Automotive

Aston Martin’s Attempt To Overturn Sebastian Vettel’s Disqualification Is Looking Grim


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Photo: Lars Baron (Getty Images)

Last week, Aston Martin appealed Sebastian Vettel’s disqualification from the Hungarian Grand Prix, a race in which the four-time champion finished second. The issue stemmed from the team’s inability to extract a 1-liter fuel sample from the car; it could only retrieve 0.3 liters.

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While appealing that decision, Aston Martin also lodged a right to review bid, trying to build its case against the DSQ from another angle. When petitioning for FIA review, a team must bring new evidence to light that was not available at the time of the incident. Ideally, Aston would be able to get that fuel out of the car or prove it was still inside the car, submit that as new evidence, and the FIA would consider it.

As it turns out, the team is unable to do either of those things, and so its petition has been shot down. From the FIA’s report:

Art. 6.6 in its entirety and Art. 6.6.2 of the F1 Technical Regulations unequivocally calls for a remaining amount of 1 litre and does not allow any exceptions under which circumstances or for what reasons it could not be dispensed with.

Therefore, for the assessment of whether or not 1-litre requirement was broken, it does not make a difference why there was less than 1 litre. There may be a couple of explanations why at the end of a race the remaining amount is insufficient. In any case, it remains the sole responsibility of the competitor to ensure the car is in conformity with the regulations at all times (Art 3.2 FIA International Sporting Code) and it shall be no defence to claim that no performance advantage was obtained (Art 3.3 FIA International Sporting Code).

In order to affirm a “relevant” fact, Aston Martin would have had to present facts that actually more than 1-litre of fuel was remaining. The explanation why this requirement could not be met is not relevant to the decision as to whether a breach of the regulations has occurred.

As part of its “new evidence,” Aston Martin sent a wealth of data to the FIA that indicated a loss of fuel system pressure in Vettel’s car. Based on that data, the team concluded “a significant amount of fuel was inadvertently discharged from the fuel cell” due to a pump failure. That explains where the fuel went and why it wasn’t in the car. Unfortunately, the reason the fuel went missing is of no consequence to the FIA. When asked to supply a 1-liter sample, you have to supply that sample in full — end of story.

Thus, the team in green will take the L in this battle, though the war technically isn’t over. The formal appeal is still pending. However, considering that the FIA has rendered the team’s new information inadmissible, the hope of overturning that decision and saving Vettel’s second second-place finish of 2021 isn’t looking good.

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