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So what's the deal with FIA's request to exclude BAR Honda?

It is a big long complicated situation. Pro BAR/Honda people see it as at most an honest mistake, but more so it looks like BAR took advantage of a gray area in the rules in which specific wording was not implemented in the regulations, thus making it a loophole. It is a very aggressive move through that loophole, however, it does appear to have some credibility that it is a loophole.

Anti BAR/Honda people see it as BAR trying in bad faith to fruadulantly decieve and get around the rules thus cheating.

If you read through all the various G1 forums, you will see two completely different sides of the story and many unfounded facts. The problem is, we don't know too much about it so many of the facts are speculation.

From my point of view, it appears after reading various supposed transcrips from the appeals court that the so called "Second, or hidden fuel tank" is a non issue as the FIA officials stated it was a legal system and they new of its existence thus it was not a secret. The issue is the car being under wieght by about 5.4kg after the car was completely drained of all fuel. The sticking point for the FIA is that they asked BAR to drain the fuel and the car weighed above the minimum requirement. The problem is the FIA was tipped off that BAR my have been using a hidden fuel tank, thus asked BAR if there was fuel left in the car which BAR replied no. Upon further inspection the stewards found fuel behind the main fuel tank wall. This was the so called hidden fuel tank, which turns out to be the collector which is perfectly legal and known by the FIA. However, once this collector was drained of fuel, the car fell below the minimum 600kg weight by 5.4kg. The method using a hoover (Vacuum pump) to pump out all fuel is also in question since it was the first time being used. No other car was drained using this method ever. The accusation by the FIA is that the car was designed to run underwieght at the end of the 1st and 2nd stints when the fuel load is low this gaining an advantage. BAR claims that the collector must contain 6 liters of fuel to opporate the engine properly whithout malfunction. The rules state the car must be above the minimum weight for the entire event. An event is described as all practice sessions, qualifying, and the race itself. Therefore BAR claims the car was ever underweight at anytime during the race and has telemetry and data to proove it. That is wht the local stewards at Imola eventually cleared BAR. However, the FIA doesn't by it and doesn't consider computer data to be worthy evidence, and also claims that fuel can't be used as ballast which is true. However, BAR claims that fuel in the collector is not considered ballast since it is essential for proper opporation of a car. Without this fuel in the collecetor the car would not be able to run at all. Anyway, it is a back and forth thing. On one hand any race team takes advantage of any loopholes they may find. The FIA rule book is full of them and it serves them right. The other hand is people see BAR as not opporating in the "Spirit" of the rules even if it could be argued they were technically within the rules because of the gray area if it is ruled that it was indeed a gray area.

Anyway, we will know in a few hours of not sooner what the ruling will be.
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Well, bad news for BAR/Honda. They have been disqualified from Imola, and are banned/excluded from the next two races. First is this weekends Spanish Grand Prix, and the next at Monaco. Good news is they can return after that. Problem is, they loose their points (Not sure about the points Sato scored though), and will fall way behind in both drivers and contructors points which pretty much means they are done for the seaons unless they podium finish at the rest of the races. Plus, you still have Jenson Buttons clause of 75% of WDC points by mid season or he can opt to leave for Williams. There is no way he will get 75% of the leaders points now.
Talk about a cool wife (from thread"NSX in One Lap")- I go out to the living room to discuss this with Jane, and she is busy programming the DVR for this weekends practice, qualifying, and THE RACE, cuz we'll be out of town. Now THAT's a Cool Wife :biggrin:

What I question, is why a fuel tank would *have to* hold a 6ltr minimum. By its very nature, it is there to be consumed. Does this secondary tank cool or otherwise condition the fuel? I don't believe it could be a pickup or slosh issue as fuel cells don't normally sufer these problems. If FIA knew it was there, did they know it would always have at least 6ltrs in it? I would think these questions would be part of the legal opinion, but WDIK.

Apparently the Honda engine needs at least 5.29 liters of fuel in the collector in order to run without sputtering during idle.

Here's a good long commentary from Atlas before the decision was made:
"After the finish of the 1985 San Marino Grand Prix, the McLaren of race winner Alain Prost was found to be 2kgs underweight. The Frenchman was of course disqualified - it was black and white, even if the discrepancy was a result of a genuine mistake by his team.

Exactly 20 years on, Jenson Button's third placed BAR 007 was found to be almost 5.4kgs under the weight limit at the same event - a margin nearly three times the one that caught out Prost, and this in an era when the technical checks and weighing equipment are far more sophisticated. And yet on this occasion Button was not disqualified.

If many in the paddock found this strange, to say the least, the FIA itself was so flabbergasted by the decision made by the stewards on Sunday night at Imola that it has appealed against the judgement of the three wise men acting in its name. It's a move not totally without precedent in recent motor sport history, but a rare one all the same.

This is an unusual story, worthy of the secret agent who shares his name with the type number of the car. Many of the facts are yet to emerge, but having spoken to some well-informed people - although not from BAR, as no one is talking - Autosport-Atlas attempts to piece the basics together.

The Man with the Golden Endoscope

Things began to develop in the couple of hours after the end of the race. Post-race technical checks were a formality for most, and once the cars had been examined, they were pushed into the double garage that served as parc ferme. Normally, if there are no issues, the results are made official a little more than an hour after the race, at which point all the cars are then released back to the teams, and packed away in the transporters.

But last weekend there was a problem. Wandering past the FIA end of the pits, amid the usual noisy chaos that follows any race in Italy, one could sense that something wasn't quite right. At a time when usually everything was done and dusted, not only were most of the cars still parked forlornly in parc ferme, but one - Button's BAR 007 - was still in the FIA garage, sitting on the weighbridge. Officials surrounded it, while BAR race engineer Craig Wilson stood by its nose.

At times like this, information is thin on the ground. Nobody announces on the tannoy "there's a problem with car number three," and no paperwork is circulated. Things are done very discreetly until there is definite news. Only if you see it with your own eyes do you know that something is up.

