Will Red Bull follow the FIA’s fuel sensors at Sepang? Can Raikkonen bounce back? And will the new generation continue to shine?
What should we expect from Red Bull in Malaysia?
Twelve months after leaving Malaysia under the brewing storm that was ‘Multi-21′, Red Bull return to Sepang under another cloud thanks to Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification from the season-opening Australian GP. Their subsequent decision to appeal the stewards’ ruling for allegedly infringing fuel flow regulations means that, with the case not being heard by the International Court of Appeal for another three weeks, the World Champions could conceivably be at the centre of similar arguments with the FIA both in Malaysia and next week in Bahrain.
Given they were wholly unhappy with what they described as the governing body’s “immature” fuel sensor technology in Melbourne, instead choosing to trust their own readings regarding the 100kg/h fuel-flow limit during the race, there’s plenty of uncertainty at the moment as to whether Red Bull will again disregard the FIA’s in-race advice should they again be certain they are running at a performance disadvantage. Christian Horner’s remarks to Sky Sports News this week – “hopefully we will have a sensor that works and works in line with the fuel rail and there isn’t this discrepancy” – frankly gave little away.
Horner: We haven’t broken the rules
So until we hear that the World Champions once more trust the FIA’s sensors, the spectre of more post-race disqualifications for the RB10 – or any other team that finds fault with the readings – undoubtedly exist. Certainly on the evidence of Melbourne any more exclusions would likely again affect the top-end of the race order as, putting the fuel-flow meter issues on Ricciardo’s car and any performance gain to one side for the moment, the Australian’s drive to second in Melbourne showed that the RB10 is not as fundamentally flawed as some had thought it might be – even if the team admit they still trail Mercedes by quite a distance. Aerodynamically, it may even be the best car on the grid – in tricky conditions in Q3 Ricciardo qualified on the frontrow using intermediate tyres when everyone else needed the full wets, suggesting the car is producing significant levels of downforce. And remember rain is always a risk at the Sepang International Circuit.
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