FIA “aiming to ban” reactive ride height adjustment

F1 Fanatic round-up

In the round-up: Williams’ Mark Gillan says the FIA has issued a technical directive aimed at banning reactive ride height systems of the kind developed by Lotus.


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The Flying Lap With Peter Windsor (Speed)

Williams chief operating officer Mark Gillan on reactive ride height systems: “The FIA have just banned that particular type of system. […] From a cursory look it looks as though they are aiming to ban that type of system.”

F1 Fanatic via Twitter

Lotus’s new F1 site says their car will be launched on February 5th. Added to the F1 Fanatic calendar.”

F1 2012: Rules, Designs and Trends (ScarbsF1)

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Technical analysis – 2012 exhaust restrictions (F1)

“For 2012 the FIA has effectively banned blown diffusers by placing new restrictions on the positioning of exhaust exits.”

Reactive Ride Height and J Dampers Explained (Will Buxton)

“J-damper: one bouncy thing offsets another bouncy thing.”

Everything to prove (Sky)

Mike Gascoyne: “It will be a much more current car than the last two cars we’ve been able to design. It’s probably a bigger step forward compared to the 2011 car. In 2010 our car was obviously very basic because we didn’t have much time to do it and we always said the 2011 car would be a big step forward. What’s exciting for me is that the 2012 car is probably a bigger step forward in terms of refinement of design than we made in 2011.”

HRT insist they will race despite ‘critical delays’ (BBC)

“Rumours that we will take part in the initial Grands Prix with the 2011 car are not true. The target is to be at the second test with the new car.”

Marussia targets second test for new car (Autosport)

Pat Symonds: “We are aiming for the second. We are going to be at the first test anyway because I think it’s important for Charles [Pic] to get some miles under his belt and it shakes some of the cobwebs off of the team.”

Hamilton to be called to court as star witness in GBH trial of German driver Sutil (Daily Mail)

[Lewis] Hamilton will have to head directly from the trial to attend the launch of the 2012 McLaren car on February 1.”

Interview with PURE’s Craig Pollock

“There has been the news of Peugeot pulling out (of endurance racing) ?ǣ and we were fairly inside that this might happen. They are around the Paris area with facilities, offices and test benches; not of the quality necessary for a Formula 1 engine, but it wouldn?t take too much to convert it into a Formula 1 test bench. It would potentially be the cheapest way going forward.”

Piecing It All Together: From the White Board to the Dirt Mound (The Austin Grand Prix)

“This is a panoramic photo taken from atop turn one, the most south-eastern point of the circuit, facing west.”

Giedo van der Garde via Twitter

“Guys, everybody asking me about F1 but at the moment I can’t say anything! Please be patient. But thank you very big about the positive messages! It means a lot. Keep following!”

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Comment of the day

Yesterday’s discussion about which teams will still be in F1 in ten years’ time naturally led to a debate on how to encourage new teams to come into the sport. Here’s Junpei’s thoughts.

I?d rather see a “Tier 2″ F1 championship, with same rules as F1. The winner of this replaces the last place runner of the current F1 grid every year, much like in certain football leagues.

This would let teams come in with a lower budget, and learn everything while competing with teams of similar experience/budget. My problem with GP2 is that it?s just too different from F1, and too much like other lower formulas, so all that technical competition is almost non-existent.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

No F1 Fanatic birthdays today. If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

When testing is so tightly restricted today, it’s almost surprising to recall that just a few years ago teams would often test at multiple venues at once.

Ten years ago today McLaren and Sauber were testing in Barcelona and Ferrari had the Valencia circuit to themselves.

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106 comments on FIA “aiming to ban” reactive ride height adjustment

  1. Sean Newman said on 21st January 2012, 11:13

    This is just the FIA realising they made a mistake passing this is legal when according to their own existing regulations it is not (Article 10 states the suspension cannot be adjusted whilst the car is in motion) Their current stance is to avoid the embarrassing situation of having to accept they were wrong.

    This device is just the tip of the iceberg if it is allowed. There will be all kinds of reactive ride systems being developed. They won’t have real world applications (electronics is much better at this), they won’t be cheap, they won’t improve the closeness of the racing and they won’t make it any more of a challenge for the drivers.

    I don’t think they are particularly technically interesting as everyone seems to think so I think the FIA back tracking is a good thing.

    Imagine three such devices on a car. One that reacts to the brake pedal. One that reacts to the throttle and another that reacts to steering input….MADNESS!!!

