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Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Jul 2011   |  5:46 pm GMT  |  130 comments

In the background of today’s exciting Grand Prix at Silverstone, the teams agreed to a plan for the rest of the season on the off throttle blown diffuser issue.

After a meeting this morning at which Sauber refused to sign an agreement to revert to the rules as they were in Valencia, this afternoon a unanimous agreement was reached. So from Germany onwards teams can go back to what they were doing before, only they will not be allowed to change engine maps between qualifying and the race.

Then at the end of the season, blown diffusers will be banned once and for all.

Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali said, “I think that this thing was not really good for everyone. We need to draw a line and now look ahead, because otherwise where we are going? Even if I think I don’t agree with the process, for the benefit of the sport we should have action.”

Ferrari certainly benefitted today from the patched together agreement reached for this race only on Saturday. THis saw teams operating with between 10% and 20% of throttle open on lift off of the accelerator.

Although Ferrari has made progress with its car, Red Bull seem to have lost a couple of tenths of a second more this weekend. With the old arrangement back in place for the rest of the season, it is likely that this will put Red Bull in a better place than they were in this weekend, according to engineers I’ve spoken to this evening.

So this race could prove a blip, rather than the start of a new trend.

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130 Comments
  1. Wayne says:

    As much as I dislike RBR’s dominence of the season – this is how it should be. RBR did the best job under the regulations as they were written at the start of the season, they should not have the goal-posts moved on them half way through the season even if it means we have to watch SV win every remaining race this year.

    1. Umar Ali says:

      It was not done because RBR was too dominant, As per the regulations the Blown Diffuser is not allowed and deemed illegal, that is the only reason why it was banned half way in the first place and not the start of next year like Double Diffuser and F-Duct.

      1. Wayne says:

        I didn’t say they banned it because rbr was too dominent. And your take on what was banned and why is far from accurate.

    2. D. says:

      Once the track dried up today, Alonso was as much as 1.5 secs faster than Vettel, most of the gain coming in sector 2. So even w/ the restoration of the diffuser rules, we may still see a good battle between him and Vettel in the 2nd half. And, so that we don’t forget, Ferrari gifted Vettel last year’s WDC. It’s not over until it’s over.

      1. Robert says:

        Ferrari gifted the title to Vettel? As I recall, Vettel went out and did everything he needed to in order to become the youngest WDC. Ferrari, along with Alonso, did not do what they needed to in order to win. Vettel earned his title just like every other driver has, including Hamilton in 2008.

      2. Cam says:

        Ferrari did not gift Vettel the championship last season, Christian Horner did. By forcing Webber into a losing stategy that fooled Ferrari to making a quick, off the cuff decision to cover him. Had Webber’s strategy not been interfered with by his own team boss he would have won the championship, not Vettel. The team orders from the Silverstone race once again go to show the preferred pecking order at RBR, despite the claims of the RBR heirachy. Too bad Mark can’t find another drive as competitive for next season… we would see a great gloves off fight between him and Vettel for the title.

    3. CJ the 2cnd, probably... says:

      I completely agree with Wayne, albeit reluctantly as a wavering Mclaren supporter! RBR win by having the best package; drivers, car design, management, interpretation of regulations etc… The point of racing is to win, so if they are winning by complying with the regulations it is simply unsporting to change the regulations to shift the balance, as many contributers to this forum interpret the shenanigans of this weekend to mean.
      On the other hand if blown diffusers should have been regarded as illegal from the beginning of the season (as moving aerodynamic devices, or similar wording) then it’s a whole different ballgame, or mess in fact. I doubt we’ll go there so the eventual decision this weekend was probably wise.
      To my mind it’s a fundamental principle that teams should not be penalised for winning (legally).

      1. wayne says:

        I too am a McLaren supporter, have been for a long time (with Williams in place firmly as my ‘second team’). However, how on earth does an organisation such as McLaren keep making such fundamental mistakes with such alarming regularity? I’ve heard about their budget, I’ve seen the MTC that would put NASA to shame. Yet they seem completely unable to learn from past mistakes, an act that a two year old child can accomplish with complete ease.

        Mistakes in Silverstone alone:

        1) Sending their drivers out on a new set of soft slicks in the rain in early qualy. Thus wasting a set of the most valuable resources in F1 this year knowing they would not improve.

        2) Using the same used set of tyres as the first run in Q3 during a lull in the rain with more rain on the way. How many times have McLaren been caught out by not maximising their chances in qualy in changeable conditions? With clouds darker than Mansell’s eyebrows, surely they had to give it everything while they could?

        3) Not recognising that in Hamilton the have an aggressive driver who absolutely will overtake other cars if he starts in 10th place and therefore short filling him with fuel because they thought he would sit there stuck behind other cars at a slow pace for longer! Lewis Hamilton?

        4) Button’s pit stop.

        That is really way to many mistakes in one weekend.

      2. D@X says:

        I feel your pain Wayne, I too love to support Mclaren and indeed the MTC is a sight to behold. I don’t know were the common sense has gone regarding the management of the team. They have a good driver line up , side by side I think they compliment each other very well compared to other teams.

        I’m hoping with the blown diffuser issues behind us then the down force issues can be rectified so the car can be developed accordingly. Mclaren usually picks up the pace mid season and it’s fingers crossed from now on. Its the only consolation I can offer from another wavering fan.

