained: “We could see a significant discrepancy with what the sensor was reading and what our fuel flow was stated as. These (FIA) fuel flow sensors have proved problematic. So we relied on our own data, because otherwise we would have lost a lot of engine power,” he is quoted by Speed Week.

The FIA’s Charlie Whiting, however, said he advised Red Bull repeatedly throughout the race weekend to “take the necessary steps” to comply with the rules. “If they had followed the advice we gave them at the time, we would not have had a problem and they would not have been penalised,” he said. “If their sensor was kaput, then things would have been different,” Whiting added. “It is a human thing because they have the ability to do what was needed to comply.”

Red Bull’s case is further weakened by the words of Mercedes engine boss Andy Cowell, who said the way the fuel flow is measured is “accurate and reliable”. “All the teams have their own consumption measurements via the injection data,” he is quoted by the German-language Spox. “In the case of irregularities, the FIA will compare its values with those of the team. So we have a safety net.”

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Another Red Bull storm in F1

Leopards and spots…. dogs and tricks… Mmm…

Amusingly, I wrote the first section of this article on Thursday – of course under a different working title – but the events of the weekend overtook me. I will indicate the point at which I pick it up again today.

There’s been a lot of talk in the media about absolute fuel usage this weekend, with Melbourne being one of the more fuel hungry tracks. For any F1 follower of more than a passing interest, the message is clear that the cars now have 100kgs of fuel per race, not the previous 150kgs.

Yet for the first time in F1, fuel FLOW – the rate at which fuel is used – is also being capped. The teams will be restricted to a maximum intake of fuel to their engines of 100kg/hour.

In the Autumn of last year, we discovered the fuel flow sensors commissioned to regulate the 2014 cars, were not working properly; this despite some 18 months of design and development.

Then in January, the FIA announced the fuel flow sensors produced by Gill sensors had been homologated and the previous error of +/- 1.5% has been reduced to fall in line with the FIA’s specification.

The fuel flow is monitored by ultrasonic wave pulses and the faster the flow, the more quickly the sensor receives a signal.

In January, Rob White gave us some indication of the impact of this regulation. “The instantaneous fuel consumption will be limited to 100 kilos per hour above 10,500 rpm. Last season there was no limit and typically a 2.4-litre V8 ran about 160 kilos per hour at the end of the straight.”

There is some concern that the sensors are not completely 100% reliable, and Luca di Montezemolo has this to say in an open letter to Ferrari fans on the team’s website. “Such an important set of changes to the regulations is bringing some grey areas, for example fuel, software, consumption,” said Il Padrino. “In these [areas] I am fully expecting the FIA to be vigilant – as I’m sure they will be – to avoid any trickery, which has also taken place in the recent past but must not happen any more for the good of this sport.”

It has been suggested to TJ13, that the fuel flow rate may in fact be relaxed for 2015, when the exact nature of the racing in F1 with the new V6 turbos becomes more apparent.

If this is the case, the restriction of the rate of fuel flow may have been a measure designed to mitigate against the possibility of one engine manufacturer building an engine that was so superior the championship would become a foregone conclusion after a handful of races.

However, the restriction of fuel and the rate of flow is indeed a game changer for F1. Numerous engineers and drivers have suggested sentiments similar to these from Sutil. “There will be a lot of fuel-saving early in the race,”

This being the case, the importance qualifying and attaining of pole position will diminish, what is certain is that the the radio messages will be dominated by fuel discussions between the driver and the pit wall and deciphering their codes will be a cryptic puzzle for us all to play over the next month or so.

And now I pick it up again…

FIA ineptitude

So what do we know? Firstly, following Il Padrino’s comments in advance of the weekend, fuel flow had already been identified as a ‘gray area’ where there may be trouble ahead. Il Padrino’s sources are clearly as impeccable as always.

Secondly, we were spared excessive fuel saving radio conversations due to the aborted start and laps under the safety car.

On the broader issue of retrospective punishments post the chequered flag, TJ13 has previously engaged directly with the FIA. TJ13 argued it is unnecessary and brings the sport into disrepute.

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The farce that ensued following the opening F1 race of the season is exactly the kind of scenario presented to the FIA. It is unacceptable that some 5 hours after the event has finished, the fans and the competitor’s are informed there has been a revision of the final result of the race in Melbourne.

Were this a driver ranked 12th, the impact would have been minimal. Even had the driver concerned been placed in the minor points, again the drama would not be so great.

Yet we have our first Aussie on the podium in Melbourne, he is the new kid on the block at the team which is world champions, it is his first ever F1 podium and he was presented with a second place trophy in front of the entire world.

The stewards were informed that Red Bull were regularly warned during the race to comply with fuel flow rate instructions and they carte blanche refused. Clearly, if Ricciardo was running at a higher flow rate than the others, he gained an unfair advantage and given the distance from him to his McLaren pursuers, he would not have made the podium.

The use of a black flag has all been but dismissed from F1, yet in this scenario, it would have been a better solution for all. However, TJ13 has suggested repeatedly, that Charlie Whiting – whilst a nice bloke – is not the man to be administering the technical and sporting regulations in F1. He is fearful of litigation from the teams and sanction from his employer.

