The first major technical controversy of F1′s new V6 era is currently unfolding in Melbourne.
We reported earlier that after Ferrari was warned at the Bahrain test, fellow engine supplier Mercedes then caught the FIA’s attention in Melbourne practice, regarding the new rule limiting the flow of fuel to 100 kilograms per hour.
We then reported on Sunday that while Daniel Ricciardo thrilled the Australian crowd with second place at Albert Park Circuit, teammate Sebastian Vettel has been grappling with new software since qualifying after his fuel flow sensor alerted the FIA that the Red Bull is exceeding the maximum rate.
“Ricciardo’s worked, Vettel’s did not,” said Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
Earlier, however, Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko indicated that new software for the Renault engine was only being run on Vettel’s car, with poor results.
But now Daniel Ricciardo’s second place is in doubt, with the FIA confirming that his car “exceeded consistently the maximum allowed fuel flow” rate during the race.
“As this is not in compliance with (the) technical regulations, I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration,” said technical delegate Jo Bauer.
The seeds of the controversy date way back to October of last year, when the company awarded the contract to supply the mandatory fuel flow sensors struggled to improve on its error rate.
In January, the company – Gill – said its improved sensor “fulfils the FIA’s accuracy requirements”.
But just before the Melbourne season opener, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo warned the FIA to be ready for team “trickery” in the area of “fuel, software” and “consumption” as a result of “grey areas” opened up by the new regulations.