Date: 26th July 2012 at 10:23am
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On Sunday morning ahead of the German Grand Prix all the talk wasn’t about whether Sebastian Vettel could finally end his German Grand Prix jinx.

It was all about whether or not he and team-mate Mark Webber would suffer a grid penalty or even expulsion from the race due to a complaint from the FIA regarding engine mapping.

Only the super geek [meant in a complementary way] Formula One fan will completely understand the whole process, but in its most simplest term, engine mapping is a bunch of computer settings that control torque delivered by the engine.

Now Torque affects traction, so if you can manage the torque in various conditions you can for example subsequently limit wheelspin when the driver puts on the power exiting a corner, which is basically a form of traction control which was first banned in Formula One in 2008.

So obviously engine mapping shouldn’t really be designed to do this and Formula One’s governing body the FIA highlighted the issue to race stewards on Sunday morning.

They had compared the mid-range of the engine’s rev band to the settings used during the British Grand Prix and they thought that the alterations were a breach of article 5.5.3 of the technical regulations.

Red Bull team bosses then had to meet with German Grand Prix race stewards to discuss article 5.5.3 which states that the ‘maximum accelerator travel position must correspond to an engine torque demand equal to or greater than the maximum engine torque at the measured engine speed’.

Simple huh?

Red Bull argued that the rules were not clear enough to categorically state that what the team were doing was against the rules and the statement from the stewards conceded that the team had basically exploited a loophole in the regulations.

‘While the stewards do not accept all the arguments of the team, they however conclude that as the regulation is written the map presented does not breach article 5.5.3 of the technical regulations.’

With the battle lost, Red Bull were allowed to race, but the FIA are now moving quickly to close the loophole ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix and will hopefully avoid another scenario like last weekend.

With it being such a complicated issue, it is thought that very strict guidelines will have to be introduced, going into a huge amount of detail.

But what will it mean for the teams and in particular Red Bull?

‘The honest answer is I really don’t know,’ McLaren’s managing director Jonathan Neale told Autosport Magazine.

‘None of us really know what it is that antagonised the FIA so much to provoke Jo Bauer into issuing the note he did on Sunday morning. It was quite an unusual step – I don’t think the FIA would have referred to the stewards unless they had very serious concerns.

‘It’s really not for us to know or tell exactly what the Renault engine is doing in the Red Bull, and therefore how much advantage they get from it because it is an integrated performance package. But I know we are not the only ones on the grid who are looking at it very carefully.’


While no official statement from the FIA has been released, Autosport believe that teams will have to select a one engine map that was previously used during the opening four races of this seasons World Championship and then that map will be used as a reference point with teams only allowed to make limited changes to that map on a race-by-race basis.