Whilst the FIA may be correct in defending their right to enforce a uniform measurement of fuel flow rates, the 4-5 hour debacle following the chequered flag in Melbourne should have been avoided. It appears Charlie Whiting and his colleagues were caught out by Red Bull’s refusal to obey the instruction to reduce their fuel flow rate and possibly some advance scenario running would have predicted this may happen.
The FIA have since made their position clear, that at the point Red bull refused to comply with the instruction to run a lower rate of fuel flow, they were in breach of article 5.10. The penalty for such a breach of the regulations is disqualification, the only course of action open to the race stewards.
Following the stewards decision, TJ13 questioned why Ricciardo had not been black flagged. This would have avoided someone climbing onto the podium who in reality was never going to be credited with that position. Further, following the death of his father, Jenson would have achieved his 50th podium which he would of course have dedicated to John.
Following the FIA’s extraordinary decision to fight in public the Red Bull negative PR prior to the appeal hearing, it is clear Charlie Whiting and his team are fully ingrained in the small print surrounding this issue.
The big question is, what happens if Red Bull find themselves in a similar position this weekend in Malaysia? Well Autosport report, “Horner admitted the team was now in an awkward position following Friday’s failure”.
Christian rather speaks in riddles though. “I think we will have that conversation with Charlie [Whiting, FIA technical delegate] beforehand. It will be clear if we do see a variance, what are we going to do? Hopefully we can agree something that is sensible”.
Is the Red Bull’s team boss suggesting they will act as they did in Australia given similar circumstances, or indeed they intend to agree a different path with Charlie?
Horner continues, “We had a signal failure on Daniel’s car this morning immediately, so we obviously have replaced that for this afternoon’s session and I haven’t had the results of that. Hopefully it is reading as per the fuel rail and will behave for the rest of the weekend. If it doesn’t, we find ourselves in an awkward situation but it is one where we will try to work with the FIA, but again you are faced with the same dilemma as Australia a couple of weeks ago.”
There is at least the inference that the world champions may again disobey an instruction given to them during the race, and so the FIA must be ready.
Should Red Bull ignore an instruction during qualifying, presumably the driver would be excluded from the session and the team would appeal. Then should that driver manage to score a podium finish the rules prevent him from the presentation ceremony.
Aritcle 2.2.3.c “The suspensive effect resulting from the appeal does not allow the Competitor and the Driver to take part in the prize‐giving or the podium ceremony, nor to appear in the official classification of the Competition, in any place other than that resulting from the application of the penalty”.
Of course in Australia, Ricciardo was on and off the podium before the issue was debated and any appeal lodged. The eventual DQ was gutting for Ricciardo and the Australian fans, many hours later. It also appeared farcical to the rest of us – given there was only one outcome from the stewards following the technical delegates report to them.
This cannot be allowed to happen again. Given the certainty of the FIA’s position now on such a breach and the public nature of their explanations, should Red Bull, Toro Rosso or any team breach an instruction to adhere to the fuel sensor measure of flow, the stewards must instruct that car is black flagged.
A black flag orders a particular driver to return to his pit within the next lap and report immediately to the Clerk of the Course, usually because he has been disqualified from the race. The flag is accompanied by a board with the car number of the driver on it so no mistake is made.
The last black flag I remember being issued in F1, was in Canada 2005. Montoya was DQ’d during the race for exiting the pit lane whilst the red light was on.
The FIA must put behind them the fear of the consequences should by some miracle the International Tribunal get involved and revoke the decision to DQ a driver during the race.
The fans deserve to know if something is going on, and if Charlie won’t explain his decisions following a race, at least the black flag lets us know all is not well.
Time to dust it off and be ready.