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Diffusers legal – but it got very personal
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Diffusers legal – but it got very personal
Posted By:   |  15 Apr 2009   |  9:26 am GMT  |  114 comments

The International Appeal Court has ruled that the diffusers used by Brawn, Toyota and Williams are legal. So now we have clarity and we move on, although there will be rumblings from the other teams, they can do nothing more and have to bring their own versions of the double decker to their cars as quickly as possible.

But bad feelings remain. The hearing yesterday certainly got nasty, it seems, as it dragged out into yesterday evening, Paris time.

It was a bruising encounter for the protagonists, with some real niggle between former colleagues and lawyers getting stuck in to others’ reputations. But some of the things said yesterday will surely come back to haunt those who said them.

The impression the protesters are keen to give is that they are unanimous in their feeling that the three diffuser teams have not only been crafty, but have violated the spirit of sporting competition.

Certainly I’m told that all the teams are backing the protest, with the exception of Toro Rosso (no point in paying twice if Red Bull have already paid) and Force India, for political reasons.

One argument, advanced by Adrian Newey and Flavio Briatore, is that the diffusers should be banned on safety grounds, the Brawn car in particular, because they make the cars too fast.

Although three teams are in the dock, only one team owner seems to be getting the flak and that is Ross Brawn. He had to sit there, while Nigel Tozzi, Ferrari’s lawyer and a man who was on the same side as Brawn until two years ago, described him as a ‘person of supreme arrogance,’ because he sees things one way when everyone else sees things a different way, “Only a person of supreme arrogance would think he is right when so many of his esteemed colleagues would disagree.”

Instead, Brawn is now looking like a person of supreme intelligence.

Tozzi then went on to say something which a lawyer representing an F1 team in an FIA hearing really should have thought twice before saying, because the words will surely be used against him one day,

“Anyone with a command of English will tell you it is a hole, so do not let someone attempting to be clever with words defeat the express purpose of the rules,”

Being clever with words to defeat the purpose of the rules in F1 is what getting an edge in F1 is all about. It happens every time someone comes up with something the others haven’t got and every time there is a protest and an appeal into some genius device, or loophole.

I remember in 1999 sitting in a steaming hot Ferrari office in Sepang after the race as Ross Brawn showed us with a ruler why the barge-boards had been ruled illegal by the stewards. And yet a few days later, through using words at a hearing in Paris, Ferrari’s lawyer managed to get the judges to agree that by viewing the car from a certain angle and by applying tolerances mentioned elsewhere in the rules, the barge-boards were legal after all.

Brawn may forgive and forget, maybe not. But I was very surprised to hear Tozzi having a go at the FIA for inconsistency. The FIA denies that other teams had applied to use a similar diffuser design and were knocked back. In any case I was surprised to see Tozzi using the terms he used,

“The position of the FIA is totally baffling. We urge you to save the FIA from itself,” he is alleged to have said, according to Press Association.

That is strong stuff. Whatever you may think of the historical relationship between Ferrari and the FIA, this line shows you that as of right now, they are at loggerheads and that there is a huge amount of frustration on Ferrari’s side.

Ferrari are frustrated by the FIA’s position on this issue, by the way they have allowed this uncertainty and dispute to develop. The FIA say that their position is clear and as always been consistent; the diffusers are legal.

But also bear in mind that Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo heads the team’s association, FOTA and is more than a little frustrated by the way the FIA World Council ignored all of FOTA’s hard work and suggestions and instead voted in a £30 million budget cap for 2010.

These things work themselves through in the end and Ferrari and FIA will be friends again at some point in the future. But right now they are the focal point for the needle, which is central to this issue over the diffusers.

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114 Comments
  1. martin says:

    Excellent news, lets get back to focusing on the racing now!

  2. OllieW says:

    …so basically, Ferrari are frustrated at the FIA because they didn’t win last year and now they don’t stand much chance of winning this year?

  3. BillG says:

    Good news – and thanks for the analysis and comment. Do you think any other teams will have been working hard enough to have the ‘different’ diffuser on their cars this weekend?

  4. Darkstomper says:

    Good story James.

    All the news sites I read have a line or two about the decision. You come straight in with a long, interesting update.

    Keep it up.

    This is becoming my No 1 port of call for news/updates/comments.

  5. James Lindfield says:

    If the teams were all working on trick diffuser designs of their own, perhaps the appeal was a hope rather than a belief. If they were confident that the double diffuser was 100% illegal, why would they bother starting work on one of their own?

    It seems that the instant reaction is to appeal when another team has a competitive edge… If they don’t like this, perhaps they should turn tail and compete in NASCAR where cars are ‘built to run equal’…

    I just hope we can drop this and admire the rest of what has started as the most exciting season in Forumla 1 for absolutely ages…

    This is a sport that was ridiculed as ‘boring’ rising from the ashes… A driver who was cast into the doldrums finally getting his shot at the title… Let us embrace this season, not let politics overshadow it…

  6. Paul_W says:

    Great news for Brawn GP and the others, can’t wait for this weekends GP on the back of this. The likes of Ferrari, McLaren, BMW and Renault will need to pick their dummies up sharpish now !

  7. Albo says:

    Great news! At last, we can now go racing, or at least continue racing!

    Also, thanks for that part about the barge boards on the Ferrari, i never did understand how that case was argued and won at the time.

  8. Don says:

    Well it’s no real surprise the diffusers are deemed legal – the stewards said so for the past 2 races!

    I’d like to hear more about Tozzi’s personal attack on Ross Brawn during the hearing.

    I’m a Ferrari Fan since I was a kid, but I must admit I’m delighted Button will get to keep his points and lead of the championship! It will make for an interesting season… Braun Racing taking on the might of Ferrari & McLaren… and winning – it’s like a Hollywood movie script!

