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Sport Why protest could see Ricciardo's team kicked out

02:50  17 october  2019
02:50  17 october  2019 Source:   wwos.nine.com.au

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Ralf Schumacher says Renault could be facing a 'catastrophe' after a protest was lodged over their braking system.© Wide World of Sports Ralf Schumacher says Renault could be facing a 'catastrophe' after a protest was lodged over their braking system.

Former grand prix winner Ralf Schumacher says Daniel Ricciardo's Renault team may have been gaining a "big advantage" from an automated brake system that is now under investigation by the sport's governing body.

The steering wheel and electronic control units (ECUs) used by Ricciardo and teammate Nico Hulkenberg during last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix have been impounded by the FIA, after rival team Racing Point lodged a protest.

Racing Point reportedly compiled a 12 page document, accusing Renault of having a "pre-set lap distance-dependent brake bias adjustment system," which would be in breach of the technical regulations governing the sport.

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Stewards conducted a preliminary investigation at the track, before taking the steering wheel and ECU away for further testing. The ECU is a standard component supplied to the team by the FIA.

F1 regulations ban any "powered device" in relation to the braking systems, other than the rear break-by-wire system, while Article 27.1 of F1's Sporting Regulations states: "The driver must drive the car alone and unaided."

Renault says it will "prepare an equally detailed case to rigorously defend its position."

In an interview with Sky Germany, Schumacher admitted that the consequences for Renault could be dire, with the possibility of a penalty such as that levied on McLaren following the 2007 "spygate" scandal, that saw the team disqualified from the constructor's championship and fined $148 million.

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“I saw [ Ricciardo ’ s ] issue and I was also told by radio and that’s when I started to push. But as soon as I got too close, or closer, then I struggled to stay there and never got in range, especially at He could keep his pace and I think that perhaps it could have been worse for us if he hadn't had some issues.

But Ricciardo had made his only stop of the afternoon before his MGU-K failed. Although he had to play with the controls of the car, shifting the brake bias forward, for example, to help the rear brake temperatures, his car’ s gentler treatment of the softest tyres in the Pirelli range was superior to Ferrari

a yellow and black truck sitting on the ground: Daniel Ricciardo and Renault have struggled in 2019.© AAP Daniel Ricciardo and Renault have struggled in 2019.

But Schumacher says he hopes the team didn't cheat.

"As a works team that would be very questionable," Schumacher said.

"They'd have to rethink everything."

Schumacher admitted that if proven, the system would give Ricciardo and Hulkenberg a clear advantage.

"The driver is normally responsible for adjusting the brake balance, so if it is happening automatically you could brake later and take more speed into each corner," Schumacher said.

"It would be a big advantage.

"An automatic system controlled electronically could do it much better and faster than the driver can manually."

Schumacher pointed out Racing Point must have had reasonable grounds to lodge the protest, suggesting that the outcome could be disastrous for the French team.

"The suspicion must be reasonable, because it's an unwritten rule that you don't accuse another team of something like that unless you're 100 per cent sure," he said.

"If they're right, it's a catastrophe for Renault. And it's not the first time they've attracted attention."

That's a reference to Ricciardo's problems in Singapore, where he was excluded from qualifying after his MGU-K unit was found to have delivered more electrical power than the rules permit.

Renault claimed at the time the power spike was the result of hitting a kerb, and Ricciardo gained only one-millionth of a second from the infringement.

Regardless of the outcome, Schumacher says this case could drag on, given both the complexity of the investigation, and the consequences for Renault.

"The FIA already seems overwhelmed with the simplest decisions, and this is definitely a mammoth task," he said.

"They need to be completely sure, because it would be a huge setback for Renault."

Renault considering disqualification appeal .
Renault says the “subjectivity” of determining a driver aid and “variability” of penalties in related cases will inform whether it appeals its disqualification from Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix. After the Suzuka race, Racing Point protested Renault and claimed its rival used a pre-set lap distance-dependent brake-bias adjustment system that was in violation of the FIA's F1 sporting and technical regulations.

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