FIA offers to drop diffuser restrictions

2011 British Grand Prix

Jenson Button, McLaren, Silverstone, 2011

Jenson Button, McLaren, Silverstone, 2011

The FIA has offered to remove the restrictions on exhaust-blown diffusers from the German Grand Prix.

A statement released on Saturday afternoon said: “The measures which were communicated to the teams this morning by the FIA Technical Department stand for the rest of the weekend.

“During Saturday morning?s Extraordinary Technical Working Group meeting, the members discussed the viability of returning to the pre-Silverstone set-ups and strategies.

“If the teams are in unanimous agreement, the FIA is prepared to adopt this arrangement until the end of the current season.”

The British Grand Prix weekend has been marred by arguments over new restrictions on exhaust-blown diffusers.

The FIA tried to restrict teams to using no more than 10% of the throttle, when the driver is off-throttle, to blow air into the diffuser.

Charlie Whiting had allowed teams some exceptions from the rules which were then rescinded this morning. Red Bull’s Christian Horner said the new limits put them at a “disadvantage”.

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119 comments on FIA offers to drop diffuser restrictions

  1. VXR said on 9th July 2011, 20:30

    I think that it should be realised that none of this would be happening if the FIA didn’t think that there would be a very big possibility of another team protesting off throttle blown diffusers at either this race or at a later date. So, in a sense, the FIA are trying to save F1 from an even more embarrassing situation. They have now put it in the teams court to sort it out amongst themselves by having them agree, unanimously, to keep the pre-Silverstone rules. But I can’t see Turkeys voting for Christmas tbh.

    • BBT (@bbt) said on 9th July 2011, 20:50

      the FIA are trying to save F1 from an even more embarrassing situation.

      Seriously you should be a stand-up, that is so funny. You can’t get a more ridiculous situation than the farce this weekend. That’s like like trying to save someone from breaking their leg in the future by shooting them in the head today. Really a team protesting, maybe in the future, was best avoided by a farce this weekend… think again.

  2. TED BELL said on 9th July 2011, 20:31

    The sum of all of this controversy is nothing but “good PR ” for Formula One. With the advantage that Red Bull has had so far this season F1 in general has become stale. I personally like it when any singular team figures out what it takes to be better than the rest. I suggest that more tires per weekend are needed and that the DRS system be open to allow any driver to use it to his advantage at anytime during a race weekend. If a designer is clever enough to create a competitive edge over his rivals and it remains within the boundry of rules established by the FIA at the start of a season then more power to the clever guy. Send a box of tissues to all the crybaby teams and point to Red Bull and tell them “this is how it is done”.

  3. Trenthamfolk (@trenthamfolk) said on 9th July 2011, 20:56

    Hmmm… Jean Todt… Hmmmm… Ferrari are the only team not to be running the blown diffuser (Quote Eddie Jordan)… They didn’t ban the f-duct half way through last season so why ban this system all of a sudden?

    “Fernando is faster than you…”

    Cheats… In my opinion, of course (for the crazies out there).

  4. VXR said on 9th July 2011, 20:57

    Really a team protesting, maybe in the future, was best avoided by a farce this weekend… think again.

    So you seriously think that what is happening this weekend is more ridiculous than than having more than half of the grid being disqualified from the race results at some point in the season ahead?

    Do me a favour, Sherlock!

    • BBT (@bbt) said on 9th July 2011, 21:10

      That won’t and can’t happen, the results up to this point stand no matter what teams protest. They can protest this weekend or a future race but that is it.

      Yes this weekend is more ridiculous than a possible future event because it has happened and the said future event will not happen or is extremely unlikely, who would do a crazy thing like this weekend to avoid an improbably situation in the future that wouldn’t be any more of a farce.
      Anyway a protest in the future would not be embarrassing, why would it? Teams have been disqualified before and it wasn’t embarrassing for the FIA.

      Regards, Sherlock.

      • VXR said on 9th July 2011, 23:26

        That won’t and can’t happen, the results up to this point stand no matter what teams protest. They can protest this weekend or a future race but that is it.

        No one said that the results up until a protest happens, don’t count.

        Anyway a protest in the future would not be embarrassing, why would it?

        Oh really! Seriously!? I hope Hamilton don’t win that race, because this place will go into meltdown!

        Teams have been disqualified before and it wasn’t embarrassing for the FIA.

        When was the last time you can remember more than half of the teams not scoring points in a GP? P.S. You don’t need to think too hard.