    Roll on an exciting 2009 season… and may the best car & driver win the championship… I suspect it will be Braun Racing and Button!!!!

  9. Tom says:

    Isn’t that just a lawyer doing his job?

  10. AdrianJ says:

    As a long-time Jenson Button fan I am delighted that the doubts over the legality of the BGP001 (not forgetting the Williams and Tyoytas as well) have been laid to rest.

    As an F1 fan I am also glad that, for once, the FiA seems to have got it spot on.

    Looking forward to China now…let’s see if Button can chalk up another win!!

  11. mattanddebz says:

    A great day for F1 as a spectator sport. This will keep the fans happy, keep a great team on top and provoke a flurry of action and catching up to be done by the other teams which surely is a good (and very entertaining) thing.

    What baffles me is how blatant this all is. If it were some minor part of the car offering 0.05 per lap would we see all the teams protesting? I very much doubt it. It’s only because they’ve been caught out, missing out on an opportunity which they have all tried to find in the past, that they’re making such a fuss.

    It’ll make this weekend’s race all the more sweeter as we can just get one with going racing!

  12. Duncan says:

    James, Tozzi’s comments about Ross Brawn being a man of supreme arrogance interests me and I wonder if you can shed some light on the man himself as I find him a fascinating character and a modern day genius with his work.

    Although the quote in full says “only a person of supreme arrogance would think he is right when so many of his esteemed colleagues would disagree” the reporting of it suggests Brawn is supremely arrogant.

    From your experience working at close quarters with Brawn over the years, what’s your take on the man?

    He seems very down to earth in interviews but is this just a front?

  13. Mutt & Jeff says:

    Amen to that!

    Great reporting James…it’s very entertaining reading about the rapidly switching loyalties. Despite the insults I’m sure Ross is wearing a smile today! :-)

  14. John of Woking says:

    How on earth did you write that so quicky, the statement has only just been released!

    Sounds like Ferrari are throwing their toys out of the pram because they are no longer winning….. excellent!

  15. Jake says:

    Like others are saying, this has quickly become my number 1 stop for the latest indepth news reports. Great site James, keep it up.

    Its really going to be a big game of catchup from the others now, the next few races will be interesting, I wonder how long before someone “takes out a Brawn” on track.

  16. Seymour Quilter says:

    James, I am surprised… but pleased by the FIA ruling. Considering the historical relationship between Ferrari and the FIA the waters are clearly a bit choppy!
    Perhaps this will mean that Ferrari, and more importantly McLaren, will do like Honda did last year, and concentrate on developing next years car over this years?
    As far as McLaren are concerned, they are facing the possibility of race bans or at least a financial penalty, combined with a slow car, why not put all effort into next year?
    Of course this means we may well have an F1 British World Champion for the second year in a row! Amazing.

  17. john g says:

    well the main positive from this is that we have a quick resolution to the issue. the second is tozzi’s “save the FIA from itself” which i think is quite amusing, true, and also cements ferrari’s position against the FIA.

    i still think allowing the diffuseres to continue was the wrong decision – the FIA could as easily have changed the rules (like they did after Spa) so that the cars were legal as raced, all points stand, but the trick diffusers are banned from further races so that we don’t now have an expensive wind tunnel war – from which there will be no winners.

    scary thought that the FIA are desperately trying to further control the budgets of teams in future isn’t it when every cost cutting initiative they come up with FAILS miserably.

  18. AndreasM says:

    Yes, Yes, Yes. Very good desicion.
    Makes me very happy.

    Now, RedBull will win (Adrian “just” needs to make his trick diffuser, then Vettel will kick some bum)

  19. The Pitstop says:

    Once again Ferrari throwing their toys out of the pram. Why don’t they just shut up and admit they didn’t think of the design the other 3 teams did and move on. Lets get back to proper racing instead of all this bickering.

  20. Kirk says:

    This is great news – maybe now we can finally forget all this moaning from Briatore and co. and get on with the racing.

    And if it indeed annoyed Ferrari then this decision is even better than I expected. About time the FIA stopped bending the rules for them (eg. the flexible floor farce).

  21. Silas Denyer says:

    I find the comment attributed to Newey interesting. Has nobody reminded Newey when, pre-season, he was asked about the Toyota diffuser and declared that it was quite legal?

    He was then asked if it didn’t break the spirit of the rules, to which he replied on-the-record “thankfully, there is no such thing as the spirit of the rules”.

    Surely somebody (you, JA?) should be challenging Newey over these comments?

  22. Sparhawk says:

    This is a great result. I am embarrassed with Ferrari’s malice, as I respect the team tremendously. Let’s go racing now.

  23. Tommy Karamin says:

    WOW! that was fast James! 20 minutes earlier, the decision wasn’t even anounced and now you have a full article already….I wonder….did you know the decision before it was anounced? Great stuff, though!! Now let’s get racing! What will be the first team to introduce a new diffuser in your opinion?? Renault maybe??

  24. gp-lounge.com says:

    I can’t wait to read the full reasons.

  25. Alric Kitson says:

    Fantastic news, F1 should also be about technical innovation. Thanks James for a quick and detailed update. As said above this site is becoming my gavourite source of F1 information. Keep it up and missing your commentary.

  26. Alric Kitson says:

    Fantastic news! Thanks James for such a fast and detailed update. As said above this site is becoming my favourite source of F1 information. Keep it up and missing your commentary.

  27. Mike Monji says:

    I wouldn’t mind paying for reading this post, not that you must start charging now, just want to say this is by far the best F1 blog I’ve ever red. Makes other blog look 5 years old :-(, Just wish we register b4 posting any comment so we all know who’s who, coz sum oaks are also really good with their comments that I always search for their names in the next posts… :-) Keep it up JAMES

  28. Alex says:

    Renault will bring a new diffuser to China apparently, what about Mclaren and Ferrari?