So the decision made during the race was not to ‘pervert’ Red Bull’s opportunity to achieve a finish and a result – and to fight it out later – despite the farcical nature of the post race interviews and punter comments.

Seeing as Charlie recommends the processes and procedures by which the rules are administered, he can find no solace should it later be discovered that the technical delegate can only report any such breaches to the stewards following the chequered flag.

Why Red Bull?

Christian Horner claims in his interviews that faulty fuel sensors have been a problem “up and down the paddock”. It may be that this comment will be the undoing of the usually sure footed individual when it comes to inter-team/FIA politics. The question is now…. why did everyone else comply with the edicts from the FIA – faulty sensors or not- but Red Bull refused?

Mr. H claims he wouldn’t be appealing the decision to disqualify Ricciardo unless he believed he had solid grounds for such action. In substantiation of this, he cites the fact he can prove their car was in fact under the 100kg’hr.

“These fuel flow sensors that have been fitted by the FIA to measure fuel have proved problematic throughout the pit lane, and since their introduction at the start of testing, there have been discrepancies.

“That offset we didn’t feel was correct, and as we got into the race, we could see there was a significant discrepancy between what the sensor was reading and what the fuel flow, which was the actual injection of fuel into the engine, was stated as.

“That’s where there was a difference of opinion. It’s immature technology, and it’s impossible to rely 100 percent on that sensor, which had proved to be problematic in almost every session that we’ve run in.”

Yet the stewards are crystal clear, “That regardless of the team’s assertion that the sensor was fault, it is not within their discretion to run a different fuel flow measurement method without the permission of the FIA. The stewards find that car #3 was out of compliance with the technical regulations and is therefore excluded from the results of the race”.

Open and shut case. The appeal is a nonsense – and there is another agenda here. Newey’s calibrations and calculations will not be accepted in mitigation of the team’s breach of the technical regulations.

Whilst the FIA do not issue technical regulation instructions at each event, they are made more often than people may know. Some of them never reach beyond the team and the technical delegate, though one such public occasion occurred recently where Red Bull were given orders to cover them up holes in the floor of the RB8. This was during the 2012 Canadian GP weekend and they did so without debate or appeal.

The decision to be in breach of instructions issued by the technical delegate was clearly pre-meditated and it begs the question whether there are bigger fish to fry as part of the appeal, than merely one race result.

Were Ade and Chris of the opinion that by making a big fuss over the general topic of fuel sensors they could gain some longer term advantage, they would act without hesitation. Are Red Bull in fact trying to get the sensors kicked out of F1?

This would be logical were the Renault/Red Bull engineers be of the opinion that their engine/car combination would perform relatively better in comparison to the others were a different fuel flow rate or method of measurement be adopted. Throw enough juice at the Renault engine and it could well be up there with the others.

On the other hand this could merely have been Red Bull testing what the technical delegate can see. Knowing that Ricciardo would be nowhere if they complied with the fuel flow instructions, there was nothing to lose. This would then be exactly the kind of ‘trickery’ against which Il Padrino warned.

However, stranger things have happened, but Ferrari could become Red Bull’s bedfellows should Christian seductively remind Il Padrino of the Italian’s recent comments. “I, like all of you, love an extreme Formula 1 where technology and drivers are always on the limit.” – So chuck out the fuel flow regulations.

Solution

Short term – the FIA stands firm, Ricciardo is excluded and the black flag is dusted down and ready for Sepang.

Long term – Charlie is sent fishing indefinitely with Ross.

The sensors have to stay. There is no widespread accusation that their inaccuracy is giving one team a significant advantage. Given time to develop, their performance will improve or next year an alternative must be found.

Further, Red Bull should be sanctioned with a 3 race suspended ban for bringing the sport into disrepute and wilful disobedience of the regulations. Under article 1.3.2 “Acquaintance with and Submission to the regulations”, It states, “In a case of non-compliance, any person or group… may have the license which is issued to them withdrawn, and any manufacturer may be excluded from the FIA championships on a temporary or permanent basis.” 

We cannot allow the F1 news agenda for the next weeks and months to be set by Red Bull’s ‘trickery’. This happened in 2013 over tyres which were not sympathetic to Newey’s design and nobody can surely bear all the debates about “F1 being broken” AGAIN… and simply because Horner et al don’t like the regulations regarding sensors, double diffusers, tyres or whatever adversely affects their car.

Ferrari just tweeted their opinion on the latest Red Bull F1 storm

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Disqualification not unusual for Australia

untitledWhilst it’s all rather dramatic at present, Australia has seen it’s fair share of drivers disqualified over the years. The last 3 F1 disqualifications prior to yesterday, all took place in Melbourne.

In 2011 both Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi in their Sauber’s were DQ’d following post race scrutineering where their rear wings were discovered to be illegal. They had finished the race seventh and eighth.

Australia 2009 saw a more controversial DQ. Lewis Hamilton was thrown out of the race when the stewards decided that McLaren and Hamilton had misled them.

Following the race, Jarno Trulli’s third place investigated and the stewards decided that the Italian regained his position overtaking Hamilton during a safety car period, Trulli was penalised 25 seconds, moving him down to 12th place.

Trulli’s explanation of the incident was: “When the safety car came out towards the end of the race Lewis Hamilton passed me but soon after he suddenly slowed down and pulled over to the side of the road. I thought he had a problem so I overtook him as there was nothing else I could do.” [Autosport].

