The Australian Grand Prix was indeed clouded with controversy as Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified over a fuel-flow rate the FIA determined to be beyond the 100kgs per hour mandate.
Red Bull has vowed to appeal the decision and has until mid-day Thursday to do so. Team boss Christian Horner brought the issue into the light of day by claiming the fuel-flow sensors were showing signs of significant discrepancy:
“We could see a significant discrepancy with what the sensor was reading and what our fuel flow was stated as – that’s where there’s a difference of opinion,”
This may be the case however FIA’s Charlie Whiting had said on March 13th that any deviation from the prescribed sensor or a corrective fuel-flow rate model the FIA gives a team in the case of variants in the sensor would be met with zero tolerance.
The debate continued into this week with such vigor that the sensor manufacturer felt compelled to defend its product by releasing a statement that read:
“Following the Australian Grand Prix last weekend, the FIA have provided Gill Sensors with positive feedback on the performance of the Fuel Flow Meter, confirming their confidence in the development and stating the meters meet the FIA’s accuracy specification.
The meter development included an extensive testing programme, which involved liaising with many of the F1 teams for their valuable feedback on meter design and functionality. Meter calibration is handled by the FIA’s third party calibration company.
The meters utilise ultrasonic technology which was selected for its resilience in extreme operating conditions. The FIA chose Gill Sensors for this complex development because of Gill’s 29 years of proven experience in Ultrasonics.”
While the manufacturer, Gill Sensors, seems to have the FIA’s full support, it does bring in to question as to if there is an alternative way to measure the flow rate at the injector level that would please the FIA. The equipment designed for fuel injection is very sophisticated and accurate but it would leave room for teams to play with the rate that would be unseen by the FIA.
Is there a way the FIA could be privy, in real time, to those flow rates at the injector in order to remove the debate over a third-party sensor that has show some variances and creates concern for teams such as Red Bull? This issue could envelope other teams as well but time will tell.