    4. Clinton says:

      I agree 100% with this comment. “Tweaking” of the rules by the FIA during the season should not be allowed at all, and should be done with a formal ammendment to the regulations.

      This results in a clear “moving of the goalposts”, and no matter how it is done will always result in some fans feeling like it was done for various reasons/motives.

      The situation would have been different if one team had challenged the top teams interpretation of the rules, and in response the courts had ruled that the devices/techniques were in breach of the regulations and were banned. But, sadly, this is not the case.

      1. Luca says:

        I completely agree that any changes should be introduced at the end of the season, as we have seen over the last couple of years (DD / F-Duct etc..)

        But this whole issue has come about as the FIA agreed the blown defuser was illegal and opened the doors for teams who aren’t able to financially develop said technology.

        For example if HRT is not able to race as its outside the 107% rule, it could easily complain its not able to race due the leading cars setting times with technology that is declared illegal.

        The FIA should have just put the mapping ban in, and then acknowledge the legality of the blown defusers and put in the rule change for next season. Still, we live n’learn :-D

    5. Randy Torres says:

      Wait a minute are you all saying that the blown diffuser was illegal at the beginning of the season? I think not! As a die hard Ferrari fan, it pains me to no end to see SV win race in race out, but the truth of the matter is that RB did a better job than anybody else. Period end of story. To change the rules mid-season after teams have invested considerable financial and manpower resources to comply with the original rules just defies logic and calls into question the collective intelligence quotient of the boys at FIA.

      By the way did anybody notice that RB finished 2-3, and that for all the talk of the blown diffusers what really did RB in was a blown pit stop? Well that and Hamilton running interference for Alonso. Have those 2 kissed and made up? What’s going on here?

  2. aj says:

    Well, that’s disappointing.

    1. Umar Ali says:

      Agree

  3. pisto says:

    James,

    Were Hamilton’s fuel problems related to the change in regulations for blown diffusers?

    If so, why? It is counter-intuitive to me.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes and the weather, you expect to use less fuel in wet conditions

    2. wayne says:

      But they would be ‘guessing’ as much as they ever guess in F1. They had not run the car without full hot blowing so they had to estimate fuel and fuel consumption. They may have also thought it would stay wet for longer…..

    3. rpaco (other rpaco) says:

      Also they expected him to be stuck in traffic for the first half of the race and to be going slower, thus using less fuel.

  4. Wucash says:

    I think this is a true turning point in the championship – no one has a slight hope in hell challenging Vettel this year.

    I know the mid season ban isn’t fair on Red Bull, but it is necessary to keep this season alive.

    1. jez says:

      So changing the rules to prevent the fastest car made within the rules of 2011 season is OK because you (and perhaps others)find it more interesting? Unbelievable…

      1. Wucash says:

        It’s not like a precedent hasn’t been made for that kind of thing – one only has to look back to 2006.
        Besides, F1 is as much about entertainment as it is a sport. I’m sorry for the purists out there, but without the viewership of the many casual, or semi-serious viewers, the sport wouldn’t be where it is now. The sport has to be entertaining, and one of key ingredients for that is a close championship fight.

      2. jez says:

        Dream on…

        F1 has been around a longtime, and has a massive fan base all around the world.

        Make too many changes, dilute the racing into a thrill a minute, and manipulate the rules to engineer situations and we all end up with the WWF of motorsport… Happily the sports controllers came to their senses and made a much needed u turn.

        I’m sorry for the people who would prefer a championship controlled by rule changes, but without the viewership of the majority of die hard fans, or semi-serious viewers, the sport wouldn’t be where it is now. The sport has to be entertaining, and one of key ingredients for that is an actual championship fight, not a frivolous farce controlled by boffins in the back room some of which are over 80 and only care about the money.

    2. Phil says:

      It’s not the FIA’s job to make the rest of the season close between drivers.

  5. Raymond says:

    Ferrari was MASSIVE today! In the high speed S2 they were killing even the Bulls by 1 second a lap in that last stint. I wonder though, James, if they actually benefitted from not having to run the hard tyres this weekend.

    The Ferrari wasn’t too shabby in Spain as well, until they put the primes on. Then they were nowhere.

    1. jez says:

      I would wait until the next race before you get too carried away. Alonso did drive above and beyond the car so a well desrved win.

  6. Dale says:

    In my opinion the whole was a fix for the benefit of Ferrari.
    It was highly likely that Ferrari were not going to win a race in 2011 and with goings on behind the scene it was decided this isn’t good for F1 so the rules were changed to pull back Redbull and more so McLaren.

    To my nose there is a smell in the air, the whole thing is disgraceful, no rules should be changed till the end of a season not matter which teams are hindered.

    How I wish F1 was 100% clean with the rules being fair to all always.

    1. frosty1 says:

      That sounds highly unlikely. One of the teams would have said that the rule change is just to benefit Ferrari, and they wouldn’t be changing back if they’d achieved their objective (boosting Ferrari).

    2. HansB says:

      According to Charlie Whiting the rules were not changed by the 10% off throttle thing. It was seen as a tweak in a way that everybody had to follow the intentions of the rules and not use illigal diffusor solutions.
      Sadly however the FIA turned around after especially RB and McL lost speed.
      There is a smell in the air yes but not the way you state it.
      A very bad weekend for the FIA.

