Christian Horner: “It’s impossible to rely 100% on that sensor…”

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.”


Filed under F1 News, Grand Prix News

16 responses to “Christian Horner: “It’s impossible to rely 100% on that sensor…”

  1. Regardless of Horner’s opinion, the FIA-homologated sensor has to be used unless the FIA approves an alternative backup method, which they did not in this case. Whether RBR’s fuel consumption was in accordance with the regulations or not is irrelevant in relation to the DSQ. What exactly are they going to appeal against?

  2. Mick

    I’m probably being a bit stupid, but if the sensor is consistently recording a higher fuel flow rate throughout the race wouldn’t the car have run out of fuel if that was true? I believe Red Bull on this.

    • anon

      Not necessarily, because we are talking about the difference between an instantaneous reading (the flow rate) and the total fuel consumption.

      The FIA’s statement indicates that it is the peak fuel rate which is erroneous, so if the fuel flow rate at partial throttle is OK then the team could still finish the race within the 100kg limit and yet breach the limit on instantaneous fuel flow rate.

      • Mick

        Thanks. I have misunderstood the rule then, I read it simply as a maximum amount of fuel used per hour.

    • petes

      Why should Red Bull be the only team with this problem?
      Doesn’t wash.

      • Kevin Robinson

        From Adams other tweets it appears that other teams had similar issues but adjusted their race to fit the FIA readings instead of their own. That was smart because its the FIA readings that matter, not the team’s readings. Red Bull kind of brought this on themselves it would seem.

    • Craig W

      Its a bit like being caught on the motorway (UK) doing 80mph at some point not that you’ve travelled more than 70 miles in the hour.

      In this case RedBull are arguing with the calibration of the speed gun ;).

  3. FastTJR

    Seems to me that Red Bull think they are above the rules.
    If the referee blows the whistle in a soccer march, you don’t keep playing if you don’t like the call. The ref might be wrong, but you still have to comply.
    The car may have been within the fuel flow specification, and the FIA may have been wrong, but once they said turn it down Red Bull should have complied.
    I consider their refusal to follow the direction given by the FIA a more significant issue than the alleged fuel flow irregularity.

  4. prez02

    This has something of a Cassis de Dijon feeling…
    One cannot really see them win this one, but apparently there is some need of clarification, the FIA introducing rules that they are not able to measure reliably. Probably lucky it was not Vettel on the rostrum, most people happy for the Aussie to be there in his home race…

  5. peterg

    I don’t think RB will be successful on appeal with that argument. Not only is a spec sensor, there are other Renault powered cars on the grid, Lotus and Caterham who did not have problem.

    I’m also not sure it’s a good idea to attack the FIA supplied technology as immature, that only gets the backs up of the other teams and the FIA.

    When you consider that the FIA gave them a warning mid race, which RB elected to ignore, they don’t really have a leg to stand on.

    I’m detecting a bit of Todt/Brawn era Ferrari-like “fight it on the track/fight it with the stewards/fight it in the courts” RB behaviour from Horner.

  6. scootroot

    It’s impossible to rely on Red Bull following the letter of the law Horner. Keep skirting around the rules and eventually you get caught.

  7. GeorgeK

    RB made a poor decision in the face of the FIA’s questioning during the race, and Ricciardo paid the price. I have to wonder if RB dialed back the fuel flow, would Ricciardo have been able to hang on to 2nd place? I’d like to think so, at least 3rd place. Now he has nothing.

    I’d keep the trophy If I were him!

  8. Ceej

    Nice to know old Luca de M hadn’t turned into a mad, paranoid fantasist when he described exactly this in his tifosi letter! I wonder if there were rumours doing the rounds from the tests. I don’t believe RBR made a spur of the moment decision in the race. The ‘benefits’ handily solved their problems of underpower and overheating. Naughty RBR.

    On the flip side, I’d like to give a shout out to Torro Rosso who got both cars home in the points when in every FP session the cars just looked horrendous!

  9. Derek Pearce

    Strange that Horner should call the sensors immature technology when the same company (Gill) supply fuel sensors to most major motorsport series around the world (NASCAR etc). The accuracy of these devices can be measured at the factory during engine testing so why did it take until the first race for RB to make an issue unless they intended to cheat?

    • Mick

      I don’t think they would set out to cheat but Renault in general and Red Bull specifically had so little running in testing (& then not at full power) that it would be hard to know definitively how accurate the sensor is at peak flow.

      They may also have decided that as they were on the back foot with reliability that the first race was a good time to take the risk of defying FiA instructions and arguing the case with stewards & at appeal.

      I can’t imagine that the appeal will be heard before the next race, so I wonder what they will do there.

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