  2. What if the Lotus car was optimised arround the new device? If they had it legal at the first place changing the rule will compromise they entire season. I think FIA is acting inconsistantly and very unfairly it really looks to me that if someone cannot develop the same in a short period of time or just doesnt want to bother things are being banned. Ferrari is being saying they have developed similar device but they ware seeking clarification from the FIA. Why they ware concerned if they new that RRH is permitted and if they had it already developed it would be a massive gain in performance.
    It reminds me last years turmoil arround OTBD. From the first minute FIA decided to ban it it was looking dodgy. To me that was the private testing sessions at Silverstone that reveled who is standing ware and who would participate the most on that BAN. Thanks to great opposition from majority of teams they ware forced to let them using OTBD until the end of season.
    This time I just guess that RRH is not to be ‘cos someone realized how hard it would be to properly develop it and lacking such a device will leave someone behind right on the begining of 2012 season.
    We don’t really know the circumstances surrounding the original approval of the system. The FIA could have said “We’re going to need to see more of it before we can say if it is legal or not” just as easily as they could have said “Yes, it is absolutely legal”

    The FIA had 2 years to look at it and they still didn’t have enough?

    I think the likely source of a ban will be the teams contending its legality. And they didn’t know – at least, not for sure – what Lotus were up to until the Young Driver Tests. So if the teams protest and get it banned after two years of development, that’s Lotus problem. Spending two years and plenty of money on making the system doesn’t automatically guarantee they will be able to use it.

    My question is what other guarantees you need but FIA’s approval?

    Thanks for reading

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st January 2012, 12:06

      The FIA had 2 years to look at it and they still didn’t have enough?
      Hang on a second – you’re assuing that Lotus was being completely open and honest here. As we saw with the off-throttle blown diffuser ban, they have a tendency to misrepresent things in order to try and get (or retain) and advantage. During the OTBD saga, all of the teams agreed to the full ban, and then all of them asked for dispensations, claiming that their engines were designed to run with a certain minimum engine map or else risk damaging the engine. Maybe that was true, but what was stopping them from overstating or misrepresenting their figures in order to get a larger dispensation? They do it all the time – they try and find all the little loopholes to squeeze through. Just because Lotus got permission to develop the system, it doesn’t mean they did it honesty. They could have been intentionally vague about it, telling the FIA just enough to get approval, but not so much that they revealed exactly how the system worked (especially if they forecast a two-year development programme). In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if this is exactly what they did.

      • It was not up to teams to decide on OTBD, decision was already made and they had no choice but to stick to it.
        The ennoying bit is the way FIA plays its game and it is not perfectly clear how they judge whats good and wrong..

        That is the same case with RRH they say yes than no than we may see change of their minds again… very unclear!!!

        • BBT (@bbt) said on 21st January 2012, 21:07

          @Matt if the Lotus car was optimised around the device, which at that point in time had not been approved, and is clearly illegal, (hence the mistake and U-turn by the FIA) they deserve everything they get this season.

          Wouldn’t it be funny if they actually have another innovation and win the championship?

  3. Sean Newman said on 21st January 2012, 11:51

    Are the technical questions asked of the FIA by the teams open to all?

    I’d love to see a transcript of the discussion between Lotus and the FIA on this.

    The suspension is obviously illegal and the FIA knows. It can see problems arising if it allows it to continue to be used. It would be really interesting to see how Lotus pulled the wool over the FIA eyes!!!

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st January 2012, 12:01

      Are the technical questions asked of the FIA by the teams open to all?

      I’ve never heard of it happening before.

      • Sean Newman said on 21st January 2012, 12:16

        It would be cool though wouldn’t it?

        In my view the whole concept of asking if something is legal in advance is fine provided it is open. Then everyone benefits from exactly the same legal definitions. In this way the FIA might be contradictory but at least it is the same for everyone.

        However if a team wanted a private consultation then the FIA should only give it’s unofficial guidance, nothing binding, at it’s own risk.

        Any other way is asking for trouble.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st January 2012, 12:39

          In my view the whole concept of asking if something is legal in advance is fine provided it is open.

          There are two problems with that:

          First of all, making the process open will deter teams from doing it. As soon as they ask the FIA “would a reactive ride-height system be okay?”, every other team is going to know exactly what they are up to, and will be able to adapt their own version. Thus, any expected advantage – the whole point of developing new systems is to get an advantage in the first place – is lost.

          Secondly, I think it would upset a lot of fans because it would show just how unscrupulous the teams can be, and just how willing they are to play dirty. I think this is how a lot of fans see the FIA and Bernie, and that this is how they see the teams. Making the process of technical enquiries would threaten to upset this ideal. The teams aren’t as righteous as they make themselves out to be – they will happily do or say whatever it takes to keep an advantage. I’d be very surprised if Lotus were compeltely upfront about the RRH when they first asked after it in 2010, and I don’t think the revelation that they intentionally misled the FIA would be taken very well at all.

