Posted on March 26, 2009
The diffuser 3 are innocent! | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

As predicted here the protests against the diffusers of the Brawn, Williams and Toyota cars have been thrown out by the Melbourne stewards. But this does not mean that the matter is closed. The plaintiff teams have appealed and that means that the three teams whose diffusers were questioned will race under appeal on Sunday.

As it’s unlikely that an appeal can be heard before the Malaysian GP next Sunday, I imagine that the story will roll on there as well so the results of the first two races will be subject to appeal.

It’s a bit of a mess, but it’s something the sport has to go through as there is no mechanism for getting a definitive answer on something like this until the cars get to a race weekend and stewards can judge.

The perception given to the outside world watching, coming after last week’s u turn over the winner takes all points systems, is that the things are a bit all over the place in F1 at the moment and the teams are at each other’s throats. I think the teams would like the matter cleared up as quickly as possible so they can all get on with racing each other knowing what the rules are.

There’s a great book for parents of young boys, called “Raising Boys’ by a Steve Biddulph. As a parent of two boys I have read it closely.

One of the key premises in the book is that boys, unlike girls, are quite straight forward. They will behave themselves and fall into line as long as three key elements are clear to them

1. Who’s in charge?
2. What are the rules?
3. Will those rules be fairly applied?

I actually think that things don’t change much when boys become men and a lot of what happens in the world’s trouble spots reflects the fact that something has broken down in this schematic, usually when boys/men perceive that there is some kind of vacuum or uncertainty.

Undoubtedly it is true in F1.

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The diffuser 3 are innocent!
27 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: Oliver Drew
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 2:46 pm 

    So what are the chances of the results being changed after the appeal? Pretty low I’d imagine.

    I would hope that the results would be allowed to stand because the diffusers were legal during their use, and then they would be banned for future races. It would make a farce out of the whole system if the results were changed retrospectively.


  2.   2. Posted By: Dennis Dithmar
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 2:53 pm 

    LOL. Spot on about the book :-) And it’s not just in F1 although I would agree to F1 in particular – especially right now. There is an exiting press release from FOTA out now, and it seems to me, that they are old enough to keep the battles over diffusers separated from the general battle against M&B. They make it clear that the boycott-threat (even if it was a tad hollow) was from all of them. Not just Renault and McLaren.

    And if you find it interesting aswell. FOTA mentions that CVC owes them money from 2006-08. Is Bernie using money that he actually owes them as pressure to make them sign a new document? That is really bad *ss negotion tactics, and something that puts a lot in perspective. Or maybe it’s a very bad sign that CVC are having liquidation problems? Hmmm…


  3.   3. Posted By: Finn
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 3:06 pm 

    For those who are interested, there’s a good pic link here for the different diffusers:


  4.   4. Posted By: beflox
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 3:11 pm 

    Things certainly are all over the place right now … but for those of use who have watched many seasons of F1, a row over an aerodynamic interpretation at the start of a season are not exactly an unheard of phenomenon, especially given the massive rule changes for this season.

    Maybe if it wasn’t being reported in such a “tabloid” way by certain areas of the media including people like yourself (who should know better) then F1 wouldn’t be “all over the place” right now.

    The impression I get is that the teams are not “at each others throats” (nice dramatic sound bite) but just want the situation to be made clear one way or the other so they can go about developing their cars.


  5.   5. Posted By: Finn
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 3:14 pm 

    For those who are following Brawn, it looks like Virgin is to be a team sponsor [ link ]


  6.   6. Posted By: Steve Arnott
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 3:57 pm 

    Good. For the benefit of the racing and fans the world over, we didn’t need to start the first race of a new season with a controvacy about a technicality. Here’s hoping the inevitable appeal is unsuccessful.

    Plus kudos to the Diffuser Three for coming up with an ingeniously simple solution just be reading the rule book.


  7.   7. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 4:19 pm 

    It’s a bit of a mess, but it’s something the sport has to go through as there is no mechanism for getting a definitive answer on something like this until the cars get to a race weekend and stewards can judge.

    Well here we are AT a race weekend and the stewards HAVE judged.

    But what was the point if it means nothing? The FIA already approved the design before the season and THEIR stewards have just ruled at the track, so why in an FIA Paris court would they reverse their decision. They would look stupid (if it of course were possible for the FIA to look stupid) ;-)


  8.   8. Posted By: Moog
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 4:41 pm 

    Great result for fans surely. Now my prediction is that it’ll go to the court of appeals and also be deemed legal but the FIA will change the rules following this to clarify the situation and the Diffuser 3 will have to revert to conventional designs.


  9.   9. Posted By: David Hodge
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 4:57 pm 

    So if this is going to go all the way to an appeal, surely the precedent was already set last year. Ferrari raced with the floor device. It was appealed and deemed illegal from thereon. Ferrari and their drivers kept their points. Therefore the DiffThree will race, keep their points and the device deemed illegal – which case they will have to change. Or it will be declared legal and the other 7 will have to catch up. Seems cut and dried to me – but the FIA are involved and we know they don’t follow precedent (McLaren and Renault espionage fines last year?)

    Let’s go racing. Hopefully, the widest field we have had for years. I am looking forward to it.


  10.   10. Posted By: natef1
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 5:03 pm 

    beflox is absolutely right.

    This has been mis-reported by the media in my opinion, it seems to me the teams all just want clarification because of the FIA’s inability to finalise the legalization of the diffusers, despite sending a delegate to confirm their legality.


  11.   11. Posted By: Luke Robbins
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 5:29 pm 

    Just as i predicted. The guys race under appeal… would be v bad for F1 if the brawn guys win now and then in a few weeks the car is deemed illegal.

    More importantly, if jb wins, are paddypower going to pay up! I got great odds on him after the first test!

