Christian Horner is adamant that Red Bull Racing complied with the regulations during the Australian GP and can win its appeal against the exclusion of Daniel Ricciardo from his second place.
Ricciardo was deemed to have consistently exceeded the fuel flow limit of 100kg/hr, which is monitored by the FIA in real time.
The team was unhappy with its sensor on Friday, changed to a different one which had a problem in qualifying, and was told by the FIA to change back to the original for the race. In effect the team ran the race to its own fuel flow readings as it did not trust the sensor.
However the bottom line is that the sensor is the regulatory device and all teams have to comply with its readings.
“Hopefully through the appeal process it will be quite clear that the car has conformed at all times to the regulations,” said Horner. “These fuel flow sensors that have been fitted by the FIA to measure fuel which have proved problematic throughout the pitlane, and since their introduction at the start of testing, there have been discrepancies.
“We had a fuel flow sensor that was fitted to the car that we believed to be in error, and therefore based our calculation on the fuel that the injectors were providing to the engine, which is a calibrated piece of equipment that is consistent and standard across the weekend that we’ve seen zero variance in.
“We wouldn’t be appealing if we didn’t think that we had a defendable case. It’s disappointing that this has happened, it’s certainly no fault of Daniel. I don’t believe that it’s the fault of the team, I believe that we’ve been compliant with the rules, and the investigation and documents that will be submitted within the appeal will demonstrate that.”
Horner confirmed that the sensor had been changed over the weekend.
“We had an issue with a sensor that changed its reading through Friday practice, that sensor was then replaced for another sensor on Saturday that then failed during qualifying. We were then asked to put the sensor from Friday back in the car and apply an offset. 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% on that sensor, which had proved to be problematic in almost every session that we’ve run in.”
Regarding the fact that the team ignored requests from the FIA to make an adjustment during the race, he said: “They informed us and we informed them that we had serious concerns over their sensor. We believed in our reading, otherwise you are in a situation where you are reducing significant amounts of power with the engine, when we believed we fully comply with the regulations. If we end up with that situation, depending on the calibration of your sensor, the plus and minus, it will dictate quite simply who is competitive and who isn’t.”