Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Hockenheim, 2012

No penalty for Red Bull over engine map

2012 German Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Hockenheim, 2012Red Bull will not be penalised over their engine torque maps ahead of the German Grand Prix.

“The stewards received a report from the FIA technical delegate, along with specific ECU data from Red Bull Racing cars one and two. The stewards met with the team representatives and the representative of the engine supplier Renault.

“While the stewards do not accept all the arguments of the team, they however conclude that as the regulation is written, the map presented does not break the text of article 5.5.3 of the Formula One Technical Regulations and therefore decide to take no further action.”

The decision confirms both Red Bull drivers will start the race with Sebastian Vettel second and Mark Webber eighth on the grid.

2012 German Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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80 comments on “No penalty for Red Bull over engine map”

  1. This is interesting. FIA’s mistake? Red Bull finds another loop hole? or just stewards’ wrong decision?

    1. the statement sounds like it’s FIA’s fault. hmm…

    2. Sounds like the same old thing for me. The FIA can’t think of every genius loophole people come up with.

      Intuitively this infringement clearly screams rule break, but the FIA has quite clearly not written the rule precisely right, and has basically realised that as usual Adrian the technical and linguistic master got around their wording and they can’t punish them. So inevitably for next year there’ll be a new cleverly worded rule.

      This is the natural circle of life. :D

  2. I’d say this is like the holes vs. slots debate – Red Bull have done something wrong, but since there is no rule expressly forbidding it, the FIA’s hands are tied.

    1. And the Stewards deem they are surely not the ones who need to plug these holes (i agree) when the FIA have not done so before.

    2. I think I might know what the issue is. As I read the rule it says when you don’t have your foot on the throttle it has to supply no torque; when you push your foot all the way down it has to be full torque. The regulation doesn’t say anything about anything between those two extremes.

      I reckon Red Bull have got a map that has high torque just above zero throttle. Technically doesn’t break the rule, but not what the FIA would have intended at all!

      I’m just guessing though.

  3. Sounds like the FIA/stewards got “lawyered”

  4. Interesting that the FIA used unwritten rules to strip Hamilton of his win at Spa 2008, but now they’re not able to take action on Red Bull because of rule wording.

    1. Race stewards are not the FIA. FIA can act on it separately after the race.

      1. Race stewards are hired and employed by the FIA. And Hamilton received his penalty after the race. I’m not saying this is a conspiracy against Lewis/Mclaren, just pointing out obvious double standards on FIA’s part.

        1. I suppose it’s a good thing rather than double standards- that was 4 years ago now, so perhaps it shows that the FIA have moved on rather than being inconsistent. If some similar situation as Spa 08 came up again now, perhaps we’d see a similar approach as has been taken against Red Bull this year. I’m not sure you can use a double standards argument when the example is from so long ago.

          1. Four years ago is hardy an eternity. It’s obvious that Red Bull deserve a penalty. Read the example I posted on the second page.

          2. But the whole stewarding has undergone massive changes since then, so that 4 year gap is very relevant. And as pointed out by others, that is a different set of regulations. There isn’t any need to compare it to Spa 08, but if you do it just shows that decisions are perhaps a little more sensible than they were then.

    2. Shows a change for the better to me, Stewards trying to steer clear of ruling on these kind of things

    3. Completely different. ’08 is sporting regulations, this is technical regulations. And it wasn’t unwritten, it’s the same interpretation of the rule I’ve seen even in model car racing!

    4. Hamilton got his penalty from only one person. Alan Donnelly went on a lone crusade, the other stewards weren’t even involved.

  5. I suspect there will be a rule revision by the next race to stamp this out but it appears that once again Red Bull has been very clever with their technology

  6. Classic Red Bull, they’ve found a loophole and exploited it. They seem to do it better than most and that’s why I like them.

    Pretty much expected this result but didn’t expect the FIA to be so frank in the admission.

    1. Yeah, if it was started from some teams, I would think it would be OK. but this time, it was FIA, so this is surprise for me.

    2. Fair enough. It’s exactly this reason why I hate them….

      The rules are clear and are there for a reason – finding loopholes in the wording means that the rules have to be tightened to ridiculously extreme extents and freedom of design gets removed.

      1. But freedom of design often comes from finding loopholes…

  7. Another grey area exploited by redbull. Now I wonder how they will change things. Make it truly illegal or accept it. RBR get’s away with a lot!
    I have the strange feeling if it was McLaren they would have been excluded for sure.

