Renault's Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg disqualified from Japanese GP for use of 'driver aid'

23 October 2019, 21:05 | Updated: 23 October 2019, 22:11

Renault's Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg have been disqualified from the results of the Japanese Grand Prix after the FIA ruled they had benefited from an illegal driver aid.

Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were classified sixth and 10th at the October 13 race in Suzuka but the Racing Point team protested the brake bias system used by the French manufacturer - after which the Renault drivers' steering wheels were impounded pending further investigation.

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On October 23, F1's governing body confirmed Ricciardo and Hulkenberg had been disqualified from the final classification and stripped of their points.

The result of that investigation means Lance Stroll and Daniil Kvyat will now be classified in ninth and 10th respectively, while Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez move up to sixth, seventh and eighth.

Renault, who are hoping to catch McLaren in the fight for fourth in the championship, can appeal the decision, but must notify the FIA of their intention to do so by 4pm (UK time) on Thursday,

Why have Renault been penalised?

Racing Point filed their protest in Japan in the belief Renault was using a pre-set, automated brake bias system that does not comply with the regulations - which state that drivers must race unaided.

The FIA's documents revealed their claims originated from a former Renault employee.

Following meetings with both teams, and then a teleconference hearing on Wednesday, the FIA made their decision.

While their technical department insisted the brake balance system - a button on the steering wheel - was "not pre-set, lap distance-dependent as alleged" by Racing Point, they ruled that it was still a "driver aid" for Ricciardo and Hulkenberg.

"The brake balance adjustment system in question acts as a driver aid, by saving the driver from having to make a number of adjustments during a lap," part of their ruling read.

"The Stewards note that there is a clear distinction between this system and one which provides actual feedback control, which could be a substitute for driver skills or reflexes.

"Nevertheless, it is still an aid and, therefore, contravenes Article 27.1 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations."

The Stewards' full response to Racing Point protest

1. The rear brake controller software used by Renault is an integral part of the control system referred to in Article 11.9 FIA Formula One Technical Regulations. As such, it is used in compliance with Article 11.1.3 and 11.1.4 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations.

2. The described control system is not pre-set, lap distance-dependent as alleged.

3. Renault drivers use buttons mounted on the steering wheel to control brake balance in compliance with Article 8.6.3 FIA Formula One Technical Regulations. These are connected to the FIA Standard ECU.

4. Given the above, the Stewards conclude that while Renault used innovative solutions to exploit certain ambiguities in the Technical Regulations and other supporting documents, their system does not breach any current Technical Regulation.

5. However, although legal under the FIA Formula 1 Technical Regulations, as noted above, the Stewards find the Renault system constitutes a driver aid and is, therefore, not in compliance with Article 27.1 FIA FOrmula 1 Sporting Regulations, which requires the driver to drive the car alone and unaided.The brake balance adjustment system in question acts as a driver aid, by saving the driver from having to make a number of adjustments during a lap. The Stewards note that there is a clear distinction between this system and one which provides actual feedback control, which could be a substitute for driver skills or reflexes. Nevertheless, it is still an aid and, therefore, contravenes Article 27.1 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations."

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