FIA says Brawn, Williams and Toyota diffusers are legal – what happens next?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Toyota's diffusers have been cleared along with those of Williams and Brawn
Toyota's diffusers have been cleared along with those of Williams and Brawn

Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota will be allowed to continue using their controversial ??double decker? diffusers after the FIA rejected an appeal against them by four other teams.

The verdict was handed down at a meeting of the International Court of Appeal attended by the seven teams involved, plus McLaren. So which of the teams will now equip their cars with the feature? And will there be any more fall-out from the hearing?

The FIA’s procedures are under scrutiny once again. The first concerns about the diffusers were raised in January and it has taken until the middle of April to get a final verdict. In this time they’ve been passed once by the FIA, again by their own stewards, and now by the International Court of Appeal. Did the process need to take so long?

Renault are especially aggrieved at the outcome have claimed during the trial that they approached the FIA when they were designing a similar diffuser to judge if their interpretation of the rules was correct. It ceased development after a discussion with the FIA led it to conclude that such an interpretation of the rules would not be allowed. Were Renault misled, or did they just drop the ball?

Nigel Tozzi, the Ferrari lawyer, also made a very strong representation to the FIA. The veteran of the spygate scandal, is quoted by the Press Association as saying: “The position of the FIA is totally baffling. We urge you to save the FIA from itself.”

Ross Brawn appears magnanimous in victory, issuing a statement saying: “We respect the right of our competitors to query any design or concept used on our cars through the channels available to them.” This is in marked contrast to the hammering he took from Tozzi who branded him “arrogant” during the hearing.

The role of FOTA – the F1 teams’ association – has been the subject of much speculation. Some observers have looked at four teams protesting against the work of three other teams and drawn the conclusion that the FIA allowed the diffuser row to go on so long in the hope of eroding their unity.

The seven teams that are not using the diffuser are now expected to try to integrate it into their cars as soon possible. As the next two events are ??fly away? races in China and Bahrain, this may take some teams until the Spanish Grand Prix next month. This could include Ferrari, who have said it will have to make “fundamental” changes to its F60 to integrate the new design. But there are also rumours that McLaren will have an updated diffuser even sooner for their troublesome MP4/24.

Brawn maintained that the diffuser was not the only reason why they were so much quicker than the opposition. Their performance advantage over Toyota and Williams supports that claim. But will the other teams now be able to get on terms with the BGP001s?

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

126 comments on “FIA says Brawn, Williams and Toyota diffusers are legal – what happens next?”

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  1. Good to hear, I think making them illegal would of caused more problems, especially if they decided to take the points away from the teams. British fans, like myself, would of been horrified.

    Go Button!

    1. what about hamilton

    2. What about him?

    3. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      15th April 2009, 16:00

      What happens next? Simple, Button wins the championship!!!

    4. Has anyone any more info on the Renault case? they maintain that they had a similar device which was deemed illegal, the Renault board could feel strongly about this, they have pulled out before, their loss would be bad news for F1…

  2. We need to get clarity also on how much the new diffusers will impact the ability of the cars to follow closely. The OWG had a specific recommendation to halve the downforce from the diffuser. If this is now not the case, and cars are back to being aero-sensitive while following, will we go backwards with regard to the goal of promoting overtaking?

    Not that 2007 & 2008 weren’t exciting. If this year can throw up that kind of stuff, I’ll be pleased.

    1. I agree; the specific rules regarding the diffusers are silly. They should have had an objective measure, such as the amount of turbulence encountered at a range of distance close enough for streamlining.

      Within the constraint of this, plus the overall dimension of the cars, plus the need for structural integrity, teams should be able to design their cars anyway they want.

    2. @kurtosis:

      I agree; now it seems the OWG’s work has been wasted, and if (I believe) the DDD’s create dirtier air behind them, then all teams will have taken a step backward.

      Even though the cars would be able to go faster, I’m not sure that will compensate for the increase in air turbulence behind cars.

    3. I think most of the turbulent air was actually from the rear wing, by making it narrow and taller they got rid of most of the “dirty” wake (along with the aero appendages). The diffuser was more about making them slower in corners for safety (and also more daring outside lane overtaking moves like Trulli).

    4. If OWG recommended to halve the downforce due to diffusers plus the rear wing had to be reduce its width then where the car is gonna get enough grip to keep the rear stick to the track and avoiding oversteering in medium speed corners?
      You can not regulate the effect of certain devices by simply putting a box as the limiting volume the device can occupy, the sloppy regs wording is unjustifiable nowadays. IF three teams came up with a good solution to increase downforce without breaking the rules then hats off to them. If what the FIA wants is to keep downforce levels below certain value, good for them but to my knowledge that’s almost impossible to enforce so its useless.
      The bottom line here is; FIA must focus on writing and illustrating the regs, keep them simple, clean, no sloppiness. Leave the team engineers to do their job. At the end of the day, variety and good racing is what everyone is looking for.