    3. Søren Kühle says:

      What are you basing your theory on? facts?
      As I recall FIA started to look at the EBD as a result of a threat of protest from HRT. Since Ferrari has been blowing their diffuser off-throttle all along.
      I don’t see what their possible advantage in a ban should be. Since every engineer in the sport have repeated the same line over and over since Valencia “We don’t know exactly what our loss will be. We’ll see at Silverstone”.
      Now we know that the diffuser ban is lifted (actually accepted by all including Ferrari). We will see in the next couple of races whether Alonso still can beat Vettel. As far as I can tell, nothing at Silverstone has broken the onward trend from the last races. Ferrari is catching up, Alonso is a lethal driver in a class of his own, when he smells blood (just look at his comeback last year). If they as claimed, have found a way around their problems on the hard tyres, and now have an aero package to cope with tracks like Silverstone. I think that they are a force to be reckoned with.
      Mclaren has som issues but Hamilton is all talented guts and glory driver and Button’s tactical flair makes them a force never to be underestimated. Vettel might run away with it, but then again. It’s never over before the fat lady sings.

    4. wolf says:

      When the rules keep changing and the sponsor of the winning team and the sponsor of the race are one and the same it’s not a good look.

      1. mvi says:

        I guess you would have made the same comment if McLaren had won, as it is also sponsored by Santander.

      2. Søren Kühle says:

        Should’nt Mclaren have gotten more points then? Santander sponsors them too. I think it must be very hard to enjoy anything seeing conpiracies everywhere. maybe you should watch bicycling instead. No cheating there ;)

  7. zxzxz says:

    the field disparity was among the smallest of the season..

    there were no reliability issues related to the throttle limitation, and the mclaren panic over their pace proved to just be a strategic qualifying mistake.

    given that, ferrari had no reason to agree to the reversion, as the protestation were nothing but chicken little arguments.

    so apparently the presently weak ferrari leadership just doesn’t like winning.

  8. Phil Bishop says:

    this whole scenario has been quite a shambles IMO

  9. Kev says:

    James, it would be great if you could explain how much of an effect would a Valencia spec RB have in the sector-2 of SilverStone?

    They were losing .8 to 1 sec to Alonso in that sector and how much of value does the 50% throttle aid give to increase down force to help in high speed sectors given that RB had an advantage in those sectors because they didn’t lift off the throttle while navigating the curves, thus finishing the laps quicker than others.

    Please correct me if I am wrong too:-)

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t think the margin is so pronounced as that

      1. Ben says:

        Italian TV also made the point that the sector 2 corners where Ferrari seem to have improved performance relative to RB were corners where the drivers were actually on the throttle – which wasn’t included in the ban. It seems that Ferrari have made some changes to the floor of the car to improve the effectiveness of the blown diffuser – I assume that is why they now how no issue enjoying the benefits of the off-throttle gases as well.

        Only one Renault engine blew this weekend, was that due to the ban which supposedly made them unreliable?

  10. KK says:

    I hope this race is a minor blip for Redbull because let’s face it, blown diffusers or not, Newey and his men have done a better job than anyone else coming into the season and they need to be rewarded. Ofcourse, there can be many subsets to this discussion about who uses what and to how much extent but the fact remains, it’s unfair to deploy a mid-season rule change unless there’s something fundamentally wrong.

    1. Raymond says:

      I absolutely agree. It’s like you have the one Algebra genius in your class, and they change his exam to trigonometry, so that he’s not miles ahead of the others.

      1. KK says:

        well said mate

    2. JohnBt says:

      Agreed even though I’m a fan of Alonso.

  11. Rana says:

    This is ridiculous. What the hell is going on with FIA? can’t they stick with one thing?

  12. Jo Torrent says:

    It was a bad day for RedBull yet Vettel has increased his lead in the drivers championship & now given that blown diffusers are back on track RedBull is hardly catchable.

    So, at the end of the day, the wise decision was taken. I wonder if TODT was still leading Ferrari, he would’ve accepted to revert back. I certainly don’t think he would.
    By allowing the backtrack, Dominicali is maybe being diplomatic but it won’t strengthen his weak position as team manager.

    Actually, I was expecting Cosworth customers to be against the backtrack, maybe they all know they’ll move soon to another engine and wanted to keep healthy relationships with Mercedes & Renault.

    FOTA avoided a crisis, but I can’t help but think that all it takes is some manipulation from the FIA to shake the unity.

    1. CartRider says:

      As I know Bernie was at that meeting. I’m guessing the agreement didn’t come without some cash rewards for adversely affected teams. Ferrari had no point to protest because it’s clear that the team won’t be able to fight for either championship this year, and they are able to take the second from McLaren without the exhaust ban. Williams had a reason not to resist because they will be a Renault client next year (the Renault clients appeared to be the most affected by the ban). Although, the situation with Williams is quite interesting because the team is now not privately held. I don’t know why people buy Williams’ shares, but the team’s agreement was not in the best financial interests of the shareholders because it may cost the team in the distribution of the TV profits in the end of the season (although it was in the best interests of the sport). Possibly Sauber’s and the other Cosworth clients’ votes were supported with some cash, which would be quite fair, IMO.

