FIA to rule on legality of Brawn, Williams and Toyota diffusers (Poll)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Williams' diffuser design is among those under protest
Williams' diffuser design is among those under protest

The FIA International Court of Appeal will today finally rule on whether the ‘double decker’ diffusers used by Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams are legal.

[poll id=”53″]

The technical decision

Back in January John Beamer described the new diffuser regulations as ‘opaque’ and it seems the result of that lack of clarity has been a protest against three teams who many of the other believe have interpreted the rules incorrectly.

Last week John offered this view on the likely outcome of the technical side to the diffuser debate:

(1) The rules don?t prevent double-decking as the diffuser is defined in the articles labelled ??bodywork facing the ground? – the upper tier does not face the ground.

(2) The reference plan and step are not treated as a single continuous surface so holes can be carved in the step transition to feed more air to the diffuser.

(3) A longer, higher central section that integrates with the rear crash structure is allowed – Toyota exploits this (think of this as a narrower version of the central section allowed last year).

The prevailing view in the paddock is that the FIA will not outlaw the double-diffuser, at least not this season. Expect 75% of teams to be running them when the F1 circus lands in Europe.

See the links below for more on the technical side of the discussion. But as ever in F1 the implications of today’s decision could go far beyond the technical…

The political decision

Anyone who remembers the Ferrari barge board controversy of 1999 knows that technical accuracy means little next to what the governing body thinks is in the best interest of the sport. On that occasion, allowing the championship battle to continue into the final race of the season was viewed as being more important than punishing a team whose interpretation of the rules was, at best, questionable.

The situation is complicated in that the FIA originally said the diffuser designs were legal. When the cars were scrutineered at Melbourne they were passed as legal, and now several teams have protested against that decision.

Here’s some of the poits of view on the debate the FIA may take into consideration:

  • “Brawn GP have benefitted from the diffusers more than anyone, and as they represent the FIA’s vision of future, inexpensive F1 teams, they will get an easy time from the stewards.” I’m not really convinced by this argument as Toyota – F1’s most profligate team in recent years – have the same technology.
  • “Because of the diffusers, F1 cars in 2009 are faster than the FIA intends them to be, so they will ban them.” I think this argument has some merit but the way Flavio Briatore put it forward smacked of sour grapes.
  • “The designers have gone against past precedent in their interpretation of the rules.” This was a view put forward by Ferrari’s Rory Byrne, but what confuses me is that if it was this simple, I don’t see why the FIA wouldn’t have passed the diffusers as legal in the first place (of course, this link of thinking can be used against many other arguments). Besides which, recent rulings have shown past precedent carries very little weight in FIA appeal hearings.
  • “The FIA will not re-distribute points from past races because it would further tarnish the sport’s reputation.” If they have an ounce of sense, they’ll leave the results of the first two races alone.

My instincts tell me the diffusers will be passed as legal.

Although technical reasons will be put forward by the FIA as the justification for their legality, this will be a decision taken more out of political pragmatism.

F1 has these ‘interpretation of the technical rules’ argument from time to time, as Williams’ counter-protest against certain teams’ side pod wings made clear. The wiggle room in the regulations seems so great we might as well toss a coin instead of going to the time and expense of having a hearing.

In short, the FIA can pick whichever decisions suits them best and then find a technical means of supporting it.

The FIA has recently proposed F1 has two sets of technical regulations next year in order to make its budget caps proposal work. It can’t very well do that and then hold hearings where it contradicts previous decisions made by itself and its stewards, which undermine the results of the first two races of the championship. It has to demonstrate its competence.

Do you think the diffuser appeal will succeed or fail? Vote above and leave a comment below.

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149 comments on “FIA to rule on legality of Brawn, Williams and Toyota diffusers (Poll)”

  1. Max wants F1 to be road-relevant. These diffusers are innovation.

    Of course, McLaren’s independent rear brakes were rules legal, only to be banned on appeal.

  2. the Sri lankan
    14th April 2009, 7:47

    believe it or not these diffusers add more spectacle to the sport and give three teams a clear shot at the championships rather than keeping the “dull” ferrari vs Mclaren saga up. hope the diffusers stay so we can concentrate on more important things like the actual races for example. however, it would be hard on other teams because they will effectively need a b spec car rather than a simple change to the diffuser.

    1. the B-spec goes both ways. If the ruling is against the doubledeckers Williams, Brown and Toyota will need a B-spec ;-)

  3. I do think also that the diffusers are legal … it’s just a simply way of saying “clever design” … I know other teams will be able to catch up specially Ferrari but when will they start it? When will we see a big change in performance? … I can’t really wait for the Chinese GP where Ferrari said they’ll have an interpretation of that double diffuser if the findings goes to the way of the 3 teams.

  4. I thought I read this somewhere before the Australian GP:

    Christian Horner of Red Bull said they had of a similar idea when designing the RB5, and asked the FIA it would be acceptable. The FIA said no.

    Did I just dream that? Wouldn’t that make for a strong argument?

    1. I thought I read this somewhere before the Australian GP:

      Christian Horner of Red Bull said they had of a similar idea when designing the RB5, and asked the FIA it would be acceptable. The FIA said no.

      I haven’t seen a quote like that anywhere – but I have seen a quote from Adrian Newey admiring the way the diffusers have been designed!

    2. Flavio Briatore said more or less that when he first started complaining about the double diffusers. It was implied that Renault had asked the FIA for a ruling, rather than stated in so many words, and the Flav said that the FIA had turned the idea down.

      Since nothing further has been said about this, I take it that Briatore was being somewhat inventive and the actual question (if it ever existed) asked of the FIA covered something in the same area but not double diffusers.

    3. Well, besides his word on it we haven’t seen any proof that is correct. Maybe they did something completely different to diffuser teams which doesn’t stand. Also, I find it ridicoulous that you can ask for clarification by FiA’s technical comission – get the blueprints approved, get another approve by head of technical comission when he visited Barcelona test. Then you get approved by stewards in 2 regular pre-race scrutineering and on another ruling after appeal and you still have to go to the court of appeal. This controversy was suposed to get untangled in January when the first cars with DDD appeared and not allow it to drag for months.