Hamilton corroborated this, stating that the McLaren team had told him to let Trulli re-pass. When in front of the stewards, Hamilton contradicted this position denying he had been instructed to allow Trulli though.

Toyota appealed the penalty firstly to the stewards, that appeal was rejected, as time penalties were not subject to appeal during the final 5 laps of a race. [Article 16.3 of the Sporting Regulations].

Toyota then appealed to the clerk of the course, but later retracted this appeal stating that: “Having considered recent judgements of the International Court of Appeal, it is believed any appeal will be rejected.”

Realising their mistake, the FIA re-opened the matter in Malaysia as ‘new evidence’ had come to light. Hamilton continued to insist he had not been instructed to allow Trulli through and was then played and audio of the team radio instruction.

The stewards decided that Hamilton and McLaren had misled them, having contradicted the available evidence. Hamilton was disqualified and McLaren stripped of their constructors’ points. Trulli was re-instated into third place.

McLaren’s Sporting Director, Dave Ryan, was subsequently suspended by the team the day after Hamilton’s disqualification was announced. McLaren were summoned to appear before the FIA on 29 April 2009 to answer charges of breaching the International Sporting Code. At this meeting, McLaren were given a suspended three-race ban, which would only be applied if a similar offence occurred within the next twelve months.

Dave Ryan was sacked by McLaren.

In Melbourne 2008, Rubens Barrichello in his Honda was disqualified after the race for exiting the pitlane whilst the red light was illuminated during a safety car period.  He had initially finished sixth.

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German fans ‘turned on’ to new F1

RTL is reporting its preliminary audience figures averaged 3.12m. This peaked towards the end of the race at 3.84m – some 250,000 more than in 2013.

Of course, this for many was the first opportunity to see and hear the new cars, yet if Mercedes begin to dominate proceedings, will the TV audiences still stack up.

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Mercedes utterly dominant

It’s not just the teams and the FIA who are suffering from dodgy components,. It appears there were problems with the new graphics we were supposed to be seeing from FOM TV.

Even basic lap time information and gaps between drivers appeared to be a struggle from time to time for the broadcaster.

However, the utter dominance of the Mercedes when considering the following is scary.

Rank Driver Car Gap On lap
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 19
2 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 0.09 56
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 0.138 56
4 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 0.156 38
5 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 0.439 39
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 0.588 49
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 0.708 57
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 0.732 56
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 0.888 34
10 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1.213 56
11 John-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1.386 35
12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1.724 33
13 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 2.086 41
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2.288 30
15 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 2.803 41
16 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 3.157 55
17 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 4.586 26
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 4.854 17
19 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 13.65 1
20 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 17.469 2

Rosberg sets his fastest time on lap 19, when he was circulating about 1.4 seconds quicker than anyone else. It took another 15 laps of fuel burning off for another car to get within 1 second of this time.

Nico built his 24 second winning margin time over the 41 laps following the safety car, yet this could have been over a minute had he maintained his fastest rate of separation between himself and the rest of the field.

For those who are mystified over the effects of a safety car – check this out. Most people think Bottas lost loads of time due to his collision with the wall.

Lap      Rosberg           Bottas              Bottas defecit

9          94.22               95.73               -1.51

10        94.36               156.29             -61.93

11        95.19               122.86             -27.67

12        134.27             118.20             16.07

13        149.95             100.34             49.61

14        141.21             116.98             24.23

15        134.49             126.69             7.8

16        93.98               98.55               -4.57

17        94.04               95.05               -1.01

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82 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 17th March 2014

  1. Stoddart, who sold his Minardi team to Toro Rosso owners Red Bull in 2005, tipped Red Bull to prove to the FIA that it didn’t cheat…

    Whether or not they “cheated” is irrelevant.

    They breached the regulations, having been warned with the rest of the teams of a ‘zero tolerance’ approach on the particular regulation, and warned several times during the race.

    While it’s unarguable the the FIA should be more transparent about any problems with the flow meters, and that they should resolve any questions about their accuracy and consistency, I don’t see how they can back down on the disqualification.

    • Right you are. After doing a fair amount of reading, it has become obvious to me that the point of the FFM is to STANDARDISE fuel flow across all the teams.

      Since the teams use different injectors and parts, it is the simplest way to ensure fairness, assuming the meters are accurate amongst themselves. Which was checked after the RB complaint. Since every other team that raced on Sunday adjusted their flow based on readings from the FIA sensor, Red Bull should have too. The flow rate measured by their engine is wholly irrelevant to this discussion.

    • Red Bull I think are used to sailing close to the wind on the technical rules and have grown a tad complacent when they’ve gotten away with something. They should have followed the FIA’s directions during the race, they would have still got a good haul of points which should have been the priority early on in the season whilst they are having teething problems with the RB10. Todt needs to give Charlie Whiting and the other technical delegates the ability to actually be able to use the black flag without fear of the teams taking legal action.

      Of course Red Bull rebelling also plays to the brand image of Red Bull, though to me it just comes across as sour grapes. Horner should be wary of Mercedes and Ferrari, they may throw their collective weight around (with the other Mercedes and Ferrari powered teams) to stop Red Bull gaining an advantage.