    More seriously, what do you reckon the chances are of the diffusers being deemed illegal in the courts james?


  12.   12. Posted By: limey
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 5:44 pm 

    So once again we have a situation where the race result could be changed if the red cars don’t do well enough.


  13.   13. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 6:06 pm 

    Where can I find the FOTA press release? There is no news or info page at all on the website.


  14.   14. Posted By: Dennis Dithmar
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 6:24 pm 

    @ rpaco – It’s in this newsbit:

    The sentence that caught my eyes was:

    “The purpose of the meeting was to discuss payment of money owed by CVC (the effective owners of the commercial rights to Formula One) to the teams and relates to agreed sums owing from the 2006, 2007 and 2008 championship years.”


  15.   15. Posted By: Peter
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 6:32 pm 

    Thank goodness they rejected the protests by those three. I suspect though that IF Brawn GP won both Australia and Malaysia, the FIA woud find Brawn GP guilty, just because they have a habit of wanting f1 to be close, so they take it out on the deserved LEGAL winners. FIA – don’t ruin it again, like you’ve done a few times the past 2 years.

    P.S Have a great weekend James and keep up your high standard f1 reporting for practice, qualifying and the race!


  16.   16. Posted By: flutterfly
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 7:59 pm 

    That’s exactly what I want to know Luke, will we have an official result at the end of Sunday or will it be a provisional one because the 3 teams are racing under appeal? Or in other words, will the bookies be paying out on Sunday or will they be keeping our money until the matter is decided in the courts in a month’s time!


  17.   17. Posted By: Fidem
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 8:18 pm 

    I think there is a bit of a double standard issue going on here. If it had been Mclaren & Ferrari with these diffuser designs i believe they would have been deemed illegal, as it would have maintained the status quo. But seeing as its teams that don’t normally run at the front it’s ok to compromise the overtaking regulation overhaul, so in 2010 we’ll be back to 2008!! I love F1!!!!


  18.   18. Posted By: Beflox
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 8:38 pm 

    Peter – what are you talking about?


  19.   19. Posted By: Steven Roy
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 10:36 pm 

    It really is time that F1 found a way to define rules properly and to interpret and apply them properly. It is ridiculous that the cars have been classed as legal but an appeal cannot be heard before Malaysia.

    My normal inclination would be to assume that the appeal would go Ferrari’s way owing to their special relationship with the FIA. However as JYS would say they have behaved like a naughty puppy recently and the FIA may use this as an opportunity to smack their nose.


  20.   20. Posted By: Some Good Lines « Iowa Formula 1 Picks
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 11:17 pm 

    [...] Allen, a Formula 1 journalist for ITV-F1 also writes for his own blog where he recently made a very nice observation that is rather universally [...]

  21.   21. Posted By: On the diffuser row and the “young boys” of F1 « Not Remotely Belgium
        Date: March 26th, 2009 @ 11:23 pm 

    [...] what I’d really like to highlight is an amusing and very insightful post by former ITVF1 commentator James Allen on his blog, where he compares F1’s current state to [...]

  22.   22. Posted By: john g
        Date: March 27th, 2009 @ 4:46 am 

    If there’s one thing that F1 needs following Spa-gate, it’s that whoever crosses the finishing line first wins the race. we can’t have the final results coming days or weeks after the chequered flag.


  23.   23. Posted By: Mike Ellison
        Date: March 27th, 2009 @ 1:45 pm 

    I agree. Having followed F1 since the ’70s I’m finally getting to the point where I’ve had enough of all this crap.

    The rules (including qualifying and points) must be set in stone at the time the teams register for the season and only changeable in the face of a direct demonstrable safety issue. Race results should stand unless the car/driver fail the post-race weigh-in/fuel check. Scrutineering must be pre-race and non-appealable. Challenges should be used to inform scrutineering of subsequent races. Appeals should only apply moving on from the time the appeal is heard. Stewards’ in-race inquiries that affect the race result must be completed prior to the podium ceremony. After the podium ceremony, only fines or suspensions may be imposed. If there is an immedieate appeal to an in-race decision, the decision will be to retain the status quo as it turned out on the track and impose fines or suspensions later. Again, those will apply only to future races after the hearings. I can see that teams and drivers will on occasions get away with something for an individual race but it will be at the risk of harming their future races. Penalties at the end of one season would be imposable on the opening races of the following season.


  24.   24. Posted By: Mike Ellison
        Date: March 27th, 2009 @ 1:56 pm 

    Thanks Finn


  25.   25. Posted By: Grabyrdy
        Date: March 27th, 2009 @ 9:01 pm 

    “One of the key premises in the book is that boys, unlike girls, are quite straight forward. They will behave themselves and fall into line as long as three key elements are clear to them

    1. Who’s in charge?
    2. What are the rules?
    3. Will those rules be fairly applied?”

    Would you like to enlighten us, James, which of the three key elements don’t have any effect on girls ?


  26.   26. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: March 27th, 2009 @ 10:23 pm 

    I’ve no idea, I don’t have any daughters and the book doesn’t speak about the differences between genders. His point is that this is fundamentally true for boys. Maybe girls can handle a bit of ambiguity, particularly in 1. and 3. without the wheels coming off…


  27.   27. Posted By: Mooks
        Date: April 5th, 2009 @ 12:22 pm 

    I’m not sure if you see this, James, but I’ve just seen a post on the autosport website about Ross Brawn commenting about the regulations lasy year. It makes for an interesting read!

    A bit off topic (as you did mention it in your twitter feed), but keep the ‘tweets’ going (I do feel stupid saying that), they are fabulous. I don’t know how you find time in your day to watch the racing, keeping your blog going AND your day job. *bows down in respect*


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