    4. I found it! …well.. I found something.
      Not sure it’s a reliable source, but here it is.

      Apparently, “[Helmet Marko] claims both Renault and Red Bull discussed the legality of a similar aerodynamic concept with the FIA early last year and “at that time there was a negative answer”.”

  5. The FIA is one big mess, I’m suprised people still take them seriously. What kind of governance is this when teams can seek approval from the FIA about specific design concepts, have them approved, yet still require that stewards decide the legality of those designs.

  6. i’m intrigued… several people have voted that those diffusers should be banned.. on what grounds? have all of you more technical knowledge and experience with those diffusers than the stewards at two races? or did you vote “illegal” because the “wrong” teams are faster than your favorite team? if so, what exactly is the driving force for you watching F1? :)

    @Oliver: nail on the head..

    1. ricardo yoyo norketti
      14th April 2009, 8:55

      @ saab…spot oon mate, cld not agree with you more.

    2. ricardo yoyo norketti
      14th April 2009, 8:55

      @ saab…spot on mate, could not agree with you more.

    3. gospeedracer
      14th April 2009, 15:52

      spot on saab! I haven’t been this excited about f1 in a very LONG time – if the passing that has occurred in the first two races is any indication, it’s going to be a fun season. it’s no longer the same-o same-o teams teams in the running, we actually have five or six teams that are very closely matched. the results are no longer predictable – so we tune in and not fall asleep. if the FIA is truly interested in maintaining interest in the sport and their own competence in the eyes of the public, they should allow the diffusers. the alternative would be disastrous in so many ways.

    4. No, those of us who voted yes haven’t got more technical knowledge than the race stewards. But I’m sure the teams who want the diffusers banned and their engineers have more technical knowledge than you and that is what they are basing THEIR argument on. Silly argument!

    5. Toby Bushby
      15th April 2009, 1:40

      S Hughes –

      But I’m sure the teams who want the diffusers banned and their engineers have more technical knowledge than you and that is what they are basing THEIR argument on. Silly argument!

      And what about the three teams that did design the diffusers? How’s their technical knowledge?

      The unfortunate fact is, every team is going to fight tooth and nail to get the best result for their own interest. Red Bull, for example, have finally designed a mega car, but then find that three other teams are faster or at least matching them. These three teams have a design in common, so it’s easy to then protest it. Brawn, Toyota and Williams have fast cars, which may or may not be only down to their diffusers, but of course they don’t want them banned. Unless we all become technical guru’s, we can’t give an accurate opinion on this stuff, so we have to rely on the FIA’s ruling. I voted ‘no’ because the FIA techies(including Charlie Whiting) have told the three teams that their designs are okay, the stewards at two races have said the same, so for me they’re legal. In fact, even Ferrari’s lawyer can only argue that it is an exploited loophole and resort to personal attacks. Where’s the proof that the regs were broken?

    6. No, those of us who voted yes haven’t got more technical knowledge than the race stewards. But I’m sure the teams who want the diffusers banned and their engineers have more technical knowledge than you and that is what they are basing THEIR argument on. Silly argument!

      Well the teams that want the diffusers banned obviously don’t want to have to rush a desgn of their own, so I expect that they do think the diffuser’s within the rules, they just want to avoid any development. I doubt it would make their cars as fast as the others intitially even if they do make one. In comparison, if the diffuser was found to be illegal, teams running it now probably wouldn’t find it as hard to redesign a normal diffuser.

      The fact that everyone knew it would be found legal (teams like Ferrari supposedly started designing double-diffusers weeks ago) shows that everyone in the paddock is aware it is legal, they just wish it wasn’t.

  7. i think they should be legal.

    on a separate note, i wonder how toyota are feeling this season being 2nd by a good margin in the constructors points.

    they were really hoping for improvements and i’m sure the diffuser is a part of it. if they lose performance, and points i’d hate to see them drop out.

  8. Hi all, this is actually my first post here.

    From what I understand, the hearing will be at 10am CET, in Paris, which is about 20 minutes from now. Does anyone know approximately what time we’ll get a verdict?

    1. Welcome Chua – thanks for the tip!

      We know there are three teams defending so presumably they’ll all have submissions to make. Red Bull, Renault, Ferrari and BMW are all involved in bringing the appeal about (BMW bot on board rather late) so presumably they’ll all have something to say too.

      So I think it could take a while! I don’t think we’ll get the verdict before 5pm.

    2. I think I read on the BBC F1 site that the verdict won’t appear until tomorrow.

    3. gospeedracer
      14th April 2009, 20:47

      Are you Alex from Singapore that worked at DTRIC in Honolulu?

  9. Hugo Bourgeois
    14th April 2009, 8:37

    Anyone have any idea at what time (GMT) we are expected to hear the result of the hearing?

    1. I belive the hearing is today but we wont have a result to tommrow.

  10. Commonsense says that the diffusers should be legal and the other teams should live with their misinterpretation of the rules, and start catching up with Brawn and Toyota.
    F1 should be about technical innovation and thinking outside the box as much as driver stamina and quick-wittedness.
    If the FIA do ban the diffusers, its a sign that they would rather have the same old battles between the Red and Silver cars, no matter what Max says about smaller, cheaper teams….

    1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      14th April 2009, 11:48

      Common sense??? When has that ever applied to the FIA?! Interestingly, the people who will make the judegment have no technical knowledge of the sport…..

    2. Hmmm, and these people actually run the motorsports events? Are Brawn etc liable to be asked to give evidence for their interpretation?
      And thinking about it, surely Brawn would have to explain how he found a way round the rules he helped to draw up – a man with two hats?

  11. If F1 should be more about innovation, then, really, the regulations should be made a little looser.

  12. Whatever the outcome, I’m not fussed. This technology battle is what I like about F1. All teams throughout the years have found some terrific ideas that have then been banned. Keith wrote some great articles on this that are stuffed somewhere around in the archives.
    Although, I doubt many F1 fans will look back on a double diffuser with as much fondness as the Brabham fan car.

  13. I voted No, as long as the rules are not mistreated. if they are opaque and are as leaky as a fishnet, then it’s the rule makers problem. not the good engineers that worked through the loopholes.