  29. Finn says:

    The right decision, although the DDDs seem to go against the work done to (1) slow the cars down and (2) improve the chances of there being any overtaking.

    Seems it was a Japanese engineer who moved from Honda to Toyota (with a tie in to Williams) who came up with the idea … so Ross can only take some of the personal credit.

    Think Tozzi tried to bully the court …. which is his job, although some of the things he said now look to have been a little stupid and may even have alienated the court and encouraged it to find in favour of the DDD teams.

    I HOPE the other teams can catch up quickly, but fear we’ll have a one sided championship that will be all but over by the early part of the summer. The first 2 races have had incident but been rather dull in terms of real racing.

  30. Moog says:

    Lets hope they’re not all on the same plane to China!

  31. James Mc says:

    Never thought Adrian Newey and Flavio Briatore could come up with a silly argument to say that the diffusers should be banned on safety grounds because they make the cars too fast.

    Does that mean Flavio would want his star driver banned if he could drive his car 0.5 seconds a lap faster than the rest of the field?

    F1 is about fast cars on the limit, I cant believe a trick diffuser would make a car inherently more dangerous?

  32. Lee says:

    Does this mean we can focus on the racing now? Oh no, wait, we have Liargate first, then onto the racing!

    There have been some brilliant quotes over the last few days my favorite was Mario Theissen’s “All we want is a level playing field” well if that’s really what you want then move to GP2 where you can all use the same cars!

    On a serious note, the FIA should look at a way of avoiding this type of thing, I know it would be hard, but there must be a way the cars can go through scrutineering before the first race… You should be able to challenge earlier in the year, well before the first race, or seek clarification if a team intends to use a particular part at the first race – So for example when McLaren used the ’08 wing in testing in ’09, the teams could clarify with McLaren if they intend to use that at the first GP and if the answer is yes, they can appeal, if the answer is no, they can ignore.

    I know it’s not always that simple, but it would be good for the show – we could have all the political stuff in the off-season (and as fans we may enjoy it more then) and enjoy the racing in-season, at the moment the two mix too often.

  33. Charlie W says:

    Great insight james! This is looking good for my pre season £20 bet on Brawn to win the Championship, long way to go yet though.

    Poor Adrian Newey, I bet he is gutted.

  34. Peter says:

    I think there have been many conrtadiction in FIA’s recent cost-saving initatives and teams are completely right to blame FIA for that regardless the diffuser story. On one side FIA is pushing with budget caps and standard engines on the other side they make teams wasting then millions of euros because of the inconsequent rules.

  35. Ban the Brawn car because it’s too fast.

    Good one!

  36. BahnStormer says:

    This season is really getting exciting – I’m now wathoing qualifying AND the entire race (as opposed to just the start and finish!!)

    Go Brawn !

  37. alex m says:

    At last, peace after the farce, or is it a war that will rumble on ?

    What is going on is not a silly argument about what constitutes a hole, but a barely veiled war between the FIA, Bernie and FOTA.

    The trouble between the teams has been dragged out to draw attention away from ‘Most Wins-gate’ and to try and split up the newly united teams who are in danger of asking for a fair share of the sport’s money.

    It would also be unfair not to point out that every single ‘change’ the FIA has come up with is an attack on McLaren, their financial stability and future.

    We must get rid of Max and Bernie ASAP.

  38. Lee says:

    John G,

    How would banning the diffusers have resulted in a different outcome to the wind tunnel war? Williams, Toyota and Brawn would all have been in the same position Ferrari etc now find themselves in and would need to redevelop and test new aero. Also it would be very unfair as if it was illegal then they should have been banned before the season started (they did after all have a while to make a decision). The 3 teams were told the part was legal so to then ban it and make them go back to square one would have been a disgrace. This is what F1 is all about, Ferrari tried it with their movable floor (which was also designed to deceive the stewards and was only found out due to Stepney telling Mclaren, which is interesting when it comes to the liegate situation). Ferrari are also doing it this year with their Turning Veins on the sidepods. This is also due to the same kind of rule interpretation. We have to have these interpretations otherwise we would be left with a grid of identical FIA designed cars. The problem is that apparently Ferrari and Red Bull are in a poor position to use the diffusers due the the design of the engine. They were probably hoping that they could rely on their usual influence in the FIA to get it all changed in their favour.

  39. Dave says:

    Massive relief to see this judgement, cant imagine what would have happened had it been declared illegal (i.e. with regards to the current 2009 results).

    I must say I did give a wry smile to Tozzi’s quote yesterday about bending the wording of the rules to Brawn’s advantage – isn’t that fundamentally what the job of a lawyer in a court of law entails? Interpreting the word of the law and tailoring it to their client’s advantage? Seems like he shot himself in the foot right from the word go!

    Attacking Brawn like he did also smacks of supreme confidence, I’m sure the FIA had a giggle about that too!

  40. Jon W says:

    “And Brawn’s criticism of Ferrari consultant Rory Bryne and Red Bull technical guru Adrian Newey saw sparks fly in the courtroom, with the Englishman refusing to retract his statements. “

    Anyone got any more details about the above sentence? (Taken from the BBC report on the COA ruling.)

  41. Nigel Smith says:

    The other teams have underestimated Ross Brawn.
    When Brawn went to Honda, and they were at the
    back of the grid, no one belived he could turn
    it around so quickly.

    The other team principles did not treat Brawn
    which respect, and now with Brawn winning
    the they look like fools.

  42. Leo Allen says:

    Excellent James. You just keep on giving us the goods man !

