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. Whatever the decision was – it’s a joke – as you very well put it in the introduction… so much time to solve these issues. Can’t those guy get their a**es out of their big chairs a hold more than a meeting a mouth? It’s ridiculous… I’ve never seen a season (only 2 races done) with some many problems OUTSIDE the track as this one and if we see them right – there is only one guilty party – FIA. It’s not an organization – it’s a joke. If this is allowed to go on, I’m looking at more teams joining Honda… in the stands… and then Bernie will have a grid like that Indianapolis GP with 6 cars, or better 2 cars and 4 carriages…

    Please Somebody STOP these guys! Because you’ll know – more is to come this week, next week, and so on… Now they know they can do whatever they want and no team, no team association, to driver’s association, NOBODY can stand to them… It’s like the mob… and when they choose a target, it goes down, whatever it takes… There’s a lot of money involved and a lot of it going into many private accounts of all those guys in charge… so they want to keep it that way… all the way… We, the audience, are monkeys to buy tickets, merchandising, pay closed signal channels to see the circus at home… (I still remember when Bernie stood up against that all in all countries, the channel with the rights to transmit F1 could only be an open signal channel… Well times change and money talks loud…

  2. quite right Mig.Golf ferrari, bmw,mclaren,renault,red bull, will be pouring basicaly the same amount as brawn will spend in a season into catching them, thats good economics in these depressed times and at which point do they say thats it we cant justify this see ya.

  3. Well, as the 2009 Mclaren and Ferrari cars seem to be CARP, maybe this will help.

    Once they have got the DDD’s they should be at least a bit quicker than they are now.

  4. @mesut
    Renault has already issued a statement that they would be ready with the diffusers by Spanish GP..then it would be a even playing field for all the teams

  5. Prisoner Monkeys
    16th April 2009, 3:13

    I think a lot of the criticism being levelled at the FIA is undeserved. It seems a lot of people are attacking them over the verdict not because of this indivdual case, but because of decisions in the past that have been perceived as being specious, biased and outright wrong; it’s strange given that the poll a few days ago showed so much support for the diffusers being declared legal. Perhaps ‘support’ is the wrong word, though. It was really just a poll as to whether or not you thought the diffusers would be legalised, not whether you felt it was the right decision to make them legal. But the point I’m trying to make here is that if the FIA had banned the part, stripped Button of his two wins and the other drivers of their results, there would still be people who thought they made the wrong decision and attacked them over it. The FIA has to decide what is best for the sport.

    Regarding Red Bull and Renault, I’d like to see what they were looking at as a potential design when they approached the FIA. As they’re playing the double standards card right now (sometimes I rate Flavio Briatore as being no better than Paul Stoddart), I doubt we’ll see anything any tme soon, but I suspect that while their designs were similar in theory to those created by Brawn, Williams and Toyota, in practice they were still outside the rules.

    Personally, I think the FIA made the right choice, even if the diffusers are technically illegal. They’ve been pushing for the 2009-spec aero regulations for a while now, trying to make the sport more competitive, and new teams are emerging as a force to be reckoned with while the old powerhouses of Ferrari and McLaren are struggling. As a added bonus, you’ve got the story of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, who were all but out of a drive three months ago only to qualify and finish the race one-two in Melbourne. In short, the uncertainty over who would triumph with the new regulations has attracted significant public interest, and the unexpected results of the Brawns has only intensified it. If the FIA banned the diffusers and stripped the team of their results, the backlash would be worse than that over the Spygate fiasco in 2007. Everything the FIA had worked for up until now would count for nothing, and all because a few designers thought outside the box. That’s not to say they deliberately designed an illegal part with the intention of manipulating the sport’s popularity to keep them competitive – doing so would likely result in their bing banned a la Andrea Moda – but rather that if I were the FIA and I had the choice of either cracking down on the underdog for the sake of enforcing the rules or declaring a previously-illegal part to be legal, keeping the results as they stand and then amending the 2010 regulations to prevent it happening again, I know exactly which one I would take.

