Melbourne - Red Bull boss Christian Horner said Daniel Ricciardo was blameless in the bungle that led to his sensational disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix, as the team vowed to fight the ruling.
The 24-year-old, who replaced retired Australian compatriot Mark Webber at Red Bull this season, crossed the finish line second behind Nico Rosberg's Mercedes on Sunday, but a technical infringement later cost him his place.
After a marathon hearing, stewards said his car was not in compliance with Formula One regulations after he exceeded the maximum fuel flow, or rate of fuel consumption, of 100kg/h.
It made Ricciardo the first casualty of new limits on fuel load and fuel flow introduced this year. Horner and the team said they would appeal the ruling, maintaining they were not at fault.
“It is no fault of Daniel. I don't believe it is the fault of the team,” Horner was quoted as saying by Australian media.
“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,” he added.
Ricciardo's podium finish was the first of his career, and in his first race with Red Bull. It was also the first achieved by an Australian driver in his home Grand Prix.
“I'm gutted to be thrown out,” Ricciardo said, according to reports.
“We were on a high when we heard the news about the stewards. We will have to look what happened and move on. I can still be pleased with how I drove and the result I got.”
Denmark's Kevin Magnussen, who finished third, was consequently elevated to second spot, and his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, who finished fourth, was lifted to third place.
The fuel flow is measured by a sensor sanctioned by governing body FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) and owned and operated by teams.
Stewards said Red Bull used a different sensor on Saturday and ignored instructions to change it, leading to Ricciardo's disqualification.
FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer reported Ricciardo after finding his car “exceeded consistently the maximum allowed fuel flow of 100kg/h”.
But Horner said problems with the sensors had been “common knowledge” over the weekend, calling it “immature technology”.
“It is impossible to rely 100 percent on that sensor, which has proved to be problematic in almost every session we have run in,” he said.
But stewards rejected Red Bull'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.