    Yes…. Sen. Tozzi, a lawyer just ‘doing a lawyers job’, eh… character asassination all part of the job, mate. Never mind that you could damage a decent man’s career forever. Never mind that what you say could sow the seeds of bitterness in F1 for generations….it’s all perfectly alright to say vicious unpleasant things , ‘cos you’re just a lawyer getting a huge reward from your client and that’s what you do…..

    And I just heard a man I’ve always admired for his fairness give a very biased report on BBC News, where, in effect, he
    parroted the exact line of attack coming from Ferarri and the other protesters. Ted Kravitch, what happened to balanced reporting ?

    James I hope you are right and theevil things said at that hearing come back to haunt those who said them.

    Sour grapes dressed with a dash of arsenic.

  43. RichyF says:

    Great news, The race is now on.
    Rumour has it that the deffuser could save around a second a lap. It would be interesting to see where all of the teams will be with them fitted. I guess it will benefit each team to varying degree’s, with BMW and Redbull about half a second behind it will be great to watch what happens.

  44. tom says:

    Great post !!

    I’m really interested James if you know of any infomation on how far along the chasing pack are on developing their own double decker diffusers, and when they can get them implemented i know the general feeling is that most of the teams will bring major updates to spain.

  45. john g says:

    lee: the problem we have now is that this has opened up a large avenue of development. had the diffuser three been made to change their designs, everyone would have had a far simpler design on which extensive development would have largely been wasted because it was regulated to be quite restrictive.

    whereas no-one (apart from max) wants identical FIA cars, i believe that aero development is totally wasteful and the wrong way for F1 to go. it was largely agreed with amongst the fans and drivers that they wanted less downforce, to allow cars to follow each other and see them moving about a bit on track. aero work contributes nothing to anything apart from making an F1 car a split second faster over a lap and i think it’s disappointing that it’s going to take centre stage again. if you want small teams to be able to mix it up with big teams, all you need to do is remove the utter reliance on good aero. it saves money and might just save F1.

  46. Adrian says:

    A couple of possible back-stories:

    1. Tozzi QC’s (surprising?) decision to launch such a personal attack on Brawn is not likely to have been a frolic of his own. The likelihood is that Ferrari told him to give Brawn a good going over. Of course, Brawn knows where the bodies are buried in relation to his time at Ferrari so this may have been a bit of brinksmanship on their part – i.e. pushing Brawn as hard as they could in order to see whether he’d reach for his trump cards (and thereby probably breach any number of confidentiality provisions in his former contract of employment). He didn’t although he hinted at questionable interpretations of the rules by all manufacturers including Ferrari.

    2. Toyota have really had a very good rub of the green recently: (i) with the double diffuser decision; and (ii) with the FIA’s going back into liargate. Toyota were probably close to going the way of Honda this season, and if the DD decision did not go their way, they’d be back in the midfield with a big bill to redevelop the rear end of the car. Would that be a big enough straw to break the camel’s back? Not unlikely. Toyota going would leave Williams in 2010 high and dry without an engine, a double diffuser or a major sponsor (RBS gone). Maybe a bit of Mr Ecclestone’s angel-dust at work here?

  47. rpaco says:

    Never mind Ferrari, if not the FIA’s favourite any more, remember you are still Bernie’s and receiving twice your fair share of FOM money.
    Poor things whatever will they do under a budget cap? Ah! Perhaps Ferrari will be allowed double the capped figure of other teams that would be fair in their eyes.

    Or maybe they will continue with no cap. If it allows the huge spends on lifestyle that they are accustomed to.

  48. Jon says:

    Brilliant News! Comon’ Jense….

    But on a serious note – what an article to support this awsome website

    I’m a sad git and still trawl all the other websites, however, they are pretty gash compared to this

    Personally, i still think the ITV site is better than the new BBC site, which is harldy ever updated and generally full of rubbish

    Grandprix.com is updated about twice a week – it used to be great

    Pitpass seems more interested in GP2 & A1GP so has gone right of my radar

    Autosport, however, which just happens to be linked to this page is pretty dam good, except when you can’t view some of the articles and have to wait till the magazine is published

    Regardless – James, this is the best website by far – well done!

    PS – if a Honda employee developed the DDD, then moved to Toyota, who shared it with Williams…how long till Ferrari accuse them all of cheating….another Stepnygate i reckon!!!

    What a season…

  49. Ikki says:

    How difficult will it be for other teams to implement the trick diffuser, especially after this detailed discussions in front of the technical committee? Wouldn’t the rival teams know how the diffuser works by this time, since lot of technical stuff related to the diffuser would have been put on table for scrutiny?

  50. Colin S says:

    I’m amazed by how little has got out of this 8 hour hearing. I would have expected to hear more of the table-thumping jibes and name calling. If what has been reported is the worst of it, they did pretty well.

  51. Steve Rodgers says:

    “…Ferrari and FIA will be friends again at some point in the future…”

    There may not be a need for Ferrari and the FIA to become friends again if the FIA manage to completely destroy McLaren over the ‘spygate’ fiasco this season

  52. Steve Clark says:

    I see Ferrari being quoted in the media as stating that the ruling will mean a fundamental redesign of the car that will be costly. Given Ferrari’s poor start to the season it would appear that a fundamental redesign was in order anyway. ;)

    It will certainly make for an interesting championship as the big teams chase the minnows. I think what’s interesting is that there was very little said about some finding loopholes for mirror mounts like Ferrari did. Seems that was also outside of the spirit of the regulations.

    I’ll be cheering for the underdog. No not Ferrari or McLaren but Brawn as well as my all time favourite team Williams. Roll on China. Can’t wait. I missed the first two races because of travel.

  53. Betbotpro says:

    Great news for Brawn and Jenson as common sense prevails. The FIA would of looked bad if the decision went the other way.

