Australian Daniel Ricciardo is blameless in a fuel debacle that cost the Australian second place at the Melbourne grand prix, race officials say.
But Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, disagree and say the team used a fuel flow measurement system without permission, which led to the disqualification.
Red Bull Racing director Christian Horner says the team will appeal the disqualification, at a date yet to be known.
“It is no fault of Daniel. I don’t believe it is the fault of the team,” Horner told reporters.
“I believe we have been compliant to the rules.
“I am extremely disappointed, quite surprised … hopefully through the appeal process it will be quite clear that the car has conformed at all times to the regulations.
“We would not be appealing unless we were extremely confident that we have a defendable case.”
Ricciardo was disqualified some five hours after finishing Sunday’s race in Melbourne in second place, behind winner Nico Rosberg in a Mercedes.
Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen, who finished third, was subsequently elevated to second spot, and his McLaren teammate Jenson Button, who finished fourth, was lifted to third place.
Ricciardo, who had been celebrating his best-ever F1 finish, was absolved of blame by the FIA.
“This parameter is outside of the control of the driver, Daniel Ricciardo,” the FIA stewards said in their judgment.
In essence, stewards found Red Bull Racing used a fuel flow measuring system that they had been told not to – and without permission from FIA officials.
The team believed a sensor linked to the measuring system was faulty and gave inconsistent readings during Saturday’s qualifying session.
Horner said problems with the sensors had been “common knowledge”.
“It is immature technology,” he said.
“It is impossible to rely 100 per cent on that sensor, which has proved to be problematic in almost every session we have run in.”
But stewards rejected Red Bull Racing’s defence.
“Regardless of the team’s assertion that the sensor was at fault, it is not within their discretion to run a different fuel flow measurement method without the permission of the FIA,” the stewards said in their judgment.
Ricciardo left the Albert Park circuit before his disqualification was revealed.
He was, for five hours, the first Australian to finish on the podium at a home grand prix since the event joined the F1 world championship in 1985 – only for his feats to be scrubbed.
Before knowing of the rule breach, Ricciardo said there had been guesswork regarding the fuel consumption.
“At the start of the race it was a bit of guessing,” he told reporters at the post-race media conference.
“Some laps I would try and push and not really conserve (fuel). When I thought I had enough gap I would start conserving.
“We were learning all the time today. It’s the first time we have done the race distance so we will take a lot out of it.
“I think the system to reach the fuel target is not bad considering we haven’t done too much work with that.”