Mercedes Requested a Stiffer Penalty for Red Bull from the FIA Court of Appeal

Matthew Walthert@@MatthewWalthertFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2014

The Red Bull hearing at the FIA International Court of Appeal.
The Red Bull hearing at the FIA International Court of Appeal.Eric Vargiolu

On April 14, the FIA International Court of Appeal upheld the Stewards' decision to disqualify Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo from the Australian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo was disqualified after the race in March when it was found that his car exceeded the fuel-flow limit of 100 kilograms per hour allowed under this season's new regulations.

The decision to reject Red Bull's appeal was expected, but the summary of the proceedings that the FIA released on Friday does contain one surprise: Lawyers attending the meeting on behalf of the Mercedes team requested that an additional penalty be levied against Red Bull.

Specifically, "a ban of no less than three races, plus a disqualification for a further 6 months, suspended for a year."

Red Bull's Christian Horner and Adrian Newey at the hearing.
Red Bull's Christian Horner and Adrian Newey at the hearing.Eric Vargiolu

According to the summary, Red Bull acknowledged that the FIA-approved fuel-flow meter showed Ricciardo's car was using fuel at a higher rate than is allowed under the regulations. However, the team contended that the meter's readings were not accurate.

Red Bull then ignored explicit FIA instructions for the procedure to be followed in case the meter was not working. Instead, the team relied on its own software to estimate the fuel flow rate.

According to the decision, though, "Competitors cannot just pick and choose the method which suits them."

Even if Red Bull's method of measuring the fuel-flow rate had been accepted, the FIA decision noted that the team's measurements, "also showed that the car exceeded the FFL [fuel-flow limit] during the Australian Grand Prix."

Mercedes reiterated concerns about teams choosing which rules to follow, saying, per the summary, that if Red Bull's appeal was accepted, "this would mean that every team could ignore the TD [Technical Directives] and the FIA measurement systems; for instance, the measurements of the car's weight and many other measurements that are made before, during or after a race."

While those are legitimate concerns, the Court found "that the penalty the Stewards is proportionate," and declined to add to the penalty, as requested by Mercedes. The decision noted that, "the Court does not find that the Appellant's [Red Bull's] attitude in Australia was fraudulent."

Ricciardo's celebrations in Melbourne were short-lived.
Ricciardo's celebrations in Melbourne were short-lived.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Still, the original penalty is significant. In addition to depriving Ricciardo of his career-best finish (and at his home race), Red Bull is currently sitting fourth in the Constructors' standings. The team would be second with Ricciardo's 18 points from Australia.

Going forward, Mercedes' request of additional sanctions for Red Bull will not help relations between the teams.

Red Bull have already developed something of a persecution complex this year, regularly complaining (along with Ferrari), about the new regulations. Of course, had Red Bull and Ferrari mastered the rules the way Mercedes has, those complaints would likely be significantly muted.

On a more positive note, the Court's decision to uphold the regulations means that the FIA cannot be accused of favouring one team over the others, something which has not always been the case.


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