Among those quick to spot that a drama was unfolding were Renault team manager Steve Nielsen and Williams's chief mechanic Carl Gaden, who stood on the pitlane side of the FIA garage and watched with some interest, ready to report back to their bosses on any developments. Although no information emerged, the fact that they could watch, albeit from a distance, gave the proceedings a degree of transparency.

When the car was pulled off the weighbridge and pushed back on, it was only too clear that this was a weight issue. And when FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer was seen with his arm inside the fuel tank, having a good feel around with his trusty endoscope, it was obvious that there was also a fuel element to the story.

With nothing coming out of the FIA, I decided to investigate. I bumped into Button himself down at Red Bull, where his pal David Coulthard was about to give him a tour of the new monstrous motorhome. "Is there a problem with the weight of your car?" I asked. He made it pretty clear that he thought there wasn't.

The best way to find out what's going on in situations like this, is to ask the other teams, and it was surprising how many important folk hadn't even realised that the BAR was still being checked. In fact, it was hard to miss from the paddock side, as the FIA garage door was open by a metre, and the 007's nose was clearly visible.

Later I came across Alex Wurz, celebrating his fourth place at Bernie Ecclestone's hospitality bus. "Don't celebrate yet," I said. "You might end up third..."

The Weight is Not Enough

There are in fact two minimum weight figures in Formula One's 2005 regulations. The first covers qualifying, when cars have to weigh more than 605kgs. They are measured at the end of each lap, with the driver on board.

Of course, under current regulations, the only figure that really matters is that measured after the first qualifying session, when you are not using race fuel. Obviously every team put the bare minimum into the car, and judge things finely so that after the out-lap, flying lap, and in-lap, they come in as close to 605kgs as they dare. That's why an engineer might tell a driver 'try to save fuel' on his in-lap on Saturday, even if it's not a question of saving it for the race.

On Sunday morning, the cars are again weighed with the driver. Of course, with race fuel now on board, there is no way anyone will be near the minimum limit. Nevertheless, those figures are crucial to the FIA because they are in effect the starting weights that have to be maintained for the start of the race.

The post-race check is different. For obvious reasons, there is no way to have the entire field queue up for weighing, so the drivers get out and are weighed on their own, before the cars are measured separately. The two figures are added together to produce a total.

Post-race, the required limit drops to 600kgs. This is a by-product of the race fuel/parc ferme rules. With the agreement of the teams, this 5kgs margin was introduced to allow for loss of weight due to consumption of oil, brakes, and other materials. Also factored in is loss of weight by the driver (although some of what he sweats off might be absorbed by his overalls, and is therefore still in the equation).

In theory, because of parc ferme, apart from the losses outlined, there is no other reason to account for a difference in weight from the end of first qualifying to the end of the race - apart, of course, from fuel.

At Imola, the BAR weighed 606.1kgs with its fuel on board, well above the limit and in fact a little higher than cars normally are at the finish. Teams would normally expect to be down around the 603kgs mark, allowing for the aforementioned loss of materials and finishing with the bare minimum of fuel on board. In fact, you have to have at least a litre in the car so that samples can be taken and tested by the FIA, or you could face disqualification.

This is where it gets interesting. Since refuelling was introduced in 1994, the FIA has reserved the right to do a more detailed weight check, involving draining the car of its fuel to determine its dry weight.

The logic is simple: if the fuel is pumped out and the car weighs less than 600kgs with no fuel on board, then the clear implication is that at various points during the race - i.e. immediately before its pitstops - the car could have been running at less than 600kgs. It has always been understood that weighing the car without fuel is the only way to demonstrate that a car was legal throughout the race. The subject has been discussed many times in meetings of the FIA Technical Working Group and of team principals. As long ago as 1994, the FIA clarified that this was the case in response to questions from teams.

One senior technical guy explained it thus this week: "There was a communication stating that the FIA would drain the car of all fuel, and the car had to comply to the weight limit in that condition. That was the only condition in which they could be sure that a team was legal during the race. And that's always been clearly understood. That's always been one of the key principles, and it's been mentioned many times. It's not strictly in the regulations, but it does say that the car must be legal at all times, and it also says that the FIA technical delegate must be satisfied that the car complies with the regulations."

But is a clarification issued several years ago still valid today? "I don't see why not, but BAR may claim they weren't in F1 then..."

Like random drug tests, fuel drain checks can happen without warning. At Imola, the top three cars were all drained, and all three were found still to be above the limit. Normally, that should have been the end of it. However, Jo Bauer was still interested in the BAR. He asked the team's representative if there was any more fuel in the car. He, apparently, said no.

It was a classic 'Colombo Question' - that last, subtle enquiry that leads to the unmasking of the villain.

It was then that Bauer began to take a close look at the inside of the 007 fuel tank. He found an extra compartment with fuel still in it. The compartment itself was not illegal - F1 tanks are not gaping caverns, they all have complex innards, and, it seems, what BAR had was acceptable in technical terms.

But what mattered here was that the fuel inside it had not come out with the initial draining, and when asked, the team's representative had denied that there was any more on board. When this 'hidden' fuel was drained, the car tipped the scales at 594.6kgs. On the face of it, bearing in mind that dry weight has always been the only benchmark of whether a car could be running underweight, Bauer could come to no other conclusion - BAR literally had the capacity to cheat.

On Max Mosley's Secret Service

Bauer's pursuit of the truth was no accident. Over the off-season a story had done the rounds that BAR might have been doing something 'unusual' during last season. It seems that the tale emerged after a mechanic left and joined a rival (British) team. A leading technical person at that team shared this information with his opposite number at a rival outfit when they bumped into each other at a test (he may well have confided in others), and the matter was also discussed with the FIA.

Nothing could be done during the winter, so it was just a case of waiting for the season to start. In Australia, the BARs pulled out on the last lap to gain new engines for the second race, but they were still classified and thus eligible for scrutineering. But as the performance was so bad, they were not really of interest. Two double retirements followed in Malaysia and Bahrain. Then Button finished third in Imola, just 10 seconds behind the winner. It seemed like a pretty good time to do a check.