    1. If you believe that you truly are delusional.
      I would be surprised if it was still legal by the next race though

    2. It is nothing to do with which team is being investigated: that would be the equivelant of racism for Formula 1 teams! The reason Red Bull ‘get away’ with many of these ‘technical infiringments’ is because they have Adrian Newey – perhaps the greatest designer ever at exploiting the wording of the rules to his teams’ adavantage.
      That is the main reason why Red Bull are constantly surrounded by controversy: it was the same story last year – they have one of (if not the quickest) cars on the grid, so obviously it would seem natural that the FIA & the teams would challenge them if the opportunity arises. This would happen if any other team was in the same situation (such as McLaren for example); it just so happens that it is Red Bull who are in it.

  8. The FIA book on aerodynamics and racing “we are not satisfied until you are not satisfied”.

  9. So basically what Red Bull did was against the spirit of the regulations, But not against the actual regulations as written.

    If thats correct then I’d say the decision is basically fair & would expect a rules clarification in the next weeks.

    1. My problem with these kind of situations, that every time the answer is: it was not clearly stated that I cant do that. At other series if it is not stated you can, than you cant. It cant be done in F1, but if the FIA sets boundaries, there shouldnt be grey areas, somthing is either within the rules, or isnt.

  10. Not surprised at all. If it was Mclaren however, they’d be disqualified and banned. If it were Ferrari, and investigation wouldn’t even take place.

    Damn Red Bull, those damn cheaters.

    1. @kingshark Why do you think Ferrari or McLaren would be punished and Red Bull not?

      1. I think you really need to re-read my post, this time carefully and slowly:

        1. I was expecting Red Bull to get away with this. They got away with flexible front wing in 2010 and Exhaust Blown diffuser last year.
        2. Had it been Mclaren I’m certain that they’d get a very heavy penalty. History shows that FIA don’t go easy on Mclaren at all.
        3. If it were Ferrari they wouldn’t even be investigated, much less a penalty. Ferrari own a part of Formula One.

        1. Yes, because McLaren would never get away with a device which could be inferred to be prohibited by one interpretation of the rules, but not strictly prohibited. Like a hole which could be covered by the driver.

          I’m not saying the F-duct should have been illegal, it was a clever interpretation of the rules. Like this RBR thing, allegedly.

        2. The front wing passed all flexing tests; if it passes the tests which decide whether they are legal or not, they are legal.
          Exhaust blowing wasn’t illegal last year

          1. The tests were obviously not working well enough to stamp out the flexing. In years before the tests were changed when other teams had found ways to circumvent the flex tests. Why not do the same when Red Bull had obviously found a trick?

            Well they came up with some new tests, but these were basically the same (if not less strict) than the originals.

      2. tell something in the last 3 years where ferrari have mak something illegal???

          1. yee Banned !! exactly what i mean..llike should be banned the diffuser Brawn in 2009, f-Duct in Mclaren 2010, blow exhaust red bull 2011 ( ah forget they have to pray ferrari to not banned..OK)…and 4 time red bull in 2012 (i don’t remember all the illegal things to be honest)…when i mean illegal i mean benefits from this in races (how many points) u get …how many races have ferrari use this…i bet 0

    2. Yeah, because all the different stewards hate mclaren, and loves rb and ferrari so much!? You seem to assume a lot of stuff based on nothing.

    3. @kingshark

      Not surprised at all. If it was Mclaren however, they’d be disqualified and banned. If it were Ferrari, and investigation wouldn’t even take place.

      Damn Red Bull, those damn cheaters.

      If it were Ferrari you bet they would unish them also…. Remember Jean Todt has a “boner” for Alonso….
      But yeah, I totally agree with your last statement…

  11. Adrian Newey book on aerodynamics and racing “if you’re not cheating you are only cheating yourself.

  12. I dont feel like this is fair enough

  13. This is a disgrace, we all know F1 is and always has been rigged to help Ferrari but now it seems they’re rigging it to help Red Bull aswell. I wasn’t much looking forward to this race but now I might not even bother – a very disillusioned fan of more than 20 years.

    1. @jsmith944

      now it seems they’re rigging it to help Red Bull aswell

      Was it not enough for you that they attempted to outlaw the two major sources of Red Bull’s performance advantage over the winter, namely flexible wings and exhaust-blown diffusers?

      1. I don’t think the FIA are trying to help Red Bull. However, personally the damage that Red Bull are doing to their whole brand through this team is shocking! What they are doing is (in the eyes of lawyers) legal however it isn’t within the spirit of the sport.

        It feels similar to when Massa pulled over and let Alonso through. Legal but hugely disappointing to see.

