Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is satisfied enough with the FIA’s decision to let Max Verstappen start the Spanish Grand Prix second, but admits he is “curious” as to the circumstances.
There was an element of panic in the Red Bull garage as they rigorously worked to get the rear wing on Verstappen’s car fixed following DRS issues throughout the weekend.
That problem continued into the race as it continued to work only sporadically, but they were also faced with a rather more pressing issue.
They needed to heat the fuel up to a minimum of 26 degrees Celsius, according to the tweaked regulation that now dictates that fuel temperature has to be a minimum of 10 Degrees below the air temperature measured two hours before the start of the session.
This has changed from the 18-Degree requirement at the start of the 2022 season, meaning that, at the majority of the races this year, the teams have had an easier time getting the fuel up to temperature.
Miami and Barcelona have been the exception to that due to the intense heat in each of the last two races.
The mechanics were working hard to make sure the rear wing was functional, and that the fuel was up to the regulatory requirement, meaning that Verstappen missed out on practice starts and reconnaissance laps.
“We had to work on that. As a result, we got to the starting grid late,” said team principal Christian Horner.
“He had no information about the balance of the car and was unable to make a practice start but in the end, he had a good start.”
The Dutchman went on to take victory following a reliability failure for Charles Leclerc, and Ferrari boss Binotto notes that it is the temperature of the fuel itself that is measured by the FIA.
This harder to do than simply heating the fuel tank, but the FIA’s checks revealed that all was fine, and Verstappen did not have to start the race from the pit lane.
As a result, the Italian has faith that nothing was untoward with the Red Bull at the start of the race as the Austrian outfit took the lead of the Constructors’ Championship from the Scuderia.
“I don’t know exactly what happened at the time there, but I can imagine it had to do with the fuel temperatures,” said Binotto.
“I don’t think trying to heat up the fuel tank is sufficient [with the regulations] because the fuel should, at all times during the event, be within 10 degrees. I can only trust the FIA.
“I am pretty sure the FIA are comfortable, as they checked. We should ask the FIA. I would be curious.”
Verstappen led home a Red Bull one-two from Sergio Perez as Carlos Sainz’s mistake saw him finish fourth behind the Mercedes of George Russell.
The Italian team’s horrible day at the office leaves then 26 points behind Red Bull in the constructors’ battle, while Verstappen has taken a six-point lead over Leclerc in the battle of the drivers.