PARIS (Reuters) - The FIA will rule by Tuesday on Red Bull’s appeal against Daniel Ricciardo’s exclusion from the Australian Grand Prix, the Formula One governing body’s International Court of Appeal (CAI) said on Monday.
“We will announce the decision tomorrow morning at the latest,” CAI general secretary Jean-Christophe Breillat said at the end of a six-hour hearing at the FIA’s headquarters.
He added that a reasoned decision would be published “by the end of the week”.
Ricciardo finished second in his home race last month, his debut for the world champions, but was disqualified hours later when stewards ruled his car had breached new fuel flow regulations.
The case is seen as a critical test of the regulations accompanying the V6 turbo engines and energy recovery systems, with Red Bull arguing the sensors cannot be trusted, a version the FIA and other teams are disputing.
Red Bull, instead, used their own method of measurement, in breach of an FIA technical directive.
While Ricciardo was not present in Paris as he is preparing for this week’s Chinese Grand Prix, team principal Christian Horner and head of car engineering Paul Monaghan were among the nine-man Red Bull delegation.
Mercedes, the championship leaders who have won all three races so far this year, McLaren, Lotus, Williams and Force India also had representatives at the hearing being heard by a five-judge panel.
Mercedes came down hard on Red Bull, with their barrister Paul Harris asking the judges to “impose a further sanction that is to be suspended until the end of the season” to prevent them from breaching the rules again.
Monaghan, the first of six witnesses, argued that the sensor measuring the fuel flow - limited at 100kg per hour - was “faulty” and Red Bull had decided to use their own method of measurement in Melbourne.
“It’s not about cheating. We are not seeking to undermine the authority of the FIA,” Red Bull barrister Ali Malek said in his closing statement.
“The key issue is the status of technical directives. Either they are instructions we have to follow or they are not binding.”
Malek quoted FIA F1 race director Charlie Whiting as telling a news conference the technical directives “are only opinions, an interpretation that did not satisfy Mercedes or the FIA.
Harris and FIA barrister Jonathan Taylor reminded Red Bull that regulations state that “it is the duty of the competitor to satisfy the technical delegate” - not the other way around.
Both stressed that Red Bull ignored requests from the FIA to turn down Ricciardo’s engine to stay under the limit, after complying with them during five laps of the race.
“If we continued to agree with the FIA instructions we would lose positions,” Adrian Newey, Red Bull’s chief technical officer, admitted.
“You cannot have your cake and eat it,” Taylor said in his closing statement.
“The rules are workable because of the technical directives, whether it suits the teams or not, we all play by the same rules.
“Without it you’d be in the Wild West. You cannot pick and choose when you want to accept those measurements and when you don’t.”
Taylor also argued that the back up method used by Red Bull “is not the fuel flow model, it is the estimate.
“There is a difference between measurement of fuel flow and an estimate. You can’t rely only on the estimate.”
Mercedes added that Red Bull could have used the sensor they had on their spare chassis.
“At any point you could have taken out a third sensor and have used it?” Harris asked Monaghan, who replied: “Yes we could.”
Despite being grilled by the Red Bull barristers, Fabrice Lom, who oversaw the implementation of the fuel rules at FIA, maintained that he was “highly confident” the sensor data were accurate.
Harris concluded in saying that Red Bull should be prevented from breaching the rules again.
“Red Bull deliberately chose to defy the instructions,” he said.
“There is a real risk they will do it again and we are here to make sure it does not happen again.
“We respectfully submit that the most efficient way that Red Bull does not (breach the rules) for at least the remainder of the season is this court to impose a further sanction that is to be suspended until the end of the season.”
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Alan Baldwin and Pritha Sarkar