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. ‘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’

    1. 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…

    2. Toby Bushby
      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.

  2. @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

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

  3. 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.

    1. Ummm, ditto :)

  4. KingHamilton
    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………..

  5. 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.

    1. Toby Thwaites 93
      15th April 2009, 23:01

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

  6. hello 2004. button for pole in every race.

    1. Yes yes and lets have Lewis Hamilton’s and McLaren’s penalties be handed out at least 24 hrs before each race….yippi

  7. Well if I read correctly, RedBull claimed they sought clarification from Whiting a double decker diffuser, similar to the one the 3 teams are running and were told it was illegal. The interesting thing is Williams got on the idea about the diffuser from an ex-Honda staff. Williams must have known it was legal to proceed with it as definitely Honda had already got the go ahead from the FIA.

    Is it possible the FIA are trying to keep toyota interested in F1 by allowing them some early results?

  8. How separate are the diffusers from the rear crash structure? Is this what is going to take the time, having to have the car re crash tested? I can fully understand Macca keeping their heads down and going with majority until the ruling then whipping a ddd out of their sleeves almost straight away,

  9. So, since all the confusions about the diffusers are cleared today, it’s time to concentrate on racing again. There will be another race at the factories between seven teams that don’t have DDD and It will be interesting to see who will bring their new car first. But one thing which is obvious is when everybody has DDD and KERS, there will be no difference in overtaking to last year. Cars will have more downforce and corner speeds and all the regulation changes that have been made on behalf of overtaking will be wasted.

  10. @Scott Joslin.

    Read what Coulthard says about F1 truth & lies. He says that as a driver, you go into the stewards office only when you get summoned there, and when you’re there your only thought is to limit any damage the stewards can do to you and your team. Truth and lies don’t come into it. You say whatever produces the best result. This rule applies to all drivers, team leaders, mechanics, everybody in the team.

    In fact, they behave just like most of the rest of the human race.

  11. I’m not quite sure where we collectively are coming from. This type of situation is just pure F1. Over the years disputes over designs, some teams evolving technical superiority over others. Front runners dropping to the back, independents coming to the fore.

    Psychological & intellectual warfare with team managers, technical directors, engineers & drivers all having a go at each other for all the right and all the wrong reasons. Pure passion.

    The life blood of F1 – a fusion of politics, business, engineering & people management skills like no other sport I can think of. All topped of with sublime driving skill once they hit the track.

    I absolutely love it.

  12. Banning the diffuser on grounds of safety doesn’t make sense at all. I’m sure F1 cars can go 3 seconds a lap faster maximum with no fears of safety. It’s not the first time that drivers these days say that an F1 car is one of the safest things on Earth.

    The FIA was wrong in introducing these rules to slower cars and THEN, to aid overtaking. F1 cars should be allowed to go faster and this will naturally result in more over takings. What the FIA did well though is remove those body work appendages to the cars. It’s still a little way off succeeding though.

    If Ferrari argued that the diffuser breached the spirit of the rules, why were they the first team to present a car with aerofoils around the side pods and the winglets on the front wing? I’m sure no F1 fan welcomed these, especially the aerofoils on the side pods. I was quite shocked when I saw the images because I thought that these were things of the past.

  13. @Leon
    you remember spygate 2007. Its surprising that one never heard any of the other teams condemning the Mclaren supposed possession of the Ferrari designs, apart from Ferrari itself.

    1. Not supposed, a document was indeed found in possession of Mike Coughlan, with detailed engineering specs of the F248. I think this was the model number for the car in that year. Why the other teams didn’t make a noise about the same, is beyond me.

      Yes, as someone pointed it out earlier, people move to different companies with information in their heads. Companies try to protect their interests by asking them to not take up work immediately with any competing company. That’s what most companies do. However, no one asks for entire, ahem, design document(s)/ blu-print to a rival companies car, or for that matter, any other product(s)/ service(s).

      I found it rather weird that no one else cried foul. They should have had. All companies try to protect their IP’s (over)zealously. They spend considerable amount of time and effort acquiring the same, so it is also understandable.

      You would not, ever find someone crying foul against Sir Williams and his team. Think why and you’ll have your answer, as to what McLaren gets wrong every single time.

