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. Whatever the outcome the fact that this issue has been in the public domain for so long and yet the outcome of the first race could well be decided in the courts shows yet again that the FIA are incompetent. Even if you subscribe to the view that they are playing politics trying to split FOTA or some other theory, the FIA would then obviously not be acting in the best interests of Formula 1, which is probably even worse.

    If the diffusers are legal by the letter of the law then the spirit of the law doesn’t matter, as a previous comment pointed out things such as the sidepod deflectors are against the spirit of the law and yet they won’t be banned at the first race.

    My memory may be playing tricks on me but did something similar happen when the rules changed so the area around the cockpit had to be increased to protect the driver more, I think the rule came into force for the 1996 cars.
    Teams interpreted the rules differently and some like Ferrari thought it had to be bigger overall than others, such as Williams, did. Williams interpretation wasn’t illegal and it is the style other teams later used.

    The Ferrari F310

    The Williams FW18

  2. David Keane
    25th March 2009, 9:56

    What a suprise, a lawyer fails to clarify a point of ‘law’ – thus guaranteeing more ‘work’ for himself and his kind, whilst keeping both sides at each others throats. The FIA could have made a decision weeks ago, it’s all about undermining FOTA as someone else has observed.

  3. KEITH SOS. Any chance you can call a ban on these whingers. Im sick of everything wrong in F1 being related back to the FIA or Bernie & Max personally. Im no great fan of there’s but its getting REALLY REALLY BORING!

    You may or may not care (or be able to care) about individual users, but if in 30 days these tedious chip on shoulder bloggers are still dominating every blog with their tired responses then i am sadly off.

    1. how ironic of you.

    2. Back to the Guardian?

      Considering how much they’ve done to shape the sport if something is wrong with it surely Max Pain and the other smaller one are usually culpable in some way.

  4. antonyob, I totally agree. I’m over it. Give it a rest, people.

    Don’t think Keith can do much about it, though.

  5. John Spencer
    25th March 2009, 12:22

    I’m neither a lawyer nor an automotive engineer so I can’t bring any special expertise to interpreting the rules and whether Brawn GP has violated them. However, I do see scope for ambiguity in the way they are written.

    The key phrases in the rule book is “No bodywork which is visible from beneath the car”.
    This makes intuitive sense, because the diffuser is obviously on the bottom of the car, so if you specify a maximum height for the ‘visible bodywork’ you thereby specify a maximum height for the diffuser. As I understand it, Brawn GP has circumvented this with a double decker diffuser, in which the extra high part is not visible from beneath the car because the lower deck is in the way.

    Here’s how I would challenge Brawn GP’s interpretation:
    (1) Challenge the meaning of ‘visible from beneath the car’ – this can mean visible from anywhere beneath, not just directly beneath. Air has to get into (and out of) the diffuser top deck somehow, and unless the airflow is sufficiently contorted, it might be that there is a straight path that allows part of the upper deck to be visible from somwhere under the car. This challenge fails if the upper part of the diffuser is completely invisible from beneath. But from the few pictures I have seen of the Brawn car, I’m pretty certain that from beneath the flashing red light thing that sticks out the back of the car (what’s that called?), you could see into the upper diffuser, which on this interpretation would make it illegal.

    (2) Challenge the meaning of ‘bodywork’ – the diffuser is part of the bodywork visible from beneath the car, ergo no part of the diffuser can be more than 175mm high, whether or not that part is visible from beneath. This challenge fails if the upper part of the diffuser is completely separate from the lower part and is effectively a second diffuser.

    If Brawn has genuinely exploited the rule book, however, that’s fine by me. It’s up to the rule makers to be more explicit.