The FIA does not act on pitlane gossip alone, and disgruntled ex-employees are not always arbiters of truth. But the governing body also keeps a very close eye on what teams are doing with fuel, and runs software that makes use of two key pieces of information: the pre-race weights, which indicate how much fuel is in the cars for the start, and fully accurate fuel rig readings. The FIA delegates do not rely on the stop timings shown on TV, as observers like you and I have to. Their detailed data can be analysed, and any strange patterns are flagged.

You Only Refuel Twice

So what are BAR accused of doing, and what benefits might have accrued? First of all, consider that a lap of Imola requires around 3.0kgs of fuel - a number verified by more than one top team. We know that at the end of the race some 11.5kgs were pumped put of BAR - in other words, enough to run very nearly four laps. According to information from other teams, F1 cars rarely finish with more than a lap's worth of fuel in the tank. Yes, there has to be some left for the FIA to check, but saving fuel to pass a weight check is not an issue as there is that 5kgs built-in margin to play with.

Since the BAR weighed 606.1kgs at the end, we have concrete proof that the car could not have run below the limit for the last stint of the race. What the FIA is looking at, however, is the couple of laps prior to each of the team's two stops.

Jenson Button stopped at the end of lap 24 and lap 48 of the San Marino Grand Prix. However, the first tank also included the lap to the grid, and the formation lap. As the drivers are in fuel saving mode, those add up to exactly one racing lap. So his stop schedule, including the slowing down lap, was roughly as follows:

25 laps - 24 laps - 14.5 laps

Or in fuel terms:

75kgs - 72kgs - 55kgs (43.5 'used', plus 11.5 pumped out)

The only times the car could have possibly run under 600kgs are laps 23-24, and 47-48. Did the team dip into that 6kgs 'reserve' or not? Did it genuinely pit with the cars at 600kgs rather than, say, 596kgs? The only proof that can answer that is the data provided by the team, and of course the fuel consumption figures are absolutely paramount. That is the heart of the argument.

If you think a couple of laps marginally under 600kgs are not worth worrying about, think again. In such a case, there are benefits to be gained for the whole of the first two stints, i.e. 48 laps.

The following figures need not apply in this case, but they explain why the FIA would take the matter very seriously. Let's assume the car was run down to 596kgs, leaving just enough to get it back to the pits safely. If we assume that everyone else has a dry weight of at least 605kgs, the qualifying minimum, then a car using this technique will in effect weigh 9kgs less than another car running to an identical pitstop strategy for the whole of those 48 laps. At Imola, 3kgs - or a lap of fuel - is worth exactly one tenth of a second. So the car concerned would gain 0.3 a lap for 48 laps - or a total of 14.4 seconds. That is a huge amount.

Another way to look at this is that for a given genuine starting weight, this car could run three laps longer to the first stop than a car of identical weight. At a time when even one lap means the difference between winning and losing, that's pretty handy.

In addition, in second qualifying the car would be carrying 9kgs less than any other car that plans to pit on the same lap, which equates to three tenths of a second benefit in the battle for grid position. Worth having, of course.

Even if the fuel is run down only to a legal 600kgs - something no other team would have the capability to do - there are similar, albeit smaller, benefits.

There is one other interesting aspect to qualifying. In effect, to meet the 605kgs limit the car would have to carry at least 11kgs of 'spare' fuel in that first session. There are restrictions as to where you can locate traditional ballast, but could this lump of fuel, located handily in the middle of the car, influence the handling balance over the one flying lap? Having weight further back in the car could be of specific help to a Michelin user.

Having said that, fuel is not very efficient as ballast. Says our technical source: "It's high volume and it moves around, and it's going to be high in the car. It wouldn't be our first choice."

And there's yet another possible benefit. Did the team need to keep 6kgs (or more) of fuel permanently in the car to help the fuel system operate effectively, in terms of pressure and pick-up and so on?

That is not an uncommon problem, and indeed it happened to at least one leading team in the searing heat of Bahrain. They had no choice but to keep a certain minimum amount of fuel in the tank all the way to finish so that it didn't splutter to a halt before its pitstops or the chequered flag. Frustrating, but part of the game, and everyone accepts that. It could just be that BAR built in the 6kgs margin so that this fuel could be carried with no penalty in time and weight.

"How often have you heard a team say 'we're a bit heavy because we've got a fuel pick-up problem'?" says our technical guy. 'And they don't say 'we've got a permanent offset of 6-7kgs or whatever because we need that amount in reserve for the fuel system'..."

For Your Tank Size Only

Back to Sunday night. With the checking complete, the car was left alone on the weighbridge. The action now moved upstairs, to Charlie Whiting's office and that of the stewards, just along the corridor. Meanwhile, back in the engineering offices in the BAR transporter, technical director Geoff Willis was putting his evidence together. He emerged carrying some files and headed off to see the FIA, accompanied by Craig Wilson and team manager Ron Meadows. Jo Bauer presented his findings to the three race stewards, who consulted with Whiting and made a judgement after reviewing evidence from Willis.

For several hours, no information was released from the top floor. Darkness came and it began to rain, while up and down the paddock frustrated mechanics kicked their heels. If there is a problem with one car, then all cars have to stay in parc ferme. You don't just get a car back after the race and stick it in the truck - there's a list of jobs to run through, which often involves firing up the engine. They just had to wait.

Williams were in particular trouble, as BMW wanted its V10s out of the chassis for examination in Munich. Alas, everyone had to wait until the BAR business was sorted out. Team members booked on Sunday night flights realised that they had no chance of catching them, and there was much frantic rebooking for Monday. Legal or not, BAR wasn't about to win a popularity contest in the paddock...

Finally, some hard news emerged. The official results, unchanged, were declared and signed off at 10.10pm, and a document issued by the stewards was timed at 9.30pm, and counter signed by BAR's Ron Meadows at 9.42pm. It appeared to be very carefully worded, and created more questions than it answered.

