Renault: Fuel equipment likely to have caused Vettel's problem

Renault believes a calibration problem with fuelling equipment is the most likely explanation as to why Sebastian Vettel did not have enough petrol in his car for qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Renault: Fuel equipment likely to have caused Vettel's problem

Vettel was stripped of his third place grid slot and thrown to the back of the grid at the Yas Marina circuit after post-qualifying checks discovered he only had 850ml of fuel on board his car after Q3 - whereas the rules demand a minimum of one-litre be present for a sample.

At the time, both Red Bull and Renault were convinced that enough fuel had gone into the car for his final run, so neither could offer a clear answer in Abu Dhabi about why there was not sufficient present for the FIA tests.

Post-event investigations conducted by both Red Bull and Renault have concluded that there was no mechanical problem with the car's engine or fuel system, or that Vettel had consumed more fuel than expected during his laps.

Instead, Renault suspects that the fuelling equipment, referred to within the team as the 'robot', used on Vettel's car was at fault.

Renault's head of trackside operations Remi Taffin said that he was awaiting a final report from Red Bull, but the likelihood is the fuelling equipment under-delivered on what it claimed had been put in the car.

"We now have gone very deep into the investigation and, if we look back at what we learned from Saturday qualifying to Sunday morning, we obviously eventually discovered that we were missing a bit of fuel in the cell," Taffin told AUTOSPORT.

"We have checked the numbers, we have checked what we have done with the fuel 'robot' and every single number says we should have had the fuel.

"So Red Bull are now checking with the supplier of their 'robot' to check out that we had the right delivery. This is in progress."

Taffin said that there had been no change to Red Bull or Renault's normal fuel strategy for Abu Dhabi qualifying compared to previous grands prix, and analysis of its data showed that consumption had been as normal.

"We have checked everything on our side and could not notice any problems, so we are now waiting on whether that fuel went in or not," he said.

Renault ordered car to stop

Taffin revealed that the first warning the team had that there was not enough fuel was when the data on Vettel's in-lap showed a lack of fuel in the collector.

With Renault convinced at the time there was enough petrol in the tank, Taffin said it suspected a fuel system failure - which is why it ordered Red Bull to stop the car because it did not want to risk damaging the engine.

"We were sure at that point that we had the required level, so we did not understand why we had this drop in collector level," he said.

"At the time we had a brief discussion on our intercom where we said we have this problem, it is bizarre, it is weird, and it should not be this way.

"We thought that there was a problem in the fuel system somewhere and, as we later explained to the stewards, we could not afford to have a fuel pump that is running dry - because it could seize and cause the engine to be broken.

"That is why, when we discussed it with the [Red Bull] engineers, we gave the call to stop the car."

Renault expects an answer from Red Bull about the fuel 'robot' issue before the weekend, and says there will be little problem ensuring there is no repeat problem in the future.

When asked if they would change procedures for the final two races, Taffin said: "I think first we have to wait for the answer.

"If there was nothing we can find as an explanation we will be surprised, but we will review things with Red Bull and try and find the best solution between us. It will be a common decision. We will not do something on our own."

shares
comments
F1 testing: Antonio Felix da Costa happy to ease into RB8
Previous article

F1 testing: Antonio Felix da Costa happy to ease into RB8

Next article

Formula 1 delays introduction of electrical power for the pitlane

Formula 1 delays introduction of electrical power for the pitlane
Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss Plus

Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss

OPINION: Fred Vasseur has spent only a few weeks as team principal for the Ferrari Formula 1 team, but is already intent on taking the Scuderia back to the very top. And despite it being arguably the most demanding job in motorsport, the Frenchman is relishing the challenge

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023 Plus

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023

Changes to the regulations for season two of Formula 1's ground-effects era aim to smooth out last year’s troubles and shut down loopholes. But what areas have been targeted, and what impact will this have?

Formula 1
Jan 26, 2023
Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history? Plus

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history?

Who are the quickest drivers in Formula 1 history? LUKE SMITH asked a jury of experienced and international panel of experts and F1 insiders. Some of them have worked closely with F1’s fastest-ever drivers – so who better to vote on our all-time top 50? We’re talking all-out speed here rather than size of trophy cabinet, so the results may surprise you…

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2023
One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1 Plus

One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1

OPINION: During what is traditionally a very quiet time of year in the Formula 1 news cycle, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been generating headlines. He’s been commenting on massive topics in a championship that loves them, but also addressing necessary smaller changes too. Here we suggest a further refinement that would be a big boon to fans

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
How can McLaren keep hold of Norris? Plus

How can McLaren keep hold of Norris?

Lando Norris is no longer the young cheeky-chappy at McLaren; he’s now the established ace. And F1's big guns will come calling if the team can’t give him a competitive car. Here's what the team needs to do to retain its prize asset

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make? Plus

What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make?

While a quick pitstop can make all the difference to the outcome of a Formula 1 race, most team managers say consistency is more important than pure speed. MATT KEW analyses the fastest pitstops from last season to see which ones – if any – made a genuine impact

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2023
When F1 ‘holiday’ races kept drivers busy through the winter Plus

When F1 ‘holiday’ races kept drivers busy through the winter

Modern Formula 1 fans have grown accustomed to a lull in racing during winter in the northern hemisphere. But, as MAURICE HAMILTON explains, there was a time when teams headed south of the equator rather than bunkering down in the factory. And why not? There was fun to be had, money to be made and reputations to forge…

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2023
What Porsche social media frenzy says about F1’s manufacturer allure Plus

What Porsche social media frenzy says about F1’s manufacturer allure

Porsche whipped up a frenzy thanks to a cryptic social media post last week and, although it turned out to be a false alarm, it also highlighted why manufacturers remain such an important element in terms of the attraction that they bring to F1. It is little wonder that several other manufacturers are bidding for a slice of the action

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2023