    1. ok… the rule regarding the not visible

      3.12.7 No bodywork which is visible from beneath the car and which lies between the rear wheel centre line and a point 350mm rearward of it may be more than 175mm above the reference plane. Any intersection of the surfaces in this area with a lateral or longitudinal vertical plane should form one continuous line which is visible from beneath the car. A single break in the surface is permitted solely to allow the minimum required access for the device referred to in Article 5.15.
      Additionally, any bodywork in this area must produce uniform, solid, hard, continuous, rigid (no degree of freedom in relation to the body/chassis unit), impervious surfaces under all circumstances.

      so your challenge 2 is not a challenge. the 2nd layer is not the issue with that point, the height is, and it is within the hight limits. HOWEVER the toyota diffuser is 90% 175mm, but the center element extends up to the diffuser exceeding 175mm.

      and your challenge 1 is not a challenge since your interpretation of what been said doesn’t encapsulate the whole ruling – you’re missing the point, they are trying to say that no parts behind the rear wheels can exceed a height. it’s not about ‘visibility’ but about is there a part under there and is it too big.

      The vertical planes on the diffuser – the brawngp one scoops down and back up does form a continuous line that is visible from beneath the car.

      here’s a good explanation from shir0 at forums

      The green line on top of the Brawn diffuser is not really part of the diffuser. It’s a widened and sculpted base of the rear crash structure. The Brawn diffuser surface edge is made up by (L-R, based on the image): the left most light blue edge, the top-left yellow line, the curvy-middle red line, the top-right yellow line, and; the right most light blue line. So essentially, this is the single continuous line that is created when the diffuser surface is intersected by a lateral, perpendicular plane (perpendicular to the reference plane).

      The Williams’ diffuser, however, is a different matter. if you remove the 8 vertical strakes from the diffuser and once a perpendicular plane intersects what remains, you are left with an irregular shape instead of a continuous line. The same is true of the Toyota’s diffuser.

  6. Obviously a case of jealousy. Red Bull won’t be able to touch the BGP with their slow car so they protest the legality of the opposition. Hmmmm….

  7. Just a thought – would there be quite so much protest about it if it had been say Ferrari or Mclaren that had the Brawn style diffuser and was topping the testing as expected, rather than the Brawn – who has shocked everyone by making a humungous step forward – and therefore ‘must’ have something illegal about it?

    Possibly, possibly not – it does seem like people/teams were looking for reason why the Brawn is so fast. The main focus is on Brawn, rather than the Williams and Toyota – even though they are all under scrutiny about it – but the Williams and Toyota havent been huge steps ahead in testing. If the three teams have been down the back end of testing times would there have been quite so much protest…

  8. Keith says:
    You only say that because simple cars are easier to paint

    hehe you know where i come from keith,maybe i should paint bob sleighs

    anyway first 09 car is painted/posted.
    thought i do the most ugly one first,then things can only get better…

  9. Who says one of the seven won’t turn up with a copy or different interpretation of the rules at scrutineering.

    I bet they haven’t been sitting around on their hands for weeks.

    1. They certainly have’t been sitting on their hands for weeks, but it takes quite a long time to freight bits over to Melbourne, so I should imagine any changes that are ready today, won’t be on a car for a fortnight or so – certainly not if they would require such an extensive redesign of complementary features such as rear wings as has been suggested earlier in this thread.

  10. This part of the regulation is very misleading because it is based entirely on interpretation

    “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”

    Like Newey said, “There is no spirit of the regulations” otherwise all the engineers can just read a FIA “blueprint” and be done with it. Or better yet, let Ferrari make all the cars and teams just set them up and race.

  11. It’s all hilarious to me. Sam Michael and Ross Brawn were both on the technical committee and both know what the intent was and what was stated. Charlie Whiting examined the BrawnGP element design and pronounced it within the regulations. Toyota also seized on the opportunity, and the other teams did not.

    If this goes to an appeal is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that the FIA (steered by Spanky) will find in favor of Brawn, Williams and Toyota? Why you ask? Just to twist the noses of Ferrari, McLaren, and BMW for calling for Max’s resignation, and in Ferrari’s case for Luca’s leadership of FOTA and wanting more of Bernie’s money.

  12. I’m sure they will rule in whatever way benefits Ferrari the most. They prefer is Ferrari win every champion ship till the end of time.

    Go Timo Glock!

  13. Apparently they’re now given the all-clear….though no doubt they’ll appeal…

  14. Brawn and co will go down!

    They will be removed from this year F1

    I comes from the inside,
    scream, laugh or cry.

    15 Evening you will read and lisen the same as here

    Have a nice F1 year

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