      Not following the FIA’s directions during the race is a serious matter, not matter how silly a team things a piece of technology or a rule is. If anything for safety reasons.

  2. As if we needed any more justification for the benefits of fan-led F1 journalism, this nugget of nonsense reached my email inbox today from a respected professional F1 journalist:
    “Everyone knew that the flow sensors were a bit delicate but there was no need to draw this to the attention of the public”
    This comment on Red Bull’s actions which put the discussion of fuel flow metering in the public domain says it all about the closed world of F1 and the protectionist atmosphere among some of the “old boys club” who extract their living by dint of privileged access to the paddock.
    “Don’t tell the public” “keep it within the F1 insiders” – is this the correct attitude of a journalist?

    Viva TJ13 and sites like it who do want the public to know the real story!!!

    • Ha ha. I know what you mean mate. I got the same nugget and thought by myself what a load of tosh.

      If the FIA wants to be taken seriously they need to sort it out properly. Did they really think leaving such a massive loophole open will have all the teams toe the line?

      A positive thing for the RB fans out there, seems the Renault can run ok if you throw enough juice into it 😛

    • Yes, read that couple of hours ago and couldn’t believe what he wrote. He has also trashed this website on a couple of occasions. He seems to consider us all part of the great unwashed and our part is to listen and not speak unless we are yelling our praises to him.

      Sadly he is not alone. Read similar notsense from other quarters. These experts and leaders will be the death of the sport.

        • Yes. He who frequently rages against “outsiders” reporting F1 news and who warns his readers that only those inside the paddock can be trusted as sources of information. It’s just a cosy protectionist racket – one which new technology is bringing to an end, not before time.

    • F1 has to move with the times, fans want more interaction and information about the sport. Keeping information close to the chest just does not cut it in the age of social media and the ability to convey information around the world in seconds with a tweet etc.

    • +1 to sharl peaks’s comments.

      Of course it’s the mushroom scenario. Keep in the dark and feed them cr..

      • Here’s the comment I left for him:

        Joe Saward said: “Everyone knew that the flow sensors were a bit delicate but there was no need to draw this to the attention of the public.”

        “Errr., yeah.

        This is exactly the kind of attitude that has allowed Ecclestone to succeed in mismanaging Formula One’s commercial rights, to the immense financial benefit of himself + a select few elites, at the expense of the sport as a whole.

        But bravo – at least you’re not ashamed of being an Establishmentarian who favors deceiving the public and covering-up a story, rather than reporting it transparently. Subservient media usually don’t like to admit this.”

        • Did your comment make it through his censorship.? I looked for it but didn’t find it. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the comments section of his blog site but it’s just as I remember it – full of sarcastic, dismissive responses from Joe, belittling the contributors there. And then he wonders why the seeds of negativity he sows rebound upon him with what he often calls “abusive” comments.

          • Hi Shari.

            I doubt that he “published” it, but I haven’t checked today. When I posted it yesterday it was “waiting to be moderated” or whatever the message is.

            Yeah Idk what the dude’s problem is – he has a serious grouchy streak in him that seems to radiate through the comments he leaves, which often are, like you note, sarcastic and dismissive and very off-putting.

  3. Punishing RBR is fine, punishing Ricciardo is NOT! Even the stewards got him off the hook in their report!

    • Yeah wel it has always been that way. If somethings wrong both are punished, and should be punished. After all, his points are gained by breaking the rules. Maybe it wasn’t his fault, but he still has the benefit of it. So why would they not punish him? Otherwise one could become champion as a driver without one single point for the constructor.

    • It’s a team sport, if a driver messes up the team loses out and if the team screws up (as Red Bull have done) then it’s the driver who loses out. They have to take the highs and the lows as they happen. F1 has always been like this and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

      • F1 started as a Drivers Championship in 1950!
        It becomes also a Constructors Championship eight years later…

        IMO, it’s not because it has been wrongly done before it must be still ongoing!

  4. How many other teams noted a discrepancy in the flow readings? No doubt some were advantages, some we’re disadvantaged. I’d be screaming blue murder as a team principal if my cars were adversely affected. There’s gotta be more to all this. RBR are arguing their corner for their own benefit, but there must be other teams supporting the fight…

    • Thing with RB was that they was a ‘consistent’ discrepancy with the fuel flow. If fuel flow rate was over the limit intermittently, maybe FIA are a bit lenient to start off with, until all are standardised. Of course that wouldn’t change the winner but it would probably have an effect for the rest of the teams.

      • Yeah, I saw that bit about the FIA telling RBR to use an offset in the stewards’ report. That sounds like the FIA are calling it a simple calibration problem. RBR evidently pushed back with their own opinion – and they hold that opinion strongly enough that they were willing to risk disqualification.
        Maybe the rest of the teams don’t care ‘cos RBR didn’t win for a change.

  5. Yeah, I saw that bit about the FIA telling RBR to use an offset in the stewards’ report. That sounds like the FIA are calling it a simple calibration problem. RBR evidently pushed back with their own opinion – and they hold that opinion strongly enough that they were willing to risk disqualification.
    Maybe the rest of the teams don’t care ‘cos RBR didn’t win for a change.