It stated that in Jo Bauer's opinion "Jenson Button is able to run below the minimum weight limit" - as clear an accusation of cheating you are going to get, although the use of "able" was intriguing. But it went on to say that the stewards had decided that the matter "requires no further action."

Usually the stewards pretty much rubber stamp whatever they've been told, and their main job is to decide what the penalty should be. But on this occasion, the three - local Giuseppe Muscioni, Swiss Paul Gutjahr, and Japanese Katsutoshi Tamura - chose to side with the team, effectively ignoring the recommendations suggested by Bauer.

Not surprisingly, the decision caused some disappointment among those in the FIA whose job it is to seek out rule infractions. Even on Sunday night there were suggestions that the matter would go further, which could only mean an appeal by the FIA against the stewards' decision.

Nevertheless, it was surprising that as early as Monday morning the FIA announced that it was going to do exactly that, giving itself and BAR some nine days to put their respective cases together before meeting in Paris on Wednesday May 4. Quite simply, Whiting and Bauer had informed FIA president Max Mosley that they did not share the stewards' interpretation of the evidence, and that this was too important an issue to let go.

Disputes Are Forever

There are two related but distinctly different issues here, and BAR had to convince the stewards on both matters.

In effect, BAR's case was that A) The 'dry' weight is irrelevant as the rules are written; and B) the car never ran below 600kgs during the course of the event.

In case A, the team's behaviour seems to be based on a bit of lateral thinking by Willis, one of the smartest men you'll meet in an F1 paddock - in fact he had a hand in writing the rules that govern the design of America's Cup yachts.

He's clearly taken the view that, as written, the rules do not expressly say the car has to weigh 600kgs when drained of fuel, only that it has to be above 600kgs during the event. However, the FIA's position is a simple one: the only way to police this issue is to drain the car, and that's the way it has always been.

BAR may well be right to claim that nowhere in the 2005 rules does it explicitly say the car must weigh 600kgs without fuel. They may argue that just because it's always been understood that this is the method of checking, doesn't mean that it is sacrosanct.

But one could equally argue that there is nothing that specifies exactly how the FIA determines whether a car has a maximum of 10 cylinders, or indeed four wheels. The legal battle over such niceties promises to be an interesting one.

No one can possibly dispute that, as the Sunday night statement said, "Jenson Button is able to run below the minimum weight limit." But whether he did or not is another matter. Is being able to cheat illegal in itself? That's going to involve some serious debate over semantics, and views will undoubtedly be divided.

In case B, the team used their data to convince the stewards that at no time did the car fall below a weight of 600kgs. That in effect meant demonstrating that at each of the pit stops, there were at least 6kgs - or two laps - of fuel still in the car.

Of course, the FIA already knew how much went into the car at each stop, and how much was drained out at the end. But it did not have a precise figure for how much fuel was in the car at the start - only a guestimate based on starting weight and the drained weight that could not accurately allow for any loss of materials, as discussed earlier.

Crucially, BAR were also able to present fuel consumption figures. It was this information, provided by the team and not verified as such by the FIA, which convinced the stewards that the car never dipped below 600kgs.

So the bottom line is that the stewards must have agreed with BAR's unique interpretation of the rules, and believed that the car did at no point run below 600kgs. These are the two matters on which Whiting and Bauer did not share the opinion of the stewards, and caused them in effect to take the matter to Max Mosley. The same two points are what will be debated in the appeal on May 4.

But there is another issue. In effect, BAR are openly admitting that they were using fuel as ballast. Once again, they are pursuing a unique interpretation of the rules, which state that any ballast has to be fixed and require tools to remove it. If you pump fuel out, are you using tools?

Fry Another Day

In his press statement following the FIA's appeal, BAR-Honda CEO Nick Fry said that two blue chip companies like Honda and BAT would not expose themselves to something so potentially damaging as breaking the Formula One regulations. Such an argument is unlikely to stand up in court - it's a bit like OJ Simpson claiming he's a sporting legend so therefore he's obviously innocent - but nevertheless, Fry has a good point.

BAR have plenty of good, solid people - including Fry himself, technical director Geoff Willis, team manager Ron Meadows, chief mechanic Alistair Gibson, and the hard working guys on the race crew. But clearly something strange is going on.

What might have happened is that Willis has targeted what he sees as a loophole - i.e. that the car does not have to be 600kgs without fuel. It could well be that the car never dipped below 600kgs, either at Imola or prior to any of last year's many pitstops, and thus there has been no actual flouting of the minimum weight requirement.

But it's a dangerous game to rely on your own interpretation of a situation like that, without first checking with the FIA, and specifically Charlie Whiting. As our technical guy says: "If they had a special requirement, why didn't they spell it all out to the FIA before they started to use it, and get the whole thing cleared?"

BAR were reprimanded by the FIA last year for running a previously outlawed electronics system during Friday practice for the German Grand Prix, something which lead Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn to state back then: "I guess Geoff [Willis] was not around in those days and he came up with a system that clearly contravened the clarifications that the FIA had given the teams a few years ago. We were a little bit shocked about it." Sounds familiar?

Two questions remain. Was the 6kgs in fact movable ballast and therefore illegal full stop? And most importantly, what was the story with the fuel that was in the now infamous 'secret compartment'? Why did the team's man on the spot claim there was no more fuel to be found?

One possible explanation is that, for whatever reason, the team hedged their bets. They came up with an interesting and quite possibly valid interpretation of the weight regulations, and they genuinely never ran less than 600kgs. But just to make sure that they would never have to face a tricky legal challenge, they ensured that the fuel used as ballast was not easily found in a spot check. If that is the case, being economical with the truth could prove to be a major error.

"It doesn't make any sense," says our technical guy. "If they had any grounds to do what they did, why did they deny that they had it? It has serious implications, really. It's not very often that blatant cheating is found in F1. Some issues are contentious because they're down to interpretation, and I guess that's what they're going to try and argue.

"But if I had a bottle of nitrous oxide on the car and told the FIA I never gave the instructions to put that into the engine, and I can prove it, it wouldn't be looked on very favourably! My guess at the moment is that they are trying to be smart on something or other that we don't understand, and it's going to have more serious implications for them than they probably thought about."

