The appeal lodged by some of the leading F1 teams against Brawn, Williams and Toyota, will be heard in Paris on 14th April, which is the Tuesday before the Chinese Grand Prix. This means that the results of the first two Grands Prix of the season are subject to the appeal.
The stewards here in Melbourne threw out the protests of Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault on Thursday into the ‘double decker’ diffusers, which give significantly more downforce than the others are getting.
Flavio Briatore is incandescent about this, frustrated as he is by his team’s performance and by the process which has seen these three teams build these diffusers. He says that it’s a safety issue as the cars are going far faster than they were supposed to with the new rules intended to take 50% of the downforce away.
Actually it is true that the cars, now equipped with slick tyres, and with a lot of that downforce clawed back, are going very quickly, faster than last year. By the end of the season with plenty of development on the cars, the cornering speeds will be getting very high and they might have to do something to slow the cars down again.
Flav is especially not happy about Ross Brawn chairing FOTA’s technical working group, representing the teams collective interests and then, as he sees it, gong behind their backs and building this device.
I’ve not spoken to Ross on this last point yet, should have a chance this evening, but I imagine he sees it a bit like in the Ferrari days when Michael Schumacher used to sit on the board of the Grand Prix Drivers Association arguing for safety in F1 and then would go out and push the limits of what was acceptable on the track.
Ross saw no contradiction there. For him, Schumacher was establishing the boundaries and then pushing them to the limit.
For all Flavio’s lobbying, the appeal is likely to fail and the rest of the teams will be forced to copy.
What does that involve? Well most of the teams who don’t have trick diffusers have been testing their own copies in the wind-tunnel for three weeks already. It’s a tricky part, you can’t just bolt it on. It has to work with the other parts of the car, so getting it all lined up will mean that the other teams will not have theirs before the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
The cost? To do it properly, with new floor, gearbox modifications and so on is probably around £5 million. That’s about 7% of the budget of a midfield team.