Teams and FIA knew beforehand of fuel sensor issues

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Formula One teams and the FIA were aware of possible fuel flow sensor problems from the first winter test of the year in January says McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier.

The alert are far from new, as it is public knowlegde that Gill Sensors was essentially the only candidate that were in a position to deliver in time what the FIA demanded. Still, it posed a stiff challenge for the company with a race against time to get everything accurate enough.

McLaren's Boullier now confirms it was obvious there could be issues from the moment the cars hit the track: “It’s clear that already there was maybe some little bit of accuracy issues between the different sensors,” and they have “been working closely with the FIA since early January” to understand the problems.

“It’s true that at the end the FIA took a position in Bahrain at the second test and made it clear that their fuel sensor would be the reference and it had to be used.”

In addition to the technical regulations, the FIA issued a technical directive just before the end of testing, specifying that its homologated sensors designed and produced by Gill would be the primary measurement. It also stated that "if at any time we [the FIA] consider that the sensor has an issue which has not been detected by the system we will communicate this to the team concerned and switch to a backup system. The backup system is the calculated fuel flow model with a correction factor decided by the FIA."

Boullier confirms that teams were alerted of this and that McLaren needed to be careful with the fuel flow.

“But it’s true that at the end we have been fully compliant during the race, and the whole weekend actually, like most other teams,” he added.

Contrary to McLaren and other teams that adapted their engine mappings following an FIA alert, Red Bull Racing chose to ignore the warning, resulting in the disqualification of Daniel Ricciardo at the Australian Grand Prix. Red Bull lodged protest against this decision. A result if this protest is expected in the next month.