  6. I find it odd that the FIA chose an ultrasonic flow meter to regulate fuel flow – these are widely known to be very difficult to make accurate. Of all the flow sensor technologies they’d be very nearly the last I’d choose in this application. The only real benefit is that it is a non-intrusive technology which I would guess would be attractive to the engine manufacturer as it help to keep turbulence in the fuel flow down. There are so many factors that affect the accuracy that I can’t see how they can rely on them though.

    Out of interest, am I right in thinking the 100kg/hr is an absolute limit, not an average limit? I’d assume there is something in the regulations that state the actual measuring period.

    Personally, I’d have chosen turbine meter for this application. Much easier to make and calibrate accurately. Of course, these measure volume, not weight, and the conversion between the two is dependent on the specific gravity – which will differ between fuel suppliers – and temperature.

      • Actually, that is bad terminology. Any flow reading is an average as flow is specified as volume (or mass) per time period.

        This is why I say there must be something in the regulations that say what the maximum flow rate is over a more sensible time period in the circumstances. Due to the turbulence present in most flow (indeed ultrasonic flowmeters need a degree of turbulence to work) the electronics processing the signal from the transducer will include a degree of averaging. The flowmeter I designed a number of years ago averaged over several seconds for example.

        That, of course, could be Red Bull’s undoing – they are saying that they can prove they haven’t exceeded the limit but if the limit is set by the FIA flow meter (in the regulations that is) then this averaging is set by design and is consistent across all teams. You could easily ‘hide’ peaks by averaging over a longer period…

        • Can someone explain what all this means? Cars are limited to 100kg per race, and also 100kg/hr flow rate. Surely if a race is 90 minutes long, and they have used 100kg, then the flow rate is 67kg/hr?

          • This is why I say above the quoted limit is pretty meaningless. In this application any sampling period longer than a few seconds would be meaningless as flow rates can potentially change very quickly.

            The limit is basically extrapolated. 100kg/hr works out to just under 28g per second. Therefore, if you burn 30g of fuel in one second you have exceeded the limit.

            Of course the engine will only burn fuel under acceleration which is only part of the lap and the amount of fuel burn varies based on a number of factors. The rules just set a peak.

          • At some times you may be consuming less than 100 kg/h (for instance when braking) and at others 100 kg/h, so on average you will be consuming less than 100 kg/h on a race, but you should never be consuming more than 100 at any instant.

        • …. I believe the sample time for the average flow is pretty short. You maybe could hide a blip of the throttle – if you could time it perfectly.

          It is certainly not the average of the race – as pointed out – this would be a nonesense

          • Knowing how clever Renault were with blowing exhaust gases, I wouldn’t put it past them to be able to come up with some system that modulates flow in such a way that the average over a particular time period is under the limit, but the time period in question isn’t compatible with the FIA meter…

            That is my thinking really, if the average is over a second then there isn’t much you can do. If the average is over 10 seconds then you can quite easily burn more then coast to get the average down.

        • Stephen, have you ever actually read the FIA’s F1 technical regulations?

          If not, I highly recommend it:

          http://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/regulation/file/1-2014%20TECHNICAL%20REGULATIONS%202014-01-23_0.pdf

          ARTICLE 5 : POWER UNIT
          5.1 Engine specification :

          5.1.1 Only 4-stroke engines with reciprocating pistons are permitted.

          5.1.2 Engine cubic capacity must be 1600cc (+0/-10cc).

          5.1.3 Crankshaft rotational speed must not exceed 15000rpm.

          5.1.4 Fuel mass flow must not exceed 100kg/h.

          5.1.5 Below 10500rpm the fuel mass flow must not exceed Q (kg/h) = 0.009 N(rpm)+ 5.5.

          5.2.5 Cars must be fitted with homologated sensors which provide all necessary signals to the FIA data logger in order to verify the requirements above are being respected.

          5.10 Fuel systems :

          5.10.1 The pressure of the fuel supplied to the injectors may not exceed 500bar. Only approved parts may be used and the list of parts approved by the FIA, and the approval procedure, may be
          found in the Appendix to the Technical Regulations.

          5.10.2 There may only be one direct injector per cylinder and no injectors are permitted upstream of the intake valves or downstream of the exhaust valves. Only approved parts may be used and the list of parts approved by the FIA, and the approval procedure, may be found in the Appendix to the Technical Regulations.

          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.

          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.

          8.2.4 If sensor faults or errors are detected by the driver or by the on-board software, back-up sensors may be used and different settings may be manually or automatically selected. However, any back-up sensor or new setting chosen in this way must not enhance the performance of the car. Any driver default turned on during the start lockout period may not be turned off before the end of that period. “

      • There is always a measurement over time… Miniscule as it may be… F1 is a world of small fractions of performance (ie .0000023%) numbers.

    • I’ve read somewhere (probably on this site 😉 ) that the sampling frequency was reduced from 10 Hz to 5 HZ prior to the race.
      I`m no engineer but am i correct in assuming that means a sampling period of 1/5th of a second?

      But in essence the ruling said it doesn’t matter whether the engine actually exceeded the fuel flow limit, because as long as the Stewards don’t declare the sensor data void, it’s the only accepted measuring method.