    • DaveW said on 9th July 2011, 21:33

      Furthermore, the current solution does not remove the potential for protest because the solution does not stop blowing of diffusers. None of the teams liable to protest were even involved in discussions about whether and what Renault and McLaren got to do with their cars.

      • Don M. said on 9th July 2011, 23:22

        the current solution does not remove the potential for protest

        Yes it does because if all the teams agree then none of them can protest. If the teams don’t agree the system remains banned and again there will be no protest.

        The FIA has handled a difficult situation in the best way it could. It has bent over backwards to make sure this issue hasn’t resulted in post-race disqualifications.

        The FIA isn’t making a mid-season rule change, it is enforcing the rules that were in place. To prevent teams from protesting the blown diffuser systems the FIA asked for time for them to be removed. Now is the time for them to be removed, unless all the teams agree and therefore remove the risk of protests and disqualifications.

        • DaveW said on 10th July 2011, 1:25

          If all of the probable protesters were inclined to agree to blowing then there wouldn’t have been a potential-protest issue in the first place. So we are just at square one again. Except now the protest-prone should be emboldened: Why should say, Williams, agree to anything when they can just say, RBR, if you turn up in Germany blowing we will protest. Espeically now that they know that Renault and Mercedes apparently must blow for reliabilty, a fact apparently not public-info until today.

          • Don M. said on 10th July 2011, 11:43

            You’re missing the point.

            Either A: The only ‘blowing’ left will have been specifically allowed. There will be no point in protesting if it is specifically allowed.

            Or B: The teams will agree that ‘blowing’ isn’t illegal and again there won’t be any point in protesting.

            There will be no grounds for protest in either case. The problem will have been sorted.

  5. David said on 9th July 2011, 21:26

    If FIA is serious about making F1 competitive throughout the season, just require the lead teams to add lead weights to slow them down as the season progresses. To change the rules in mid-season is a clumsy, ham-handed way to keep from crowning a champion too soon.

  6. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 9th July 2011, 22:46

    Interesting! But perhaps sensible. This should have waited until the end of the season.

    However, I don’t believe it was an attempt to bring RBR down a peg or two. Anyone who follows the sport closely enough knows the RB7 is lightyears ahead of it’s rivals and not for any particular reason. It just is THAT good. Perhaps they should have tried nearer the beginning of the season.

    • Don M. said on 9th July 2011, 23:43

      It couldn’t wait until the end of the season. The FIA promised to have the illegal stuff removed if the potential protesters would give them time to find a solution. They are only clarifying and enforcing the rules, not introducing new ones. The FIA have prevented the season being destroyed by protests and disqualifications.

      • Quin10-10 said on 10th July 2011, 0:24

        Isn’t the 10%, or more recent 50%, throttle limitation a new rule? Does this mean OTBD’s are only 50%(or 10%) illegal?

      • VXR said on 10th July 2011, 0:29

        Exactly.

        HRT (and others) were going to protest at Monaco. But the FIA told them to stand down until they had been given chance to sort it out.

        Now the FIA have to sort it out by having all of the teams agree, unanimously, to having the ban removed completely from the German GP onwards.

        If they don’t agree unanimously, then the current version of the reg remains in place.

        If there was not any danger of protests from another team (we can only really guess at who, but I wouldn’t now limit it to HRT), none of this would be taking place.

  7. Mahir C said on 9th July 2011, 23:44

    I dont understand this diffuser thing. Supposedly it was to impede Redbull.

    Ok, teams are allowed 10% max throttle opening when the driver lifts off. We know that Mercedes engines got a special dispensation and can fire 4 of 8 cylinders, due to reliability etc. So Mercedes teams have some advantage over the others, notably Ferrari who do exactly what the rule book tells them.

    So why are Mclaren complaining so much, saying they are screwed? They are the ones who got the preferential treatment.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th July 2011, 4:49

      So why are Mclaren complaining so much, saying they are screwed? They are the ones who got the preferential treatment.

      They were complaining because Renault were given dispensations of their own – much broader dispensations.

      As David Coulthard pointed out in the commentary for qualifying, these engine maps are nothing new to Formula 1. What is new is the way they are being applied. For the past ten years, teams have mapped their engines to fire under braking for the purposes of engine management, probably to keep the the revs up in slower corners (like Monaco’s hairpin). It has only been with the advent of diffusers and exhaust blown diffusers that the teams have started using engine maps to directly affect downforce.

  8. VXR said on 10th July 2011, 1:03

    I dont understand this diffuser thing. Supposedly it was to impede Redbull.