  3. dave thomson
    15th April 2009, 14:04

    how come they can use them all cars must be the same thats what the FIA say but yet once again one rule for one and one rule for others.
    The FIA need to get to grips as people theses days will loose intrest like they are now.
    People are saying its getting boring and i watch it every year and i have to say its is getting boring.
    cheers toma

  4. Good decision. I think the regulations will be changed at the end of 2009 to make this type of diffuser illegal explicitly. It was a great piece of engineering to find the loophole but they won’t be allowed to keep it in 2010.

  5. would it be possible for the FIA to require all cars, or perhaps designs, to be ready for inspection by a certain date? this way, the FIA can deem the legality of all ideas, and perhaps allow teams to question other teams’ designs, all before the season begins. i for one, am getting tired of all this horse **** going on throughout the season. if it indeed was the goal of the FIA to drive a wedge between the teams, well then, the whole system stinks. get max and bernie out of there.

  6. AnOldFormulaOneFan
    15th April 2009, 14:09

    Well, now, the other teams must rush their already made designs into test and production and adapt them to their cars, improving them, not slowing them down.

    I always bet that this would be their decision, after in 2 GPs the stewards declared the 6 cars legal.

    If FIA vote against them now, we will now have a 4 front war – FIA / FOM / FOTA / Stewards (I know they are nominated my FIA, but still they a strong group of individuals…

    Now the ‘normal’ 3 way war continues – FIA / FOM / FOTA until (I hope) as Keith saw a few days ago – they open their eyes and backup a FIA presidential candidate, so the teams can have, as it would be NORMAL, more saying in all matters in Formula One!

  7. I think it is great how the diffusers are legal now.

    However, if the other teams start to put on diffusers, will that result in a lack of overtaking? or even more?

    Im not trying to be negative here but if these diffusers make the cars go faster then surely this is not making the sport any safer.

    Anyways, if they make better racing, then i’m all for it!

  8. Great news… it’ll not be long until everyone else in the paddock has their own double-deckers (yum yum) and I guess then we’ll see a turn around in the front runners. I hope Brawn are still up there fighting for the lead though.

  9. Thinking back to the Australian GP, Rubens Barrichello lost his rear diffuser, and damaged his front wing, and yet was still able to stay close to the opposition. I’m wondering, could a significant part of Brawn’s speed be in the chassis? Obviously the new aero rules along with the move back to slick tyres has changed the balance of the cars. It must be said also, the Brawn cars just look better than all the others. I would be quite supprised if all the other teams seem to catch up to Brawn with the new diffuser, I suspect Brawn’s dominance is much deeper.

    Personally I’m loving this season so far, visually the cars are following much closer than they have for a long time, and passing much more easily. The long standing dominance of Ferrari and McLaren has been well and truly shaken, and Hamilton has shown that even with an inferior car, he can still drive like a man possessed.

    1. Brawn must be loving it. If the diffusers are legal, his team will be battling mostly Toyota for the world championship (Williams have squandered so many points already, plus they have Nakajima). If the diffusers are illegal, they still have some speed advantage left, and now Toyota and Williams will be splitting the good points with the chasing pack.

    2. Don’t rule out Red Bull yet. If they get a decent DDD on the back of that thing, they’ll be taking the Brawns to the cleaners IMHO.

    3. the Sri lankan
      16th April 2009, 1:21

      yeah people here and in f1 teams have a hard tme realising it’s not just the diffusers that make the difference.

    4. Toby Bushby
      16th April 2009, 1:40

      Michel S. – The diffusers are legal.

      John H – Spot on. Red Bull already have the second fastest car in my opinion, and it’s (once again) absolutely mega in the wet. A beneficial Dx3 will see them pull right alongside the Brawns. Plus, surely they can develop faster than Brawn, even though they can’t match the big spenders.

      Don’t put Button’s name on the Cup just yet! Messrs. Vettel and Webber may have something to say about that.

  10. For once I agree with a decision the FIA have made, although their handling of the whole affair could have been a lot better. Some work colleagues who only follow F1 with what they see on the main news said they don’t know of another sport with so many controversies and court room goings on etc, this has defiantly not done anything to help F1’s image.

    When do next years technical regulations need to be finalised, because I wonder if the FIA will decide to rewrite the rules to close this loophole and the ones which allow those side pod deflectors and barge boards.

    I think these are the sort of areas where the rules will differ if the FIA introduce their budget cap for more technical freedom idea.

    Even with the resources the big teams have, I can’t see them managing to get a new diffuser fully developed and integrated with the rest of their car for quite a few races, especially with the testing ban. Unless Brawn suffer reliability problems or just bad luck they should be able to build a commanding lead in both championships before other teams can match them in terms of performance.

  11. I’m thankful for his decision. The 3 teams in question having their cars deemed illegal after two Grand Prix would NOT have helped Formula One’s public image, which we all know has already been tarnished enough by scandal.

  12. Its the best thing that could have happened to f1. Now we’ve got 2 races.ontrack & offtrack.i.e.all the vastly funded teams like ferrari,mclaren,bmw will be pushing their design teams to the limit. Now that the diffusers have been declared legal, the team that is good at damage limitation is most likely to catch up with brawn mercedes in the latter half of the season. This desicision has imo played into the hands of mclaren. I expect them to be winning races in the latter half. As for ferrari:better luck next time. Italian cry babe.

