Red Bull’s sensor-ship attitude doesn’t befit Formula One champions

Daniel Ricciardo, before the smile was wiped off his face - metaphorically, at least. Daniel Ricciardo, before the smile was wiped off his face - metaphorically, at least.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
2:49 PM

It had always been hard to imagine Daniel Ricciardo without a smile on his face – until a few hours after the chequered flag on Sunday. That said, even after his epic podium had been scratched from history, the Aussie still emerged with a grin. Maybe it’s the only facial expression he has.

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Good week, bad week

Pole position – Kevin Magnussen: The young Dane had an F1 debut to remember – even without his post-race promotion to second. He looks the real deal; now we wait to see if that’s based on form or class.

Stalling – Sergio Perez: Having departed McLaren the Mexican’s Force India start was anonymous, if curtailed. Let’s hope there’s still a spark to come from Checo somewhere.

Ricciardo’s Melbourne story should have been the highlight of a fantastic opening weekend to the 2014 Formula One season, and a new technological era for the sport.

Instead, everything unravelled in the Australian dusk. It was all out of Ricciardo’s control and no doubt hugely embarrassing, given he got to the podium and did all those post-race interviews. But while the driver was the victim, there was also a clear perpetrator in this entire mix-up – his team.

Red Bull have done stunning work in the last four years, and before that too. But the level of arrogance they displayed on Sunday was not only a disgrace – it was the kind of action that undermines the entire integrity of the sport.

Very simplistically, here’s what happened: Every team is limited to how much fuel it can inject into their engine over a period of time.

"The FIA gave the team the opportunity to be compliant – the team chose not to make this correction"

Quote of the winter: F1’s governing body makes its feelings clear over Red Bull’s Melbourne misdemeanour

The FIA provides the same sensor to everyone to make sure this is regulated. Red Bull didn’t trust that sensor, so used their own – ignoring FIA warnings in the process. They were the only team on the grid to do it – even though they suggested other teams were unhappy.

That last sentence might ring true, as it’s a similar story to last season’s tyre complaints. Red Bull drove that, and in the end Pirelli changed the tyres – Red Bull won the rest of the races.

There were rumblings before the season that F1 would get political this season – and it seems it took just one race for that to arrive.

Now Red Bull need to back away from the idea four successive titles mean you can run the sport.

So the purists don’t like the new noise – those who salivated over V10 engines, who hated the fact F1 lost them, who then salivated over V8s, and now hate the fact we’ve lost them too.

Clearly the Australian Grand Prix organisers are also purists, given they plan to find out whether their contract to host the grand prix was breached – because the engines weren’t loud enough. All noble stuff and of course, F1 in 2014 is a different beast to its predecessors. But F1 had a problem – fuel-guzzling machines with massive engines were irrelevant. That bygone age would only continue to be left behind.

Instead, we have F1 pushing new technologies to – and initially beyond – their limits. If anything, the drivers are more in control of their machines, and the racing has been preserved – maybe enhanced.

On top of that you can now hear tyres screech, drivers talk and the crowd’s reactions to the action.

Lewis Hamilton even proved you can still hear when an engine is sick.

So as far as I’m concerned it’s out with the old, in with the new.

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