Aston Martin failed to make it to the grid for the start of the Miami GP. The reason was their fuel was ‘illegal’. Article 6.4.2 of F1’s technical regulations stipulates that “no fuel intended for immediate use in a car may be more than 10 degrees centigrade below ambient temperature”.
The benchmark ambient temperature reading is taken two hours before the start of each race and the reason for this control is because the lower the fuel temperature the more dense it is and the more ‘explosive’ it becomes giving extra performance to the power unit.
In Barcelona the ambient temperature reading given by the FIA was 35 degrees Celsius, so the minimum temperature for the fuel was 25C.
Both Verstappen and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasley were significantly late leaving their garages for the grid in Barcelona raining suspicions amongst a number of teams they had over chilled their fuel. The accusation being they were late as they were warming up their fuel to meet the regulatory requirements.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto was asked why he thought Verstappen and Gasley were later than others to the grid he replied, “I can imagine it was down to the fuel temperature.”
“They need to be a maximum 10C below the ambient. It should be at all times during the event. So not only when the car is going out but when the car is in the garage itself.
“I can only trust the FIA.”
Binotto cast aspersions on whether this regulation was being monitored properly adding, “It’s difficult to understand that they were maybe heating up the fuel through a fire-up because it would not explain… as I said, it should be [legal] at all times.
“I can only trust the FIA and I’m pretty sure they are comfortable. They checked it. And maybe that’s not the right explanation as well, you should ask them.”
Speculation of a Red Bull regulation breach was fuelled by a somewhat heated discussion on the grid between Red Bull’s chief engineer Paul Monaghan and FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer and deputy head of single-seater matters Tim Goss.
Yet TV pictures clearly showed the Red Bull mechanics working furiously on the DRS mechanism on Verstappen’s car in the garage while others were filing to the grid. They continued this work after the car reached it’s grid slot.
So maybe this is another little F1 team row over nothing as Verstappen suffered DRS failures during the race; indicating the work on the car was no deception to cover fuel temperature related issues.