Ex-Formula One team owner Paul Stoddart is confident Red Bull will be cleared and Daniel Ricciardo’s points reinstated over the fuel controversy that cost the Australian second place in Sunday’s Grand Prix.
But if the team’s appeal should fail, Stoddart believes it should be them and not their driver who is punished.
The sport’s governing body, the FIA, disqualified Ricciardo almost five hours after the race finished at Melbourne’s Albert Park track, determining the team used more fuel than allowed.
It also claimed the reigning constructors’ champions used their own fuel flow measurement system without permission.
But Red Bull maintain they’re not at fault and are appealing the decision.
Stoddart, who ran the Minardi team for five years before selling it to Red Bull in 2005, reckons the UK-based outfit has a strong case.
He said the point of the new rule, one of many introduced this season, was to stop drivers from using an extra boost of fuel during the race to gain an advantage.
“Daniel did not gain any advantage and that will be proven by Red Bull in their appeal,” Stoddart told Radio 3AW on Monday.
“They’ll be able to prove that he didn’t gain an advantage, that the team felt what they did was right, that they were following their own sensor from the actual fuel injection system on the engine.
“And the Renault engineers would’ve known exactly how much fuel was going into that engine.
“We’re talking teams with budgets of $400-$500 million here – they have far better equipment than the FIA.”
Despite being stripped of his result, Ricciardo was absolved of blame by the FIA in their official judgement.
Stoddart said that should be enough reason to reinstate the Perth-born driver’s career-first podium finish and – if punishment was still necessary – dock Red Bull of contructors points instead.
“We’ve had precedence before, where a driver’s deemed to have been completely innocent of an issue – and Daniel without question was completely innocent of this yesterday – and they’ve disqualified the team’s points but left the driver’s position intact,” he added.
“… Hopefully we will see Daniel’s points reinstated and if they feel that the team deliberately did not follow the regulation by taking its own data, even though that data was absolutely correct, but they didn’t follow it to the letter of the law of the FIA, they only take the team’s points away.”
In 2007, McLaren was excluded from the constructors’ championship and fined $US100 million for the possession of confidential technical data belonging to rivals Ferrari.
However drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were not penalised and allowed to continue their fight for the drivers’ title.