  54. john g says:

    although i’d agree that the diffusers were legal, there’s still something in the back of my mind that says that this was a political decision. had the FIA wanted to, they could easily have swung the other way.

    however, 1) this stuffs mclaren (and ferrari). 2) brawn winning races is a good story. 3) bernie and branson are best buddies. 4) toyota would be nowhere without their diffuser and might leave the sport.

    or am i being cynical…?

  55. jed says:

    The ruling of the ICA is fair and just. If the ruling was the other way, it too would have been fair and just. The reason being that the particular rule on the diffuser design was not clear enough, thus, there was room for interpretation and it is the job of the ICA to give the final interpretation. Apparently they are of liberal minds and interpreted it the way brawn, et.al. interpreted it.

    As for tozzi slamming ross brawn, i am certain that is not personal. That is only for the court room. Lawyers have to go to such extremes to bring home a point. This is what tozzi was trying to do….after all it is his job. any well educated person like ross brawn knows it. it’s no big deal. It is only the british(sorry james) journalists who like to make issues out of nothing to spice up the news. A classic case of “Yellow Journalism”. Balanced news seem to be secondary in britain.

  56. Kirk says:

    A question for you to ponder/look into.

    Now that all the other 7 teams will have to come up with their own interpretation of the DDD will the FIA have to inspect and approve them as and when they are installed on the back of the cars? I mean, what if a team uses the DDD to then add a little bit extra bodywork or tweak it in a way that it does become illegal?

    I ask because there is a quote from Renault lawyer saying they had a version of the DDD during pre-season, asked the FIA to approve it and it was rejected – so I assume it had something that DID break the rules in their view.

  57. rpaco says:

    New rules to come for next year then! No engineering or design brilliance or innovation allowed.

    The three diffuser teams have not only been crafty, but have violated the spirit of sporting competition.

    But the spirit has always been to exploit the rules to the utmost extent and then to see if you can bend them a bit. ;-0

  58. Rumbert says:

    “Ferrari have only woken up because someone has driven faster than them. The accusations are coming from teams who did not come up with the idea and now they are getting angry. For anyone who has read the rules it was quite obvious,” said Brawn in an interview for British newspaper The Mirror.

    ross brawn made that comment a few weeks ago… he left ferrari after a political tussle. he had ambitions to be team principal at ferrari but was thwarted by jean todt (at least according to some reports i read)… obviously there is no love lost between brawn and his old employers.

    ferrari’s upswing was the result of brawn and schumi moving there from benetton… now that both these men are out of ferrari, will the scuderia return to the mediocre ways of the early and mid 90s? i sure hope not

  59. Jason says:

    The thing that I have an overwhelming feeling about, though, is that if it were Ferrari/McLaren/BMW who had developed this diffuser style, they would have been deemed illegal. The main reason that they have been classified legal is that the teams who made them are some of the midfield/backmarkers of the last number of years. Its all political and that makes me sad.

    That being said, I am glad they were deemed legal, dont get me wrong. Should make for some great catching up for the other teams and I am excited to see the rest of the season, barring the DQ of McLaren at the end of this month.

  60. Azza says:

    Fantastic news James another one of your great stories so far, iv now got your site as my home page!

    I cant believe Nigel Tozzi made those comments about Ross Brawn. Are they accurate quotes from Tozzi or more like alleged comments???

  61. Brad PIT says:

    Great day for British fanboys. “Come on, Jens”… This is really pathetic. Time to abandon this ship of fools commanding by Max&Bernie. Shame on you.

  62. Adrian says:

    The statements from Renault and, now, Newey on behalf of Red Bull to the effect that they had waved similar ideas past Charlie Whiting and been told that they were illegal, suggests that the way in which Brawn et alii have negotiated their way through the rulebook is not 100% obvious. It may not be 100% obvious to the others even now. See similarly, Tozzi QC’s accusations of inconsistency on the part of the FIA.

    Now I doubt very much that the other teams would, through the stewards inquiry process and the appeal, have gained access to the ful technical details of the Brawn/Williams/Toyota solution. It may be that they still don’t understand why their attempts were illegal but Brawn’s were not. It seems entirely possible that we will soon have the somewhat farcical but entirely legitimate situation of the other 7 teams rocking up with their double diffusers, and being told that their attempts *are illegal*, since they *still* have not made the key interpretative breakthrough.

  63. Finn says:

    Anyone know why the Red Bull and the Renault DDDs were declared illegal, but Brawn, Toyota and Williams were okay?

    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/74483

  64. Tim Parry says:

    Ferrari’s reaction to the ruling makes me think they have finally reverted to their pre-Brawn/Schumaker state when they were a conglomeration of very talented individuals whose passion constantly got the better of them.

  65. LeighJW says:

    Ferrari’s first double decker diffuser design can be seen here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/25736183@N05/3444466637/

    [ Take care: Humour alert! - Moderator ]

  66. AMS says:

    I’ve been a Ferrari fan since 1984… ever since I started to watch Formula 1 races on TV.

    But today… I am ashamed to be one of those “one million supporters”…

    Today we’ve just seen once again what we’ve seen for many, many years… that Formula 1 is no longer a sport. Shame on all car manufacturers who made this possible.

    Good point Mr Allen… Brawn is a person of supreme intelligence. You’re 100% right.

  67. Dave H says:

    Brilliant!
    The FIA finally do something that doesn’t benefit Ferrari! We’re in for a great season if this continues!

