After the publication of a technical guideline by the FIA to eliminate any grey areas in terms of fuel flow, the Ferrari team continues to be the topic of discussion in Formula 1 – Max Verstappen had accused the Scuderia of fraud after the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, and thus made headlines.
Ferrari had dominated all qualifying sessions since the summer break, often with phenomenal top speeds. But in the first qualifying after the response of the FIA, triggered by a technical inquiry of the Red Bull team on October 22nd, it was suddenly not enough for the pole position.
After Austin, this was also a problem for Mercedes: “We just had a discussion about the data from the race, and the GPS measurements look completely different than in the last races,” team boss Toto Wolff was surprised.
However, he prefers not to construct a concrete assumption that Ferrari could have cheated with the fuel flow before Austin:
“I don’t know whether this was due to the technical guideline or something else. We cannot take a look at what Ferrari has done”
Assuming that a team had done something before the directive was issued that did not comply with the directive afterwards, would that have been exploiting a grey area or a genuine foul play?
“If someone had done something that was made clear by the technical directive, it would have been an infringement. The technical directive was also drafted in such a way that it would have been a serious breach of the rules. It does not even mention a grey area,” says Wolff.
Christian Horner, whose Red Bull team had triggered the technical directive, is cautious on the subject.
“Only Ferrari can explain this”, he says, asked by a journalist about the drop in performance in Austin. But he adds: “We are concentrating on ourselves.
Did Ferrari have 50 additional horsepower available?
Red Bull and Mercedes believe that they have discovered how Ferrari has used up to 50 hp more extra power. The fuel flow rate is not measured permanently by the FIA sensor, but at certain intervals. The competition assumes that Ferrari injected more fuel between these measuring points than allowed (on average 100 kilograms per hour).
Ferrari, however, resists the fraud allegations on the part of the competition and provides a completely different explanation for Austin: “It’s true that we didn’t gain as much on the straights as we did in the races before. But in the corners we were just as fast as our rivals. At least in qualifying,” says team boss Mattia Binotto.
“We’ve shifted the compromise between downforce and straight line performance this weekend in order to test on our side how we can get faster in the corners,” he explains. “This made us competitive in qualifying. As far as the race is concerned, we now have something that we first have to understand.
For the FIA the case is closed for the time being. The technical directive may have plugged a loophole, Ferrari can’t become world champion in 2019 anyway, and for Red Bull and Mercedes the main thing is that the problem is regulated for 2020. An official protest in Brazil or Abu Dhabi is therefore unlikely.
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