    No, my friend. It was because some teams had planned to protest the devices at GPs.

    • Mahir C said on 10th July 2011, 2:02

      OK if you say so. But I remember Mclaren was quite bullish about the rule change. They got some concessions from FIA that Red Bull hadn’t got.

  9. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th July 2011, 1:04

    I don’t think the FIA are really to blame for this. They didn’t just hand out concessions because they felt like it – the manufacturers asked for them. And how many times have we seen teams exploit loopholes in the regulations to preserve an advantage?

    It was pointed out during the Australian commentary of qualifying that this is a very complex issue, and spreads into realms of technicality that not even the most well-connected pundits understand. I think that’s been reflected in public reactions to the controversy: people are simply judging without understanding all of the facts. Worse, they’re just using it as an opportunity to attack the FIA when it’s fairly obvious that all the FIA was doing was attempting to keep things even amongst the teams so that one manufacturer didn’t suffer a massive disadvantage from the changes.

    What we do know is this: Mercedes were given a concession because of their concerns over pressure in the crank case. Renault, on the other hand, were given their own concession on the basis of reliability, though there aren’t really any details on what their primary concern was. The simple fact of it is that we don’t know exactly what Mercedes and Renault claimed, and we don’t know exactly which concessions were granted – but reading between the lines a little bit, neither the claims nor the concessions were identical. And yet, people attack the FIA for it.

    I look at this situation and this is what I see: the FIA announced that the 10% restrictions would come into play at Silverstone. The manufacturers saw this, and knew it could cost them up to one second per lap. So they started taking a closer look at their engines and found that reducing engine mapping could damage their engines. They applied to the FIA for concessions, which were initially granted. But upon further investigation, the FIA found that Renault did not really need those concessions, and so withdrew them. At the same time, Renault found that Mercedes had been given concessions of thier own, and so attempted to have Mercedes’ concessions revoked because they feared that it would give Mercedes an edge.

    I don’t read this as FIA incompetence. I read this as the FIA trying to be fair to everyone by introducing amendments that were designed to prevent one team from having a massive advantage or disadvantage, only to have the whole process undermined by the teams trying to swing the balance of power in their favour.

    • Jelle van der Meer said on 10th July 2011, 12:59

      Nice piece but written by a die hard Ferrari fan who same as Ferrari is enjoying this ridiculous mid season rule changes.

      Right or wrong the rules should not have been changed mid season – as it used to be for a long time – rules should not be changed mid season unless safety requires it or ALL teams agree.

      Sneaky FIA now says we will change it back if all teams agree – they should have done that first. So FIA is the blame to start the issue in the first place and then being weak in follow up. You can not give specific teams or manufacturers exceptions and certainly not give them and withdraw them the next day.

      The ONLY solution is to refer back to Valencia specs for next race till end of season although sure that Ferrari will object as usual.

  10. John Cousins said on 10th July 2011, 5:43

    I think this definately shows incompetence by the FIA. The FIA simply do not fully understand the technology being used in a sport governed by them. If the want to “govern” formula 1 then they need to employ absolute experts in automotive engine design and electronic engine management. The biggest problem is… that experts such as tese are paid lots more to work FOR formula 1 teams. That is why the FIA can not govern the “technical” side of Formula 1.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th July 2011, 8:42

      Then who should govern the technical side? The teams? That’s not flirting with danger, that’s taking danger out for dinner and a movie and then getting naked and sweaty with it. Having the teams dictate the rules will only lead to needless drama as manufacturers try and gain political power by supplying as many teams as they can, and then influencing the rules in their favour. All it will lead to is one manufacturer having the most say over the rules, which will naturally be written to favour them and no-one will be able to catch them.

      • John Cousins said on 10th July 2011, 9:25

        Hahah!!! I love your analogy! Your dead right. I don’t know if anyone will be able to do it successfully. I don’t have a solution, i’m just having a whinge. Maybe an independant Formula1 technical committee that is paid for by F1 management?

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th July 2011, 9:32

          But again, who will be a part of that committee? So long as designers can earn more money finding and exploiting loopholes for the teams than they can finding and closing those same loopholes, it will always be a problem.

  11. Shimks said on 10th July 2011, 9:18

    The thing that xxxxxx me off the most about the FIA is that they cause so much needless waste of money when they keep crying out cost cutting at the same time. It’s not only the current teams that suffer but also other businesses, for example new engine suppliers already hurting by the one year engine delay and move to V6.

