Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo has been disqualified and stripped of his second-placing at Sunday’s Melbourne grand prix.
The Perth-born driver’s Red Bull Racing car was found to have broken a F1 law regarding allowed fuel flow during the race.
Jo Bauer, the F1 technical delegate of the sport’s governing body, the FIA, said Ricciardo’s car “exceeded consistently the maximum allowed fuel flow” of 100 kilograms an hour during the race.
The rule was introduced for this season, among other law changes.
Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing faced a stewards investigation which disqualified the Australian from the race, won by German Nico Rosberg in a Mercedes.
Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen, who finished third, was subsequently elevated to second spot, and his McLaren teammate Jenson Button, who finished fourth, was lifted to third place.
Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing learnt of the law breach some 80 minutes after the race ended.
Ricciardo had been celebrating his best-ever Formula One finish, and also becoming the first Australian to finish on the podium at a home grand prix since the event joined the Formula One world championship in 1985 – only for his feats to be scrubbed.
Before knowing of the rule breach, Ricciardo said there had been guesswork regarding the fuel consumption.
“At the start of the race it was a bit of guessing,” he told reporters at the post-race media conference.
“Some laps I would try and push and not really conserve (fuel). When I thought I had enough gap I would start conserving.
“We were learning all the time today. It’s the first time we have done the race distance so we will take a lot out of it.
“I think the system to reach the fuel target is not bad considering we haven’t done too much work with that. I think we survived quite well.”
But post-race scrutineering found the breach, resulting in Ricciardo’s disqualification.
Race officials laid the blame on Red Bull Racing, not Ricciardo.
Red Bull Racing director Christian Horner said the team would appeal Ricciardo’s disqualification.
“I am extremely disappointed, quite surprised, and we will of course appeal,” Horner told reporters.
“Hopefully through the appeal process it will be quite clear that the car has conformed at all times to the regulations.
“We would not be appealing unless we were extremely confident that we have a defendable case.
“It is no fault of Daniel. I don’t believe it is the fault of the team. I believe we have been compliant to the rules.”
The timing of the appeal was not immediately known.
In essence, the stewards found Red Bull Racing had used a fuel flow measuring system that they had been told not to.
Red Bull Racing used the system, without permission from officials, because they believed a linked fuel sensor was faulty and gave inconsistent readings during Saturday’s qualifying session.
But Horner said problems with the sensors had been “common knowledge”.
“It is immature technology,” he said.
“It is impossible to rely 100 per cent on that sensor, which has proved to be problematic in almost every session we have run in.”
But stewards rejected Red Bull Racing’s defence.
“Regardless of the team’s assertion that the sensor was fault, it is not within their discretion to run a different fuel flow measurement method without the permission of the FIA,” the stewards said in their judgment.
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