    Lawyers are educated and later on tapped on the back to navigate through loopholes in Law. if there is a loophole close it. Brawn as he said offered to do so, but they rejected his proposal.

    I’m for making F1 on the razor sharp edge of automotive engineering. and making the maximum with the strict(er) limitations is part of any sport.

    so i think the other teams should catch up, but HEY! RBR have a bloody fast car that is Diffuserless? might they have something illegal? or just an incredibly talented design Guru? same applies to the diffuser 3. “i cant believe we are calling them that”.

  14. One should blame FIA for lacking imagination while creating the rules, and not Brawn and co. for having one while creating the car.
    Why would you wanna penelize creativity?

    And in the end, it is the teams who fall victim of the not-precise-enough rules.

  15. The double-decker diffusers are legal (probably) but are clearly against the spirit of the rules. It’s just not cricket!

    I wish the controversy was over something much more innovative and unique than a double-decker diffuser – it seems likely that any team could have created one if they had thought it was legal.

    If the advantage was highly innovative, even if illegal, the innovator would have received some grudging respect from the other teams. Now it just looks like these three DD teams are playing dirty.

    1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      14th April 2009, 11:57

      I never understand this “spirit of the rules” nonsense. This is a highly technical sport where there are boundaries that are set in measureable terms. Brawn et al have interpreted these rules in a certain way which have already been given the go ahead. If these non technical ‘judges’ @ the FIA deem the diffusers as illegal, i’ll eat my hat (once I’ve bought one).

  16. Seems to me that everybody (teams) are allowed to do as they like, only Mclaren and Hamilton are must follow the so called RULES, of cause existing and non existing ones, no wonder Mclaren didn’t take part in this altogether.

  17. We all know that the Brawn diffuser won’t be banned, just as we all know that McLaren and Lewis will be hauled over the coals on 29/4/09 and given a draconian and totally out of proportion punishment. Why do we know this? Because the FiA favours Ferrari and Brawn/Button, and is prejudiced against McLaren/Lewis. Button is already strutting around saying he knows that the diffuser won’t be banned. Just like when Charlie Whiting took an absolute age to call out the safety car after Nakajima’s accident in Melbourne, and did so as soon as the Brawn cars pitted. F1 is not just about fast cars and great driving. It is about corruption, biased stewards and an incredibly biased governing body. “Justice” won’t be done, because “justice” doesn’t exist in F1.

    1. I don’t think FIA is pro-Ferrari – they slapped them on the wrist in the past as well. They are allways trying the championship to be determined as late as possible as it increases viewing figures. They changed points system to make it more difficult for Schumacher to walk away with championship too early.

    2. OMG!! First the FIA favours Ferrari, now it favours Brawn as well!! It seems like the favour all teams except your beloved McLaren.

      If I had to be sceptical about this all… I would say that at some point in the past, McLaren have been trying to stitch up Mosley or in some other way have pissed him off! so now there is a political battle between Ron & Max… and this is the result.

      Personally, I don’t think so, Spy-gate they got caught red handed (and tried to play the upper-management innocent line)… here, the evidence is very much against them (and again the try to play the upper-management innocent line)… so I can only presume that Ron, Martin & Norbert are like the three monkeys (deaf, dumb & blind)… well dumb certainly for all three! …they know full well what is going on on all counts.

      I used to rate and like McLaren very much… now I say… throw the ****** book at them!!… and Lewis, get out of there while you still have some dignity!

  18. KingHamilton
    14th April 2009, 9:49

    lets look at the facts:

    1. Stewards ruled them to be legal
    2. They are perfectly within the wording of the rules
    3. Brawn himself said that there was a little loophole in the rules nearly a year ago, but nobody listened. until now

    So to me that makes the diffusers perfectly legal. however, the pathetic FIA will probably have other ideas………

    1. I don’t think “nobody listened”… If I recall correctly they thought it was illegal, not that they didn’t care.

  19. … WITH THE VERDICT TO BE ISSUED TOMORROW AFTERNOON… (according to autosport)

  20. I voted Yes.

    My reasoning is that although they are probably legal they contradict what teams have been trying to achieve. Reduce wake and improve overtaking.

    In the end, if they are deemed legal it is the fans like us who will suffer

    1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      14th April 2009, 11:59

      If the rules have been drawn up in a cockeyed way, how is that Brawns fault…?

    2. David (Brazil)
      15th April 2009, 0:10

      I agree Giuseppe. I think just about everyone is missing the boat on this issue. Okay, so the first two races have been enthralling because the usual suspects are nowhere near the front of the grid.

      But let’s think this through. If the diffusers are declared legal, within a shortish time span the other teams will develop and use their own, quickly reducing the advantage held by Brawn and co. So my question is, are diffusers for everyone going to be good for racing? Since they improve aerodynamics and probably make overtaking more difficult, the answer has to be no.

      Personally I’m in favour of declaring them illegal but allowing Brawn to keep the points. I suspect the non-KERS cars are more aerodynamic anyhow, so we would still see a performance difference and some serious competition.

      The fact is FIA is deliberately skewing the rules to allow more competition – pretending it will enforce KERS, then allowing teams off the hook, telling Renault diffusers are probably illegal, then allowing Brawn etc. to go ahead. It’s short-termism. For example, if Mercedes decide they’ve basically had enough of FIA’s p*ssing around, will them leaving be good for the sport?

    3. Toby Bushby
      15th April 2009, 1:55

      The hearing should have the right kinds of evidence presented to give the right verdict. If we were to actually trust any decision given by the FIA (hypothetically, of course), it must be proven to the court that having additional elements around the diffuser does in fact create more wake that actually makes it harder to follow a car. The overtaking doesn’t come into it. That is what having a faster car means – it’s harder to overtake. As soon as this evidence is presented, then the FIA can judge whether the parts are illegal.

  21. @ Giuseppe

    totally agree with you

  22. The rules should make it possible to reduce turbulence in a car’s wake, but it is not a teams responsibility to make their cars overtake friendly.

  23. Contrary to popular opinion, I think the diffusers will be declared illegal – but with the results from the first two races to stand. I have no rational basis for my opinion, other than that the FIA have a habit of doing the opposite of what almost everyone thinks is reasonable and correct!

