I recalled a story that Jonathan Noble posted at AUTOSPORT a while back in which the FIA’s Charlie Whiting said there would be zero tolerance on the fuel flow limit which is the very issue at hand over Red Bull’s disqualification of Daniel Ricciardo. Charlie said:
“The 100kg is the maximum and, if they go over, they have exceeded the limit and there is no tolerance,” explained Whiting.
“We are confident of the [fuel flow measuring] meter’s accuracy. It will always be correlated with data we have from injectors to make sure there is not a wide divergence, but from what we have seen so far that will not be the case.”
Red Bull maintain that the sensor is dodgy and that they were monitoring the fuel flow rate at the injector instead because they didn’t trust the FIA sensor. Charlie seems to admit that the sensor can be hit or miss:
“It is very apparent right from the beginning whether or not that sensor is going to work,” he said. “It is either very, very good or a long way out, so you can identify whether or not that meter should be used.
“We monitor them all the way through the race and, if we see a fault, we have a fallback solution.
“For example, we would know what the fuel used was at the end of lap 24, and that is the starting point for our new calculation. So we are in good shape there.”
Charlie reckoned the infraction would be a post-race inspection that would reveal it and that it could mean disqualification. In Sunday’s case, it happened during the race and the deliberations were held immediately after the race with a disqualification handed down.
Makes you wonder if the sensors provided to the FIA couldn’t be improved to make sure you don’t get a few “long way out” units doesn’t it? Red Bull argue that the small changes can mean a big impact on performance telling AUTOSPORT:
“We end up in a situation where, depending on the calibration of your sensor, of plus or minus, it will dictate who is going to be competitive and who isn’t.” said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.
It does bring up a question of flow rate versus total fuel load. If the team used a higher flow rate, would it matter as they only have 100kgs total to use. A reduced flow rate could be very tactical if they were allowed to carry whatever fuel load they wanted but were reduced to 100kgs per hour. This would call for more efficient engines certainly. The answer is most likely int eh symbiotic nature of the MGU-k, MGU-h and the V6 ICE along with the Turbo Charger or TC.
The reduced flow rate is coupled with the total load in order to get the car to the checkered flag. There would not be enough power from the ERS alone to keep the car at pace if they ran out of fuel, that’s not how the system works. They are not independent systems rather they rely on each other to work. Therefore, you need to make sure you have fuel for the entire race in order to generate power to be harvested for redeployment to the drivetrain for added power but not complete replacement power. the reduced flow also limits the overall power output as well.