Red Bull – Moving the goalposts on the FIA?

By Jack Benyon


The ever smiley Ricciardo was hard done by at the Australian Grand Prix

The farcical end to the Australian Grand Prix robbed the fan favorite, Daniel Ricciardo, of a fantastic drive to second place in his home Grand Prix, and not even the most loyal of Red Bull-haters would have been hoping for such a crushing end to the always smiley Australians fairy tale Red Bull debut. Where many people feel Red Bull was treated unfairly, I’d like to offer a different perspective.

The cause of this crushing defeat for Daniel was of course the now infamous fuel flow issue, where the flow of fuel to the engine should not exceed 100kg of fuel per hour. The Red Bull team were warned as early as lap five that there were irregularities in its fuel flow, which, although downplayed by many, they decided to ignore. Their reason for ignoring said warning was because they believed the FIA’s standard sensors were inaccurate, and that theirs were better. Does this not sound as stupid to some people in the motor racing world as others? Is that not similar to a doped athlete claiming that he shouldn’t be banned for taking illegal substances because the test was faulty? Or a footballer appealing to the referee that the ball had in fact crossed the line in spite of the goal-line technology?

If the sensors were in fact faulty, it was up to Red Bull to bring the fuel rate down to where it was legal to the FIA, and debate the issue after the race. Is it not baffling that the team took the decision to ignore the sports only governing body for a ‘my sensor is more accurate than yours’ strategy? The answer is yes. Red Bull lost a podium, which as well as providing the team with valuable constructors points, could have galvanized a team that struggled in pre-season testing, because of it’s cataclysmic misjudgment of the issue at hand.

The FIA have been forced into coming down so hard on Red Bull because it must set a precedent for the other teams, especially as the fuel flow limit is a new rule. If they now allow teams to monitor the fuel themselves, it will be virtually unpoliceable to monitor the new fuel flow rule. Therefore when considering their decision to ignore the FIA, Red Bull did not consider the big picture. Red Bull have confirmed they are appealing the disqualification, but my feeling is that Red Bull should never have been in this situation in the first place. After all, it is the FIA, and not the teams, who decide how and with what the rules are measured. Red Bull descended into a sort of anarchy at the Australian Grand Prix, and the FIA were right to disqualify the entry, and had good grounds to do so.

Featured image courtesy of J.H.Sohn

Ricciardo image courtesy of Janice Marie

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