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. Kutigz said on 15th April 2009, 16:32

    Quite in agreement Huges. I believe the FiA picks easily at Mclaren on every litle wrong (?) step. But who blames them…Da Mc are simply the team of envy! I just miss so much of Dennis…i have this innate feeling the team feels so much unsecured with him not around!
    Remeber the Renault case? They were forced to remove their diffusers…but i cant remember them loosing no point!
    My strong point here is a feeling that the FiA is dying to have a new team (?) win the championship!

    • S Hughes said on 15th April 2009, 16:47

      Yes Kutigz. That is quite obvious. I don’t think some F1 followers have quite got the hang of how it works yet, because it is so simplistic you see. Anything that McLaren or Lewis touch is to be judged harshly, penalised or disqualified. That’s it, period. This year the FIA want Brawn/Button to win and they probably will looking at how things are going. Last year the FIA did everything they possibly could to get Ferrari/Massa to win, and they just failed on the last corner of the last race. This year, they are going to make sure McLaren/Lewis don’t win from the outset of the championship, so there’s no doubt by the time we reach Abu Dhabi. Simple really!

    • Scott Joslin said on 15th April 2009, 17:12

      Guys, if Mclaren hadn’t lied in the first place they would not be in this situations to be judged by the FIA.

      If it had been open at the investigation last year in to the Ferrari documents and also told the truth at the stewards meeting on Australia then they would not be meeting the FIA again to be punished.

      It’s not as if the FIA are laying this little traps to catch them in – Mclaren are slightly inept at managing the raw competitive nature of their organisation.

      I cannot help but think they certainly don’t to anything the help themselves. Why cannot they just keep their heads down and race without getting in to an funny business, then if they lost they would only have themselves to blame and not have any of the paranoia that fills its team and many fans.

  2. kurtosis said on 15th April 2009, 16:38

    Reading up on the various reactions, it’s increasingly looking like Renault and Ferrari in particular are in deep trouble this season. Renault at least have a driver who is excellent at development. Ferrari not so much.

    Even so, doing a fundamental redesign with a ban on in-season testing (except straight-line) and a forced reduction in wind-tunnel usage means that the development cycle must slow to an absolute crawl.

    In fact, they may be better able to spend efforts on incremental improvements (non-fundamental changes) and get competitive like RBR has done without the DD diffuser. This approach may pay dividends next season if the FIA introduce new regulations to ban this sort of diffuser. So they may want to focus on extracting performance in other areas in spite of having a regular diffuser.

    Of course, BrawnGP and the rest will be doing the same _with_ the DD diffuser, so that brings us back to square one.

    So it’s game over for Ferrari and maybe Renault as far as this season is concerned. I’ll put my neck out and say Ferrari end the season at the bottom third of the constructors championship.

  3. F1Fan said on 15th April 2009, 16:47

    I support FIA’s decision. Let the whining stop and the racing begin, about time we had the first complete race !

    Look out for Barrichello in Shanghai.

  4. Does anyone else feel that if the positions were reversed and it was McLaren/Ferrari/BMW that had come up with the controversial design that they would have been ruled illegal because those teams are so used to having that sort of advantage? Anyway, that being said, LETS RACE! I am excited to see what the other teams come up with now…

  5. Del Boy said on 15th April 2009, 16:53

    a number of points
    1. I think we’ll see McLaren turn up on Friday with the rear of their mark II diffusser cut out!! I’m sure it was designed to be a double deck design in the first place just waiting this decision.
    2. As for Ferrari, BMW, Torro Rosso and to a lesser extent Renault, catching up is going to require a new gearbox design.
    3. Jon Tomlinsonm (Williams) has admitted he gained knowledge about Honda’s diffusser from an ex Honda employee who joined Williams. Well if my memory serves me correctly Stepney and Coughlan did the same back in 2007. I guess because of the engine supply and the required shape of the gearbox, Williams let this slip to Toyota. Hence 3 DDD’s. Another spygate then.
    4. The reason this design is passed as legal is more about the top deck of the difusser being part of the deformable crash structure. Which is what I assume the FIA have confirmed.
    Oh dear what a mess Formula 1 gets its self into.

