Graeme Lowdon fears appeal win for Red Bull would 'open the floodgates' in F1
Marussia chief says FIA guidelines should be respected
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 26/03/14 1:41pm
Red Bull are pushing ahead with contesting their car's exclusion from second place in the season-opening round for exceeding fuel flow rates with their case to be heard by the International Court of Appeal six days ahead of the Chinese GP on Monday April 14.
Although stewards ruled that Ricciardo's RB10 'consistently exceeded the maximum fuel flow of 100kg per hour', the team cited "inconsistencies" with the FIA's sensors and are adamant their own readings showed they were within the 100kg/h parameters. Discrepancies between the Technical Regulations and subsequent Technical Directives issued by the FIA regarding fuel flow rates, and the distinction between them, are also set to prove a central aspect of Red Bull's defence.
Lowdon, however, believes advice issued by the FIA outside of the written regulations should be heeded and F1 will enter dangerous territory if the stewards' ruling in the Red Bull case is overturned in Paris.
"I certainly hope not because the fans don't like that," the Marussia Sporting Director told Sky Sports Online when asked about suggestions that the season could be dogged by post-race disqualifications thanks to the complexity of the sport's new regulations.
"They want to switch on, watch a race and then know who's won it and not have to stay up another day or something like that to find out who actually won or who came second or whatever. So I certainly hope we don't have that kind of thing.
"Obviously the International Court of Appeal is the final arbiter on these things, so there is a process which is well laid out. My own view is, and it's purely a personal view, that it would open the floodgates to all sorts of things if this appeal were to be successful because, yes, the ICA is the final arbiter, opinions given by the FIA outside of the Technical Regulations are meant for guidance and they are guidance, it doesn't constitute part of the Technical Regulations as such, but I think some things should be reasonably straightforward.
"If Red Bull chose to ignore the guideline from the FIA then they will have only done that to make their car go quicker - there's no reason why they would have done anything other than that. Therefore if that was the approach that every single team took then without any question every single result would always be decided in the International Court of Appeal, and that's not really what it's meant for and it wouldn't be good for the fans and, you'd argue, it wouldn't be good for the sport."
Although Technical Directives may not form part of the official regulations, Lowdon believes the informal system works well as it stands, as shown by the fact that other teams who were warned about fuel flow limits heeded the FIA's requests.
"That's why we have this system where the FIA give their opinion. It happens on things all the time," he explained. "We seek Charlie Whiting's opinion on a lot of things and he gives it and I think there's a general view that it's good for the teams to follow that advice, even though it might not necessarily constitute a part of the Technical Regulations.
"It is an opinion and if we were just to ignore all of those opinions and constantly test them in a court then the sport would just stutter along endlessly. From what I understand, a number of teams were given advice by the FIA on what they should do with regard to fuel consumption and I think most of them followed it. It really is going to be difficult for the sport to operate races in a way that the fans are really going to understand if the advice is simply ignored because you can make a car go quicker."
Hinting that Marussia were among the teams to receive guidance on fuel flow, Lowdon added: "Certainly we experienced some circumstances on the fuel flow where we had to make some decisions, I think most of the teams made those decisions in accordance with how the FIA thought the teams would act, which is to err on the side of ensuring that your car is safe and legal at all times, which is the stipulation that's in the Sporting Regulations.
"I know whenever we were presented with a decision to make we took it into accordance with the guidelines that have been issued with the FIA."