Red Bull will protest Brawn GP diffuser

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Brawn GP face a protest threat at the Australian Grand Prix
Brawn GP face a protest threat at the Australian Grand Prix

Red Bull have confirmed they will protest against Brawn GP’s BGP001 if it is passed legal to race.

The cars will be scrutineered by the Australian Grand Prix stewards in Melbourne on Thursday.

Williams and Toyota’s diffuser designs have also been called into question. But Red Bull’s Helmut Marko focused his claim on Brawn’s diffuser which Marko claims makes the car half a second faster per lap:

It’s illegal: we’ll make a protest on Thursday if the component isn’t modified to conform to the regulations, because that diffuser guarantees a five-tenths-advantage per lap. Seven teams are certain it’s illegal.

Marko claims seven teams support the protest, which presumably include both the Red Bull-backed outfits.

As Toby Bushby pointed out in the comments here earlier today the FIA have failed to clarify the diffuser regulations and missed chances to prevent the row dragging into the first race of the year:

February 5th, Max Mosley: ??The current FIA view is that Williams and Toyota have been clever and have exploited the wording of the rules in a clever way??.?? and ????.The view of our technical people is that it is okay, we will wait and see if someone challenges it.??

March 18th, Amendment to technical regulations states: ??One of the purposes of the regulations under Article 3 below is to minimize the detrimental effect that the wake of a car may have on a following car.

Furthermore, infinite precision can be assumed on certain dimensions provided it is clear that such an assumption is not being made in order to circumvent or subvert the intention of the relevant regulation.??

March 21st, Max Mosley: ??And so probably what will happen is it will end up going to the stewards, who will make a decision. That will almost certainly be appealed by whichever side is disadvantaged. And then that will go to our Court of Appeal and be hammered out.??

And most importantly ??I have an open mind on it at the moment – I can see it going either way. I really can. But somebody has to make their mind up and fortunately it?s not my job.??

Although the FIA could have cleared up the regulations sooner they may have been caught out by the late debut of the Brawn GP car.

But it’s frustrating to see a new F1 season begin under fresh controversy that might have been avoided. Once again we have to think of the FIA’s radical budget caps proposal, which would involve F1 cars running to two different sets of technical regulations, and marvel at how the governing body thinks they could get two sets of rules right when they can’t handle one.

For more on this read John Beamer’s excellent piece on the new diffuser regulations and how different teams have interpreted them: F1 2009 Technology: Rear wings, diffusers – and the inevitable controversy.

You can also find the full 2009 technical regulations on the F1 Fanatic

82 comments on “Red Bull will protest Brawn GP diffuser”

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  1. were any of the best lap test times set with the use of KERS? (ferrari, bmw etc). i mean if all the times for all teams were set with no use of KERS then once teams do use them in a race that 1/2 sec margin will be closed.

    1. hard to know, but i did remember reading that massa’s ferrari was 8kmph faster over the start finish (on hot laps) than brawngp because of KERS.

  2. BTW….i would design Brawn’s livery for FREE! i would prefer to see anything (besides that ING garbage) on the grid march 29th! given their lack of sponsors is acceptable….but a black and creamy yellow stripe on an off white body? come onnnnnn! please donate to the Brawn livery fund so they can come up with something better

    1. Creamy yellow? It’s fluro, and the white looks pretty white to me. I like it.

    2. The white should help with keeping the engine cool, since it deflects heat from the sun.

  3. Rules have to be written in black and white, clearly. Anything that falls within the letter of the rules should be allowed. Do people honestly think that the world’s best automotive engineers arent going to exploit grey areas? Applying a rule by its intent is totally subjective. The only “intent” that matters to an F1 competitor is the intent to win. Good on them for pushing the development envelope, I certainly wont complain if Toyota, Williams, or Brawn beat Ferrari (my favorite team actually) due to exploiting loopholes. All this controversy is ridiculous.