    • Toby Thwaites 93 said on 15th April 2009, 17:01

      Only ferrari and redbull need new gearbox designs..

    • Kutigz said on 15th April 2009, 17:06

      Not too fast Del, the Mc team i suspect wont cut-out & replace the MP4’s diffuser just yet…the Mc team have got the lie-gate scandal at hand with the Appeals team. They’d probably be on hold till a more comfortable time…wat ya think?

    • Scott Joslin said on 15th April 2009, 17:19

      On Point 3 Del, that is not really like the Stepney and Coughlan situation.

      Both were being paid by rival teams at the time. Key personnel move from team to team all the time and key personnel’s market value to other teams in considered in what knowledge they can bring from other teams.

      For example, does that mean Adrian Newey could not work for Mclaren after working for Williams – after all, he would have known a lot about what made that team successful. It just isn’t the same in my opinion.

  6. antonyob said on 15th April 2009, 17:02

    Engineering loop holes are as much a part of racing as spying and team orders. If i could have one wish it would be that F1 could go back to being a (comparative) minority interest sport. The FIA find it hard to be autocratic these days and the reason is the overwhelming public interest.

    Watching the racing clips on the Jackie Stewart documentary the other night i realised how far we still have to go before the racing is anything like it should be but it is much much better. Carry on FIA, an impossible job.

  7. Dougie said on 15th April 2009, 17:08

    Delboy, again the details are scarce, but I’d imagine regarding your point3 that the employees in question used knowledge gained from memory rather than printing out, photocopying, and passing on the full schematics of the Honda design in question.

    Anyway, having read this Autosport report I wonder why the teams haven’t yet learned to stop clarifying things with someone who obviously is not in a position of authority or of detailed enough knowledge.

    Marko says Red Bull was angered by the decision to approve the three double-decker diffusers because it had already submitted a similar design for approval and had it rejected.

    “What angers us is the fact that we had approached [Charlie] Whiting for a clarification on a diffuser solution like the one in question and we were told it was illegal, therefore we did not pursue it any further though our design team had similar ideas,” said Marko.

  8. donwatters said on 15th April 2009, 17:18

    They’re legal. Really no suprise. Score one for innovative engineering and rule reading/interp. Now let’s see how long it takes for the others to adapt.

  9. Oliver said on 15th April 2009, 17:21

    How does the Double Diffuser make the cars dangerous?
    With the tracks being built lately having run off areas as wide as a small county, the drivers are more in danger of hitting a bird in flight or an errant dog.
    I hear lots of arguments for banning the diffuser, that it makes the cars faster, and I’m talking about readers on here. If the FIA wants the cars to go slower let them run with F3 specs, engine and all. I guess that would satisfy the hunger for slow speed.

  10. Oliver said on 15th April 2009, 17:38

    By the way Keith, I am seriously concerned about the competency of Charlie Whiting. It seems both during races and regarding technical clarifications, he often seems to say one thing and goes on to implement something else.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th April 2009, 18:48

      First the Spa thing and now this, doesn’t look very good at all does it?

      What I want to know is, when Brawn and the other teams asked if their interpretations were legal, who did they ask? Was it Whiting? If so…

  11. ‘diffusers legal”, now there is a shocker folks, who would have predicted that decision ehh!

    Wasn’t this whole thing with ‘rule changes’ supposed to even up the filed a bit and allow for more overtaking.
    I would like to play devils advocate, and here is what i think the broad message that Bernie’s maFIA are sending out these days:

    In my opinion all this rule changing has done is promote 3 teams to the top, where overtaking is almost impossible amongst them, because, ironically enough, of the ‘diffuser’! at the same time creating a pace differential between the diffused and non-diffused cars, farther reducing overtaking opportunities between the top 3 and the rest.