      In my opinion RBs appeal would have to prove 2 facts to stand a chance:
      1. That the stewards failed to consider the sensor as faulty although they were obligded to do so in light of the data collected during the previuos sessions.
      2. That by the alternative measuring method the fuel flow was within the regulation.

      • Hard to tell without knowing more about the system. Different engineers use different terminology so what I would interpret this to be may not be what whoever wrote the code for the ECU termed it to be.

        A filter would normally imply that changes above a certain frequency are removed – in other words, any short term ‘blips’ are ignored. The note you quote seems to suggest that any ‘blip’ at a frequency of 5Hz or above (as you say, 0.2 seconds) will be ignored compared to the previous setting of 0.1 seconds.

        It *could* mean that the fuel flow will be sampled at 5Hz rather then 10Hz which in itself would seem a reasonable value, but as I say without knowing more the first option seems more probable.

        (Operation of filters grossly simplified there just before I get pulled up by anyone who understands these things!)

      • 1Hz = 1 time per second, so the sensor was originally working at 10Hz – ten times a second, reduced to 5Hz – 5 times per second. So it is still pretty regular and would pick up even a blip in the throttle.

        • 10Hz was throwing too many false positives so they adjusted the sample rate to 5Hz, or .2s . The numbers for telemetry were then being adjusted off car for the FIA.

    • @Stephen Hughes et al.

      I can’t agree with your idea of using a turbine meter. Wow that’s so last century, and far too inaccurate. Also it is much more open to cheating. The design parameter for the inlet is 6bar pressure(87lb in^2)

      The internal sample rate of the current F1 sensor(4142) is 1Khz(1000 times per second). The 5hz/10hz reference, looks like a piece of standard code for integration to the ECU/local engine control units software. (Hippo agree?)

      • Old tech, yes, but inaccurate? Provided you can machine the turbine precisely you can’t get much more accurate.

        Ultrasonic meters have some benefits but the main thing preventing their use in applications where precision is paramount is that they can’t be calibrated accurately. Any non-contact sensor will struggle with accuracy.

        The main thing is, as the Hippo puts so well, why do we need flow sensors in the first place? The only benefit I can see is that they force teams to run at a flow rate where they are unlikely to run seriously short of fuel by the end of the race.

        • Yes inaccurate at low volume high pressure – 6 bar. You mentioned earlier that you had an average over several seconds for your turbine design. That’s probably OK if you are using it in a water main or big industrial process. Contact types suffer problems when flow is not simply unidirectional. The FIA’s sensor samples at 1Khz. More than fast enough to be accurate at the required flow. Calibration is relatively simple.

    • Just curious, as I know little to nothing about these types of applications, would it have been better to use a device that restricts the flow rather than measures it and is that even possible?

      Seems like an ultrasonic/electronic sensor probably works great in the lab but when packaged in with all the vibrations and electrical interference in and around an F1 engine it must be a huge challenge to filter out false readings.

      • @j

        “would it have been better to use a device that restricts the flow rather than measures it and is that even possible?

        Yes you could have a volume flow restrictor, but the FIA concept was to increase engine efficiency, and get the maximum out of the fuel used. Flow rate would be different for temperature and fuel density variations. By measuring flow rate and matching it with sg/density you can work out kg per time period. This gives an equal playing field for everybody, because fuel specification and temp will vary from team to team. By volume, a gallon/litre of fuel can change significantly with temperature changes. By weight, a pound/kilo of the fuel always has the same amount of thermal energy in it. Fuel specification is very tightly controlled under the F1 technical rules, and every team has its fuel checked before and after each race. Sg/density is part of that check.

        ‘…. ultrasonic/electronic sensor ……… when packaged in with all the vibrations and electrical interference in and around an F1 engine it must be a huge challenge to filter out false readings.’

        Yes these are well known problems in electronics design. But the state of the art is very advanced. Assuming that you are using a computer to view this. Your switched mode power supply is operating at Khz frequencies, and the CPU (processor chip) is working at Ghz (Gigahertz). But the potential (sic) for massive interference is negated by proper physical layout, shielded cables, and electrical filtering. Data communication between the sensor and control units, would/should involve error correction strategies to overcome interference. Within the sensor software it would have error correction to throw out false readings.

        • Thanks for the answers to my questions. This all makes sense.

          My question about electrical interference was mostly due to seeing a documentary on the early Ford/Cosworth engine where they had a lot of problems at first with the ECU due to interference coming through the various wiring. They did solve it by shielding things effectively.

  7. These:

    “The decision to be in breach of instructions issued by the technical delegate was clearly pre-meditated and it begs the question whether there are bigger fish to fry as part of the appeal, than merely one race result.

    Were Ade and Chris of the opinion that by making a big fuss over the general topic of fuel sensors they could gain some longer term advantage, they would act without hesitation. Are Red Bull in fact trying to get the sensors kicked out of F1?

    This would be logical were the Renault/Red Bull engineers be of the opinion that their engine/car combination would perform relatively better in comparison to the others were a different fuel flow rate or method of measurement be adopted. Throw enough juice at the Renault engine and it could well be up there with the others.”

    …were exactly my thoughts after seeing Horner’s interview with the BBC (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAh6C4RCaas). There are some true gems in that video when it comes to RB’s “true” intentions. Your Honour is correct that there is more going on than initially meets the eye.

    As for TJ’s verdict at the end of the piece: I couldn’t agree more!