One strange thing is that the legality of Takuma Sato's car, which finished the San Marino Grand Prix in fifth place, was not questioned in that same post-race scrutineering. It would be stranger still if it turned out not to be built to the same spec as its sister car, of course.

So what are the possible penalties should BAR be found guilty to any degree? Comparisons with the Toyota disqualification from the 1996 season of WRC have been made, and indeed Max Mosley made it clear earlier this year that he will take a tough stance on any blatant F1 misdemeanours. It could get messy.

Those who confuse the focus by Bauer and Whiting on the BAR at Imola with the political atmosphere in the F1 paddock these days - with the FIA, FOM and Ferrari in one side, against the GPWC and their allied teams in the other - are misguided. Bauer and Whiting were doing their job. It would be just as silly to suggest that the Japanese steward, a man inevitably with some connections to Honda-owned Suzuka, would in any way be compromised. Having said all that, BAR and Honda do seem to have given Messrs Mosley and Ecclestone a ball that they can take up and run with, and they rarely waste such opportunities...

At the very least, we can expect the hearing in Paris next week to end with a clarification de facto of the 600kgs rule. Whatever else happens on May 4, the FIA is between a rock and a hard place. If the stewards are overruled, then their authority and that of the whole system is weakened. If the FIA loses, then the standing of Charlie Whiting and Jo Bauer will suffer - not to mention that of Mosley, who has backed their hunch."
I think this whole mess really started out with the conspiracy theory that BAR was intentionally cheating. This put a whole spin on everything from not only the car being under weight, but having secret fuel tanks, to deceptive practices by BAR mechanics to conceal fuel in the car at tech inpection.

If the ruling were simply that the BAR 007 was found to be under weight and the FIA didn't start this whole cheating issue, BAR probably would not have been so defensive and more than likely they would just have been DQed for that race. Just like how Williams last year for having illegal brake ducts. This also would have avoided the whole media spectacle about possible cheating. Fans would have been okay with saying BAR failed tech inspection because they were underweight and got DQed. Now we have this whole deal with half saying they are cheaters and got of light, while others saying the should have just been DQed from that one race and not two extra. The FIA appeals court ruleing stated that there was no evidence to proove BAR acted fraudulantly and attempted to gain an unfair advantage. Basically that means not enough evidence was there to suggest they cheated. However, the car was under weight and so they were in violation of numerous rules and at the least the appeals court says BAR acted neglegently and should have ask for clarification if they were confused about the rule.
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I'm sure this will go to UK civil court now. I think BAR Honda has some good points. The weight issue is fairly cloudy and they never did run underweight. Add another nail in the FIA's coffin. Hello GPWC!
NSXTech said:
What I question, is why a fuel tank would *have to* hold a 6ltr minimum. By its very nature, it is there to be consumed. Does this secondary tank cool or otherwise condition the fuel? I don't believe it could be a pickup or slosh issue as fuel cells don't normally sufer these problems. If FIA knew it was there, did they know it would always have at least 6ltrs in it? I would think these questions would be part of the legal opinion, but WDIK.


I'm definately no tech and really don't know the answer as to why the collector (Supposedly not part of the fuel tank) needs that fuel. I'v read that it has something to do with needing it to always be full to prevent airlock, and something to do with the high pressure injector system and what not.

Anyway, yes, the FIA probably did know that fuel would be in the collector. They claim the system was legal and in fact all the other cars use s similar system with a collector as well. The conflict is the rules interpretation. BAR claims they thought fuel in the collector was counted as the weight of the car since it needs to be there to opporate, whereas the FIA says the minimum weight of the car is no fuel at all. Interestingly enough, sources have said the company that provides teh fuel cells for all the F1 teams have been busy this week with new orders of fuel cells for various teams :biggrin:
What about Sato's car???

Ponyboy said:
... Add another nail in the FIA's coffin. Hello GPWC!

hmmm... Having Ferrari back Bernie Ecclestone & the FIA cartel and not joining their peers in efforts to create a GPWC is analogous to the U.S.A. pulling out from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty while every other country in the world is in it (I think every country, not sure...). Power man, it's about power unfortunately. Ferrari is such a powerhouse, that's all Ecclestone needs to get the other teams to cave in.

I do look fwd to the day when there will be a GPWC! :cool:

I am rather pleased w/ the outcome to be honest of the FIA decision. I was anticipating the worst (full season ban & funny-money fines) and the aftermath that would ensue... Honda's F1 R&D and marketing down the toilette, sponsors going loco, and Button jumping ship (sooner, than later that is). I still think BAR Honda can do reasonably well this year, only the strong survive- and other than Ferrari & Renault (widely expected to be high in the standings regardless prior to the start of the season), no other team seems to be ready to step up. Mclaren has potential but I'm not convinced of their prowess. I think the Scuderia is going to get it together and it's already made its move. Exciting things can happen when you have nothing to lose, as BAR Honda now is for the remainder of the season! DNF's though need to be avoided at all cost; the engineers & techs need to let the drivers make it happen! RELIABILITY!

Two race ban?!? Who cares! For arguments sake, the first two races this season were a ban too, (ka-boom... engine detonation) lol...! As long as the two Lucky Strike 4wheeled 18k rpm chariots are in Montreal in June, I'll be happy! :biggrin:
The nature of F1 racing has always been pushing the car, the driver , and the team to thier limits. Therefore, rules must be written in a way that there is no misunderstanding and mis-interpretation. If the issue is in the gray zone, than it is FIA's fault for not having it written clearly. Any team may take advatage of it.
But I still done understand the mechanism of the secondary fuel tank. Does it allow the car to use more of the fuel in the regular tank or as close to empty as possible??
fannsx said:
But I still done understand the mechanism of the secondary fuel tank. Does it allow the car to use more of the fuel in the regular tank or as close to empty as possible??

