Renault still refuses to take the blame for Red Bull Abu Dhabi qualifying debacle
By Berthold Bouman
Although Red Bull Racing has pointed the finger at Renault after the Abu Dhabi qualifying debacle, the French engine manufacturer refuses to take the blame for the incident which cost Sebastian Vettel his third qualifying place, and as a result the current World Champion had to start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the pit lane.
Vettel was instructed to park his car at the end of qualifying, according to Red Bull at the request of Renault. “I’m not sure what the issue was at the end, I was just told to switch off the car,” Vettel said after qualifying.
As regulations say cars have to return to the pit lane under their own steam, and still have enough fuel in the tank for the FIA technicians to take a one litre sample, Vettel was demoted to the back of the grid, but for technical reasons opted to start from the pit lane. The FIA ultimately was able to extract 850ml fuel from the tank, but that was not enough to comply to the regulations.
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said last Saturday after qualifying, “During the slow down lap following the final run of Q3, Renault instructed to immediately stop Sebastian’s car on the circuit due to an issue with the fuel system.” Renault’s Remi Taffin confirmed he ordered the car to be stopped, “We saw something on the telemetry and did not want to risk the engine.”
On Tuesday, Horner said it was probably a human error, “To be honest, we have no clear answer but I suspect that it was human error.” He also hinted Renault had offered Red Bull no explanation as to why there wasn’t enough fuel in the car, at the same time Renault maintained they hadn’t made any errors calculating how much fuel Vettel needed for his final qualifying run.
On Thursday Red Bull again said they were not involved in the fuel debacle, and Vettel stated, “We saw some numbers going down, and in order to save the engine, save the pumps in between etcetera, we decided to stop the car, convinced that we had enough fuel in the car to provide a sample.”
Asked why there wasn’t enough fuel in the car Horner commented, “It’s difficult [to say], because Renault was sure there was enough fuel in the car.” And he further explained, “What happens is the engineers for the engine side calculate the amount of fuel to be put into the car. As a team, we are not involved in it.”
But on Friday Taffin denied Renault had made a mistake, and refused to take the blame. “We need further investigation. We have checked the numbers, we have looked at what we did with the ‘robot’ and each number says there should have been enough [fuel],” said the Frenchman.
With ‘robot’, Taffin was referring to the fuel rig Red Bull uses, and he suspects there was something wrong with the equipment. “Along with the supplier, Red Bull is now checking [the equipment], we have checked everything on our side and we have not seen any problems.”