  24. I guess it is just a matter of understanding and interpreting the rules correctly. There might be loop holes in it that not all designers saw and took advantage of it. Ross Brawn did exactly what that loop hole is and gain every advantage from it. Now, is it illegal to be wiser and smarter than everybody? if it is, then ban those three teams.

  25. Bigbadderboom
    14th April 2009, 10:26

    @Giuseppe “If they are deemed legal its the fans who suffer”
    Not sure how the fans suffer, there has still been vast improvements in reducing wake due to the front wing rule changes. And I think the first 2 races has shown better overtaking and closer racing action.
    If deemed Illegal then its the sport as a whole that suffers, F1 looses any credibility it has left. If the stewards decision is overturned and the diffusers declared illegal, then I fear it would be more to do with the protests from ferra

  26. I have a simply question to ask.

    What is the difference between the wake a car with a Double Decker diffuser leaves behind it when compared to a ‘normal’ diffuser?

    If the wake is worse, they should be banned in my opinion. Though the FIA must have clarified this about late February for sure (and this is a lot of time I’m giving them). Lately, the FIA has been acting very strangely as well on other circumstances, such as the ‘lie-gate’ saga. But I won’t go off-topic.

    1. My understanding was that the double/triple deck diffusers had a cleaner airflow exiting them, but I am no engineer/designer and know nothing about it really… I just read that somewhere, or read something and understood/misunderstood it as that.

      If I understood right, then thoeretically that would make overtaking easier with the “controversial” diffuser design.

  27. Having read this…

    http://www.f1technical.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=103084&f=6

    …I’m wondering if maybe it would be better for the sport to ban them after all. Not officially declaring them illegal, but banning in the interests of the sport and therefore keep the results of the first two races.

    1. Thanks Dougie, that should make an interesting read.

  28. I think the FIA will leave the results of the first 2 races alone no matter what they decide about the diffusers.

    As the FIA has shown before decisions of this sort are often influenced by politics, rather than what is the correct interpretation of the rules, for example banning new technology because it gave someone a performance advantage not because it was against the rules. For this reason I think it is more likely the diffusers are deemed legal because the teams who currently have them are teams that have not been successful recently and also other teams like the Red Bull are not that far behind at the moment in terms of pace. If the only teams with the diffuser were McLaren and Ferrari and especially if just one of those two had the diffuser, I think there would be a higher chance of them being banned as those are the teams who have dominated F1 in recent history.

    If I had to predict the outcome it would be that they will be ruled legal for this season but the FIA will probably redo the regulations for next year to ban them. Or if they go ahead with the stupid idea of two sets of regulations for different budgets, they will allow it for teams who choose the budget cap but not for those with limited budgets.

    Does anyone know why McLaren decided to join in the protests late? Does it make any difference how many teams protest it?

    I have a question for the technically minded out there, I have seem some people claim on message boards that the ‘double decker’ diffusers make it harder for cars to follow due to increased turbulence, and also some people claim that it actually cleans up the airflow making it easier to follow the car in front. Which view is the correct one?

  29. KingHamilton
    14th April 2009, 12:27

    does anyone know at what time the case is to be heard?

    Im very anxious to find out the verdict………..

  30. KingHamilton – Verdict won’t be out until tomorrow afternoon.

  31. KingHamilton
    14th April 2009, 12:59

    ugh……..

    I have to wait over 24 hours for a probably unfair verdict? Blimey……….

  32. I think the case should be decided on whether the Brawn-type diffuser goes against the effort of making it easier for cars to follow close behind. If it dirties the air more it should go.

    Regardless, the results of the first two GP´s should not be affected.

  33. I read that diffusers of that type (and floor design) were not used anymore after Sena’s accident, because of safety isues. If this is that way, it would be a pity that either Buton or Rubens (or someone else) have a bad accident one day.

    1. Never heard of a diffuser having anything to do with Senna’s accident. Senna’s actual death was a freak occurrence of a suspension component piercing his helmet. If it hadn’t been for this he would very likely have survived.
      Correct me if I’m wrong however!

    2. I meant to say the accident occurred after Senna’s steering column sheared…

    3. thanks for your answers. As far as I understood (I’m not engineer!) they say that it can generate turbulence under the car, so that’s why it is not so safe. But I don’t know more details.

  34. It’s not been discussed here yet but the fact that Ross Brawn drew it to everyone’s attention that there was potential for exploitation in the regulations some time ago.
    When the OWG rejected this observation they effectively accepted this condition.

    This ‘Spirit of the Rules’ business is just nonsense. This argument requires strong hard fact objectivity not some airy fairy ideology that is instantly swamped by tens of millions of dollars as soon as you show any sign of competitiveness.

    The double decks should stay and the engineering prowess that developed them should be applauded. This is precisely what drives F1 above all else. Ground breaking engineering solutions within the limits of the regulations. With no need to get spiritual!

    Did for example Ferrari (or Renault or…) have such a design, on paper – ready to test but then turned to each other and said “No, that would give us a advantage – maybe we should consider instead the spirit of the regulations. So what if we look like crap during the season..?”
    Nah, they just didn’t have it and they are simply envious of superior design.

    1. I was going to put a nice post on this topic about what I think on this – but this pretty much sums up everything i was going to say perfectly pSynrg.

      ‘Spirit of the rules’ is what amuses me most. That is effectively saying they dont think it breaks any real regulations, just that it isnt fair that some people have it and others dont – if they want to restore the ‘spirit of the rules’ – then they should catch up with the others! Since when has any team given up any legal advantage (and technically it is legal at the minute, unless the appeal proves otherwise) they have just because a couple of other teams dont have it?

      Plus, surely if the appealing teams are already coming up with their own new diffuser designs, does this not undermine thier appeal in the first place. If they truly 100% beleive it is illegal, then they shouldnt be making a new design. By making a new design, they must, at least in part, beleive that the design is legal – else why spend the money on it. If they dont beleive the design is 100% illegal, then their case, in my opinion, is massively dented.

      Goodness me i really hope this appeal gets dismissed and everything continues as it is.