  13. Maximum Attack says:

    What about extra ballast based on points? That would harmonise the field. It’s the purest solution to giving the slower teams a much needed advantage which will boost the show. Forget these mid-season rule changes!
    The more one driver wins, the harder they have to try to achieve it again. It’s simple, cheap to implement, non-gimmicky, and based on pure skill. No button pushing required.
    Otherwise these upcoming 21 race seasons are going to seem very long indeed.

    1. Patrick Byrne says:

      How is that the ‘purest’ solution?!? Ridiculous…

      1. jez says:

        Harmonise the field? Do you understand any of the principles of F1 racing? Agreed a ridiculous statement.

      2. Raymond says:

        He means using pure lead for ballast :P

    2. Phil says:

      How is that not a gimmick? It is essentially, rule changing per race, the rule of car weight changes each race.

      It’s not up to the FIA to make the competition fair/equal for all cars. If you want to compete, you take the chance of losing, if you want to win, you put in the hard work like Red Bull and Ferrari have. The FIA is there to set rules in conjunction with teams, and then enforce them.

    3. Peter says:

      Agree… ridiculous solution. Restricting the best to make the sport more ‘watchable’ goes against every basis of sportsmanship. The best should win.
      Wait… lets hobble the best athlete because the others can’t run fast enough, or don’t train hard enough, or aren’t smart enough to figure out the fastest way to run. It’s rewarding mediocrity. Would you make Nadal play blindfolded because he is leading 2 sets to 1, or Muhammed Ali fight with one hand tied behind his back because the other guy isn’t good enough?
      Sport is not a level playing field. That’s the point. Someone has to win and lose.
      I would love a tight race for the championship, but not one that is artificial.

      1. Goob says:

        The FIA have already artifically restricted the best using DRS… so yes, DRS is rediculous solution to the fundamental problem of excess aero that is plaguing F1…

        No other sport in the world handicaps the guy/girl infront… it’s so dumb, its almost beyond words.

    4. Clinton says:

      If all F1 teams/cars were meant to be equally fast, the regulations would introduce spec chassis, and remove regulations which encourage teams to innovate (even if only aerodynamically) to gain an advantage.

      1. Grayzee (Australia) says:

        yeah….and that’s called Kart Racing!!

  14. Mark says:

    Is it blown diffusers that are going at the end of the season or just off-throttle blowing?

    1. MrNed says:

      It’s the entire concept that’s being banned: As I understand it, the rules for ’12 specify that the exhaust outlets must extend beyond the rear wing, effectively preventing any exhaust-gas energy from being introduced to the diffuser (or any other aerodynamic element for that matter).

    2. Raymond says:

      Blown diffusers overall. Next year they all have to go back to the old-style exhausts which exit above the sidepod and not below

    3. Guio says:

      Both, I think. From what I hear, everyone will have to use periscope exhausts from 2012 onwards…

  15. Patrick Byrne says:

    If that’s the case, why would Ferrari agree to it? Do they really believe it is their aero changes that have improved their performance?

    Would Todt have been so willing to compromise?

    1. Dan says:

      They probably thought that given the general public dissatisfaction with the whole issue that it would be unwise to resist the change and make the sport look even worse. Remember Ferrari have been the 2nd fastest team for the last few races anyway, even when the diffuser rules were the original ones, so it looks as if they’ve just outdeveloped McLaren. Alonso finished 2nd ahead of Webber and both McLarens in Valencia and Monaco, so it’s not like yesterday’s win has come from nowhere. Also, as they said, their car also worked well on the hard tyres in qualifying and practice, unlike when they had them in Barcelona, suggesting they’ve made some fundamental improvements to the car.

  16. Minorflex says:

    The hot blowing of diffusers doesn’t sit in line with any ‘green’ image for F1 and should have been banned prior to the Australia GP 2011.

    James, are the smaller teams who aren’t utilising these blown diffusers still in a position to protest the results of any of these races regarding their use and legality?

    1. James Allen says:

      I suppose they are but the unanimous decision includes I guess an agreement by them not to protest

      1. irish con says:

        hrt are still not in the fota group i think. were they at the meeting. if not they could still protest. if i was the boss of hrt i would protest as the fia clearly thinks its illegal and they wouldnt of tried to ban it otherwise.

  17. fullblownseducer says:

    I’m hoping it’ll make qually more equal – RBR’s qually mappings have clearly been giving them a huge advantage. If I read James correctly, they’ll have to tone them down to ‘race’ mappings or risk blowing up the engine (or needing too much fuel) in the races?

    1. TheLegend says:

      Red Bull didn’t change the maps after qualy, remember that that special map is used also in important race laps, so they don’t chnge anything.

  18. Jez K says:

    There has to be more to this than meets the eye with this agreement today James otherwise surely Sauber & Ferrari wouldn’t have signed on the dotted line and readily sacrificed the obvious step in performance we’ve seen today with Alonso’s win? Domenicali was cagey about the agreement to say the least when he was interviewed by the BBC team after the race.As far as F1 politics goes, Ferrari could probably teach Machiavelli a lesson or two!

