Christian Horner confident that Red Bull can win appeal of Daniel Ricciardo DQ


With Red Bull Racing indicating its intent to appeal the disqualification of Daniel Ricciardo from last night’s Australian Grand Prix, team principal Christian Horner believes it shall be proven that the team complied with FIA rules.

The FIA DQ’d Ricciardo, who had finished runner-up in Melbourne, on a fuel irregularity. In its statement, the FIA said Ricciardo’s car “exceeded consistently the maximum allowed fuel flow of [100 kilograms per hour].”

But just as Red Bull did in its official team statement, Horner pointed out what the team saw as problems with the FIA-issued fuel flow sensor.

“Hopefully through the appeal process it will be quite clear that the car has conformed at all times to the regulations,” Horner said to reporters from Melbourne. “These fuel flow sensors that have been fitted by the FIA to measure fuel which have proved problematic throughout the pitlane, and since their introduction at the start of testing, there have been discrepancies.”

Horner explained that they thought the original fuel sensor had been applied in error and changed it out for a new one after Friday practice. However, the second sensor failed during qualifying and they were told to go back to the original one.

In addition to re-using the original sensor, Horner said Red Bull applied an offset on it to make sure the fuel was legal. However…

“That offset we didn’t feel was correct, and as we got into the race, we could see there was a significant discrepancy between what the sensor was reading and what the fuel flow, which was the actual injection of fuel into the engine, was stated as,” Horner said.

“That’s where there was a difference of opinion. It’s immature technology, and it’s impossible to rely 100 percent on that sensor, which had proved to be problematic in almost every session that we’ve run in.”

In the stewards’ decision, the FIA said it warned Red Bull that the fuel flow was too high on Ricciardo’s No. 3 car and that the team was given the opportunity to “reduce the fuel flow such that it was within the limit, as measured by the homologated sensor – and thus gave the team the opportunity to be within compliance.”

Nonetheless, the team remains convinced that it is not in violation.

“We wouldn’t be appealing if we didn’t think that we had a defendable case,” he said. “It’s disappointing that this has happened, it’s certainly no fault of Daniel.

“I don’t believe that it’s the fault of the team, I believe that we’ve been compliant with the rules, and the investigation and documents that will be submitted within the appeal will demonstrate that.”

‘Game-changing’ multi-year agreement will take INDYCAR, NBC Sports ‘to the next level’


NEW YORK – As the fourth Nor’easter in three weeks bore down on the Big Apple, it was tough to spot people that were clearly in a good mood.

But Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, was clearly in a good mood.

On Wednesday morning at 10 am ET, we all found out why: NBC will become the exclusive home of the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, starting in 2019.

The new three-year deal not only makes “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” part of the network’s “Championship Season” – its collection of high-profile championship events from May to July – but also reaffirms NBC’s status as the home of motorsports television in the United States.

That status is something Miller doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s important people know that storytelling is in our DNA, and motorsports lends itself very well to storytelling,” Miller said as he, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and driver James Hinchcliffe made a snowy trek to the New York Stock Exchange to promote the deal on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“We’ve had great success with the second half of the entire NASCAR season, and then we’ve had half of the IndyCar package [since 2009] … But we never had the real meat of the series and that didn’t set anybody up for success.

“Having the entire package of IndyCar now – all 17 races, qualifying, practice, you name it – really sets IndyCar on a strong path and solidifies NBC’s position as the home of motorsports. I think it becomes a property much like the Premier League, the NHL, and even the Olympics and the Triple Crown. We have 100 percent of the media opportunity and we can put all those great assets behind it.”

With the storm no doubt keeping some traders home, the floor of the NYSE was relatively subdued. But that made it no less important to be at the heart of Wall Street. Miles and his team are pursuing a new title sponsor for the IndyCar Series to replace Verizon, which will fully focus its efforts in the series with the powerhouse Team Penske going forward in 2019.

The new deal – which includes 8 races per year on the NBC network (with the remaining races going to NBCSN), live streaming of all races, and a direct-to-consumer package with NBC Sports Gold – gave Miles plenty to push for any potential backers. As for Hinchcliffe, he held his own nicely in an interview that also explored IndyCar’s global ambitions, the impact of technology on the sport, and of course, his spin around the ballroom on “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the ride back to 30 Rock, Miles was confident that NBC can play a big role in attracting a sponsor that can help the series keep growing.

“With respect to our work in finding the best title sponsor, it’s really important – and this has not been talked about much – but we expect to work with hand in glove with NBC’s sales,” he explained. “We have the opportunity to create packages which are both broadcast sponsorship and series sponsorship, I think, in a way that doesn’t come along very often.

“Usually, the media deal and the sponsorship deal doesn’t align like this, so we’re really excited about the offering we’ll have and the approach to the market we can take.”

Should the partnership with NBC bear fruit on that front and others, it will only add to the upswing that the IndyCar Series has had in recent years.

Hinchcliffe has been a witness to that. He entered the series in 2011, when it was trying to find its footing after the sport’s reunification three years earlier. After 13 years of CART vs. the Indy Racing League, getting everything back under one roof was not a smooth process.

But fast-forward seven years, and things have changed for the better. TV ratings and digital viewers have gone up. Race scheduling has become more stable and enhanced with the return of traditional open-wheel markets. And this year’s debut of the universal aero kit aims to pump up the action on the track, while also giving the cars a cleaner, meaner look.

Now, with NBC all in, Hinchcliffe is bullish on his sport’s future.

“This is a game-changing thing for us,” he declared. “If you look at the last four or five years, we’ve seen a steady growth in pretty much every measureable metric that there is – in a time where, globally, motorsports is in a bit of a downturn.

“The fact that IndyCar was able to rally against a global dip in motorsports interest, attendance, sponsorship – it speaks volumes to what we have been doing and this is just gonna take us to that next level.”