Unobserved rule drama at the Red Bull box

( – In the Ferrari team’s zoom media call on Sunday night in Barcelona, ​​Mattia Binotto raised his eyebrows when asked by a journalist about the legality of the Red Bull RB18 at the Spanish Grand Prix. Too short before the start of the race, the Ferrari rivals – largely unnoticed by the public – had almost a little drama.

Max Verstappen first came online at the last minute in Barcelona


“Of course I do not know what was going on there,” Binotto said. “But I can imagine it had to do with the fuel temperatures in the tank, which must not be more than ten degrees below ambient temperature.”

Postscript: “I think the rules must be followed at all times during a race weekend. Not only when the car is going out on the track. But also in the pit.”

Petrol temperature: What the Formula 1 rules say

What happened? Article 6.4.2 of the 2022 Technical Regulations prescribes that the petrol may be a maximum of ten degrees cooler than the ambient temperature one hour before the start of training or qualification or two hours before the start of the race.

During the first five race weekends of the season, it was agreed in Formula 1 to set the minimum fuel temperature to 18 degrees Celsius. For Barcelona, ​​however, the original rule came into force again.

At the time of measurement two hours before the race, the ambient temperature that the FIA ​​communicated to the teams was 35 degrees; the petrol could therefore be cooled down to a maximum of 25 degrees.

Cooling the fuel as much as possible helps both performance and reliability. A topic that has already been fatal for Aston Martin this year. On the Miami web, the team of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll noted that the fuel was eight degrees cooler than allowed. So the two had to start from the pitlane.

Why was there an exception at all

Possible background: The minimum temperature of 18 degrees, which the teams had agreed on during the first five race weekends, was originally intended to be only ten degrees. However, some teams did not agree with this, so 18 degrees was negotiated as a compromise.

Incidentally, the reason why the petrol temperature rule was suspended at all is the introduction of E10 petrol for the 2022 season. Apparently, an FIA standard pump in the petrol system was overwhelmed.

In Barcelona, ​​both Red Bull and AlphaTauri noticed shortly before driving out on the starting grid that the petrol in the tank was still too cold. So they waited until the last minute and let the engines run to heat up the petrol.

Perez annoyed by Red Bull’s strategy “There are a few things to clarify”

Despite finishing second in Barcelona, ​​Sergio Perez is not entirely happy. In the internal duel he had to let Max Verstappen go first.

It cost the later winner Max Verstappen, whose rear wing was worked on at the same time due to the DRS problems in the qualification, the possibility of running two or three reconnaissance rounds and training starts again.

Binotto casts doubt without making any claims

Binotto is surprised: “I do not think it is enough to start the engine, because the fuel should not deviate more than ten degrees at any time during the event.” But: “I can only trust the FIA ​​in this regard. I’m sure they’ve checked it out.”

The association has not reported any breach of the Red Bull rules, especially as Article 6.4.2 literally states: “No fuel intended for immediate use in a car may be more than ten degrees Celsius below ambient temperature.” Here the wording “immediate use” is crucial – in other words: the temperature should only be correct immediately before actual use.

In the end, the drama did not play a decisive role in the outcome of the race. Verstappen won the Grand Prix ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez and even took the lead in the World Cup.

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