    1. Jeremiah says:

      Probably Ferrari got away with a provision such that Red Bull, to keep their blown diffuser, the whole pit crew have to drink a bottle of wine each on race day.
      No wonder they could not change the wheels correctly today

      1. dingbat says:

        lol

    2. fullblownseducer says:

      Ferrari almost certainly know this season is already over, and backing down on this, with no chance of titles anyway, means they lose nothing but maybe gain leverage/good favour when the next controversy arises (prob next season) and they really do see it in their interest to get things their way..

    3. Raymond says:

      I’m guessing that Ferrari feel they covered a large part of the 8-tenth deficit (at flowing tracks) to Red Bull by aero and, seeing as they pulled away at 1s/lap from Red Bull in the race, can have enough to fight?

  19. Jiri says:

    James, I think that I am the only one surprised that only Mercedes and Renault had big problems to adapt their engines to the throttle openings? I mean it was strange that instead of arguing between Mercedes and Renault it was more between McLaren and Red Bull… and from the race I would say both team lost most with the ban… Perhaps engine reliability is just an excuse how to keep something else and maybe not only blowing? I did not hear a single word complaint from Ferrari or Cosworth…

    1. Jiri says:

      sorry, should have been I am not the only surprised… but strange that something like that did not poped during press conf..

    2. HansB says:

      The ones that sacrifice most with this ban will have huge problems to adapt their engines. Only their exact same engines in 2009 were running just fine (without off throttle diffusors).

      1. silverstone89 says:

        Presumably the Mercedes has always introduced fuel on the over run. This was then taken advantage of for hot-blowing, but was not the initial reason.

        On another matter, does any one else think this has all been a big mistake by Charlie? He clearly failed to recognise the technical issues before annoucing the change. This may not have been a new rule but it was certainly a new interpretaiton of the rule which was brought in to ban the f-duct.

  20. fullblownseducer says:

    I’m hoping it’ll make qually more equal – RBR’s qually mappings have clearly been giving them a huge advantage. If I read James correctly, they’ll have to tone them down to ‘race’ mappings or risk blowing up the engine (or needing too much fuel) in the races?
    .
    Race pace hasn’t been that much of a problem for Mclaren and Ferrari, so we could see better races – though this season is surely effectively over as far as both titles are concerned.

  21. Galapago555 says:

    Any clue on how close will be the top three for Germany. I guess Ferrari will be a three or four tenths off the pace of the Bulls, with McLaren slightly behind them?

  22. Richard says:

    The moral winner of the day goes to Ferrari whereas the hypocrite of the day goes to Mr. H.

    1. LycraClad says:

      Just how are Ferrari the moral winners? They have a hollow victory based on a change to the interpretation of a rule midway through a season. A change that is not for safety reasons, but because 1 manufacturer produced a package so much better than anyone else.

      The FIA look ridiculous after this weekend. What is point of having a governing body that has no relevant power? This is the third time this year that they have made a ruling (Abu Dabi, 2013/14 Engines, hot-blown diffusers) and then backed down when the teams don’t like it.

      Looks like a paper tiger.

  23. Werewolf says:

    Perhaps the FIA should be fined for unsafe release … of new rules!

    1. Umar Ali says:

      Lol

  24. irish con says:

    i dont care. i think if ferrari were very fast here they will be very fast anywhere and everywhere for the rest of the season. ferrari were very good on harder tyres on saturday and that is the indication for me. rather keep rules like they are today than going back to the terrible hateful banging noise they were making off throttle before.

  25. Red5 says:

    The Ferrari ran well today suggesting that improvements have been found in other areas.

    However, reverting back to what they were doing before still leaves Webber number 2.

  26. Rich C says:

    SO what was Sauber’s reason for holding out in the a.m. and what were they offered in the p.m. that changed their mind?

    1. Phil says:

      A Ferrari carrot & a Ferrari stick.

  27. Jason C says:

    Why have Ferrari agreed to this then? Odd, given their result today, and its implications for the rest of the season.

    I wonder if they have been developing a hot-blown system that they have yet to put on the car.

    I dislike this whole change-the-rules-in-the-middle-of-the-season affair, it’s created a mess, and looks highly like meddling by the FIA. If the changes result in a tighter field, though, I won’t be complaining. Does that make me a bad person?

  28. glen says:

    This is good news. It is a little boring watching Red Bull and Vettel romping away with it, but I don’t like the mid-season rule change. Teams shouldn’t be punished for innovative.

    1. Umar Ali says:

      It was not innovative technology but more like illegal technology as per the guidelines of building a 2011 spec car issued by FIA and they should be punished for illegal tech, don’t you think?
      And Double diffuser and F-duct were the real innovations and not illegal.

  29. cjf says:

    Better without blown diffusers?

    I really enjoyed this race as all 3 big teams were in close contention for the majority of the race.

    It makes you wonder what sort of epic season we might’ve had if off throttle blown diffusers had not existed in the first place.

    1. irish con says:

      i agree with this. the teams have screwed the fans for there own good but i dont blame them. winning has to come before entertainment for them.

    2. jez says:

      If there weren’t blown diffusers, there would have been something else…

  30. Goodbye 2011 then. Roll on 2012 ;)

  31. kevsuths says:

    what a farce the whole thing has been.

    and they always say F1 will learn from this but they never do, it was crazy to try and change the rules halfway through a season.

  32. One lunger says:

    So far this year Ferrari have been good on the soft tires, but not the hards. Since the race started wet, they did not have to use both compounds in the race, and only used softs.