    The political snake pit that is F1 is intriguing as ever. And the season has only just started — 2014 is going to be very interesting.

  8. There is no doubt that it is far from ideal that results are changed after the podium ceremony and several hours after the end of the race. It’s also true that, in this case (and many others) that this could have been dealt with earlier using the black flag, as you mention.

    However, there are other situations where it would be impossible to avoid the later change of results. It’s clearly impossible to carry out full post-race scrutineering on all points-scoring cars before the podium ceremony and there may be times when a penalty applied for the next race isn’t suitable – especially when cheating in the final race of the season might pay double points.

    Unsavoury, certainly, but then the cheating party would (did?) cause this, not the FIA and it’s they who should face the brunt of the criticism. 🙂

    • They could’ve shown ‘car nr 3 under investigstion by the stewards’ and that would’ve make it clear to the public something was happening.
      Then they could’ve shown maybe the meatball first and if no response the black flag.
      The audience would’ve been informed and RB still could argue their case by appealing the black flag .

      • For yesterday’s situation (or one similar in the future), I totally agree.

      • The non-use of the black flag is mystifying me. FIA says they warned them during the race, but RB didn’t comply and they surely saw that and were told as much by RB. So why did they leave a car it that they definitely considered illegal? Could it be that they don’t trust there own sensors enough to warrant immediate exclusion? If you don’t come in for a penalty within 3 laps, you’re kicked out – the end. But they say RIC’s car breached the rules, yet they left it in, influencing the race until the bitter end. Either it was illegal – then black flag or it wasn’t. What’s that all about?

        • I wonder if it’s a purely practical thing…?

          The disqualification comes from the Stewards as advised by the Technical Delegate and based (one assumes) on the study of communications and technical data (rather than, for example, video footage).

          Maybe the Stewards need proper time to study all of this, check that RB received communications, etc. before chucking the car out of the results. If they black-flagged and found they were wrong due to some nuance, then would that be worse? Basically ruin RIC’s race in error…?

          You can black flag for something obviously dangerous (oil leak, part hanging off, etc.) or for failing to respond to a drive-through or some other (already decided) punishment without too much risk of being criticised. Maybe this was just too much of a grey area DURING the race so everything was left and sorted out after the flag when the Stewards had less going on and more time to study the whole case.

          I don’t know if this is true, just speculating. It certainly isn’t ideal – just maybe the least worst option. Thoughts?

          • Iirc, James Allen’s response to the unfortunate time-delay b/w podium presentation and the DQ was simply a result of the amt of data the stewards needed to sift + required interviews of involved parties + time to deliberate.

            If RBR had cheated – if they’d simply complied with the instructions they were given by the FIA tech delegate, then all of this could’ve been avoided, no?

            Hubris
            noun: hubris
            – excessive pride or self-confidence.

            Arrogant</b
            adjective: arrogant
            – having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.

        • So why did they leave a car it that they definitely considered illegal?

          Perhaps b/c they only “considered” it definitely illegal at that point, and procedurally would be required to formally “prove” such noncompliance before penalizing the team? Or perhaps they felt they would be on firmer regulatory/statutory ground if they gave RBR the chance to present a case before penalizing them?

  9. I really don’t get the article on disqualifications in Melbourne. Spending 6 lines to mention the Saubers in ’11 and Barrichello in ’08 and then 6 paragraphs on Lewis in ’09 on a topic that has been dealt with numerous times!

    If I didn’t know better, I’d say that someone’s got a chip on their shoulder over Lewis, Lewis-bashing season continues 😉

  10. Off topic…….

    Only 38points on the predictor, not happy! Loosing Lewis and Massa through a real spanner in the works.

    Must try harder!

  11. I said it yesterday, but no reason not to tell us that car 3 was under investigation post race.

    Also, where were the journalists on site if this was really an issue,would they not have been breathlessly reporting all morning about the failing sensors?

    Most important is to realize that the offset applies to RedBull’s internal fuel injector. The FIA sensor measures and then then RB are required to adjust their fuel flow until it matches what the TD requested.

    RB might be able to demonstrate that they are more accurate with their internal measure, but that is meaningless as the point is to limit max fuel flow in a standard way across the whole field.

    There is something bigger behind this. They simply would not throw away points for no reason.

    • Sorry to repeat a comment made yesterday on the race wrapup post but my theory is that this is all linked to the tiny RBR sidepods and turbo cooling.

      The RBR has been having problems with cooling and if the intercooler for the turbo is too small they can’t just add a bigger one without building bigger side pods around it. (Perhaps we will see a side pod redesign in future races.)

      An effective way to cool the turbo in the meantime is to throw more fuel into the air/fuel mixture. You also gain more power but the primary reason to run rich is to cool down the turbo.

      So the reason that RBR decided to risk points by continuing to break the rules and run a high fuel flow during the race, when they had the option to turn the flow down, is that the alternative was to overheat the turbo and retire, earning no points.

      • Is your theory a sound-one, technically? That is, does the math support the premise you’re suggesting? If so, what outrageous, unrepentant, dastardly and reprehensible conduct by RBR.

        IF that’s really what happened, they deserve to be punished even more severely if FIA can prove that they not only cheated willfully, but they then abused the appeals process.