  14. i totally agree with SYM the most interesting racing has been down the field webber,kimi,alonso,vettel etc thats what bbc covered mostly in sepang button was just running away with it ala schumi 2004.So whats been achieved nought, brawn will dominate maybe challenged by toyota until the others get and refine the packages.We could have the scenario that the championship is decided halfway through the season then those teams never win or placed in the top five again and as for over taking Sym is correct thats over the only cars overtaking will be the kers cars on the straights.

    1. Toby Bushby
      16th April 2009, 2:19

      Sean, I think that the most overtaking has been achieved down the field for as long as cars have been racing. What’s good about this season is that it’s happening more often! And it IS happening at the front too. Rosberg went from fourth to first off the start in Malaysia, and with Alonso’s great start, the first few laps at Sepang were overtaking heaven! What’s with all the complaining?

      If Button gets every pole and every win this season, then yes, it’ll be a bit boring. But at least it’s not Ferrari or McLaren doing it, or going win for win. Now that’s what I’m sick of…..

  15. That was stupid of me, I was just replying to someone else who suggested that saying that would be easier! Also, it was a badly placed dig at people who veer off topic, usually towards something to do with Lewis Hamilton. Sorry. It won’t happen again.

  16. pSyrng –
    That’s gotta be one of the best posts I’ve read so far…spot on!

    This is part and parcel of F1, it has been the same over the years with ground effect, turbochargers, wings, sidepods, V8 vs V12…The FIA and the court simply could not have ruled DDD’s illegal!

    The non-DDD gang will catch up, with other little tricks and tweaks, KERS and so on. What does bother me is that the implementation of a new diffuser is mighty tricky. You don’t just bolt a new one on. There’s a whole raft of handling, balance and aero characteristics to take into account. I do suspect that the other teams have done a lot of work already on DDD’s, it’s going to be very interesting indeed to see if Brawn can keep the others at bay. It is quite amazing!

    I’d love to see Ferrari catch up, but I also think with their lawyer Tozzi making so much noise against DDD’s it shows that the Maranello boys are in quite a bit of trouble.

    Shanghai in a couple of days; I think were are in for a memorable season folks!

    1. The FIA and the court simply could not have ruled DDD’s illegal!

      Except they have ruled loads of developments that existed in similar gray areas of the regulations: McLaren’s independent rear brake in 1997/8, Michelin’s tyres in 2003, Renault’s mass damper in 2006

  17. For the first time in about 2 years; i actually fully support the FIA’s decision. Hey Brawn, Williams, and Toyota were just hell of alot cleverer than the big guns at Ferrari, McLaren, and Renault. So the big guns got cot so off guard they’re freakin out. As a Ferrari fan I will say that Ferrari really are not wanting to admit to their mistakes. They dont want to say that the “almighty” Scuderia Ferrari were not clever enough to read through the regulations a few more times and think “Hey lets try this”. I do hope that the damn FIA will just drop the “Lie-gate” scandal. There have been millions of times that the other teams have been caught lying to the stewards. So why is this time so damn bad.

  18. The thing that would annoy me about this, were I a technical director or team owner/principal is that several teams, most notably Red Bull and Renault, sought clarification regarding a DDD and were told it would be illegal. However you then have Ross Brawn stating he told the OWG that the wording was loose and could lead to just this sort of thing happening in ’09. The wording is not cleaned up and as a result three teams start the year with a diffuser design that seems to the others to not be legal.

    So long as the racing is still good with DDD then run with them. If it suffers, ban them from 2010 onwards

  19. Leon, how would you rate Schumacher, Coulthard, and Hamilton as men? Fight the good fight and don’t shrink in the face of self serving bad behaviour.

  20. Great topic Keith!

    I think that this was the right decision by the FIA. had the DDDs been banned, F1’s (and the the FIA’s) reputation would probably have been sullied even more for allowing such a gaff in the rules especially two races in (though you could argue the converse and say that they should have clarified this much earlier). Plus as Brawn GP has won the hearts and minds of many, I’m sure many fans would have been ready to riot if their championship points were void.

    However, I am particularly interested in what Renault (and I read somewhere on here, Ferrari) had said about approaching the FIA about their own DDDs sometime ago and they were deemed illegal. I wonder what made them different from the ones that were determined legal today. If Renault and Ferrari’s designs would have been considered legal according the most current ruling, then we have some seriously troubling disconformity going on here.

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