          • Sean Newman said on 21st January 2012, 13:16

            Yep your right.

            I didn’t expect that teams would be willing to ask these sorts of question in the open and risk giving away secrets but I stand by my idea that this would be the only fair way, even none of the teams did it.

            However I don’t see how this would highlight how unscrupulous teams can be. They would simply not consult the FIA and turn up with something that the scrutineers may or may not deem legal.

            Besides if the teams are as unscrupulous as you say (money does corrupt doesn’t it?) then we as fans should know!

            It could be worse the IOC could be in charge!!!

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st January 2012, 13:21

            I suppose that opening up the inquiry process would work if the FIA kept the transcripts in confidence for a set period of time. That way, the teams could approach the FIA for clarification over an idea, and not have to worry about word getting out for six months or so.
            Besides if the teams are as unscrupulous as you say then we as fans should know!
            Oh, they are. Only half of Formula 1 is beating your opponents on the track – the other half is beating them in the stewards’ room, getting your car declared legal and the competition’s car banned.

  4. Alain (@paganbasque) said on 21st January 2012, 12:01

    This is a beautiful gift for Red Bull, now I understand why they were not so interested in this sytem… :(

    Lotus and Mercedes must be worried now, they have spent a lot of time and money in this sistem, I dont understand some decisions reallly…

  5. Andrew81 (@andrew81) said on 21st January 2012, 12:02

    Hmm, so yesterday, Red Bull come out as the only team to say that they are not bothering to develop an RRH system, and today the FIA ban RRH. Coincidence?

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st January 2012, 12:08

      Red Bull come out as the only team to say that they are not bothering to develop an RRH system

      No, Red Bull were the only team to date to dismiss the RRH. Ferrari are known to have submitted plans to the FIA, Mercedes are believed to have, and Williams are known to have toyed with the idea – but no other team has confirmed or denied anything.

    • Maby Red Bull was in possesion of such device for last 2 years and they new what is going to happen…

  6. OOliver said on 21st January 2012, 12:05

    Great rambling speech, but its been banned.

  7. Ral (@ral) said on 21st January 2012, 12:54

    Yeah, according to Autosport it’s been banned now.

    “Odd” is the least offensive word I can think of to describe this.

    If the FIA do not have the in-house know-how to determine whether a system is legal or not from a completely technical point of view in two years, perhaps they should start hiring some engineers. Confirming that something is legal one day and then back-tracking only a couple of days later after rival teams protest or submit designs of their own is just silly. Banning something 3 weeks before the launch of a car designed with it in mind, when you’ve known about it for 2 years prior, reeks of ulterior motives or the desire to steer results, regardless of whether these motives and desires exist or not.

    In case someone is going to say that this is because the FIA want to prevent a spending war: that is irrelevant. If you don’t want a spending war, you make it a one-make format. As it is, there’s an agreement of sorts to keep spending within limits. It should be up to the teams how they spend the funds inside these limits and if in this case Lotus have had the foresight to spend theirs on something they planned on using 2 years down the line, that’s good business sense and they should not be punished for it by making them redesign their car now.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st January 2012, 12:57

      If the FIA do not have the in-house know-how to determine whether a system is legal or not from a completely technical point of view in two years, perhaps they should start hiring some engineers.

      Do you honestly believe that Lotus told the FIA absolutely everything there was to know about the RRH back in January 2010? Particularly when it was in their interests not to tell the FIA everything?

      • As long as i know Lotus was under constant FIA supervision about RRA and it wasn’t anything new to to them.

      • Ral (@ral) said on 21st January 2012, 14:09

        I believe they told the FIA as little as they thought they could get away with and still have the resulting judgement be relevant to the design of the system on the car. And there is no doubt in my mind that there are different views possible on whether that last bit is the case or not.

        But I also have no doubt that this u-turn is brought on by input from one or more of the other teams. There are two types of input possible: technical and legalese. If technical, it is entirely possible that someone with more technical know-how explained something of the workings to the FIA that they hadn’t considered before. Hence my assertion that they should hire engineers so they can subsequently stand by the rulings they make on even terms with the teams’ technical objections.

        If the input was of a legal nature, this latest ruling is bullsh**. Two years is more than enough to judge a system on its “legal” and “philosophical” compliance to the rules and a couple of days of to-and-fro-ing with other teams should not be enough to change that.

    • Agree 100%.
      This all situation just discredit FIA. Keep going guys

  8. So a week ago, the FIA declared the device legal. Now, they’ve declared it illegal… top marks for consistency.

  9. Rodney said on 21st January 2012, 14:25

    I really wish prisoner monkeys would stop being so defensive against anyone with a different viewpoint to his.

    its a very simple and understandable concept of why everyone is complaining. the FIA are changing the rules when the 2012 cars are already well into its development cycle. What makes it worst is that the teams clarified the rules before embarking on this design direction. No matter the ‘spirit’ of the rules or for any other reason, it would be unfair to change the rules at this point of time as you do not know how much performance loss this RRD will cost. It would be more logical for the rules to be changed for 2013 instead.