Supposedly calling it a secondary fuel tank will make it illegal since that is against the rules. However, I guess a collector is legal since the design of the system was considered NOT illegal and all teams use a collector as well. Now, Again, I'm not too knowledgable of engine mechanics and all the technical things, but I think I can sum it up from what I have read. The reason for a collector is to insure that the engine will never at anytime be straved of fuel. This is especially true when the fuel tank is low on fuel. I believe a fuel pump pumps fuel from the main tank to the collector and then another pump from the collector to the engine. This will keep fuel in the collector at all times even under high G loads and an empty or low main tank where the fuel pump might pick up air. I think it is similar to a slosh baffle, but I guess a collector works better.
Frankly, I have never been impressed with F1 "racing" in recent years where those who have the money tend to dominate. That is not racing in my book. And to believe that racers will not "stretch" the envelope - or not cheat, is hilariously dumb wishful thinking.

If FIA truly wants competitive racing, the first rule ought to be limiting all teams to equal budgets that they can spend per year - how and on which races they spend more that would be each team's discertion. Then the drivers as well as the technicians can shine. JMO-YMMV.
If all teams have the collectors, then were the other tanks drained when measuring the weight of the car,or was BAR's tank bigger than the others?
fannsx said:
If all teams have the collectors, then were the other tanks drained when measuring the weight of the car,or was BAR's tank bigger than the others?

Draining of the fuel tanks is not a mandatory inspection practice to weight the cars, but it can be done at random. The 2nd place Ferrari and 1st place Renault at Imola was not drained to be weighed that day. Supposedly the can randomly pick any car (Usually the podium finishers, but they have also drained cars further down the line as well at times. What happened is supposedly two ex BAR employees that now work for rival teams tipped the FIA off at what BAR might be doing, thus the FIA was waiting for BAR and targeted the car for closer inspection. This pratice is actually normal and okay. The problem is with the punishment. Basically, we have to assume that all the other cars would have the correct minimum weight, but it can never be proven true or false since they were not weighed without fuel. Also, this was the first time this particular draining method was used. Interesting reports had the fuel tank manufacturer busy with new orders from various teams this past week. Now, the BAR tank and fuel design was considered legal, but this kind of hints that other teams were a bit worried that the BAR tanks could have been ruled illegal at the appeals court and thus were planning ahead and making potential changes if needed. All speculation on that part though :biggrin:
Hrant said:
Frankly, I have never been impressed with F1 "racing" in recent years where those who have the money tend to dominate. That is not racing in my book. And to believe that racers will not "stretch" the envelope - or not cheat, is hilariously dumb wishful thinking.

If FIA truly wants competitive racing, the first rule ought to be limiting all teams to equal budgets that they can spend per year - how and on which races they spend more that would be each team's discertion. Then the drivers as well as the technicians can shine. JMO-YMMV.

Supposely they are trying to do just that. 9 out of 10 teams agreed to a gentlemans agreement to limit testing. Supposedly that should help save money. Ferrari is the 1 team that said they will never agree to that. Max wants to bring in the V8 engines to help cut cost. I'm not sure if it will work or not. Anyway, you are right though. The politics in F1 really is ruining the sport. Every team must pay money to Ferrari for historical contributions. What the hell is that all about? You know, I'm not a anti Ferrari conspiracy theorist, and I actually enjoy watching Ferrari race as that car is awsome to watch. However, too many things point to Ferrari having too big a voice compared to the other teams. I wont go out and call it an outright favortism, but it seems to me that the Ferrari team does have more weight in what they say, want, and argue about compared to other teams. Truthfully, I'm really all for the GPWC defection now. Before I didn't want to get into the politics of it and just wanted to enjoy the racing, but now I want to see a change.
:mad: FRACK. Its a done deal for this weekend. BAR has not been able to find a court to hear the case in time. With no appeal possible, the two race ban is in effect. They were not at practice this morning. (detail at formula1.com)
I guess the only question remaining, for you legal begals out there is if they can still appeal the ban once it has taken effect, and have any chance at being at the next race, which is the 'historical' crown jewel of the season,

Seriously Bummed,
Good interview from Atlas:

Just before first practice for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix began at Barcelona today, BAR's Nick Fry announced that the team would not be seeking a court injunction against the decision of the FIA Court of Appeal in Paris, banning the team from Barcelona and Monte Carlo.

As the team started to pack up ready to leave, Fry answered media questions.

Tony Dodgins was there for Autosport-Atlas.

Q. Nick, what is your current position?

Fry: We're going home now. The guys packing up understand the situation and I think we are doing the right thing. It's gone as far as it should do now, we have made our points very clear, we have done nothing wrong, we still think the penalty is excessive but the lawyers are telling us that the issue of jurisdiction is a very difficult one and we can't find a court willing to say yes, it's our responsibility. The case seems very sound but the only possibility looked like it would be in France but that can't be done in time. It looked like it would be the middle of next week, which is too late for this meeting.

Q. Have you ruled out competing in Monaco?

Fry: Yes. We have taken the decision that although we could continue to pursue this, it is in nobody's best interests. The sport would suffer badly, we would create a fight that nobody needs. For the sake of one race our judgement is that it's not worth the effort. Our plan is to withdraw from Monaco.

Q. How late was that decision taken?

Fry: We were deliberating until well after midnight last night (Thursday). We were also talking to the lawyers again this morning just to make sure that we had got the decision right.

Q. Were there any more talks with Bernie or the FIA?

Fry: We haven't discussed it with them. This is our decision based on the facts before us.

Q. It must be an enormous disappointment?

Fry: It is. This (race) is one we could have certainly won. The testing with both Jenson and Taku in the last couple of weeks has been phenomenal. And Jenson obviously had a good chance at Monaco last year. But on the other hand it has strengthened our resolve. We know we can win races and everyone is pulling together incredibly well and we are determined to come back and win.

Q. What are the implications for the team and sponsors regarding Monaco, the highlight of the year for many?

Fry: This is going to cost us a huge amount of money. I haven't actually sat down and calculated what it is, but in terms of contractual obligations that we are going to have to meet, I could confidently say that it's going to add up to more than $10 million.