  4. all cars are illegal anyway,
    look at all those little spoilers in front of the side pods…all against the spirit of the new rules of cleaning up these cars in aid of overtaking…
    talking about cleaning up,
    has Max and co ever made a aerodynamic rule without loop holes?
    there should be a,no stupid bits rule!

    1. You only say that because simple cars are easier to paint :-)

  5. France has a law that says a motorcyclist must be with his helmet. What that means is, he may have it hanging on his wrist while driving or his back. The law doesn’t say it must be on his head.

    Loop holes have always existed in rules and laws. Its left for the rule writers to be explicit in their interpretation to prevent ambiguity.
    The cars cannot be found illegal until they have amended the rules.

    1. Never knew about the French helmet law- there was a flap for years about that here in Pennsylvania until it was changed a few years ago. Not exactly F1, but thanks for the insight :)

    2. yeah but no one likes the french.

  6. Looks like everybody will be bringing another set of different diffusers after Thursday. ;)

  7. Bernie Ecclestone’s been stirring things up even more. Here’s what he said to The Times:

    Can I put something in your mind. Ross Brawn is the guy that runs the teams’ technical committee and probably knows what’s going to happen before other people, or is in a position to guide things. There’s a massive conflict of interest.

    1. Well, like him or not, Bernie is right – he may actually have a point there.

    2. I love the:

      “Can I put something in you mind”

      “Yes Bernie what were you thinking of”

      “A poison enema filled with rancid rectal fluid”

      Ross Brawn isn’t the only team member in the Technical Working Group and I’m sure the so called “Ring Master” wasn’t complaining when he was appointed as it’s head. Strange that the official F1 web site’s main picture is of the BGP 001 and carries the headline 2009… A Year For Dark Horses. Funny that I could have sworn I just heard the sound of a cash register.

  8. I dont get this fracas. Like John Beamer stated in his article, the rules state how the diffuser must look from ground level, anything behind that, it not in the rule book. So if you’re a smart designer, its place to exploit, which they did of course.

    I think the rest of the teams are just bitter that they didn’t think about it. It’s not in the rule book, so how can it be illegal? I think the FIA should stand by their rule book. They should just lay the matter to rest and change the rules for next season or something. If they deem that the diffusers on these 3 teams are illegal, what are they going to do? There is no in-season testing, so how are they going to fit a re-designed part to part and get it to work well? Just put it together and hope it goes well?

    And what the heck to the stewards know? They’re probably the biggest pricks in the sport, in my experience, they’ve rarely made any good calls. I will be ****** if they deem the diffuser to be illegal in Melbourne…@#$%!

  9. the problem with the argument redbull is posing is that it gives them 5 tenths per lap.

    that’s really not an issue, that’s an advantage by intelligent design, anyone can have that advantage.

    the rules regarding the diffuser were in place for 2 reasons, A) to ensure the rear crash structure remains in tact and B) to allow car chasing to come close enough without losing down force to enable an overtaking maneuver. (correct me if i’m wrong please).

    IF their diffuser doesn’t disrupt the air any worse than another standard diffuser, than the time gained by their better design is a non issue.

  10. for anyone interested, there’s great photos of the RBR and BGP rear diffusers and forum topic over at f1technical

  11. Just a thought. If the diffusers are deemed legal at scrutineering, & the 3 teams using them finish way ahead of the others, the way i see it there’s no justification for an appeal, wheres the evidence of disrupted airflow for the following cars. I can remember seasons with other teams having a massive advantage, but not having all this bitching about it, seems like there are a lot of bad losers about.

  12. the Sri lankan
    25th March 2009, 4:40

    i hope people get over this loophole thing and re-design their cars if they are being disadvantged. this is a cruicial year for Toyota and if they loose the device which may help them fight for podiums and wins, they may pack up and leave. then we’ll be looking at a blimming 18 car grid in 2010.

  13. theRoswellite
    25th March 2009, 5:17

    Does anyone actually know what the procedure will be for the protest, and what the FIA options are?