    The only exciting racing and overtaking we’ve seen was amongst the BMWs, Red Bulls, Mclarens, Renaults and Ferraris etc… all the teams that complied with letter of the maFIA rule changes…. the diffuser lot are romping away at the front almost unchallenged and not passing each other either.

    So to remedy this Bernie’s maFIA, rule diffusers legal, thus trumping their own reasons for introducing the rule changes in the 1st place, closer racing and more overtaking, because now the other teams will get diffusers and no one will be able to follow anyone else’s slip stream because the diffusers will not allow this aerodynamically!!!

    Go Figure!

    More importantly, I think, they’ve sent out a message to the teams saying ‘you can work hard over many decades building highly skilled well managed and innovative racing organisations, but unless you have a mate on Bernie and Max’s maFIA who can set you early on in the game down the right path and with a ‘nod and wink’ bend the rules in your favour whilst making your opponents life an utter misery, then you haven’t snow ball’s chance in hell of competing on a level field in this sport’!!

    F1 is most certainly ‘not cricket ol’boy’

    • Maciek said on 15th April 2009, 18:03

      the diffuser lot are romping away at the front almost unchallenged and not passing each other

      well, as far as I remember, so far this season the only driver to complain about aero difficulty in overtaking was Glock after being “stuck” behind Alonso in Australia – which kind of suggests the opposite of what you claim…

    • Toby Bushby said on 16th April 2009, 2:05

      SYM – Didn’t Rosberg overtake a Brawn and a Toyota at the last race? Trulli and Glock both passed Rosberg in Australia, as did Barrichello. Barrichello passed Trulli and Glock in Malaysia too, I think. That sounds to me like a fair bit of overtaking in one and a half races, don’t you think? It seems the only cars that are hard to pass are the ones running KERS, and I’m guessing you support one of these teams, right?

      As I said in a previous comment on this site, possibly the only way that the diffuser ‘enhancements’ could be made illegal is if someone presented evidence that the wake behind the cars with this design made it harder to follow them, and it seems that no conclusive evidence was presented. That makes your argument against these devices inaccurate. I guess we’ll find out more when the full decision is released.

  12. @Maciek
    Perhaps the relative riving abilities of the 2 is a factor in this single example and also fuel loads i think may have been another. Where as I would turn your attention to the many battles in the mid-field, where positions were being swapped several times over a single lap eg Hamilton/Webber, Kubica/Vettel and so on

    • pSynrg said on 16th April 2009, 0:25

      And again, Glock was saying that it was tough to get past Alonso primarily because of KERS.

  13. kurtosis said on 15th April 2009, 18:18

    Glock wasn’t “complaining” about aero difficulties, he was noting that ALO used KERS every time he (Glock) got ALO lined up for a pass.

    We can’t really draw a conclusion on the impact on overtaking just yet. We only know that this goes against _one_ of the OWG’s recommendations.

  14. KingHamilton said on 15th April 2009, 18:26

    brilliant news. thank god the FIA actually got something right for once. Halelula! i am now very pleased that Brawn can continue their superb form, although they’ll need to look behind them soon………..

  15. 3 teams evolved an FIA approved design of diffuser which is alleged to give them a performance advantage though it is yet to be proved how big that advantage is. Vettel led 5 of the 6 cars so equipped in Australia until Kubica who was also not so equipped but safety car enhanced misjudged his overtaking move.
    Ross Brawne says that the diffuser design cannot be held responsible for all of his cars performance. Adrian Neweys Red Bull would appear to confirm that. We have a feast to look forward to.
    None of these technical features have any political connotations. It is sad that Ferrari sent a QC along to a technical meeting to contribute his views on Ross Brawne rather than the subject under discussion. Probaly got right up the stewards noses but I would have hoped that Ferrari owed Brawne more loyalty than that for his part in all the years of success and for Todt’s contribution to his leaving Ferrari.
    Away to the dustbin with politics and QCs let the teams race and outwit each other if they can.

    • Toby Thwaites 93 said on 15th April 2009, 23:01

      I think the whole Kubica vs Vettel thing has already been concluded. It was Vettels fault.
      Plus its Brawn…

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