The FIA International Court of Appeal has rejected Red Bull Racing appeal claims against the disqualification of Daniel Ricciardo from the Australian Grand Prix. The outcome is as we had predicted.
Ricciardo finished a popular second at his home Grand Prix, but the stewards disqualified his RB10 for “consistently” exceeding the prescribed maximum fuel flow rate of 100kg/hour (or part thereof). The stewards also claimed that the team had rejected a technical directive by using its own measurement calculations and had repeatedly ignored directives from the FIA to reduce its fuel flow rate during the race.
Red Bull’s argument was that persistent faults with the FIA-sanctioned fuel flow meters during the Grand Prix had led it to take its own path, a decision that was roundly criticised by the other ten teams, who all worked within the technical regulations.
Mercedes, Lotus, McLaren, Force India and Williams all sent representatives to the appeal in Paris, while Race Director Charlie Whiting and head of powertrains Fabrice Lom represented the FIA, and Christian Horner and Adrian Newey represented Red Bull Racing.
After a full day’s hearing on Monday, the five-man panel retired overnight and announced their ruling on Tuesday morning, choosing to uphold the stewards’ decision.
“The Court, after having heard the parties and examined their submissions, decided to uphold the Decision N°56 of the Stewards by which they decided to exclude Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s car N°3 from the results of the 2014 Australian Grand Prix,” a brief statement from the FIA reads, which added that a more comprehensive report would be issued later this week.
“Infiniti Red Bull Racing accepts the ruling of the International Court of Appeal today,” a statement from the team read in response.
“We are of course disappointed by the outcome and would not have appealed if we didn’t think we had a very strong case. We always believed we adhered to the technical regulations throughout the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. We are sorry for Daniel (Ricciardo) that he will not be awarded the 18 points from the event, which we think he deserved. We will continue to work very hard to amass as many points as possible for the team, Daniel and Sebastian (Vettel) throughout the season. “
Perhaps the decision – which has ultimately left the team looking very silly – will force it to rethink its ‘win at all costs’ mentality, particularly if it comes at the expense of the sport’s image. The team clearly found an unclear area in the rulebook and duly tried to push the envelope in exploiting it.
It bore many parallels to the team’s strident criticism of Pirelli’s tyres last year, to the point that the powers-that-be eventually acquiesced and changed them – the team won the last nine races of the season and romped to a fourth Drivers’/Constructors’ Championship double in a row.
Of course, Red Bull Racing would have wanted to maintain its winning run from last year and would go to any lengths to achieve that aim, but there has to be a line in the sand somewhere. There is a grace to competing as well, and perhaps the last four years of near-dominance have dulled the team’s memory of the four years of struggle that preceded it. Quite how this behaviour impacts the team and brand’s long-term reputation is certainly worth considering, but suffice to say, the team chose to operate by their own rules and were quite rightly caught out and punished.
Image via Motorsport.com