Q. Do you think this is part of a wider political agenda?

Fry: I think we'll defer on that one. At the moment we are looking purely at the merits of this case and the advice we are getting from the lawyers. That advice is that we can't do anything in time and, as I said, we've taken the decision not to go to Monaco because to prolong this battle will be counter productive for everyone.

Q. Do you think other teams had similar arrangements for their fuel tanks?

Fry: Yes, we know that the other teams have got similar systems. The fuel tank supplier is the same as many other teams and have confirmed there is nothing unusual about our system. But, to show everyone we are completely transparent, during the course of this afternoon we will be posting everything – and I mean everything – from the Court of Appeal. So you will have all our witness statements, all the technical data, including a lot of confidential information. From our point of view we've got nothing to hide and even if we are giving away some information to our competitors, it is better that we do that. So we're happy to do it.

Q. Will other teams have to make hasty changes for this race?

Fry: There have been rumours that one or two other people are looking at their cars overall. This is a very Draconian interpretation of the rules and it is making everyone look very closely at what they are doing.

Q. Are you concerned about the effects that it is going to have on Jenson?

Fry: Jenson is in great spirits. We treat him as part of the management of our team, he's been part of the decision, he thinks this is the right thing to do, we are going to come out all guns blazing and this has just reinforced everyone's resolve to do even better at Nurburgring. We'll be out trying to win that one.

Q. Is there a concern about your engine there? Will that be its second race?

Fry: Currently we are having discussions with Charlie Whiting about that situation. It's not entirely clear to us what we can or can't do given these circumstances. Craig Wilson, the chief engineer, is along with Charlie at the moment having that discussion.

Q. Given that Jenson has to be within a certain percentage of the championship leader by a set stage of the season for you to hang onto him, have you now lost him?

Fry: I wouldn't say that. It's far too early. We've got 19 races in total, the car is getting faster and faster, we are now in a position where we can win races and we won't give up on anything until the bitter end.

Q. But you do have a fight on your hands now to keep Jenson?

Fry: We have. We've made things more difficult for ourselves, there's no doubt. But there's lots of races to win. It goes without saying that it's more complicated than we at first envisaged but we have certainly not given up.

Q. It goes without saying you want him for 2006?

Fry: We want Jenson Button for 2006 and beyond.

Q. What has been the reaction from Japan?

Fry: Fully understanding. One of the good things in all of this is the cohesiveness of the whole team. And not just BAR but the major partners, including BAT and Honda. They are completely behind us, they have been part of the decision-making process in every respect and we are completely bound together.

Q. Are you 'alliance partners' (the 'group of nine' and other F1 manufacturers, Ferrari apart) aware of your decision?

Fry: Yes. I've been wandering up and down the pitlane speaking with them and they fully understand and respect our decision. The cohesiveness of the group is probably amplified by this.

Q. With most of the sport seemingly against the governing body, how do you see this situation?

Fry: The teams supported by motor manufacturers have been talking to each other for some time and what we want is the best thing for the future of F1. We want a sport that is open, transparent, fair, and an independent Court of Appeal. Honda will continue to work with the other motor manufacturers to try to make sure that happens. It's as simple as that. I think we need to divide the two issues. This is about the regulations of fuel systems. There is clearly a bigger picture but I don't think that's for discussion today.

Q. Given that you need to increase your competitiveness, are you going to stick to the testing agreement?

Fry: We're going to have that discussion as to what we are going to do because, obviously, we are going to miss out on a few days running at two grands prix and clearly we will have that debate with the other manufacturers as to how we take that into account. But we will be doing that with the others and not by some independent decision.

Q. Will you have any presence in Monaco, for sponsors and such?

Fry: We are discussing at the moment with the partners and the people using the Paddock Club and the like, and obviously we will put on whatever suits them.

Q. Have you been asked to leave the Barcelona paddock?

Fry: No. But we will leave. What we are going to be doing now is packing up the trucks and the cars, causing minimum disruption. We are going to leave the motorhome here because we've got a lot of guests here, we've got a number of Honda board members, a lot of BAT people and so we are using the catering, but all the trucks and the guys will be shipping out today.

Q. What are you going to be discussing with the other teams?

Fry: In the first instance we want the teams to be supportive of our situation. We know we never ran under 600kgs and the other teams are fully familiar with that as well. I don't think any of our competitors think that we have cheated or done anything wrong. That's the first thing we want from them. And obviously, the rules being interpreted this way, with this level of penalty, has serious implications. Formula 1 and its technical challenge is to get as close to the edge. That's the nature of motorsport. It has made everyone along the pitlane think twice about their own cars given the fact that if you do transgress, or even appear to transgress, the penalties are very significant. I know there are a lot of thought-provoking discussions going on.

Q. Do you really think the others are going to support you?

Fry: The other teams, especially the motor manufacturer teams, are completely glued together, so we will decide collectively what to do as the result of this.

Q. The inference is that you seem to have a much bigger collector tank than strictly necessary. What's your technical justification for that?

Fry: What you will find, and I don't think there's any secrets now, is that our fuel system runs at 50 bar pressure. A road car runs at about two bar. Many of the other teams are running at much lower pressure than us and I know that other teams that have tried to run at the pressures that we run at, have encountered exactly the same problem that we have, which is that you need a large amount of fuel pressurising the system. Our car has to carry 6kgs of fuel in the tank and, without that, the first thing that happens is that the fuel pump starts to get air into it and very shortly thereafter, the engine starts to see air going into it instead of pure fuel and obviously that starts to damage the engine very quickly. In the environment where we have got to last two races, we can't have that happen. It's almost like a home central heating system. We need a header tank of fuel to push pressure against the pump to make sure that the fuel pump and the engine only see fuel, and not air. So we need to carry fuel. That, in our view, is not ballast, it is like oil or water or any of the other fluids in the car. It's necessary. The car would not be able to go into parc ferme or run in the event without that fuel in it. And, in our case, its 6kgs. That's just the fact of our system and I'm absolutely certain that other teams, if they do advance to very high pressure systems, are going to find exactly the same problems. This is a pure engineering issue.

