PARIS (AP) — Mercedes tore into Formula One rival Red Bull at an appeals court hearing Monday over the disqualification of Daniel Ricciardo at the Australian Grand Prix, saying the team flouted rules and must be put on notice to stop it from becoming a repeat offender.
The court said it expected to deliver its ruling by Tuesday morning. In its appeal, Red Bull argued that race officials should not have stripped Ricciardo of his second-place finish, and the 18 points that go with it, for breaching F1's new rules on fuel usage.
The case represented the first major challenge to this season's sweeping rule changes, which have seen F1 ditch 2.4-liter, V8 engines for smaller 1.6-liter, V6 turbo hybrid engines.
The rules are forcing teams to be more fuel efficient, allowing them to burn no more than 100 kilograms per race, about one third less than the V8s. The rules also limit the rate at which fuel is burned to no more than 100 kilograms per hour at any time.
Red Bull was accused of consistently overstepping that mark with Ricciardo's RB10 in the season-opening race on March 16. Governing body FIA told Red Bull during the race that Ricciardo was burning fuel too quickly. The team dialed back the flow for a few laps. But after that slowed Ricciardo, Red Bull then turned his engine back up again.
Red Bull argued to motorsport's Paris-based tribunal for resolving disputes, the International Court of Appeal, that the FIA-approved sensor used to measure the delivery of fuel to Ricciardo's car was faulty and so the team relied instead on its own fuel-flow measurements.
Red Bull lawyer Ali Malek said Ricciardo's sensor was "obviously unreliable," his disqualification based on a "flawed and incorrect" interpretation of F1 rules and that the team was perfectly entitled to use its own fuel calculations. He suggested the dispute was partly a teething problem.
"We are dealing with new technology, a new problem, and new regulations," he said. "It is quite plain that these fuel sensors have proved to be problematic."
Mercedes lawyer Paul Harris argued that Red Bull was knowingly in "flagrant breach" of F1 rules. He urged the court to impose an increased but suspended penalty to dissuade the team from any further violations and to keep competition fair. Restoring Ricciardo's fuel flow after the FIA asked the team to turn it down allowed him to go 0.4 seconds per lap faster, Harris claimed.
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