Red Bull will protest Brawn GP diffuser

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

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82 comments on Red Bull will protest Brawn GP diffuser

  1. Ian D said on 25th March 2009, 2:29

    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.

  2. the Sri lankan said on 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.

  3. theRoswellite said on 25th March 2009, 5:17

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

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th March 2009, 8:57

      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.

  4. glamourBob said on 25th March 2009, 5:36

    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.

    • todd said on 25th March 2009, 5:52

      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.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th March 2009, 9:00

      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?

    • glamourBob said on 25th March 2009, 11:43

      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.

  5. Broer Sammy said on 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….:))

  6. carl said on 25th March 2009, 6:17

    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.

    • todd said on 25th March 2009, 7:17

      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

  7. Martin Bell said on 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.

  8. Sush Meerkat said on 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.


  9. ajokay said on 25th March 2009, 8:57

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

  10. Alex P said on 25th March 2009, 9:07

    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

  11. PJA said on 25th March 2009, 9:39

    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

  12. David Keane said on 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.

  13. antonyob said on 25th March 2009, 10:01

    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.

    • glamourBob said on 25th March 2009, 11:50

      how ironic of you.

    • 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.

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

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

  15. John Spencer said on 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.

    • todd said on 25th March 2009, 13:09

      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.

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