  68. Benalf says:

    I don’t understand why the lawyers were the ones who open salves at the ICA meeting; it was suppose to be a hearing to explain technical issues and compare them to the regs.
    Tozzi mess it up baddly if its true he said what the press is saying. Some bloggers talk about the frustration Ferrari is experiencing. The true of the matter is that Ferrari is having problems as a team since 2005. 2006 was good at some point but they couldn’t win any WC….so it was bad.
    The achievements during 07 and 08 can certainly be written with a short phrase: Ferrari developed the faster cars but it was below par when it came -overall speaking- to team work, tactical decisions and race management. In fact Ferrari F2008 was a car good in some circuits, average in others and kimi did not help to thrust the team when they needed the most.
    The only surprise I read about the hearing was the comment made by Bell -I think- about Renault DDD concept being rejected by the FIA by mid 2008. If that’s true, Renault have been victimized three times: by the ICA in the case of the mass damper in 2006, they victimized themselves for stopping any development on their engine following the “spirit of the rules” stupid idea and by the FIA rejection of the DDD in 2008…. A total disaster for a team with the best driver of the grid. The bottom line here is that the FIA should restructure the way they write regs, they have to move into technological advances to ensure regs are clear and that their enforcement can be performed timely, fast and consistently without human interpretation as the fundamental tool.
    Now let’s race guys

  69. Chris G says:

    Great blog James. I can only echo the sentiments of those above and say keep up the great work.
    I am extremely pleased with todays outcome but there is one thing I’m unclear about; some people have stated that the diffusers are not in the spirit of the rules because they don’t slow the cars down. As far as I am aware the new rules were developed to promote overtaking rather than to slow the cars down.
    From what I’ve seen/heard/read the diffusers do not make overtaking more difficult due to dirty air, they just increase grip.
    Am I mistaken?

  70. sean says:

    well all I can say is that I hope all the brawn fans are happy and they better wrap up the championship as quickly as possible because after this decision ferrari,bmw,renault,mclaren,red bull,will be pour billions into dd and aero packages the end result will one team winning the first 6 races of the year them stuggling to make quali 2 they may have stolen a march on the rest but dont have the resources to maintain it branson wont be shelling out millions for half a second a lap its not like he needs the publicity that f1 will give.So the second half of the season will be made up of kers cars fighting with each other the championship all ready decided by monaco

  71. jeremy says:

    James,

    I’m curious what you meant by “FIF1 have politcal reasons”?

    Does that ential the partnership with McLaren and Mercedes?

    on a separate note:
    It has been said Brawn and FIF1 are customers of Mclaren, but wouldn’t Brawn actually be customers of MHPE since they use their own gearbox and KERS development? What is their exact relationship?

  72. JohnBt says:

    One cannot avoid “politics”. It’s a huge part of life. Pity, the 7 teams have to fork out more money. Contradiction from FIA cost cutting program. Questionable situation. Max, where are you?

  73. manatcna says:

    It wasn’t a loophole, it was part of the rules

  74. Heinz-Harald from Sydney says:

    I am glad that the position on DDD’s has been clarified, but the whole situation stinks of Max and Bernie’s dirty work – particularly if there is veracity to the claims that the diffuser designs of Renault and Red Bull had been previously rejected.

    Being an F1 purist, I must say that I do not like the current pecking order of this year’s World Championship. Why? Brawn, Toyota and Williams do not deserve to be where they are (cue criticism/crucifixion). Like it or lump it, they got lucky due to inorganic rule changes, confusion and unilateral decision making and not because they were any smarter than the other teams (surely the likes of Ferrari et al could have figured out the advantages of the DDD and implemented it much early then Spain or Monaco). As soon as Ferrari/McLaren/BMW/Renault get their cars working, these teams will fall back to where they belong. HOWEVER, if BrawnGP, Williams and Toyota can maintain its dominance from here on in (I mean 2010,2011,2012…AND without further “political interference”) then I will duly eat humble pie. Until then, they are still pretenders to me (except maybe for Williams as they have already proved their worth against the best at their best – as I was very appropriately corrected in a previous post).

  75. James Lindfield says:

    It’s easy to confuse arrogance with confidence…

  76. Dave says:

    It’s a crazy comment to aim at Brawn, as it was not only them but Williams, Toyota, Charlie Whiting, two sets of Stewards….. in fact quite a lot of people…..

  77. Stephen Kellett says:

    “only a person of supreme arrogance would think he is right when so many of his esteemed colleagues would disagree”

    There is a very good and useful saying for those going into business or inventing things:

    “If you are the only person doing something you are either a genius or a fool.”

    I’m not sure, but for some reason I think Einstein is responsible for that quote.

    Ross Brawn: Genius.

    Tozzi’s comments. Water off a duck’s back. Doubt it Ross Brawn gives a monkeys about what was said about him.

    While I’m at it, another useful saying for those of you that do work building/designing/creating things (for me that is software):

    “The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything”.

  78. The Pitstop says:

    Maybe our James had some inside info, and had this news item already prepared.

  79. floydthebarber71 says:

    i reckon he wrote two different articles last night, and just waited for the result to publish the right one :D

    heh anyway, its one of the sensible outcomes of this hearing. i wouldve personally liked to have seen them outlawed, since this now lowers the chances of overtaking by some percentage. that judgement would work in theory, but this one doesnt let the diffuser gang’s money and time go to waste, nor the protesters’ money and time (been working on the same diffuser for this outcome), and we have an epic season now lined up for us!

  80. john g says:

    Let me retract that last statement! It would be farsical to change the rules just to keep the sport entertaining!

    If the other teams mis-read the rules, that’s thier problem. It would be wrong to punish a team for designing a better car.

    I’m sorry!

    Thanks!

  81. FF says:

    ‘to save the FIA from itself’ is a strong line which suggests that Ferrari and FIA have strained their relationship of the past.

    I think Bernie and Mosley will be laughing at the prospects of FOTA now – teams have turned against 3 of their own bunch, the proposals of FOTA weren’t considered by FIA, Mclaren saga. All in all the teams wanted to stand up together against the hegemony of Bernie – Mosley but the year hasn’t started well for them.