  13. Good news: a clear ruling has been made.
    Bad news: it took far longer than it should have.

    Can you really imagine this in any other sport? Is there another regulating body in all of sport that would have allowed a season to begin when there were obvious disputes on fundamental sections of the regulations?

    Nigel Tozzi, in all HIS arrogance, was nevertheless right that the FIA needs saving from itself. This a beautiful sport that is being pushed towards ridicule by guys sitting around in a boardroom. This sad saga is all the proof I need to know that if they really go ahead with a budget-based, two-tiered technical regulations system for next year, it will be recipe for nothing but continual litigation and we will see a season decided at hearing, after hearing, after hearing…

    1. Is there another sport that is like Formula 1? No. So imagining this applied to any other sport is utterly irrelevant.
      If you want a totally fixed formula then look elsewhere.

  14. Great News.

    now i think that there will be a few challenges opening up this season.

    wich othe the other two of the original diffuser gang catch up to brawn and challenge them.

    which of the non-diffuser teams will be the first to implement the modification.

    which of the non diffuser teams will match the original diffuser gang’s performance at the top first after having made the modification.

    will Brawn stay ahead now that all the teams can actively pursue development of the diffuser that are said to make them gain so much of an advantage.

    a lot of questions, and this season’s racing looks excellent so far. lets just hope that this modification doesn’t distance the cars as much. but i have a feeling that they wont….

    can’t wait to see what happens….

  15. Well at least we all know where we are going now. There are some more questions that need answering from this:
    If the Brawn cars are still fastest after everyone else fits the DDD, will there be more appeals?
    Renault have said that to include the DDD into the car will require a major rework of the whole aero package, they might be able to afford such a thing, but what about Force India? Are the poorer teams going to be penalised just for being poorer?
    Is the FIA going to send inspectors to the factories to check how much wind tunnel and test-track time is used to develop the DDDs?

    1. F.India might be able to get one from McLaren (similar to how Sauber once ran a complete Ferrari backend, IIRC?); they are already using the engine and gearbox after all.

      Mind you, that’s not as much an advantage as it would normally be, given how much they’re struggling so far.

  16. I think ultimately this is the best result for the “face” of F1, though I wonder what diffusers (double/triple/quadruple etc etc) we’ll see on the back of these cars in the coming races. In the end anyway I don’t see them using them for long, in that the FIA will close the loophole in the regulations for coming years.

    As for Renault, we don’t know what exact diffuser design they came up with, in the detail their diffuser may well have been illegal… we don’t know, and obviously Renault are not going to be open about that.

  17. As for if this season is more exciting with the aero changes etc… damn right it is. With the intro of KERS being used to attack and defend, and the wheel to wheel racing we’ve seen so far, this promises to be a good season for some decent racing!

    Roll on the weekend!

    1. Don’t forget that Brawn are still not running KERS. Their advantage will be chipped away race by race. I agree this may play into the hands of renault and Mclaren. Let’s hope the FIA wants to avoid more trouble and doesn’t penalize Mclaren and Hamilton. Could Mclaren survive another constructor’s ban ?

    2. McLaren won’t get penalised if they don’t do something wrong. Thats the easy solution. They do bring this upon themselves.

  18. I am happy about the outcome, but this issue shows there is a huge problem with the FIA, certainly if Renaults claim that they were told it wasn’t legal while others were told it was (But as Dougie points out, it could have been slightly different, enough to make it illegal). If anything, however, the FIA should be charged with bringing the sport into disrepute over this and the Hamilton saga.

    Also, I think Ferrari should be embarrassed of the behavior of their lawyer Nigel Tozzi. Brawn acted like a grown up, and Ferrari continues to act like a bunch of children. As upset as they may be, both sides had valid points in this situation, there was no reason for name calling, certainly from someone in the sport as insignificant as a lawyer.

    1. I think Ferrari are annoyed as a statement from them on the FOM site says that they also consulted the FIA during development and were told that their DDD was illegal.
      As per the comment about Renault’s argument, it may well be that Ferrari didn’t make it compliant, but we will never know.
      I wonder if all the teams consulted the same FIA technical person about this, since thay all seemed to get different answers, or if the legality of a car being designed and built is down to the interpretation of the rules by the local FIA representative?

  19. Great News !!

  20. Scott Joslin
    15th April 2009, 15:17

    I think it will be interesting to see if the FIA moves to change the rules on the diffusers for next year.

    As Keith has already pointed out that the cars with these D.D.D’s are almost or as fast as last year, so with another year of development these cars are going to be even quicker and more dangerous.

    If the FIA moves to change the rules on the diffusers it will prove that they have failed to manage the situation and have made this decision to reflect better on them than the good of the sport – eeek I am starting to sound like the Ferrari lawyer!:)

    I hope the FIA come out and explain exactly why they are legal so we all can see where Brawn, Toyota and Williams where correct and why the others were wrong.

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