        It’s not possible to accept or condone such brazen, contemptible, dishonorable, discreditable and ignoble behavior! The fact that cheating pervades every aspect of our society still doesn’t mean we need fans should spinelessly accept the suggestion that, b/c F1 is ultra-competitive, teams will seek advantage any/everywhere, ergo it’s inevitable that they’ll cheat and that’s somehow admirable – or tolerable.

        No organization or entity is perfectly-placed to enforce a culture of transparent accountability, but I’d rather have the FIA enforcing the letter of the law – impartially and unconditionally – than see RBR cheat their way through another F1 season.

        • Good question. I think we need a turbo expert to answer for sure whether an extra 5%-10% is enough fuel in the mix to make a significant difference. RBR did act as though it mattered signifigantly to them.

          My theory is mostly trying to understand the motivations behind RBRs actions. Trying to understand the question when we only know the answer if you will. Risking all your points just to finish 2nd instead of perhaps 3rd or 4th doesn’t make a lot of sense.

          Ricci was already in 2nd on a track that is supposed to be difficult to pass on (according to Button :)) so if extra horsepower was all they were gaining what would have been the harm in turning down the flow to comply with the FIA and then try to hold station?

          • so if extra horsepower was all they were gaining what would have been the harm in turning down the flow to comply with the FIA and then try to hold station?

            I really hope that the court of appeal’s process and ruling will be transparent and available for public scrutiny, so that these very interesting questions (yours and many others) can be answered.

            When the drama started, I stopped by the FIA website to look through the tech regs and find any bulletins or technical addendums but was disappointed to discover that seemingly none of the technical directives or other communiques from testing were available, though, to FIA’s credit, the GP-weekend documents are posted:

            http://www.fia.com/championship/fia-formula-1-world-championship/2014/australian-grand-prix-event-documents

  12. I can explain those german tv viewers. At the last minute (read; Friday evening) they decided to put f1 on belgian television behind a pay per view option. And we all get the german RTL. So a lot of viewers came from belgium (i did the same thing) as they wanted us to pay 10€ to see quali. And again 10€ to see the race. (Ok you get an on board channel and a pit channel, but still)

      • It used to be on the commercial station called “vier” (last couple of years) and now the teledistrubutor , who are in tv, internet and telecom, bought the rights for the next 3 years. To put it up on their sport channel. Sort of the same as it is in England. Only difference that the bbc wil show some of the races. Here they all go behind decoder. And the big thing was that it happend without any warning and overnight. So many people didn’t noticed it until Sunday. Wich made the switch to the german channel easy. Everybody has it.

        • Thanks, specifically was the distributor (TV, Internet, telecom) telenet? If not, can you tell me the name of the distributor? Again, appreciate it, working on an article where it might be relevant.

          • Yes it is indeed telenet. I think because they lost to the other main player in belgium (belgacom) who has the rights for the champions league, they have been battling for a while now, belgian football league has been the first war. And over the years it has spread out. Champions league, nba and now formula one. The only thing they really need now is cycling. But that is still on the government funded station.and will be for a while I geuss…

  13. FIA , stands for ” F#$#G Incompetent Amateurs ” !!! F1 is supposed to be the most technologically , advanced form of motorsport in the world . With all the new , complex , specifications introduced for 2014 , as well as a 2 year lead time , this FIA fuel sensor mandated by them , SHOULD be operating , calibrated better. Maybe FIA can learn something from IndyCar , with their mandated Pop-Off valve for their turbo engines. The bottom line . A very exciting 1st race of a new season as well as numerous rule changes ETC ….. , has been spoiled by FIA inability , to provide, consistent , accurate fuel sensors , to work with and communicate with all the teams systems.

    • Most technology still has to be operated by humans and as you rightly point out “incompetent” does come to mind when FIA crosses the mind.

  14. Were this a driver ranked 12th, the impact would have been minimal. Even had the driver concerned been placed in the minor points, again the drama would not be so great.

    Yet we have our first Aussie on the podium in Melbourne, he is the new kid on the block at the team which is world champions, it is his first ever F1 podium and he was presented with a second place trophy in front of the entire world.

    This is probably exactly one of the reasons RBR thought they could get away with ignoring FIA request (to them) to follow the rules and official protocols – that penalizing them would mean creating a “farce”.

    While the FIA comes in for some small amt. of blame for sourcing sensors that can be smeared as “faulty” (even if that’s not necessarily true), 100% of the blame for DR being DQ’d rests with RBR and RBR alone.

    If you believe a rule (or a law!) is unjust, that doesn’t permit you to ignore/break it – you must instead lobby for a change in the laws/rules. RBR’s hubris has come back to bite them in the ass.

    • I’m not sure it applies directlu to RBR here, but the breaking that Peoples consider to be unjust laws has a long and illustrious history. Breaking the law and getting your day in court is often the quickest / best / only way forward.

      • Haha yeah maybe a moral case can be made when you’re protesting segregation or global bulk data collection/surveillance or even fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation – opposing an unjust law by breaking it (though don’t complain if the police break your skull if you willfully resist!) – but refusing to follow a FIA directive b/c you don’t think there should be fuel-flow monitoring/limiting w/ the technology currently available? No sympathy for that…

        Cheers, Roger!

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