Scuderia Ferrari found itself at the centre of another technical controversy ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when the FIA found a discrepancy with its fuel declaration. With the Italian outfit having been under recent scrutiny from rival teams over its power unit in the wake of a number of technical directives, there was fresh intrigue on Sunday when the FIA found a ‘significant difference’ between the fuel amount Ferrari had declared before the race and what had actually been found in the car.
It prompted yet another wave of theories about whether this was part of a clever trick Ferrari had been using or a simple administrative error. In the end, it was proven that Ferrari did not gain any advantage and therefore Charles Leclerc was not disqualified from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Italian side was only fined 50,000 Euros for the 4.88kg difference between what it declared was in the car and what there actually was.
As part of F1’s fuel limit rules, teams have long had to declare how much fuel they plan to put in the car for the race. Furthermore, FIA technical boss Jo Bauer and his team have the right to weigh the cars before and after the race in order to determine exactly how much fuel has been used – and how that matches up with what has been recorded by the fuel-flow meter.
Ahead of the start of this season, TD12-19 was issued to all teams by F1’s head of single-seater matters Nikolas Tombazis outlining how fuel measurements would be taken.Teams have to declare the amount of fuel they intend to put in the car – which covers the laps to the grid, the formation lap, the race and the in-lap – at least two hours before the race start.
The FIA officials usually make these tests for the top cars. But during the 2019 Formula One season, Mercedes was checked four times: “I think we had 10 checks this season. And there was never anything to complain about. We believe that all our measurements are correct. Only one was inconclusive. We are glad that we can go into detail with the FIA, the technical experts and the stewards on this issue.” – Mattia Binotto explained.