  35. Well – as all people with a smidgen of common sense would agree (and that means even you, Ferrari fans) the diffusers are legal, and ought to be ruled as such especially if you take into account the history of the debate so far, beginning with the development work last year.

    Common sense, of course, is what you get under the heading of “Antonym” when you look up FIA in your thesaurus. This should have been ruled on (one way or another, for better or worse, but CLEARLY) as soon as there were grumblings from some teams before the first race.

    I wouldn’t bet on getting what our guts tell us from these hearings. If we do – so much the better, but I’ll brace for more ridiculousness. To paraphrase Murray Walker: “Anyhting can happen at an FIA hearing, and it usually does!”

  36. I voted legal because of all of the information I have read up to now, and the key reason being that the FIA has already deemed it legal.

    There have been many regulations mentioned in the articles about the design of the double diffuser, and both sides seem to be able to explain their way around them and in the end, both sound right. So the problem is that the rule(s) needs to be clearly defined, and this is something Brawn, who heads the Technical Working Group, already tried to do (http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/05042009/58/brawn-diffuser-row-avoidable.html)

    So the other teams are now embarrassed, because they didn’t care then, as they were arrogant, and this is what happens.

    I see no reason to ban them. Clarify the rules, maybe don’t allow more steps, maybe ban them for 2010, but to ban them because some enginnerres are embarrased that they didn’t figure it out… really doesn’t cut it.

    As for the whole “Spirit of the rules”, really, that’s a joke, certainly in F1, when you always try to find that edge. If I have to choose between rules or racing, I will go with racing, some great races occurred when Ferrari ran a flat 12, Renault was running a turbo, and Williams was running a Cosworth V8 with it’s first wing car design. The start of this season reminds me of that time, with some running the magical diffuser, some running KERS, and some more focused on an electronic pit lolipop. :)

  37. @pSynrg,

    Is there any indication that DDDs are examples of engineering prowess and innovation? Or are they just clever interpretation of the rules? (or both).

    Given the insight into the “loophole,” was there any _engineering_ innovation (new understanding of airflow characteristics, materials, interactions, etc.) after that insight?

    I’m not claiming this is germane to whether they should be banned or not, just curious.

    1. I would have to say ‘both’. In my mind at least, engineering is the practice of manipulating physical characteristics/constraints to suit a particular purpose.

      Should limits to these manipulations exist, be it artificial (constraints) or physical (characteristics) then the engineering solution that best interprets these boundaries should be the most successful.
      This is the driving force behind F1 development since the beginning.

      Yes, there is a requirement for clarification should ambiguities emerge.

      But the creative teams that expose these ambiguities in the artificial is to be applauded. Certainly not penalised!

      If necessary rewrite your regulations removing this ambiguity but do not impose their influence retrospectively.

  38. Well said pSynrg and Maciek.

    Common sense not being the major constituent of the air breathed at FIA Bloody Assizes where a Witchfinder General giving evidence would not be out of place !

    In a sense though, it would be good for a certain amount of politics to intervene in any decision about diffusers. A political decision for example, which rested on the effect for good or evil on F1’s fan base and TV audience would force these guys to realise that the only decision worth making is for them to leave well alone. Diffuser Three Go Free !

    Wrapped up in clever technical jargon of course !

  39. i hope they ban them

  40. @Choltz,

    As for the whole “Spirit of the rules”, really, that’s a joke, certainly in F1, when you always try to find that edge.

    Most other sports have this concept, and these sports are all equally competitive, trying to find the edge, and involve high dollar figures at stake. Why should F1 be any different?

    To me, it’s no coincidence that the teams that were part of the OWG all don’t have DD diffusers. I wouldn’t blame them at all if their respective designers are a bit unhappy with how the rules have been interpreted by the other teams. In fact that’s a fundamental conflict of interest.

    Imagine if only the three OWG teams had come up with these DD diffusers; there would have been a huge hue and cry about conflict of interest, inside knowledge, FIA being Ferrari biased, ad infinitum …

  41. in my opinion they are illegal. hte ones who made rules made them in order to slow down the cars. So the new diffusers are in breach with what rulemaker wanted to achieve.

    1. Remember the previous posted about the 2009 car faster than 2008 cars but not coming from trio diffusers

  42. I’ll be honest and say that I’d like to see the diffusers banned, even though i think the FIA will rule them legal. For purely selfish reasons, I’ll admit, but I’m not a fan of any of the Brawn, Williams or Toyota drivers. I think the closeness of the competition this year would be fantastic if they were closer to Red Bull, BMW, etc. That’s what I want to see.

    1. Actually, I think you’d find what would happen if the appeal is upheld is that red bull will storm out in front. bmw will steal a couple of victories. ferrari and brawn will start challenging again soon, then the ex-diffusers and the rest of the teams will be nowhere. so in reality i think the competitiveness of the field would probably be worse if the diffusers are banned.

  43. Renault’s representative Andrew Ford said the sport’s governing body had already concluded the design was illegal, and that was the reason why the French team decided not to use it.

    “It is not that Renault missed the boat, as Brawn have pointed out, it is because the FIA said it was illegal. It was at that point the diffuser was abandoned,” said Ford.

    1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      14th April 2009, 17:19

      so why were they passed as ok in Aus & Malaysia?

  44. For people still confused (I was) I found some very useful illustration of formula1.com:

    McLaren diffuser:
    http://www.formula1.com/news/technical/2009/0/621.html

    Brawn diffuser:
    http://www.formula1.com/news/technical/2009/0/640.html

    Toyota diffuser:
    http://www.formula1.com/news/technical/2009/0/622.html

    Toyota, Williams and Brawn all interpret the rules in different ways from each other as well as from the rest of the field. Will be interesting as I think there is a third possibility that some are legal and others not – for instance, Toyota may be asked to remove their splitter at the central base of the diffuser, or Brawn their holes either side of the centre.

  45. I’ll probably be wrong :) but I’ve got a feeling that DDDs will be outlawed from Barcalona onwards, with Brawn & co able to keep their points thus far and for China.

  46. Trio diffusers will declared legal and F1 fans will happy to see the 2009 race not nominating by Ferrari and McLaren, We loved to see other teams on the podium.

