The Red Bull Racing pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel will start Sunday evening’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the back of the grid after the FIA Stewards stripped them of their qualifying times for running illegal front wings.
The FIA’s technical delegate, Jo Bauer, referred his concerns that the RB10’s front wing flaps were “designed to flex” at high speeds to the FIA Stewards shortly after qualifying concluded.
The stewards conducted their own investigations and subsequently ruled that the cars breached Article 3.15 of the FIA Technical Regulations, which limit moveable aerodynamic devices.
Both cars’ qualifying times were deleted, meaning both Ricciardo and Vettel will occupy the tenth and final row of the Abu Dhabi grid. Neither car will be forced to start the race from the pit lane.
The team, while indicating its acceptance of the decision, also boldly suggested that it had been made a scapegoat when a number of its rivals were running similar concepts.
“Following the decision of the stewards regarding the front wings on both our cars, we are disappointed that we have been singled out for a front wing deflection test when it is clear that other teams are interpreting the rules in a similar fashion,” a team statement reads.
The team did, however, decline to publicly name any teams or lodge a formal protest with the FIA.
It is not the first time that the team has come under scrutiny over alleged flexing of its front wing endplates. At the 2010 Hungarian Grand Prix, the squad was the subject of an intensive investigation (which it passed) over its front wing design, which preceded the FIA mandating even more stringent loading and flex tests for the 2011 season.
2014 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix – Revised Starting Grid:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|1.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||1:40.480||Q3|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||1:40.866||+ 0.386||Q3|
|3.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||1:41.025||+ 0.545||Q3|
|4.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||1:41.119||+ 0.639||Q3|
|5.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||1:41.908||+ 1.428||Q3|
|6.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||1:41.964||+ 1.484||Q3|
|7.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||1:42.236||+ 1.756||Q3|
|8.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||1:42.866||+ 2.386||Q3|
|9.||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||1:42.198||+ 1.278*||Q2|
|10.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||1:42.207||+ 1.287*||Q2|
|11.||Sergio Pérez||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||1:42.239||+ 1.319*||Q2|
|12.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||1:42.384||+ 1.464*||Q2|
|13.||Adrian Sutil||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||1:43.074||+ 2.154*||Q2|
|14.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||1:42.819||+ 1.621**||Q1|
|15.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||1:42.860||+ 1.653**||Q1|
|16.||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||1:44.540||+ 3.333**||Q1|
|17.||Will Stevens||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||1:45.095||+ 3.888**||Q1|
|18.||Romain Grosjean^||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||penalty|
|19.||Daniel Ricciardo^||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||excluded|
|20.||Sebastian Vettel^||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||excluded|
* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:40.920 by Lewis Hamilton
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:41.207 by Lewis Hamilton
^ Ricciardo and Vettel qualified P5 and P6 respectively, times excluded for non-conforming front wings. Grosjean qualified P16, awarded a 20-grid place penalty for taking on sixth power unit elements (the balance of the penalty to be served as a drive/through penalty once the race is underway).
Image via Sutton Images