    All parties involved should discuss initiatives more thoroughly and then, when a rule is passed, it should stick. The way things are being organised this year is a joke.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th July 2011, 11:08

      Uh, hello? You do realise that the FIA was pushing for inline-fours to be introduced in 2013, right? They weren’t the ones who proposed or lobbied for the V6s with a one-year delay. It was the teams that did that. The FIA just ratified it when the teams all agreed.

  12. Stefanauss (@stefanauss) said on 10th July 2011, 11:14

    Here’s my take on what FIA did wrong and what they did right.

    ON PRINCIPLE – Should FIA accept the fact that teams will exploit grey areas in the rules? Yes, It can’t be helped. These are some of the smartest people in the world. It’s in F1′s DNA. Someone could argue it’s a big part of its charm.
    Should they let them to? I think yes, they should. More often than not, in the sense that it should be overall incouraged. Of course interpration will greatly differ on these grey rules. FIA should retain the right to enforce a particular interpretation *any time of the season*, but they need to use it very sensibly. Everybody will have a different view about where to draw the line. IMO, if you need actual brand new rules to enforce a particular interpretation (and this seems to be the case with EBD), you’re doing it wrong.

    TIMING/1 – When the Double Diffusers affair mounted in 2009, everybody set up their minds in Australia already. EBD were also there from Day 1 and the implications of the technology are pretty straightforward. I think where they were headed was foreseeable but it took FIA 5 GPs to decide to step in. Far too much time.

    TIMING/2 – Mercedes and Renault lobbied their cases for dispensation only at this race weekend. They had almost 2 months for doing so after Barcellona. This suggests the time that has been given to the teams to cope with the changes was more than enough, despite claims of projects “tightened to EBD previous parameters”.

    POLITICS – If that’s true, as it seems, that smaller teams would have brought protests at some point, it was right for the FIA to intervene prior to that and try to keep the matter low-profile. This EBD affair could have been a lot better on the media side if FIA hadn’t screwed things up with U-turns at this race weekend, but even a lot worse if teams were protesting each other.

    DISPENSATIONS – Whatever the rules might be, must be the same for everyone. This is the only thing that really everyone understand, even the casual fans. I’ve been following F1 for 15 years now and this is the 1st time I heard about FIA trying to calibrate different set of parameters (for the teams to choose, according to ScarbsF1) to achieve performance parity. It’s unbelievably wrong.

    U-TURNS – Particularly the one discussed in this article, i’m shocked about that. It’s bad, bad amateur stuff and might be very dangerous for the sport if teams will start obstructing a final solution, and it is likely.
    The fuss would have been over quickly if FIA had stuck with their Barcellona decision, or at least it would never have reached such a big deal.
    It just went out of FIA’s hands with that FP2/FP3 turnaround on dispensations. A complete Joke.

    • Don M. said on 10th July 2011, 11:50

      This is a very tricky situation. The FIA are trying to clarify the rules and keep everyone happy. There main goal is to keep protests and disqualifications from intefering with the results.

  13. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th July 2011, 11:51

    Plot twist!

    The teams have been unable to come to an agreement to restore the pre-Silverstone OTBD specifications. I find it interesting because the Ferrari-powered teams (except Toro Rosso, who own alleigance to Red Bull first and Ferrari second) were the ones who did not sign off on the agreement.

    Now, before you say “PM, we’ve done tihs dance before; you just don’t like Ferrari”, please just hear me out. We have known Cosworth’s position on the matter since Barcelona. The Cosworth teams simply couldn’t map their engines the way everyone else could. They were the ones who brought the off-throttle blown diffusers to everyone’s attention. And this weekend, we found out Mercedes’ and Renault’s positions. All the teams using those engines agreed to the proposition. But Ferrari, perhaps the most vocal team in the sport, have remained silent about the OTBD for the past six weeks – and yet, they’re the ones who did not sign the agreement, leaving it dead in the water.

    So at the end of it all, we have to ask ourselves: what are Ferrari doing with their engine maps?

  14. VXR said on 10th July 2011, 12:04

    So at the end of it all, we have to ask ourselves: what are Ferrari doing with their engine maps?

    Or: What didn’t Ferrari do with its engine maps that everyone else managed to do.

  15. BBT (@bbt) said on 10th July 2011, 12:28

    Apparently Ferrari and Sauber have refused to sign up to the rule implementation being reverted. What a surprise, all teams will look after their best interests and who can blame them.

    Sorry I posted this on another thread as well but realised it should be here.

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