  47. I am almost sure they will be declared legal, because otherwise the FiA will have to admit they made a mistake, and Max and his cronies are infallable. One thing that I find interseting is that the RB5 seems to be right in the mix with the diffuser cars (all credits to Newey the genius), which I think can be attributed to its rear end design. The tail of the car is so narrow and low, almost coming to a point. It seems (from a layman’s perspective) that that allows the car to make MUCH better use of its ‘standard’ diffuser. I predict that if the diffusers are declared legal, and if Newey is able to adapt the RB5 to take advantage of this, that the RB5 will be on even ground with the Brawn, or even faster. What do you guys think? Who, of the non-diffuser teams, stands to gain the most from a double diffuser?

  48. Just when I think I can bring myself to be a fan of Ferrari (well, Kimi at least) they disappoint yet again!

    Ferrari’s lawyer has argued that if the diffusers are ruled legal than all the “have nots” will have to spend “considerable” amounts to catch up and this contravenes Max’s “save money” dictum.

    But it would be okay for Williams, Brawn and Toyota to spend “considerable” amounts to rid themselves of the diffusers? Damned hypocrites just can’t face the reality of the mistakes they all made.

    I think it would be ironic if the diffusers are dropped and the BrawnGP car is still faster than most. What then, declare Ross’s brain illegal and ban him from the sport???

  49. The Diffs will be declared illegal, and some fudge will be announced. The real (but un-announced) reason they will be decalred illegal, is because Brawn and the others are making the KERS cars look….silly….lol.

    Can’t have that now, it goes against the masters plan. Or is that master plan?

  50. From a cost perspective, either decision will cost the same for manufacturers to revamp the front aero to fit the new (single or double) diffuser. Though there are fewer cars that need to modify things if the DDDs are banned. Let’s ignore that for now.

    If the DD diffusers are copied effectively across all cars, overtaking may be back to pre-2008 levels. The OWG had made a specific recommendation to halve the downforce from the diffuser. The DD diffusers don’t live up to that. So we’re back to higher aerodynamic sensitivity and drivers finding it difficult to follow closely.

    If the DD diffusers are banned, the cars will be inline with what the OWG had in mind and what was deemed best for the fans and the sport.

    The ban may start from Bahrain or even Spain – it needn’t start from the next race itself.

  51. I for one am a huge Ferrari fan. So this may strike you as a surprise, but i voted “NO”. Diffuser 3s should be left as it is, with changes if deemed necessary, being applied from next year onwards.

    I really wish Button all the success he’s garnering now, since he’s worked hard for the same. He has matured quite a lot since his team Williams days. He’s been conducting himself well, and i do not remember him rubbing anyone in the trade the wrong way anytime recently.

    For those who say that it is only McLaren and Hamilton who have to follow rules and sorts, well tough luck. They suffer from foot, make that feet in mouth syndrome which isn’t something that you or i could wish away.

    Why would you lie when you are a multimillionaire world champion? One may understand your tendency to lie if you are a nobody. However, if and when you lie to get ahead, you must be prepared for consequences when you get caught. No, am not saying this cos am a racist. I’m a brown man from india, so go figure that. Nobody’s a kid in F1, who will be told to behave everytime they try to push their luck. Sometimes they’ll be tested and sometimes they’ll end up being busted for it.

    1. We’re talking about diffusers… please stay on topic.

  52. Guys, The hearing must have been finished by now.
    Any update on that?

    1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      14th April 2009, 19:11

      it’s been mentioned already, but they’re not expecting to release the verdict until tomorrow afternoon. However, this is the FIA we’re talking about, so expect something in August….

  53. Christianedward
    14th April 2009, 19:11

    I think the D-diffusers will be seen as legal because it gives some new teams a chance but I think its a shame for Red Bull as they would have been near the top (with BMW) without the D-diffuser issue and by the sound of it will be badly effected by having to redesign. Of course the teams best able to redesign will be the big spenders Ferrari and they’ll soon catch up with the minnows Brawn and Williams, so can Toyota pick up the ball and run with it before Ferrari catchup? Probably not cause Trulli and Glock just aren’t good enough, shame. Massa has no points but is still the favourite for me.

  54. The diffusers should be left alone as they are for this season, as the three teams in question have apparently found and used a loophole to their advantage. For next season, however, the rules should be made clearer on the topic.

  55. @kurtosis

    Most other sports have this concept, and these sports are all equally competitive, trying to find the edge, and involve high dollar figures at stake. Why should F1 be any different?

    I was initially drawn to F1 because of the competition between engineers, not drivers. For me, Newey is more of a star then Vettel (but he’s not bad! :) . I see no other series that has the development abilities that F1 has and don’t like the comparisons to other sports, because I don’t want F1 to become like them. Money is an issue, sure, but budget caps make more sense in F1 to me.

    I can understand the whole “spirit of the rules” as I think the first person I read saying this was Briatore, someone who has two world championships under his belt because of the “tuned mass damper”, which was banned halfway though 2006, and since then their team has struggled. So I understand he is mad and wants consistency, but on the other hand, every time new rules are imposed to slow down the cars, they are only slow for a short time and then the engineers figure out how to deal with it.. it happened with grooved tires, everyone was able to figure out how to deal with it and so everyone went faster, and no one complained. With the grooved tires, everyone ignored the spirit of the rules, but it was no big deal because everyone was able to find a good solution quickly.

    It seems that when the spirit of the rules is broken by only a few, because they are the only ones that could figure out how to make it work, then the spirit of the rules card is played by the have nots.

    Actually, now that I re-read that “tuned mass damper” story
    I am thinking the DD’s will be banned…. can I change my vote?!?! :)

  56. The Ferrari counsel also did not hold back on criticising the FIA, noting the inconsistency of having told some teams the diffuser concept is illegal, and then green-lighting the similar solutions of other teams.

    “The position of the FIA is totally baffling. We urge you to save the FIA from itself,” he told the panel.

    It appears not only readers here think the FIA have gone nuts.

    1. Where’s that quote from Oliver?

  57. @Mussolini’s Pet Cat…thanks.

    ps does anyone remember just following the racing????