    Besides, Ferrari, Red Bull, BMW and Renault aren’t the innocent bystanders who suffer because of the evil designers at Brawn, Williams and Toyota that they make themselves out to be. This whole “Spirit of the Rules” thing is a kick in the pants at best: there’s no way their protests were lodged out of a purely altruistic sense as they implied. All four teams stood to gain something if the Diffuser Club had their parts banned. I was shocked at the nerve of Ferrari’s QC when he accused Brawn of supreme arrogance given that this was the team who prosecuted the competitive McLaren in 2007 for possession of technical documents when they took no action against an uncompetitve Toyota hen their staff were found to have Ferrari data a few years previously.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys: I think your absolutly spot on here about if the diffusers were banned-it would have been a travesty on many levels. It definatly seems like there was a careful cost-benefit analysis in weighing their decision, even if the diffusers were illegal, at this point the FIA had much to lose by banning them.

      I posted before also wondering about the teams who approached the FIA earlier about their DDDs. They very well could have been more clearly in violation of the rules than Brawn and co. We cant know this now. Also, unfortunatly, I do not know when this all happened, but I wonder if timing had anything to do with this decision? Maybe if these teams approached the FIA again, in light of the recent ruling, their designs would not be be rejected. Anyway just some thoughts. It would be very interesting to see those designs, and find out exactly what had happened there!

  6. Thank you, Now can we get thought the year with out anymore of this political stuff and go racing.

  7. Could this decision doom F1?

    Think about it, in the middle of a global financial crisis almost all of the teams will have to spend up massively to get back on an even footing with the diffuser three. Not only that, but Renault, Ferrari and McLaren (the teams that bring in the most money for the sport) will be underperforming for the whole year. This could give sponsors an easy excuse to bail out.

    Force India is basically screwed for the whole season.

    Next year they will probably close the loophole for safety reasons, so all the spending on diffusers will be wasted and budgets to redevelop the cars will have been slashed to ridiculously low levels because of the ’09 spending.

    I think this is very bad for F1 teams’ finances.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      16th April 2009, 8:43

      The doom of F1?

      Yeah, right. That’s a little dramatic, don’t you think?

      Just think for a minute: firstly, the teams would have set aside a portion of their budget for developing the car. Just because there is a ban on mid-season testing this year doesn’t mean the designers won’t be coming up with new stuff to make the cars perform better. Those teams without a double diffuser will just have to allocate a part of that upgrades budget to making their own double diffusers. The worst that happens is that the likes of Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault won’t be able to develop other parts of the car – or at the very least scale it back slightly – but the overall effect it is likely to have it minimal.

      Secondly, banning the diffusers and stripping Brawn, Toyota and Williams of their results is far more likely to kill the sport, and much faster, too because of the public backlash over it. Formula One is more popular than it has been in years, and with the rags-to-riches story that is Brawn GP, more and more people are taking an interest in it. To deny them of that would see the casual fan lose interest, and the fact that the results were changed a month later following a protest from Ferrari – everyone’s favourite punching bag – would see even the long-standing fans walk away.

      To suggest that this decision spells the death of F1 is hyperbole at best.

  8. I think it F1technical where I saw a report that Force India already had a DD diffuser being tested pre-season.

  9. but teams are trying to save money max’s said the sport can’t survive at the present spending level’s must save money staff are made redundant.BMW and FERRARI have now said that they will have to spend millions RED BULL will have a totally new car at monaco how is this saving money already the RED BULL car is very fast and you can be sure that FERRARI,BMW,MCLAREN and RENAULT will be steaming shame the championship will the max and bernie will outlaw these aerodynamic aids as there was no overtaking in the latter half of the season dont think merc will be selling there kers system to brawn so they will be back of the field.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      16th April 2009, 10:39

      Okay, so Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault and co. have to spend millions of dollars redeveloping their cars. What’s the alternative?

      Brawn have been severely downsized following Honda’s withdrawal; despite their successes, they were forced to offer redundancy payouts to a lot of their staff.

      Williams are losing sponsors left, right and centre. Lenovo have withdrawn, while Hamley’s and My Diamonds followed suit after 2008. RBS is gone courtesy of the recession. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team is near bankrupt.

      Toyota have been constantly under the threat of being withdrawn by the Powers That Be in Tokyo unless they start to perform.