        1. I think you’ll find team orders were not legal that season..

          1. It’s practically the same situation here though. Something iffy, but it’s unwritten or they can’t prove.

        2. Teams have been exploiting loopholes for years and years. I think it’s exactly within the spirit of the sport.

    2. how can fia help Ferrari when they have made everthing to stop Michael domination..everything…english fan i think

  14. If this had been a McLaren they would have been disqualified!

  15. Clearly there is more to it than the few statements made by the stewards and Jo Bauer. They will have looked at the engine map itself and decided whether the specific area Bauer highlighted is in breach of the rules. Without access to this data it is impossible for anyone on here to say that the decision is wrong.
    If I was a team principle for one of the other teams, however, I would be seeking technical clarification on this, because on the face of it, it does seem like they were doing something illegal. I’d expect protests after the race, or a technical directive from the FIA to clear this up. Don’t think this is the last we’ll hear of it.

  16. Wow, just wow. FIA are incompetent fools. Still not as ridiculous as their decision on Michelin midway 2003 but this obviously shows that Red Bull get away with a lot. I hope to god Alonso wins the championship this year, today it’s became obvious Red Bull don’t deserve it.

    1. I agree but the FIA also help Ferrari including the tyre decision you just mentioned.

    2. There are always going to be loopholes in the rulebook – interpretations that the FIA never considered could be a possibility when the rulebook was written, much less interpretations that teams would turn into workable conccepts. And so long as people like Adrian Newey are paid more by the teams to exploit these loopholes than they are by the FIA to close them, the situation will remain the same.

  17. It is in breach of the technical regulations the FIA wanted to write, not the one they’ve actually written. Conclusion: It is not a breach of any technical regulation.
    It might be in the future though after a clarification..

    A stupid comparison would be the FIA writing you’re not allowed to drive 80mph in the pitlane during a GP weekend, and for Red Bull to serve a drive-through penalty blasting through the pits at 160mph, saying but “we didn’t drive 80mph” and the FIA saying “but we wanted to say you weren’t allowed to drive 80mph or faster.

    1. The FIA can only prosecute teams based on the rules that have been written.

      1. So if a word for word regulation states: Drivers may not exceed 80 MPH in the pitlane, and a driver blasts through the pit at 160 MPH – He hasn’t broken any rules, so he shouldn’t be punished, right?

        1. That makes zero sense. “not exceeding” means you cannot go above. and all your other posts are conspiracy theories.
          There would be no progress in the sport if it weren’t for finding loopholes and pushing boundaries, and all teams have gotten punished and gotten away with it in the past. we all know Newey and his team are exceptional, and that’s why red bull get away with it more, cos that team thinks it out better.
          I hate the chat of people like Eddie Jordan proclaiming that this “isn’t formula 1” due to aerodynamic trickery. but the whole point of f1 is pushing the envelope in whichever way they can, and right now, the easiest and most economical way of making an advantage is through aero, whereas in the early 2000s it may have been tyres, and in the 80s it may have been engines.
          and if you think for a second that classic designers like Colin Chapman and the like didn’t exploit rules then you are kidding yourself.

      2. You are so wrong on that score PM I don’t know where to start …

        1. No, he’s absolutely correct. The letter of the rules is literally the only thing the teams have to comply with. This has always been part of the sport, and I always find it incredulous the way that people will allow their opinions on whether or not this is correct, to be influenced by their own personal feelings about a particular team.

          Some people talk about the spirit of the regulations, yet regulations don’t have spirits, and it’s nonsense to expect people to have to second guess what the FIA meant by writing specific rules. If the car does not breach the literal written letter of the regulation, then it is categorically NOT illegal.

          1. Lower levels of Motorsport have ‘spirits’ and ‘ethos’ so why not the ‘pinnacle’ level? And I realise it’s a business not a sport.

          2. And to hear Christian Horner complaining that Hamilton unlapping himself wasn’t ‘sporting’ (but is totally within the rules) in a post race interview defies belief!! And as for Vettel’s slippery paint / avoid crash explanation…

  18. Doesn’t surprise me, stewards are pretty useless to be honest IMO, silly little penalties for drivers and then something “big” and they do nothing, Vettel’s home race, as he is “Golden Boy” can’t do anything! Yet again they get away, like the flexing wings in 2010 and last year aswell, they get away with EVERYTHING, disgrace to be honest.

    1. But they didnt get away with the holes in the rear of the floor, had to plug them up before Valencia weekend.
      Not to mention the flexi-wings from last year.
      Many things have been outlawed from all teams, some are just more publicized than others.

      I, tbh, like people taking advantage of loopholes. The rules are there to be followed and, technically, Red Bull are following them. Kudos to them for finding a loophole. If other teams did it, like say Caterham, most people wouldnt have an issue with it as they arent in the fight for the championship. But because it involves a high profile team/drivers, loyalties and favouritism comes into peoples opinions and the hatred starts. (Btw, not having a go at people, everyone is entitled to their own opinion! This is just mine. :D)

    2. grg! it doesnt matter if the wings flexxed in the race, they passed the deflection tests! thats all that mattered.