    And why should anybody have the power to design which rules should be changed and which should not just because some concepts are harder to understand than others? its ridiculous.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st January 2012, 23:03

      the FIA are changing the rules when the 2012 cars are already well into its development cycle

      They’re doing it because they have rules the systems to be illegal. They can’t just say “Oh, you can keep your RRH because your car is so far along”. If they did, then all the teams would have to do is keep illegal parts from the FIA for as long as possible, and then they would be allowed to run them because the car was already highly-developed.

  10. Mads (@mads) said on 21st January 2012, 14:41

    I don’t see why FIA needs to ban this system.
    They made the rules like they were, lets see where this innovation takes them in a years time.
    I don’t see why they need to restrict innovation like that. They make the rules which restricts the teams, which is reasonable, but why should they even have the ability to ban a system that is effectively legal under current regulations?
    Systems that might be dangerous, fair enough. But lets see what those guys can come up with instead and if they feel the need to ban it they can do it before the 2013 season.
    I don’t think FIA should decide what innovations are right and which are “wrong” for F1.
    Who in the ’60s would have thought that the wings on F1 cars would be used on road cars a few decades later?
    To take another example, who thought that the space race would give human kind one of the recent times most important innovation, the micro processor?
    My point is, innovations comes from all kind of different areas. A lot of it is useless to us, and most of it might seem stupid at first, but then suddenly someone finds an application for it.
    The tech in a F1 car might not even be used on road cars in the future. We might see a component in our ovens that was a result of the development race in F1.
    That is why I don’t think they should restrict innovations after the rules are written.
    They should make the rules, let the teams build and race a car under those regulations for a year and then adjust according to the rules made for the year after that.
    Sometimes that might be bad for the championship and the racing, but at least it remains a sport and we won’t get these stupid situations like when they tried to ban EBD in July last year. It only ended up messy, and raised doubt whether FIA was doing it to make the championship more exciting or not.
    If a system isn’t dangerous i think it should stand, at least until the next year.

    • BBT (@bbt) said on 21st January 2012, 21:18

      because it breaks the current rules, simple. How they made the mistake and claimed it legal is beyond me and a great number of other people.
      So it had to be explained to the FIA how it breaks the current rules, so what, the FIA doe not have engineers of the same calibrate as those in the teams, its no wonder they get things wrong, but they have corrected their mistake now.

      Well done the FIA :-)

  11. slowhand (@slowhand) said on 21st January 2012, 15:41

    Just wondering – Would Colin Chapman wish to be involved in todays F1 ? I think not. Why doesn’t the FIA institute a spec car formula and be done with it. As a technical exercise F1 becomes more of a joke every year.

  12. gzegzolek (@gzegzolek) said on 21st January 2012, 16:31
    It has happend sistem i banned
    FIA is killing inovations.

  13. Ben Wilkinson said on 21st January 2012, 16:41

    What they need to do is raise the suspencion and sofen it so down the straights the downforce decreaces and braking it increaces! !

  14. Sean Newman said on 21st January 2012, 17:08

    I just read on the BBC website that the FIA have definitely banned the system under Article 3.15 of the F1 technical regulations which requires that any aerodynamic effect created by the suspension should be incidental to its primary function. Also the cars aerodynamic surfaces “must remain immobile in relation to the spring part of the car”.

    As far as I’m concerned the breach of article 10 would have been enough to ban it. It seems to me there are at least two regulations it breaches now.

    What were Lotus and the FIA thinking? Maybe they should both sit down and read the rules!!!!

    By the way I have nothing against innovation. It’s part of the fascination of Formula 1, but if a rule can be innovated around most likely it’s a bad framed rule rather than a good innovation.

    I can’t wait for the season to start now!

  15. GT_Racer said on 21st January 2012, 17:37

    I think something to remember with regard to it been decaled legal but later banned is that these things often happen when a new device becomes public knowledge because its then other teams put forward arguments as to why its not legal.

    For all those saying innovation in F1 is dead, In just the past few years we have had Double diffusers, Blown diffusers, F-Duct’s, Flexible wings which pass every test, forward facing exhust’s, wheel nuts built into the rims for faster stops & some more.

    OK several of those have been banned however the ban on these systems (Double diffusers, blown diffusers, F-duct) was put forward by FOTA (The teams) & not the FIA!

    One more points, the FIA never actualy officially decalred the system legal!

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