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

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)

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

  1. Dougie said on 15th April 2009, 14:48

    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.

  2. Stoo said on 15th April 2009, 14:59

    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!

    • 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 ?

    • Ben said on 16th April 2009, 1:19

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

  3. Choltz said on 15th April 2009, 15:10

    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.

    • DGR-F1 said on 15th April 2009, 16:05

      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?

  4. Alex-Ctba said on 15th April 2009, 15:15

    Great News !!

  5. Scott Joslin said on 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.

  6. iBlaze said on 15th April 2009, 15:22

    As an optimist, I don’t think this ruling will create less overtaking once all the teams have fitted their new diffusers. We’ve already seen the diffuser cars running just as closely as the non-diffuser cars in the first 2 races. Rosberg vs Barrichello vs Raikkonen in Melbourne comes to mind.

  7. I don’t think this is a case of the FIA drawing out the process. This is just the system of appeal. It is of no fault of the FIA if they say “That diffuser is legal”, and the other teams say “could you say that again louder please?”

  8. kurtosis said on 15th April 2009, 15:42


    You may be right. You have to remember though that RAI was on fast-degrading softer compound tires – so that particular example (ROS, BAR, RAI) isn’t much to go by if we’re trying to estimate the impact on overtaking.

  9. matt said on 15th April 2009, 15:45

    “its not a huge surprise that yet again the FIA support anything predominately british based. the fact that the diffuser does not comply with the rules is irrelevant”

    This was a comment I just read on another site. The ridiculousness annoys me quite a bit. Someone who is very obviously bitter towards Britain ignores the fact that one of teams involved was Japanese, one was Japanese owned onaly last year, one of the opposing teams was British and nationality doesn’t matter that much anyway, as quite a lot of F1 parts/expertise/r&d/etc. seem to come from Britain regardless of where the teams’ headquarters are.

    And the diffuser clearly did comply, otherwise it wouldn’t have been ruled as legal and teams opposing it wouldn’t have started making their own versions weeks ago. That shows that those teams knew it was legal, their only problem with it was that they failed to spot the loophole themselves and as a result have damaged pride in their engineering capability and lost performance at the beginning of the season.

    • Mussolini's Pet Cat said on 15th April 2009, 16:10

      Yeah, it’s a bit rich considering all the help Ferrari were given by the FIA to beat Hamilton (Brit) & Mclaren (Brit team!) last year…

    • Wesley said on 15th April 2009, 17:57

      @ matt
      I knew the moment I read that quote who wrote it and on what website….don’t let that guy get to you,he is very anti-brit and ignorant.Stay on Keith’s website if you want intelligent conversation and posts.

      Glad this diffuser thing is sorted….now on to “liargate” and maybe after that,some RACING!

    • matt said on 15th April 2009, 18:25

      yeah liargate will be even more fun I expect. Can’t wait. I hope that will be it for the rest of the season. Probably just wishful thinking. Oh well, on to China!

  10. Toby Thwaites 93 said on 15th April 2009, 15:48

    Apparently Ferrari and Redbull will have alot of trouble with a new diffuser because of the arrangement of main parts near the rear of the car, which they will have to completly rearrange and move them around to achieve a “double decker” diffuser
    BMW on the other hand are already very far in development of their diffuser.
    In my opinion it will make the racing even more competitive :)

    • Mussolini's Pet Cat said on 15th April 2009, 16:07

      I’m not totally convinced that the diffusers are the be all end all of Brawn’s (et al) speed. I’m sure it’s helping, but dont forget, Red Bull, sans conplex diffuser, aren’t exactly that far of the pace.

  11. carl said on 15th April 2009, 15:56

    Why dont we hear anything on this from McLaren? Have they started devloping a new diffuser.
    Suppose they are just keeping quiet and low profile for the time being. Afraid to say anything.

  12. Alex-Ctba said on 15th April 2009, 16:04

    …or Barrichello…

  13. David (Brazil) said on 15th April 2009, 16:10

    I’m going to stick my neck out and say this gives Hamilton (and maybe Alonso) a good chance of fighting for the WDC, presuming, as seems likely, that McLaren (and Renault) have a diffuser lined up and McLaren don’t get utterly pasted by FIA at the mega-lie, punishable-by-whipping, scandal hearings. If they strike lucky, their own diffusers should push them close enough to Brawn to make the KERS bonus count. Should be interesting. As for Ferrari, their own KERS problems plus the need to develop a diffuser, plus internal mayhem, could be difficult to surmount. BMW will be up there too I guess.

    • Matt said on 15th April 2009, 17:27

      Mclaren’s diffuser had gaffer tape holding a blanking plate (presumably to cover a rear facing hole (a la brawn) during the first two GP’s. Expect a hole in the MP4-24 this weekend at least…there’s a reason why they didn’t speak at the hearing…

    • David (Brazil) said on 15th April 2009, 17:50

      Matt – Yep, I’m half-expecting an immediate surprise package from McLaren too.

  14. PLEASE BAN DIFFUSERS said on 15th April 2009, 16:10

    I’m sure we’ll some serious speed,serious injuries,serious deaths. I would caution vettel & webber against racing, that red bull looks overly radical. Not to mention the presence of Dr death adrian newey. Its going to be a repeat of 1994 i’m dead sure,we’ll see some horrific deaths. The cars are not safe enough thats all i can say. If i were to be the parent of one of these drivers, i would immediately withdraw their superlicences. I’ve a feeling that silverstone could witness its 1st death in decades. I just hope it does’nt happen. Plz ban diffusers. Max u r a idiot.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th April 2009, 18:52

      You are aware all the cars have diffusers, right? What we’re talking about is some cars having different diffusers to other cars.

      Red Bull don’t have the double decker diffusers, so your comments about Newey are ignorant, as well as cruel and verging on libellous.

      I don’t think a technology that gives a potential speed advantage estimated at 0.5-1 second per lap merits anything like this sort of hysterical over-reaction. Even with double-decker diffusers the cars are barely any quicker than they were last year: 2009 F1 cars quicker than in 2008

    • You’re a very serious young man aren’t you Keith..

  15. Kutigz said on 15th April 2009, 16:13

    I’m an ardent Mclaren fanatic & i’m quite sure the team is working hard at its workshop to catch up with the brawn fellas. I trust & know they have been quitely developing replacement diffusers for the MP4. It might not be so soon but will definately be a sure thing when F1 comes to europe. Watch out!!

    • S Hughes said on 15th April 2009, 16:21

      Yes, but if the FiA sees McLaren have their car developed so they have a crack at the championship, they will probably disqualify the whole team for 2009. This is the crap that McLaren have to work with. Should they delay their development until after 29/4/09 and risk losing more points or go for it. Whatever happens, McLaren will be penalised. I so wish McLaren were one of the diffuser teams as the diffusers would surely be banned by now if that were the case.

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