Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) have dismissed Aston Martin’s Right of Review concerning Sebastian Vettel’s disqualification from 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix for a breach of fuel regulations.
Vettel finished second behind Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in a dramatic Hungarian GP but stopped on the cool down lap with a fuel issue, from which FIA officials were only able to retrieve 0.3 litres instead of the mandatory one litre.
Stewards consequently chose to disqualify the German but Aston Martin launched an appeal against the decision alongside Right of Review, arguing that there was 1.74 litres of fuel within the car according to their data.
FIA met today with Aston Martin’s Team Principal, Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Technical Officer – Andrew Green and Sporting Director – Andy Stevenson via video conference to discuss their Right of Review, which was ultimately dismissed.
The team proceeded to consider its position concerning their appeal before ultimately deciding to withdraw ‘on the basis that we believe doing so outweighs the benefits of it being heard.’
HUNGARIAN GP UPDATE: Having considered our position and having noted the FIA stewards’ verdict that there was clear new evidence of a fuel system failure, we have nonetheless withdrawn our appeal on the basis that we believe doing so outweighs the benefits of it being heard. pic.twitter.com/usEmaXPKpd
— Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) August 12, 2021
How The Appeal Unfolded
Aston Martin provided the race stewards with a letter dated 4 August 2021 containing appendices which set out their argument, with Appendix 2 consisting of what the team alleged to qualify as ‘new evidence’ in relation to Article 14 of FIA regulations concerning the review due to fresh evidence unavailable at the time.
Stewards however have to consider the following points to determine if Aston Martin have presented ‘new evidence’ which justifies a review;
- Is “a new element”
- Is “significant” and “relevant”
- Is “discovered” instead of created and wasn’t available to the team at time of original decision.
FIA officials consequently acknowledged that Aston Martin’s alleged “new evidence” in summary was gathered from analysis of over 100 channels of fuel system related data, concluding that there was a fuel system failure on Vettel’s car which led to loss of fuel cell pressure despite the air pump activating ‘a maximum output.’
This meant that that by pumping air through the fuel cell, it caused ‘a significant’ amount of fuel’ to be ‘inadvertently discharged’, in turn causing the collection of just 0.3 litres sample of fuel.
It was consequently determined that Aston Martin’s ‘careful analysis, interpretation and evaluation’ was only possible in the days following the race, due to a ‘sheer volume and complexity’, which meant that ‘a new element’ was clear in the form of a fuel system failure that would of caused loss of fuel during the race.
FIA however determined that ‘it is necessary that at any time’ for one litre of fuel to be removed from individual cars, as accepted by Aston Martin alongside the fact that just 0.3 litres was recovered from Vettel’s car despite initially claiming post-race that 1.44 litres of fuel was still in the tank until the subsequent discovery of ‘an initially unnoticed malfunction in the fuel system.’
Stewards though were adjudged to have just made an assumption about the amount of fuel left in the tank during the original decision, although it makes no difference as to the cause of the fuel loss due to the possibility of various reasons behind ‘insufficient’ fuel at the climax of a race.
Aston Martin’s claim of ‘no suggestion that Vettel’s Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One AMR21 car benefited from a performance advantage from the alleged regulatory breach, or that it was deliberate’ was also dismissed as a case of ‘no defence’ as per FIA International Sporting Code regulations.
The team also failed to meet the “relevant” aspect of their new evidence because they failed to present clear facts that more than one litre of fuel was still in the tank, with their explanation deemed irrelevant to the decision and snubbed reference to various historical decisions by the FIA.
Speaking in a statement post video-conference, Szafnauer praised Vettel for his performance in Hungary and the FIA for hearing their “significant new evidence” which was discovered post-race and original application of Vettel’s penalty.
Szafnauer however argued that the evidence “presented was relevant and demonstrated to the FIA that he should have been reinstated following his disqualification.”
This decision now means that Lewis Hamilton continues to hold an eight point lead over Max Verstappen in the title race, having inherited second after Vettel’s disqualification.