Williams has withdrawn a protest against Ferrari and Red Bull Racing “in the interests of the sport”.
It had protested that the pod wings on the front of the F60 and RB5 contravened the rules. After cancelling the protest it issued a statement saying (emphasis added):
The AT&T Williams team confirmed that following today’s qualifying session, it submitted protests against two competitor teams under the 2009 Technical Regulations.
After further detailed consideration, Williams has withdrawn both protests in the interests of
Williams recognises the possibility that in this area there could be more than one interpretation of the rules and therefore does not feel it appropriate to continue with the protests.
Williams, along with Toyota and Brawn GP, are subject to an appeal brought by Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault about the legality of its diffusers.
It looks as though Williams’ protest was the team’s way of making a point: that its diffusers are no less legal than Ferrari or Red Bull’s pod wings.
I have every sympathy with Williams’ argument. There are always going to be disputes about designs that stick to the letter of the rules but contravene the ‘spirit’ of the regulations, whatever that is.
But perhaps not everyone agrees with how they made their point. Autosport’s Jonathan Noble noted in his news story (emphasis added):
Despite hours of deliberation by the Australian Grand Prix race stewards following Williams’ complaints, and media and other officials being forced to remain at work in the paddock until the matter was resolved, the Grove-based outfit chose to call a halt to its complaints shortly before midnight.
Still, I hope the diffuser appeal gets thrown out. Or, better yet, the three teams see sense and withdraw the diffuser protest. But seeing what Renault’s Flavio Briatore has to say about it, it seems unlikely:
The interpretation of the regulations was very clear in the past – the cars need less downforce for safety reasons. Correct? Every time we build a new car it was to be two to three seconds slower than the previous car. Correct? That was always the intention of the [FIA] What happened here is that the three teams are going pretty clearly in the direction of downforce. And as we all knew that we will run on slick tyres from ’09 on, it was the intention of FIA president Max Mosley and the Federation to impose new rules to reduce downforce.
He says that now, but you can be sure if the FIA rules the diffusers legal at the appeal meeting on April 14th, Renault will have one on their R29 as soon as they possibly can.