Red Bull continued to grapple with fuel flow problems in Sunday’s Malaysian grand prix.
While Sebastian Vettel finished third, it was his teammate Daniel Ricciardo’s sister RB10 – disqualified in Melbourne over the very same issue – that was once again affected. The sensor failed early on, but the team avoided disqualification this time around by simply following the FIA’s advice about how to comply with the rules in the absence of the troublesome Gill device. “Yes,” Dr Helmut Marko told German television Sky, “this time the FIA asked us to check the correlation of our data and we did it.”
Team boss Christian Horner suggested the continuing problems demonstrates that Red Bull has a strong argument to put forward at the forthcoming appeal hearing. “I think it clearly demonstrates that there are issues with these sensors,” he said. Horner added that he has “no idea” why Red Bull is having more problems than any other rival. A theory has been bouncing around the paddock that Red Bull’s Total fuel might be a contributing factor. “We are yet to understand why we always have problems when the others don’t — it could be something related to the fuel, but we are trying to understand,” said Marko.
Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said the Lotus driven by Pastor Maldonado in Malaysia also had a fuel sensor problem, so another theory is that the frequencies produced by Renault’s turbo unit could be causing issues. The publication also said it is possible that installation modifications made to the Gill unit by the Renault-powered teams could be damaging it.
Ricciardo’s problems did not stop at the fuel sensor at Sepang, as he struggled with a pitstop problem and a subsequent stop-go penalty and a wing failure. The ‘unsafe release’ from the pitstop will also cost him ten grid places in Bahrain this weekend, but boss Horner says he has been impressed with the Australian so far in 2014. “Today didn’t go his way but he gets out of the car and he’s got a smile on his face,” he said. “He knows that it will come right.”