    1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      15th April 2009, 0:43

      racing? we dont have time for racing!!!! politics are far more interesting……. ;)

  58. gospeedracer
    14th April 2009, 20:54

    So what affect has the “illegal” diffusers had on minimizing the turbulence behind the cars and therefore the ability for a following car to get close and eventually pass? Which was one of the goals of the new regs. Is the air behind the “illegal” cars more dirty than the “legal” cars?

  59. overtaking may be back to pre-2008 levels.

    But surely that is just speculation at this time, in as much as none of the DDD cars can be caught and passed anyway :) It’s difficult in my mind to condemn a car design based on a presumption as opposed to factual info.

    The case should be decided on the merits of the wording of the design parameters, nothing more, nothing less. If they goofed and left a loophole fix it next year and let those who missed the boat catch up or wait until next year.

  60. I think this is a clear cut case of the big teams getting caught with their pants down in many ways. The smart play was to ‘shelve’ development on 2008 spec cars in favour of 2009 ones.
    This obviously was not done by Ferrari and McLaren, as they were fighting for the championship, and BMW Sauber, if reports are to be believed, did not curtail
    2008 spec development until mid season.
    I must admit, when I read reports last year that Honda’s 2009 car could be a title winner, I nearly wet
    myself. After two terrible years, how could they make that big a jump?
    Now, I admit that I was wrong. When Ron Dennis suggested on the Melbourne grid that McLaren ‘would’ be good again come the European rounds, surely that must mean that their new difusers won’t be ready until
    Barcelona! Either way, these hearings are only a way
    of appeasing the teams who did not go the way of Brawn, Toyota, and Williams.
    In many ways, I am glad. Three months ago, Toyota were
    tipped to pull out of F1, which would have also left
    Williams without an engine supplier. I hope they both
    prosper this year.

  61. Sorry I forgot to add the link to the quote its from racing live.
    http://en.f1-live.com/f1/en/headlines/news/detail/090414151443.shtml

  62. If they rule the diffuser cars illegal, surely this will make KERS play a much more significant role in the speed of the cars – probably just what Max wants, but the FIA initially said they were an ingeneous interpretation of the rules.

    Whatever happens, it will certainly make China more interesting than the usual relatively tedious races we get!

  63. According to the Daily Mail the diffuser appeal will be lost:

    A paddock insider has revealed the court will be reluctant to contradict two sets of stewards who declared the diffusers legal before the Australian and Malaysian grands prix.

    1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      15th April 2009, 0:41

      phew, looks like common sense may well prevail.

  64. I find it interesting and a bit confusing that KERS was not made mandatory to be run by all teams – keeping all teams equal. It’s supposed to add 80HP. It seems to me the teams running with KERS have an advantage over the teams who can’t afford to develop it.
    So the diffuser on the Brawn car kind of levels the playing field. I still don’t understand how the Brawn diffuser works – I’d love to see a working animation of it.
    Anyway, it’s too bad this couldn’t have been worked out in testing.

    1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      15th April 2009, 0:53

      So much of an advantage that a Kers car has yet to win…… It’s not down to cost, more down to weight it seems. Just look at BWM, ‘tiny’ Heidfeld has it, but Kubica ‘the large’ doesnt.

  65. Mussolini's Pet Cat
    15th April 2009, 0:54

    I mean BMW of course.. :)

  66. I don’t think KERS adds more weight – it leaves less weight to distribute around the car for balance. That’s why Kubica the large prefers balance over KERS power.
    I want equality with all the teams – just not clones of one another.
    So if a team is “Clever” about a diffuser and not cheating in any way – let em race.
    This can be a really exciting year not knowing which car will be the best at any given track.

    1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      15th April 2009, 9:01

      I didnt say it adds weight, although, the kers device is about 35kg. It’s alot down to the distribution of that weight.

  67. I think it will be easier to declare the diffusers legal & get on with the show.
    But it is interesting to hear that the diffusers are breaking the rule of seeing equipment through a hole. Along with Renault claiming they were told it was illegal, so they changed their designs.

  68. The diffuser would be legal,as a paddock guy told.and teams like BMW and Renault are already designing the new DD diffusers and they would be out with them in next month.Until then,the Brawn Fairytale would keep going

  69. If Byrne is right about DDD’s and later derivatives needing completely clean air to optimise downforce then they should be banned and it is just about the timing. This is beyond just a ground effects issue and would just be about the ability to race the car in front of you. I have not however seen evidence of Byrne’s argument being borne out yet in this year’s races and maybe there is a case for saying that existing DDD cars are not allowed to run KERS in 09 and bring out a new ruling for ’10.

  70. Teams need to stop bickering. They just need to own up an accept that the designers in the “diffuser” teams were more innovative. Its not their fault that the other were not sharp enough to optimise the rules.

    I wonder what would have been said if a Ferrari or a Mclaren were sporting the DDD?..my bet…nothing.

  71. This should be decided by a ruler and protractor. If the physical design doesn’t break any rules specifying physical aspects then the FIA should let it fly. Check the aero dynamics of the diffusers and check the dimensions. That’s it. Very simple. FIA engineers should handle this.

    Like Newey said “fortunately there is no such thing as the spirit of a regulation”

    I strongly believe that F1 teams have and should reach the absolute limits of the technical regulations. Its not just two drivers and a pit crew. Let all the engineers with bright ideas have a playing field too.

  72. seems to me there is a fair amount of bias coming into this argument.If they do allow the dd the other teams will pour millions into catching them which totally goes against what the fia are trying to achieve.Two of the teams haven’t got the money to compete against them’ toyota wont be overly keen if there all of a sudden fighting for 6th in europe because there design is now obsolete. A week is a very long time in f1.I personally hope they ban them and every one is on the same level[excluding kers]these teams have a massive advantage which will not last but how much money will everyone have to spend to catch up makes the whole “budget teams” a joke as if they find themselves 2sec off the pace next year what do they do appeal or go home.

  73. Martin Bell
    15th April 2009, 8:12

    Far to sensible a solution for the FIA to adopt it. We all know that whatever the outcome, we are going to be left mystified and dissapointed.

  74. Martin Bell
    15th April 2009, 8:15

    That didn’t work properly, I meant to quote mOtion’s suggestion about the diffuser teams not being allowed to run KERS. It’s a bit early in the morning for me yet.