    A purely dry race would told a different story.

  33. Harvey Yates says:

    It was a shambles. It’s bad enough changing the rules half way through a season let along half way through race morning.

    Ferrari could stand out against the reversion whilst it was not alone but once Sauber went along with the rest things were politically difficult for them. They could not be seen as selfish when other teams benefitted equally.

    The negotiations would appear to have given them the concession with regards to the change of map between qually and the race so everyone happy.

    Still, let’s not let it overshadow an interesting and exciting race. Or great television presentation come to that. That new camera on strings was real quality. Indeed all the new arrangements at Silverstone seem to be a success.

    It’s been a good weekend.

  34. rpaco (other rpaco) says:

    I think that Charlie has been made to look bad in this.
    Ok he has explained and convinced that the several rapid changes of rule were to give equality to each engine manufacturer. But if they do give equality, the teams don’t like it and want to return to their original perceived advantage. Which is very nearly where we have ended up.
    I do not understand (I was going to say “accept”) Charlie’s sudden urge to declare off throttle blowing as a movable aero device, there is no definition of throttle operation in the tech regs. It is obvious that there would be a comparative loss of rear downforce off throttle and that teams would try and compensate for it, all this was a given at the start of the season.
    The real question is what was it that induced Charlie to act now instead of leaving it to the end of the season?

    1. rpaco (other rpaco) says:

      Not quite true that throttle operation is not defined at all, there is this:

      5.5.3 The minimum and maximum throttle pedal travel positions must correspond to the engine throttle minimum (nominal idle) and maximum open positions.

      Now obviously if it can idle with foot off, it cannot also be half open with foot off and still comply. So Charlie could have chosen to enforce that which would affect all teams blowing.

      1. Craig says:

        Incorrect. The engine us not idling during at any stage during cornering, unless the driver has one foot on the clutch and the other off the throttle.

      2. rpaco (other rpaco) says:

        As far as I am aware there is no clutch pedal on a modern F1 car and the drivers do lift off during a corner at some point (I would guess under braking at the final trail into the corner before the maybe through turn in but before apex) .
        However the engine is required to idle on the grid at the start and under pit stop conditions. This means that there must be at least two versions of foot off if the engine is required to provide up to 50% gas flow.
        during cornering with foot off.

  35. Hi, James do you feel that Ferrari would have struggled using the Hard tyre compound, due to using wets/ intermediate tyres at the start?

    The Mclaren looked good in changeable conditions, but once the track dried out they looked like the third fastest team apart from the Fuel issue with Hamilton, which robbed him of a 3rd place finish.

    The race was good, and I think we should get former race drivers and current ones to provide suggestions for further improvements across F1 tracks i.e. Dubai, Valencia etc (Boring tracks) i.e. promote better overtaking?

    Finally with the off throttle engine maps are to go back on Valencia spec, would this close the gap as teams would not want to create a quicker car on one single lap and therefore keep the cars conserved over a long race stint?

    1. James Allen says:

      Certainly the wet start changed the race, made the situation more simple once they went to slicks. But Ferrari was faster in the dry condition

  36. rvd says:

    I think Ferrari agreed (and allowed Sauber to agree) because they realized that not having to run the hard tires was the difference and not the diffuser crap.

  37. Marc says:

    FIA pulls the strings: like with Brawn GP in ’09, allows RBR’s creative interpretation of the rules to cut traditional Fer-McL dominance, then applies initial rule to level the field for a better show. Now we’re back to pre-S’stone rules because the FIA shot itself in the foot. The Tour de France is cleaner than the FIA.

  38. adam h says:

    as long as its fair and square let it go on! i dont like it when FIA help ferrari and FERNANDO in particular!

    1. TheLegend says:

      FIA has never helped Fernando, even indirectly. But it seems some fanatics will never see that.

  39. FormulaWindTunnel says:

    ban-unban-unban-ban-ban-unban-ban-unban gate lol

  40. Keith says:

    Too much hot air really, let’s move on and go racing :-)

  41. mark says:

    James, Could you please expalin or find out why simply moving the exhausts to the back was not seriousley considered?

    there are so many reasons For.
    - Non aerodynamic advantage from a moving device.
    - Simple remedy for all teams.
    - Better parity to all teams
    - Is a rule already intended for release 2012
    - Maintains whatever engine cooling, running requirements for all of the teams, meaning they can blow hot or cold as much as they like…

    etc.

    1. James Allen says:

      It was and it will be the rule for 2012

  42. JRay says:

    Hi James
    I have to comment on the “team orders” imposed on Webber, I’m disgusted in Horner Marko and Red Bull. It absolutely stinks. I think Webber should move to Ferrari as soon as he can. At least then if team orders are imposed on him there at least he’s in a Ferrari. Thinking I was going to see a thrilling overtake on Vettel you had stupid horner stifling competition. I truely feel sorry for Webber!

  43. Adrian Newey Jr says:

    James – do you think the focus on mapping is smoke and mirrors – ie that the true RB performance margin is due to another factor?

    Notwithstanding that there are some differences (eg quality of drivers, designers, etc) but I had expected Renault to be a lot closer to RB at the start of the season due to their supposed engine/exhaust combination, assuming Renault (the engine manufacturer) gave their former team the same engineering support. This leads me to think there are other factors contributing more to the performance gap over the rest of the field.