    Time to focus of racing again.

  82. Craig says:

    The fact the teams will now be spending money developing a new diffuser (which they’d spend elsewhere anyway) should not influence the decision made; it’s a secondary effect. The diffusers indeed should have been declared legal because technically they complied with the rules as set out. This isn’t a case in the past of say, Renault’s mass damper system in 2006 being declared illegal, where that wasn’t because they had an unfair advantage, but because it was deemed to fall in to the catergory of a moveable aero device – I believe – which was illegal.

    Talk of spirit of the rules and unpreferred new research spending and high costs are not what matters in this ruling situation. Only the facts and the rules do. The correct decision was made.

  83. Tom says:

    They’ll have to catch it first…
    Hope Williams get a win in somehow before the others catch them up.

  84. MartinWR says:

    Tom asks “Isn’t that just a lawyer doing his job?”
    If that is a lawyer doing his job, he simply isn’t doing it very well.
    By falling back on a vindictive personal attack on Ross Brawn, Tossi conclusively demonstrated to the judges, who obviously aren’t the complete fools he took them for, that the teams that didn’t read the regulations simply didn’t have a leg to stand on. He also made a lovely job of reinforcing the opinion of many in the press and the public that the sport is run by madmen and keeps shooting itself in the foot. And in addition, Ferrari, by employing a legal rottweiler, did a great job for Bernie and Max of straining the bonds that bind FOTA to the absolute limit. Maybe Ferrari want to wreck FOTA as well, because they certainly tried hard enough at this hearing.
    This was a welcome victory for sanity in a world that seems to be increasingly lacking in it nowadays. It was a hearing that was unnecessary in the first place, because it was clear right from the start who was in the right. The seven tried to play the political card, the only one they had, and fortunately it didn’t work for them. However it did perhaps demonstrate the huge frustration felt by the teams at the way the sport is administered, and you can hardly blame them for that when the sums of money they are spending are mind-boggling.
    At least we won’t have to put up with infantile talk of “trick” diffusers in future. I hope.

  85. James M says:

    Very true! The ruling shows that his ‘arrogance’ in this issue was well placed.

  86. Gavin says:

    Lee, I like what you’re saying very much. Imaging the the racing season focussing on the racing and the off-season being filled with all the politics to keep us fans entertained all year round. But, more seriously, I like the idea of having a process of pre-season scrutineering and appealing done prior to the first race. If a team then introduces a new design or significant modifications during the season, they would have to go through this process bagain efore using the car in a race, giving other teams a chance to object before it is used.

  87. stringy says:

    How about a pre-season warm up race about a month or so before the season starts? It could have full stewards scrutinering etc etc

  88. rpaco says:

    Craig, the mass damper was illegal because it was not fixed totally to the sprung mass of the vehicle. Basically it’s a weight on a spring. (now used in ultra high rise skyscrapers in pendulum mode) Indeed had it conformed to the rules it would not have worked and would been just a bit of ballast. A bit of a shame from an engineering point of view because it worked brilliantly and it’s one of the things that I think should be allowed back in the rules in order to improve the efficiency of the suspension.

    Maybe Tozzi could be banned from future appearances if he continues to be rude about the FIA, who as we all know are masters of the universe, can do no wrong, are autonomous, independent and answer to no one.(except Bernie of course and members of the Builderburger Group) :-) ;-)

  89. iceman says:

    I don’t agree with your comparison with the Renault mass damper here Craig – I think actually it is a similar situation. In my opinion in both cases the device was permitted by the rules, only the FIA’s decision was different. They have accepted the letter of the law and allowed the diffusers, whereas with the mass damper they came up with a frankly perverse interpretation of the wording in order to justify banning it. Claiming that a component entirely enclosed inside the car was an aerodynamic device seemed quite bizarre.

  90. iceman says:

    I think Renault were saying half a second a lap, so their performance in China should be interesting given that they apparently have a double decker diffuser ready to go.
    I predict that they will be only marginally faster, and that they will be complaining that they’re still at an unfair disadvantage because the rest of their aero package is not optimised to take advantage of the new diffuser!

  91. Jon says:

    Sorry, I don’t see your point here, Ferrari won the WCC last year. I think the Constructors view the WCC more than the WDC. Yes ferrari don’t look like they’ll win anything at the moment, but nor do McLaren. This surely must be good for the sport.

  92. Lee Grant says:

    True – as we saw at Australia, that the Brawn machine is pretty strong too!

  93. Kimster46 says:

    Brawn GP team is not an underdog , they were enjoying the richness of Honda , now i am sure Richard Branson or whoever funding for brawn think twice before spending a single penny on next year or current car.

    i don’t have any clue diffusers are legal or illegal. I am just not sure whom to believe :( . I really hope FIA decision is not a political gimmick

  94. Grabyrdy says:

    You’re right – there’s a large political aspect to all this.

    Max would like to show Ferrari that when they don’t accept their old role of divide and rule among the teams they don’t get what they want (and the comparison with the Mass Damper thing is apposite). Ferrari would like to show Max how aggressive they can be when they get cross.

    Trouble is, Ferrari have just looked rather childish, and therefore foolish. I wonder how much development will be retarded by spending money on a very expensive QC to shout insults at one of their ex-employees ! Do they regret not giving him Todt’s job ? How can they not ?

    Finally, there really must be a mechanism to bring things like this to a head before the season starts. I don’t believe it’s not possible. Think of how much money would be saved !