  75. “Speed is part of the essential attraction of Formula 1. But containing the ever-escalating cornering speeds of F1 cars has been a major goal of the FIA for safety reasons.”

    I do agree. By now the speed is somehow better than las year. By the end of the season will be much higher than that one. With this floor-effect in the cars if one of them gets bumpped a few cms from the ground then the car will became a rocket and fly away to who knows where. it is too dangerous for the sport. As simple as that.

    1. I don’t think this so called floor effect is anything like Ground Effects we had in the 80’s.

      Doesn’t the DDD just reduce drag, by reducing the turbulence when the air from the wing meets the air from under the diffuser? The DDD significant reduces air speed exiting the bottom of the car, how exactly is this floor effect?

      I don’t think the cars will fly off the ground like a rocket like we saw in 80’s, particularly a certain number 27 Ferrari.

      Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  76. THEY ARE LEGAL!!!!!!

  77. As I thought, the diffuser 3 cheats have won. I can bet if McLaren had been one of the diffuser 3, they WOULDN’T have won. http://www.fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/pressreleases/ica/2009/Pages/ica_150409.aspx

    1. they are not cheats, they found a loophole in the same respects as ferrari and thier mirror mounts that look like veins….. good on them!

    2. How can coming up with a design that is obviously (comfirmed by most of the teams as within the letter of the rules, the FIA, and now the ICA) within the rules be called cheating!?!

      In more Ross offered to clean up the rules and they weren’t interested …probably because each had thought they had stolen a march (by your definition: cheating) on the others in some way… which in my view puts Brawn on a pedestal above the others as he obviously saw where he could gain and offered to close the loopholes.

      McLaren, by definition, and in more than one case, has been proven to be a bunch of cheating scum bags! I say throw them out on the 29th!

    3. ps. I should also say that I used to love McLaren, especially during the Senna and Hakkinnen/Coulthard days… but having done a lot of reading of reports, and listening to all their press conferences, reading opinion and interpreting between the lines… I have come to the conclusion they don’t, and never should had, have my support.

      Senna will be turning in his grave!

    4. S Hughes – “I can bet if McLaren had been one of the diffuser 3, they WOULDN’T have won.” That doesn’t make the other three teams “cheats”.

  78. They just ruled the diffusers are legal.

  79. legal wins.
    major losers: red bull, as their car will not adapt correctly to the ddd without major changes – anyway they already are competitive.

    ferrari, renault, mclaren and bmw to spend a bit of money and should catch up the actual 3 ddd teams in a month (or 2); or 3 ;)

    1. Man, having read the BBC report, I’d love to see the minutes of that meeting!!

      The judges in Paris heard evidence from both sides, with Ferrari’s legal representative, Nigel Tozzi QC, describing Brawn GP team boss Ross Brawn as “a person of supreme arrogance”.

      Brawn defended himself robustly and insisted his team’s diffuser was simply “an innovative approach of an existing idea”.

      And Brawn’s criticism of Ferrari consultant Rory Bryne and Red Bull technical guru Adrian Newey saw sparks fly in the courtroom, with the Englishman refusing to retract his statements.

    1. LOL! Sexy diffusers, I must remember that one! :D

  80. C’est la via. It will be fun to see the rest of the teams come from behind and attack in the middle and final legs of the season. Until then it will be BrawnGP all the way.

    I wonder which of the three (Ferrari, McLaren, Renault) are closest to deploying an efficient DDD? It’ll hurt if McLaren get competetive quickly again, only to be handed a harsh punishment by the WMC.

    The DDDs should make the KERS correspondingly more efficient – since traction will be available sooner out of a corner with the higher downforce.

  81. THE VERDICT IS IN:
    The diffusers ARE legal.

  82. ITS LEGAL!!!

  83. Mussolini's Pet Cat
    15th April 2009, 10:59

    Happy days :)

  84. Hi Keith,

    sorry to get ahead here, but it has just come out that the diffusers on the three contested teams were deemed legal. my vote was right so were those of 1727 other readers.

    hopefully with this matter cleared up we can watch a race without if’s and buts on sunday.

    cant wait for the Mc Laren hearing in a few weeks time to get that issue over and done with as well. because we got some nice racing on our hands so far this year. and it would be very interesting to see which team will be the first to join the diffuser gang, ironically it might Flavio’s….

    1. dang, is my internet slow or did these comments come out of nowhere? anyway it’s good to know they are legal

  85. Mussolini's Pet Cat
    15th April 2009, 11:05

    Looks like it was an intense meeting, to say the least!!!
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/7996698.stm

  86. Lol, lots of simultaneous duplicate posts there… Big news, cause for celebration…

  87. Andrey (russia)
    15th April 2009, 11:17

    The Diffs were declared legal! Congratulations :)

  88. Wonder how many will cars have the new diffusers for China?

  89. Renault will (and my speculation is BMW may also) have an early attempt at a DD. Ferrari will have a new aero (but no DD) for China.

    I think the teams that stand to benefit the most by adding a DD is Renault and McLaren. BMW, Ferrari and especially RedBull are not doing that bad with their current flatD.

  90. jus seen on the bbc f1 wesbite they are legal so looks like a gd season is ahead for brawn and others but looks lyk mclaren, ferrari and renault are going to have to recreate this diffuser or risk falling soo behind ;)

  91. my guess is the first teams to get DDD will be Ferrari and Mclaren, at the earliest Spanish GP.

    i can not imagine any team would transport a car to China in advance or at such short notice, especially as it would be completely untested on the track.

    Having said that… you could argue that given the current performance of the Mclaren, even an untest DDD must be better than the current car! ;)

  92. Maybe McLaren took the position of being against the DD diffusers without protesting for a reason. I have noted that in the last races that their diffuser is already a little bit more sculpted than the normal ones, especially when you look on the sides of it.

    1. It was probably mostly down to the fact that McLaren are now ‘engine mates’ with Brawn. They are both part of the Mercedes family.

  93. any comments now anonymouse?

  94. http://premium.f1-live.com/f1/photos-hires/2009/gpshanghai/diapo_624.jpg

    Mclaren have removed the duct tape to reveal a DDD…

    Anyone suprised?

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