    1. James Allen says:

      Clearly there is more to their car than this technology. But it is designed around being able to do this and the aerodynamics of the various parts of a car all work together

    2. Ryan Eckford says:

      Renault would have been closer to Red Bull if Kubica was in that car. Hopefully he returns to F1 at his best in the near future.

  44. John says:

    Would be nice to see all the ‘geniuses’ that commented earlier about how Ferrari were behind all this and pushing the FIA admit that they are wrong since Ferrari have agreed to revert. But they are probably too classy for that. Thats the only hot air that is really bothering me.

  45. JohnBt says:

    Honestly the season is over for me. RRB designed a winning car. You can’t change the rules to slow them down. Now FIA wants to go back to Valencia. Wouldn’t this bring the championship even closer to the end for 2011.

    Anymore tweaking to rules will make FIA look even more stupid IMHO.

  46. monktonnik says:

    I am in two minds about this.

    On one hand I feel that changing the rules mid season is unfair. The double diffuser and F-duct opened up avenues of development in season and the innovators and cleverest engineers reaped the rewards. To ban something that is apparently legal (as I understand it the driver is not affecting how much off throttle burning is used) half way through a season is unfair.

    On the other hand I think it was that Martin Brundle that put it best. His comment was something along the lines of “the throttle position and sound of the engines bears no relation to what the driver is doing”. We might as well reintroduce traction and launch control if we are going to allow that kind of thing.

    What I am sure of is that this has been handled badly by the FIA. They should have either stuck to their guns on 10% throttle and let the engine manufacturers sort out the reliability in the normal way, or not banned it at all.

  47. Jon says:

    It makes me Laugh, the rules get changed, and hey presto Ferrari win. Then everyone is saying the rules are changed to allow ferrari to win. Ferrari have been getting closer and closer to RBR in the last few races, perhaps there updates have had a baring on this.

    Changing the rules half way through a season isn’t the best thing that the FIA could do. But they did, and now they’ve changed it back to the Valencia spec. This is the right thing to do as they shouldn’t be able to change the engine mapping between Quali and Race as they are in Parc Ferme.

    Like others have said Red Bull have made the quickest car, and interpretated the regulations the best. Good luck to them, but lets hope Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes can sort there car out and challenge them in the second half of the season.

  48. Werewolf says:

    As I brushed my fangs last night, reviewing the events of the day, a thought occurred to me: the number of personalities yesterday that referred to the blown diffuser rules arguments as “boring” was quite significant.

    In the past, these types of issues have been regarded as at best exciting or at worse an integral part of the fabric of F1. Was yesterday a watershed of opinion change on F1 politicking, perhaps because the racing has been so good this year, or merely a reflection on what was actually no more than bad management?

  49. Francesco Lanza says:

    Oh come people just stick to a decision, so f1 season over webber not allowed to challenge, and now not even Ferrari, best f1 season ever, not anymore

  50. Toby S says:

    “After a meeting this morning at which Sauber refused to sign an agreement to revert to the rules as they were in Valencia, this afternoon a unanimous agreement was reached. So from Germany onwards teams can go back to what they were doing before, only they will not be allowed to change engine maps between qualifying and the race.”

    I’m probably being stupid here, but I thought that doing what they liked (within reason), but not changing between qualifying and the race is exactly what they were doing at Valencia.

    Did Sauber capitulate, or have I missed a difference between Valencia and the current setup?

  51. Alonso Fan says:

    James,

    Is it possible for you to do a more in depth article on the Exhaust Blown Diffuser?

    I get the impression that Red Bull were using cold blown air which was used to cool the Renualt engine prior to EBD’s being used and that this was a clever idea by Adrain Newey to exploit an existing characteristic of the Renualt engine, whereas Mercedes powered teams have been using hot blown air off throttle to catch up with the bulls. (I don’t think they even believed that Neway was doing it this way until this weekend its that clever)

    This means that the 10% restriction off throtle with hot blown air would have affected the Mercedes teams more so than Red Bull hence why the Renualt would need a different % restriction and would stink of the FIA artificially adjusting %’s to fix race results. Hence why it was uninforceable as it would have to be a different % for each circuit.

    Also do you have any idea how Ferrari do it? the fact that they rolled over and agreed sugests to me that the proposed regulations wouldn’t have affected them either.

    Apologies if the above is BS its as i’ve understood it.

    PS Great Site.

  52. CW says:

    Hi James,

    On the BBC feed, during a quick interview Nigel Mansell indicated that one of the teams had found a novel use for a heat resistant carbon fibre material “developed by NASA.” I’m extremely curious as to which team, and what use they might be putting it to – do you or any of your engineer contacts know any further details on this?

  53. StefMeister says:

    While the FIA didn’t excatly handle things brilliantly, I think the teams also share a big portion of the blame over the OTBD row. Lets not forget that the FIA informed the teams of the changes back in early May so they have had 2 months to prepare for it.

    The teams should have said when the ban was 1st announced that they had problems running at the 10% limit & they all should have sat down then to work out some sort of comprimise rather than wait untill the last minuite.