  95. rpaco says:

    Kirk: Of course it would be very easy to design a diffuser which looked similar to one of the three DDDs but broke the rules. The rules are just a mass of boxes (defined volumes and positions thereof in relation to the vehicle centreline the rear wheel centreline and the reference plane)

  96. James H says:

    I think that the strategic errors made in both Oz and Malaysia prove that Ferrari are not the team they were.

    The scrambling to set up working groups is showing that they have no idea how to move forward at the moment.

  97. Stephen Kellett says:

    The seven tried to play the political card, the only one they had, and fortunately it didn’t work for them.

    You make it sound like a round of Its a Knockout.

    Perhaps all the teams should have one Joker which they can play once at any race they choose?
    :-)

  98. Martin P says:

    Wow what a brilliant idea!! Sorry James, we’re not replacing Jonathan Legard with you anymore – the jobs going to Stuart Hall. He’ll still be describing the weather conditions an hour after the race finishes!

  99. Cliff says:

    Martin, I agree with you!
    Bernie & Max will be smiling at this result and FOTA will become increasingly fractured in the coming months. God I wish I was a Lawyer!…No Win but I still get my fee

  100. guy says:

    Hey stop knocking the lawyers! [No prizes for guessing my profession!].

  101. MartinWR says:

    Guy says “stop knocking the lawyers”. But, if you are one, Guy, you have to admit that Tozzi completely blew it by being off topic, which signalled that he had no case to argue and he knew it. This wasn’t about personalities. It was about a technical issue. That technical issue was one which the stewards were far better equipped to judge than the court. And of course the stewards had already settled it anyway.

  102. guy says:

    You can only argue the hand you have been dealt. By putting the case so aggressively, and ostensibly focusing on the personalities, demonstrates the silk did not have confidence in the (vital) technical side of the argument. If he did, he would have let the facts speak for themselves. This tells me Ferrari can’t make the diffuser work – they won’t be on the pace anytime soon.

  103. VonSpeeX says:

    Fair comment Jedi

  104. Peter Hall says:

    Seymour: I can’t see any reason why Ferrari and McLaren would concentrate on developing next year’s cars instead of this year’s.

    As there are no major rule changes coming into effect for next year the cars will just be an evolution of this years
    cars.

    The difference is that this year all the teams had to start from a blank canvass due to the major rule changes.

  105. guy says:

    Great gag – although I was kind of hoping for a topless woman wearing a ferrari hat!!

  106. LeighJW says:

    A little light relief…. I felt it was sorely needed…

  107. Lee Gilbert says:

    It’s the only argument they had – the diffuser itself was legal and had been passed legal twice beforehand (by race stewards)

    Trouble is the other teams now look desperate (after using that argument) and Ferrari in particular look sour. Oooops.

  108. Andy Taylor says:

    Great analysis, James. The question now is will the rules be rewritten to plug the holes?

  109. phil says:

    There would good arguement either way, but i suspect the FIA and Bernie conspired together to maintain the rules to give a new lease on life in f1 for new teams to dominate/

    I hope the teams still stick together and tell the FIA and Bernie to Bugger off. There is no requirement for the teams to stick around and we all know if the teams decide tommorrow to pack up and leave, which they can, the FIA will disappear, and Bernie will be up for a lot of Cash. There is nothing stoping the teams sactioning there own series. BBC or ITV will definatly televise it, and the teams can ensure both tracks and teams make plenty of cash.

    The FIA and Bernie have ruined F1.

  110. rpaco says:

    I quite agree Benalf.
    Lawyers do this because they earn lots of money and it does not matter to them if they win or not, they get paid anyway. They will appear anywhere there is money preferably millions. Also they can later claim they lost on technical matters thus not their responsibility.

    It is outrageous that lawyers are allowed into what should be sporting or purely technical court. At once you get personal attacks and defamation by Tozzi. Ross ought to sue him. Such an attack is an obvious admission that they knew they would loose so why sully the Ferrari name? Bad judgement and bad management!

    A very one-sided view of Renault.
    In fact the mass damper although brilliant was very obviously illegal from the start, nothing to do with aero rules, just the sprung mass rules.
    They have been allowed to tweak their engine supposedly to let them catch up. Seems very generous to me that!
    They failed to read the rules properly this time, so what are you moaning about? Flav sulking and throwing toys out of his pram does not give him much credibility as a team principle.

    Holes are illegal on the reference and step planes. A gap between the reference plane and the diffuser is not a hole. There is a huge difference. (Next year the rules may well be changed to stop the gap! (pun intended)

  111. rpaco says:

    Chris G
    Slowing the cars down was to be achieved by lessening grip from downforce, thus making possible cornering speeds slower.

    Diffusers increase grip by creating downforce, an area of low pressure under the rear of the car as the air escapes from under the flat bottom which runs all the way back as far as the rear wheel centreline. The air expands upwards through the diffuser blades and is thrown up behind the car, more air rushes in from the sides to fill the low pressure area left behind, creating vortices on each side in the car’s wake.
    Then you have the rear wing which does a similar thing but a bit higher up. Thus two layers of severely disturbed air are left behind, these may meld into one mess. Since all the aero features work best in still air the more disruption the less well they work.
    Small planes cannot land for 15 minutes after a jumbo due to the vortices left by the jumbo’s wings, wind shear is likely, but with cars they are straight in there and have to cope, the new larger front wings help this.
    Restricted diffuser designs create less downforce and leave less air disruption, which may have been the intent of the rules, but they were badly written leaving a loophole (another kind of hole but not a gap ;-)) The DDD allows more of the air volume to be controlled creating much more downforce.
    Ross in the OTWG asked the other teams if they wanted to tighten the regs but they said no. (obviously without looking close enough)

  112. rpaco says:

    Phil
    I am pretty sure that the Secret Concorde agreement if not the sporting rules oblige(s) the teams to field cars at all the races during the agreement term.

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