      In short, banning the diffusers would jeopardise THREE entire teams. Richard Branson’s money can’t keep Brawn afloat forever. Frank Williams needs sponsors, and soon; to get that, they need results and they need them now. If Toyota loses is newly-found competitiveness, the plug will be pulled. If just ONE team is out, the terms of the Concorde Agreement are violated, though there may be provisions made for the remainder of the season. If all three were to go, Formula One might not recover. Suggesting that Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault are hard done-by because they’ll have to fork out a little bit extra – and as a part of their yearly budget undoubtedly accomodates upgrading the car, they’re hardly going to be pinching pennies – is like Aaron Spelling’s wife complaining tat she was forced to downgrade from an eighty-million dollar home to a twenty-million dollar one. Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault can AFFORD to spend a little extra in redesigning their cars. The simple fact is that Brawn, Williams and Toyota CAN’T. Not without jeopardising the entire future of Formula One. You seem to have forgotten that while Max wants costs to come down, the teams currently running diffusers would have had to spend money – money they would be hard-pressed to come up with – to redesign their cars. It wouldn’t have been as much as Ferrari, Red Bull and Renult will have to spend, but nor is it a case of taking one diffuser out and sticking another one in.

  10. For sure the diffuser loophole will be closed next year in 2010.

  11. I think FIA is struggling to minimize damages as a result of her own incompetence(or may be its just pure chaos in there). Their thinking is the damages could be much bigger had they ruled against DDD.

  12. David (Brazil)
    16th April 2009, 14:20

    A point I can’t find made anywhere: isn’t there something a bit dubious about Ross Brawn being director of FOTA’s technical working group, which drew up specs for reducing aerodynamics/downforce for F1 this season, then being the guy who ‘circumvents’ these specs?

    Apologies if I’ve got that wrong. Kind of seems odd that someone in charge of drafting the technical rules then – in a stroke of brilliance – immediately knows how he’s going to bend them…

    1. David (Brazil)
      16th April 2009, 14:23

      I should point out this was the observation made by Celso Itiberê, a Brazilian F1 journalist, in today’s Globo.

    2. Yeah, its the same Ross Brawn that as director of FOTA’s technical working group offered to close a lot of loopholes and clean up the FIA regulations. It was this offer to circumvent this exact situation we find ourselves in now, that Ross Brawn laid on the table last year, that the teams (now throwing their toys out the pram because Ross did not stick to the “spirit of the rules”) rejected. Probably because they all greedily saw an opportunity to get one up on their rivals.

      Who has the last laugh now? Enjoy Ross, you got one over the establishment, and I for one applaud you for that big time!!

      Nice one!

    3. David (Brazil)
      16th April 2009, 19:02

      Dougie – I’ve tried to track down material on the internet about what was discussed by this working group last year, so far no luck: any links?

  13. Ferrari have come out of diffusergate very badly. They accuse Brawn of supreme arrogance- the man that led their renaissance. They say Charlie Whiting is embarrassed and out of his depth as hes not an engineer – he was chief mechanic at Brabham. They squeal that the changes will cost too much money, ha! how much is their budget compared to say Williams..anyone bar Mclaren? Their car is a dog, their no 1 driver is disinterested and their lawyers loud mouthed spivs.

    A strong Ferrari is great for F1 but a weak one is more amusing.

    1. @David, within seconds I’ve found this article that I’d never seen before… am sure I can find loads more to support it, but we both know I don’t need to bother.

    2. David (Brazil)
      17th April 2009, 1:44


      Cheers; it was a genuine request, though, I wasn’t asking you to back up your point, just wanting to know more. Brawn’s position is fairly clear:

      If I’m frank I didn’t say ‘look we are going to do this diffuser if you don’t accept this rule’ because I’m not going to tell people what we’re doing, but I explained that I felt that we should have a different set of rules to simplify what needs to be done. I offered them and they were rejected, so my conscience is very clear. […] For sure there are periods when I am very happy to say what is good for Formula 1 and that is the period a year to 18 months before you start doing a car. What’s the best thing to do?.

      Read carefully and Brawn’s admitting that his actions were determined by the difference between what’s best for F1 and what’s best for a particular team. The point is that his position as director of the F1 technical group was obviously to judge what was best for F1 – improving overtaking/F1 as a spectator sport, reducing costs, clarifying rules, whatever – yet he was already anticipating his team interests (understandbly for sure). But the question is whether he fulfilled the first role appropriately. Personally I’m not bothered if he tricked/got one over on his rivals, but it leads me to think (following Brawn’s own rationale) that the double-deck diffuser won’t necessarily be good for F1 – at least eventually, when all the teams use it. Though it is good right now in terms of spicing up competition by skewing the pitch – which is presumably one of the reasons why FIA/MM/BE like it.

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