Q. That being the case, how do you design it out of the car?

Fry: We will be doing two things in the next couple of weeks. Number one is that we will either design our system so that we don't need to carry as much fuel to prime the system or, two, we are going to have to carry yet more fuel so that effectively at all times we will be 6kgs over the weight limit. That's something our engineers will have to grapple with over the next two or three weeks.

Q. How has (technical director) Geoff Willis taken this?

Fry: Geoff is under a lot of pressure and we attribute no blame to anyone for this. We are fully supportive of Geoff and the rest of the engineering team and I'm sure when you see the witness statement in the pack that we put before the court, you are going to see that everyone has acted with tremendous integrity. What you will find in the witness statement is not only statements from our team but also a statement from Sir Frank Williams talking about the credibility and integrity of Geoff Willis and Craig Wilson, both of whom came from the Williams team. So it's not just us fully in support of Geoff, it's others along the pitlane that know there is no way in a million years that Geoff would countenance anything other than strict obedience to the rules.

Q. If you were running a bigger collector tank than has been used in the past, did you not seek to clarify it with the FIA beforehand. And if not, why not?

Fry: The system is very straightforward and the manufacturer has confirmed that our system is not unusual in any way. The FIA actually looked at our tank in detail in Malaysia, and again in Bahrain, and nothing was said. It was just accepted as a regular, ordinary fuel system and so I think it has confirmed that there is nothing different about our system.

Q. But that only became relevant at Imola?

Fry: I'm not sure that's the case. It's very easy to see how it works, the FIA didn't ask any questions about us and our car was at all times over the weight limit at Imola. No-one in the FIA court or among our competitors has ever accused us of running under weight. The car always weighs significantly over 600 kilos.

Q. How would you propose the FIA now checks cars to see that they are not running under weight?

Fry: The FIA conclusion was that the rules weren't altogether clear and what I would expect would be a clarification of the rules, which should be fairly easy to do because one of the things we brought out in court was that in other FIA series, and we specifically talked about sportscar racing and touring cars, it's very well defined. It specifically says the car must be effectively dry of fuel and I think that's the simplest way of doing it. The Formula One rules, and we've learned this to our cost, don't say that. We completely maintain we obeyed the rules as written, but we acknowledge, as the FIA do, that the rules are far from clear.
Ponyboy said:
Good interview from Atlas:

Q. With most of the sport seemingly against the governing body, how do you see this situation?

Fry: The teams supported by motor manufacturers have been talking to each other for some time and what we want is the best thing for the future of F1. We want a sport that is open, transparent, fair, and an independent Court of Appeal. Honda will continue to work with the other motor manufacturers to try to make sure that happens. It's as simple as that. I think we need to divide the two issues. This is about the regulations of fuel systems. There is clearly a bigger picture but I don't think that's for discussion today.

Very interesting interview with a lot of hidden insight. This makes me feel like a GPWC defection is getting closer.

Q. What are you going to be discussing with the other teams?

Fry: In the first instance we want the teams to be supportive of our situation. We know we never ran under 600kgs and the other teams are fully familiar with that as well. I don't think any of our competitors think that we have cheated or done anything wrong.

Except Alonso and Renault. He nearly flat out accused Ferrari and BAR of cheating all along.

Q. Do you really think the others are going to support you?

Fry: The other teams, especially the motor manufacturer teams, are completely glued together, so we will decide collectively what to do as the result of this.


I wonder why Toyota seemingly slammed BAR/Honda saying something to the effect that the punishment was too lenient? Seems odd especially since just last year they too were DQed from using illegal brake ducts. I belive it was at Imola as well no?

Anyway, good insight to the situation. I found the explanation of the high pressure fuel system very informative. However, like Fry said, it ain't no secret now. I guess it wont hurt competition too much, but BAR/Honda sure had to make a lot of team secrets public I think at the appeals court.
it all starts w/ now!

hmmm... Mr Fry has the right attitude: there are 19 races in all, BAR Honda is getting faster & better, and let's move on. . . !

Sure, ego bruised & a tough pill to swallow knowing you're not "guilty" as per the unclear rules/guidelines of FIA. Now attention can be fully directed at racing, all efforts concerted towards a GP win. A few DNF's by the leaders & BAR Honda is right back in it!

I am now curious of what the decision will be on whether BAR Honda can replace the one-race engine, again as per FIA rules/guidelines stipulating that an engine must last two races unless a car fails to finish the race.

So, 4 races already done w/, 2 races will be missed due to 'ban', still leaving 13 races to set their mark. A handful of GP victories can make up for the inability to finish in the top 3 for the driver's & constructor's championships. Heck, as soon as BAR Honda wins one GP, bust out the HSC... :biggrin:
Sport the newest anti-establishment T-Shirt and give Bernie and Max the finger, in a convenient wearable written format:


Re: it all starts w/ now!

Osiris_x11 said:
hmmm... Mr Fry has the right attitude: there are 19 races in all, BAR Honda is getting faster & better, and let's move on. . . !

I agree, let's hope they can come out with a really good package when they get back. I'd like to see Jenson get his firts win and see both Sato and Jenson get a lot more podiums. It would be nice if Sato got a win as well.

I am now curious of what the decision will be on whether BAR Honda can replace the one-race engine, again as per FIA rules/guidelines stipulating that an engine must last two races unless a car fails to finish the race.

This is an interesting one and I am with many others with the opinion if BAR was DQed from the Imola race, I actually believe the wording is a 2 race suspension retroactive to Imola, that means it was as if they were never there and never ran a car at all. Since Imola had a new engine in it, they should be allowed a new engine once they get back. Now that is just how many of us see it, but who knows what the FIA will rule :rolleyes:
Did you see the article about this disput in Autoweek? They made it sound like BAR cheated.Imagine with the readers out there are thinking of Honda.
Bad PR. :mad: :mad: :mad: