Diffuser row set to drag on

Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota’s diffusers have been given the all-clear by the stewards in Melbourne.

But Ferrari, BMW, Renault and Red Bull are intending to protest the decision. This means a Court of Appeal hearing into the legality of the parts will have to be held, most likely in the week after the Malaysian Grand Prix next weekend.

This would mean that three teams are participating in the next two races not knowing if their cars are legal or not. If their diffusers are subsequently declared illegal drivers could be stripped of wins and points. Hopefully it won’t come to this.

The diffuser dispute first came to light in January, and it’s lamentable the FIA wasn’t able to get its act together and sort out the new rules so the season could begin without yet more needless controversy. Perhaps they could have gotten their act together if they had spent less time bickering with the F1 teams over a points system no-one wants.

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41 comments on Diffuser row set to drag on

  1. Bigbadderboom said on 26th March 2009, 15:24

    It’s taking the shine off this weekend a bit for me. It is frustrating but I think they will get cleared as legal in the end, and althoiugh the races may appear to be running under appeal, I am going to make the presumption that the oprder they cross the line will be the reality!! Adrian Newey has been quoted as saying the diffuser are “clever” and not illegal, and thats good enough for me!!!

  2. SamS said on 26th March 2009, 15:28

    Love the pun Keith….

  3. Kester said on 26th March 2009, 15:45

    It doesn’t really bother me, we see these sorts of issues every few years, some teams read the rules to the letter, others read between the lines.

    I think Red Bull’s problem with the diffusers is that their car isn’t designed to take advantage of this ‘loophole’ if it’s deemed legal.

  4. Jess said on 26th March 2009, 15:46

    So F1 Tech said legal, Stewards say legal, Now a Court of Appeals. So if they say legal what happens then. Is there another process or is that it?

    • Paul said on 26th March 2009, 16:59

      If the oourt of appeal (The FIA) decides for Williams. Toyota and Brawn that is the final answer. As all three teams are essentially using the crash structure of the car to increase the dimensions of the rear diffuser, it won’t be long before the all the remaining teams start exploting these loopholes to create huge difussers and gain back all of the dowsnforce lost in the new regs. OWG made these new dimensions and because the OWG is essentially a group of competitors inventing rules (to make the racing more excitting) we are in new territory. The FIA is so misguided anything could happen. Formula 1 has a history of designers exploiting loopholes (fan cars, ground effect, wings, turbos, etc) only for eventually these loopholes are closed and the racing goes on.

  5. Jason said on 26th March 2009, 16:41

    Jess, the other seven teams then copy it

    • Jess said on 26th March 2009, 17:51

      I figured that if it is deemed legal the other will go after it. I bet most of the teams have already built or building it right now just incase it gets a green light. F1 has more drama off track than on. I am still looking forward to the racing this weekend.

  6. ajokay said on 26th March 2009, 16:58

    So they’ve been deemed legal twice now, yet still they’re planning to appeal. They should be told that they can’t appeal, on grounds of being petty. They could just keep going on and on all season. Stupid.

  7. I’m a lawyer by trade (well, nearly – just finished my 5 years today) and it’s a fairly fundamental thing that things can’t be deemed illegal retrospectively – surely it should be the same in F1, so any points should stand even if the part is later banned.

  8. Rod, the rule of law means nothing in the F! world. Legalities shift like the sand on a beach.

    • I’m well aware of that! I only started to watch F1 regularly again in 2007 after a 9 year gap, it’s just a shame that the regulatory bodies haven’t improved at all in that time.

  9. What do the other teams have to do now to make their own? Seeing as the elevated rear crash structure setup allowed for them to exploit this loophole, will the other teams need to modify any major part of the car, or can a new diffuser design simply be ‘bolted’ on?

    • Not quite as simple as that, Jason. Mario Theissen has already said that the design of the BMW’s gearbox casing means that it cannot be adjusted to fit a diffuser similar to the contested ones. So it would involve designing a new gearbox casing…

    • Toby Bushby said on 27th March 2009, 0:32

      Not to mention that the rest of the underside of the cars, from nose to tail, has been designed to send air in the right way to these “diffusers”. I’m sure versions can be made for some teams, but fundamental changes would need to be made to the other cars to get the full benefit.

  10. John said on 26th March 2009, 18:51

    There is one more step after the Court of Appeal (FIA), that is the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). And they can take six months.

  11. If they were illegal, they would have been told by now.
    Expect them to quietly vanish between this race and the next, however ?

  12. Salty said on 26th March 2009, 20:11

    A third of the field will be running in cars this weekend that have used an innovative approach to the diffuser element. All three teams have had their cars scrutineered and passed as being within the tech regs as laided down by the FIA and agreed by all the teams.

    Sounds like an awful lot of sour grapes from the 6 teams whose designers failed to find a better solution than they will be fielding this weekend. Get your scribes back on the job boys and live with it until you can fix it. The time for political posteuring is past.

    Bring on the chariots and let the games begin.


    ps.6 teams might want to review their designers bonus schemes for 2009… ;)

  13. Clive, while I agree that it is a setback for BMW, I would say that it is their fault for not seeing the possibilities sooner. If you recall the early days of testing, team Willy was wondering aloud how many teams would copy them. The smart ones will, the ones that can’t will have to figure out a plan C. You can have the most expensive wind-tunnel in F1 and the most powerful computer in Europe to crunch the data that comes out of it, but at the end of the day, human ingenuity trumps all that.

    • And I would agree with you, Arnet. As a BMW supporter, I wish that they had seen and exploited the loophole first; but they didn’t and now the casing makes it very difficult to join the rush to have a fancy diffuser. My hope is that the Beemer is good enough in other areas to make up for anything it loses in the diffuser department.

  14. Sasquatsch said on 26th March 2009, 21:28

    Apparantly Williams diffuser was cleared by the FIA over a year ago, according to Formula1.com

    So I think they are confident going to the Court of Appeal.

    • F1Yankee said on 27th March 2009, 0:00

      When the Williams FW31 was launched in January, Williams technical director Sam Michael said: “To be honest we were surprised that it even turned into an issue because for us it was very clearly inside the regulations.

      It was something that in various forms teams have been doing for two years, so it wasn’t really a big issue for us or the FIA. So it was something that we clarified with the FIA well over a year ago.

      “There wasn’t really any confusion from our side, although there appeared to be some confusion from the other teams, but I don’t know on what basis that was.

      “During the development, to be quite honest, we thought everyone would do it. It wasn’t something that we really thought was trick. It was a previous interpretation of the new regulations.”

  15. Michael K said on 26th March 2009, 22:07

    The teams got the complaints in and left the door open for an appeal in case the “dodgy diffusor lot” are too successful or even win. If the big guys wouldn’t have done that, it would be a lot more difficult for them to have the results revised. Now if the “dodgy diffusor lot” are too strong, the “righteous ones” can say “we told you so, look! Our cars had no chance to overtake as the air was dirty behind them, they could overtake us easily, blablabla”. Politics…

    • Toby Bushby said on 27th March 2009, 0:37

      Politics is right. The FIA has (deliberately, in my opinion) left the door open to ban these elements if Brawn, Williams or Toyota dominate the early races. I believe it’s called standardization.

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