    1. Any of the teams (and the FIA for that matter) can bring a protest against the stewards. The cars are scrutineered at the start of the meeting tomorrow and Marko’s said if the stewards say they’re legal he will protest that decision.

      In which case I think it’s unlikely the matter would be resolved before the weekend. The cars would race under appeal and the matter would be decided by a Court of Appeal. Terrible way to start the season.

  14. I’ll tell you another thing that is frustrating – when you say something and you get ignored!
    oh well, I’ll say what I said in the other thread again.

    The above offending paragraph (the one we have been discussing), in fact, most of the regs have remain unchanged. The trouble is people have been fooled by the pink highlighted writing and come to the conclusion that the pink highlights are amendments: they are not!

    If you still don’t believe me, here’s a link to a ‘print screen’ of the ‘old’ 2009 regs next to the ‘new’ March regs. Spot the difference:

    if you want me to send you a copy of each, just ask.

    1. not sure what you’re trying to get at, i don’t think anyone is disputing that the rules have not been changed.

      I’ve never seen that pink highlighted version before.

      either way it seems brawns diffuser is legal more than toyotas and williams – or, to put it another way, brawns is not an issue, toyotas and williams is questionable as far as the tech specs go.

      regarding the turbulence created by the diffuser, brawns design ‘may’ produce more low pressure, but that’s yet to be seen or tested. that’s the only grounds they could make them modify it on IMO.

    2. I thought the purpose of the highlighting was to show the differences between the 2008 and 2009 regulations, not different versions of the 2009 regulations?

    3. yeah, I think you’re probably right, although why they’ve only just decided to do that in March is strange.

      Anyways. That’s no excuse for my rather curt post earlier, my emotions are back in check and I’m looking forward to this weekend. I’ll be able to hear the cars from my bedroom window – it’s going to be great.

  15. Broer Sammy
    25th March 2009, 5:49

    As soon as BrawnGP, Toyota, Williams …..diffusers legal…. we will see the others seven team copied it…in the next race….:))

  16. The point here is Regrdless of whether Brawns diffuser is legal or illegal.. If it gives them 5 tnths advantage they will only have this advantage for 2 races. there after they will have to change it or the other teams will change theirs, and brawn will loose 5 tenths either way.

    1. well there is a point to legality.

      and a diffuser is a large aero part, they cant just change their diffuser to the same as brawns without re-designing the front-mid-rear above and below airflow since it all travels along the car to the rear wing and diffuser, not to mention the exhaust airflow.

      its not a shark fin that does little, it delivers a huge amount of force to the car, a diffuser redesign would require other redesigns to the car.

      airflow re-designs aside, there’s balance issues as well, that rear diffuser probably provides a lot more downforce than the other typical diffusers, other teams are getting their rear down force by other means such as weight, rear wing and rear car shape, by using a new diffuser with more downforce (or less) they’re going to end up with huge under or over steer problems, again forcing a whole car re-design.

      tricky issue

  17. Martin Bell
    25th March 2009, 6:58

    I assume that the teams who are protesting about the diffusers have only seen them attached to the cars in question? What will decide their legality or otherwise will be a man with a ruler climbing under the car. Let’s hope that Ross Brawn still has his special Ferrari “barge board” ruler which seemed to give whatever measurement was required a few years back.

  18. Sush Meerkat
    25th March 2009, 8:15

    I know its Toyota’s but they are similar

    Andrian Newey on the clever diffuser

    Q: What is your opinion about Toyota’s interpretation of the diffuser?

    AN: I haven’t seen any pictures that are detailed enough to know exactly how they’ve done it, but if what they’ve done is what I think they’ve done then that’s completely legal.


  19. If all these ‘banned’ bargeboards and fins jutting from the front of the sidepods are legal, then so too are the diffusers.

    1. barge boards and fins aren’t banned in the rules, but only in certain places.

  20. here is food for thought. Ferrari are pretty quick with the basic diffuser. if the FIA say that it is legal and Ferrari adopt it how fast do you think it will take for it to then become

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