      1. The problem is that the tests should have been altered to make flex wings impossible. Just as they did several times for other teams who were caught with flexing wings.

  19. I was in 1st corner grandstand in Bahrain & heard Vettels car make a mid-corner noise suspiciously like traction control. Wonder if apparent Vettel / Webber disparity in performance earlier this year was due to different engine maps being used?

    1. All cars sounded similar to me at Albert Park. Sounded very similar to the off-throttle stuff from last year.

      1. Drop Valencia!
        22nd July 2012, 12:56

        off throttle blowing is still 100% legal, the red bulls cold blow to cool the valves to improve engine life, have done for years, that’s why they couldn’t ban it in 2011. You can’t hot blow, and you can’t make specific maps to blow, the last bit is what they nearly got introble for, but they must have a cover such as engine reliability.

        1. But what I heard was just Vettel. Why not Webber & the other Renault engines?

          1. Drop Valencia!
            22nd July 2012, 15:33

            Good question, I have heared both Red Bulls doing it but not all the time, can’t say i have noticed with the other Renaults…..

  20. Hard to see how anyone can criticise this decision without access to the specific technical data which was under investigation. A simple example, but the rules say that the engine must give 0nm of torque when the throttle pedal is not pressed, and 100% of the available torque when the throttle pedal is fully depressed. This implies a linear relationship between the throttle pedal position and the amount of torque delivered (i.e 75% pedal gives 75% torque, and so on) however it doesn’t explicitly state this. So you could imagine a map which delivers the above requirements, but at 99% throttle movement it delivers say, 80% throttle from the engine. This is probably against what the rules were intended to stamp out, but according to the literal wording of the rules, it would be legal. That being the case, the justification from Red Bull would be irrelevant, since it wouldn’t be illegal in the first place. Yes, there may well be reason enough to at least investigate it, but the outcome would be that the map was legal.

    That’s one example, but there are potentially lots of ways that the map could deliver the effects described in Jo Bauer’s initial statement, but not actually be in breach of article 5.5.3. That being the case, this decision is the correct one from the FIA, and to suggest otherwise rather implies a bit of impartiality on the part of the person passing comment.

    1. (Not in any way saying what happened was right but) which rule explicitly says you can’t photocopy a rival teams documents?

      1. I don’t have a copy of the rulebook to hand, but the sporting regulations do state that the teams must design and develop their own car. In that situation I believe it was shown that there was potential that the developments of the McLaren could be traced directly to the possession of these documents, specifically because of communications sent internally at McLaren discussing the weight distribution of the Ferrari and how they might relate to their own car. This clearly showed that the development path of the McLaren was influenced by the possession of technical information about the Ferrari which they couldn’t have had access to otherwise. Interestingly, I don’t believe that possession of that documentation was, in itself, enough to penalise them. However it was illegal in the wider context of breach on intellectual property laws.

        However, none of that relates in any way to a technical investigation into the engine maps on the Red Bull ECU.

        1. I was trying to illustrate that you shouldn’t have to rely on an explicit set of rules (as it’s impossible to write such a document) but instead on the more general ‘sporting’ approach from the teams. Unfortunately, despite their public image some teams are clearly ruthlessly focused on winning at all costs. Stewards should apply rules and ethos.

  21. Until the FIA can find people of the calibre of the team’s engineers then this will always happen. That’s not to attack anyone at the FIA but it’s near impossible to make a water tight regulation.

    1. the FIA will have to find some silly money then methinks :)

  22. I expect rule clarification or free lunch for everyone for the next race.

  23. Interesting. I noticed during practice that the RB’s exhausts sounded much more like last year than usual when off throttle and speculated they might be doing something dodgy. Surely other teams and the FIA also picked up on this. I do wonder if these engine maps would even have been checked if there were not obvious signs of something different.

    Not surprising from Red Bull as they have repeatedly taken the spirit of the regulations to the absolute limit and relied on issues of semantics to talk their way out of being punished for it.

    Are there not any existing directives or precedence to punish teams for breaking the spirit of the regulations or is too much of a grey area?

  24. Seems like the FIA thinks drivers can only use two throttle positions, either on or off, prior to this race they’ve been totally unaware there are other positions in-between, fortunately jo our intrepid sleuth did such a good job that he uncovered the incredible truth inside red bulls ECU, there are more than two positions on a throttle !
    Furthermore, you could exploit this fact to allow the engine to deliver less torque than available (because you know it won’t go down the track anyway) while sending more air through the exhaust pipes. What a shame!!

    Thumbs up to jo !
    Black flag for the stewards who apparently refuses to accept the fact that it may exist because the rules does not mention it.

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