  54. AdrianP says:

    Ferrari signing up to the reversal of the ban is the most interesting part of the story. It was obviously felt that Red Bull’s blown diffuser was a big part of its advantage and this (to an extent) was borne out by the state of play at Silverstone. But the back story seems to be that hot-blowing of the diffuser (which Mercedes and Maclaren seem to be most advanced with) is potentially a larger gain the cold-blowing (which is the RBR / Renault solution). It seemed that Maclaren and Mercedes were in fact hit by the ban *harder* than RBR, which basically confirms that there is already a way of doing the blown-diffuser thing better than RBR.

    So what explains Ferrari’s thinking?

    Presumably, they have a hot-blowing solution well in progress (as I understand things, Ferrari are not yet hot-blowing) – so they see the blown-diffuser as an opportunity to overhaul RBR. Moreover, it is, in some ways to Ferrari’s advantage to have Maclaren competitive and potentially able to take points of RBR, if Ferrari are to have a hope of getting back into this title challenge.

    Maybe RBR cannot actually do a hot-blowing solution without extreme difficulty.

    The hypothesis would, therefore, be that the current state of play on blown diffusers is something like – using Ferrari as the baseline

    (1) Ferrari +0.00 secs/lap
    (2) Red Bull -0.4 secs/lap
    (3) Mclaren -0.8 secs/lap

    (*) Mercedes would also be potentially able to get the -0.8 secs/lap, but they seem to get a balance problem.

    (**) Ferrari may be expecting to get to Maclaren levels of effectiveness.

    1. Alonso fan says:

      Glad it’s not just me who thinks that the red cars have something to gain by agreeing to suspend the ban

  55. silverstone89 says:

    James.
    I want to ask what may be a really nerdy question.
    As i understand it the rule that is being interpreted as banning off-throttle blowing says that there must not be a system which allows the driver to influece the aerodynamics of the car- intended to ban the f duct.
    In the case of the blown diffuser surely it is when the driver is ON the throttle that he is influencing the aerodynamics by introducing exhaust gasses into the diffuser by pressing on the throttle pedal? When OFF throttle it is the ECU doing it- not the driver.
    Would it not be better to saying it is blown diffusers which are illegal (which I know they are doing next year) not OFF throttle blowing per-se?
    In fact, you might say that off throttle blowing STOPS the change in aerodynamics due to the driver’s right boot and therefore is a requirement if you are going to have blown diffusers?!
    I realise i may have got this wrong but would appreciate your thoughts!

  56. nsx says:

    Hi James,

    Many pundits have said that it is the trick engine mapping which allows 90% of the throttle to be used even when the driver is off-throttle that has allowed Vettel to start being quicker than Webber. My information is that the 90% map was introduced in Hungary last year. Even though Webber, won that race, Vettel was the faster driver there.

    From that point onwards Vettel has been about 4 tenths faster than Webber rather than being about 1 tenth slower than Webber. Suggesting that Vettel is much better able to exploit the additional downforce through the corners. Which is also backed up by the side-by-side qualifying comparison in Turkey, which showed that Webber lost heaps of time to Vettel by not carrying as much speed in the corners, but was actually faster than Vettel in other areas.

    Throughout this season Vettel has been about 4 tenths faster than Webber. All of a sudden at Silverstone with a ban on trick engine mapping, in dry conditions it seemed as if Webber was about 1-3 tenths faster than Vettel. Many people, including Ted Kravitz, who also said a number of people in pitlane agreed with him, commented that the big winner in the banning of blown diffusers was Webber. In that, although he is slower, he is faster relative to his team-mate by some margin.

    So the reversion to allow the blown diffuser appears to be a disaster for Webber, Ferrari and the interests of having a decent championship.

    Love the blog, and keep up the good work James. Good to see you on RPM on One giving your views too.

    1. nsx says:

      I should also point out that next track is the Nurburgring. This is Webber’s best track, and if the ban on diffusers had have remained, I think there would have been every chance that Webber would not only have been faster than Vettel, but probably half a second faster than Vettel, like he was in 2009 when Webber won his maiden grand prix there despite a harsh drive-thru penalty.

  57. holmes says:

    Sorry if you discussed this already.
    Is it possible at the end of the season some of the teams who didn’t use off-throttle diffuser at all to question the legality of the final classification?

  58. Johnny Talia says:

    The whole idea of banning any part of Exhaust Blown Diffuser technology is hypocritical on the part of F1. And here’s why:

    F1 has a stated objective to be “green”. Which means not wasting energy or resources, and not hurting the environment. As such, they have decided to move to Turbo V6′s as opposed to V8′s in 2014, to reduce fuel usage and carbon footprint. Fine.

    F1 also supports KERS, which harvests wasted kinetic energy released during braking, stores it in batteries, and feeds it back to power the car. Fine again.

    However, pressure and heat are also forms of energy, and an F1 exhaust produces gobs of both. What teams have been doing with EBD is harvesting that formerly wasted energy and using it to generate downforce.

    By generating this downforce, less of the fuel burned in the engine to create torque is wasted in wheelspin because the EBD creates rear downforce and reduces wheelspin. So, in effect, EBD can be seen as a “green” technology also.

    When the turbo engines used in 2014, this same exhaust pressure will then be used to spin a turbine to force more air into the engine, thereby increasing efficiency. I fail to see the logic in using wasted exhaust energy to produce power being legal, while using it to produce traction is not.

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