FIA sends note to teams: Reactive suspension system is not legal
Innovation
Giorgio Piola
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Jan 2012   |  11:43 am GMT  |  238 comments

Last week we reported a story from technical journalist Giorgio Piola about a clever device Lotus Renault had developed to stabilise the suspension under braking.

After initial signals from the FIA that the system would be considered legal, last night it became clear that there has been a change of heart in Paris with a message to teams saying that it will not be allowed during the 2012 season.

It contravenes the rules regarding moveable aerodynamic devices.

Williams’ senior operations engineer Mark Gillan confirmed the news on Peter Windsor’s “Flying Lap” webcast last night.

“The FIA has just banned that particular type of system,” he said. “We have been investigating that type of system for a while. It obviously has an impact on the aero platform of the car. Anything that gets the front ride height lower is beneficial from an aerodynamic perspective.”

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238 Comments
  1. William Wilgus says:

    I knew this would happen, it makes the whole car a movable aerodynamic device. I also saw the possibility of its failure during a race as potentially leading to an accident—sudden different handling under braking. Good move by the FIA.

    1. If you go by the logic of ‘it would make the whole car a movable aerodynamic device’ you should ban the car itself..because in essence a F1 car is a movable aerodynamic device…..

      1. Steven says:

        Nah, the car is a machine, or device, on to which aerodynamic devices are afixed or mounted.

      2. Trent says:

        You could ask what defines ‘the car’. If the principle component is the monocoque, then you could argue that, while it has another principle purpose, it is also very much an aerodynamic device.

      3. Wayne says:

        I don’t subscribe to these ‘you’ll have to consider the whole car….’ arguments. DC tried it about DRS saying that the ‘whole car could be considered false…..’ I found that argument from DC to be ridiculously patronising.

  2. JM Brennan says:

    Kimi R will be none to pleased!

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Nor his fans who assumed this would catapult a mid-field team past everyone.
      It was supposedly the holy grail like ground effects oh dear poor Kimi fans

      1. thomas says:

        Not at all. They now have their first excuse in the bag.

      2. Wayne says:

        Were I a Kimi fan I’d be much more worried about which Kimi turns up rather than car performance. Will it be the sublime, fluid genious? Or will it be the selfish, self-serving and petulant guy that has spoilt more than one weekend for his teams since leaving F1 if the schedule did not fit his personal agenda?

      3. Wayne says:

        I often wonder how many ‘Kimi fans’ are actually what they claim to be. How many of these guys followed Kimi while he was not driving in F1? There were more than a few unsatisfying incidents with this guy over the past few years.

  3. Thinktank says:

    I think we need to get more clarification from FIA asap! This decision feels like FIA decisions from the Ferrari/Schumacher era. Makes you wonder…

    20th Jan: “Red Bull Racing insists that there is no rush for it to copy the reactive ride system pioneered by Lotus – even though some rival outfits are pushing on with developing their own concepts.”

    1. [MISTER] says:

      In regards to the clarification.
      Here’s something I read on the BBC website:

      Article 3.15 of the F1 technical regulations requires that any aerodynamic effect created by the suspension should be incidental to its primary function.

      “…once it became clear its main role was to improve aerodynamics, banning it was a “no-brainer”.”

      The above rule is pretty clear. And the primary function of this system was to help the car aerodinamically. If they can prove that it’s primary purpose is something else, and the aero benefit is incidental, then it’s legal. Until then…illegal!

      Seems clear to me.

      1. Dan Orsino says:

        Then one wonders why the FIA passed it months ago only now to change their minds….
        Smells like Ferrari and McL didn’t think their versions of it were too hot, so they “persuaded” Charlie that it should be banned outright.
        Or am I just plain wrong?

      2. Dan Orsino says:

        James, may I ask if the comment posted in response below here is just a little offensive in a hysterical dimwit sort of way or is it OK within the rules of your blog?

      3. James Allen says:

        Yes, sorry we missed that one. Almost 350 comments in 24 hours so occasionally we slip up. It’s gone now. Sorry – Mod

      4. Chris says:

        RBR said they were not developing their own version (because their car was designed to work as a whole and they could not just tack on a new gimmick). Hence it seems far more likely that any “persuasion” came from them than from MacLaren and Ferrari, who were working on the technology too.

        Irrespective, the FIA look really incompetent – first allowing this, then changing their minds months and months later, after Lotus have designed their whole 2012 car around it. Thoroughly bush league, IMO.

      5. Wayne says:

        Is it not the case that Charlie Whiting just offers a non-binding opinion when teams ask seek him out before the season rather than officially proclaiming legality or otherwise? Any idea how it works James?

  4. Vvipkho says:

    That good to ban so every team can’t using it.

  5. dem's says:

    unbelievable

    1. Jeff says:

      Very believable that it was banned.

      The only unbelievable thing about this whole mess is why Charlie ever considered it legal in the first place. Movable aerodynamic devices, while actuated by a car system, or by a driver (e.g. F-duct) are illegal.

      Charlie Whiting comes out of this one looking a bit silly, IMHO.

  6. Alfred says:

    Killing innovation. Bring back the days when engineers were allowed to innovate! F1 only tends to be a standard series.

    1. Wu says:

      If we bring back those days we’ll be bringing back the ridiculous amounts of danger along with it. Remember it were the innovations in aerodynamics that resulted in many deaths of grand prix drivers.

      What we need are quick, unchangable rulings on innovations and concepts instead of dragging feet for months only to ban them so near to the season start.

      1. Rich C says:

        “…innovations in aerodynamics that resulted in many deaths of grand prix drivers”
        ??
        Like who?

      2. Trent says:

        There was several wing failures at the Monjuich Park GP, I think spectators were killed but no drivers. And wings, of course, are now standard kit, so I’m not sure the argument stacks up.

        I’m just surprised that, in this era of supposed cost control, teams are allowed to sink money into development because of an apparently ambiguous nod from Charlie Whiting, after which it seems he changes his mind. Is this an efficient system?

      3. Martin says:

        Jochen Rindt is one possibility, as the removal of wings was a possible cause of his accident. Elio de Angelis and Roland Ratzenberger had aerodynamic failures, but the later was from damage, and I suspect the former was a manufacturing fault.

  7. Msta says:

    Well that’s disappointing….

  8. Dmitry says:

    Yes!

    May be for the first time in my F1-following life I am so delighted with FIA’s decision!

    Of course I anticipate the rain of damning messages here and other places, disappointment in F1 circles, in Lotus and Ferrari… but I really think it is the right decision!

    1. MARCUS says:

      That depends, wait and see if the Ferrari system is banned… I’m holding my breath.
      But still, I do have some face in the FIA.

  9. Rob Newman says:

    This is very interesting. Adrian Newey must be laughing. Red Bull were not interested in that system at all.

    1. Dren says:

      Perhaps Red Bull has a perfectly legal system they have been using already?

  10. Wilson says:

    Every time something like this happens F1 looks less less and like a sport and more like a championship of politics. I will still watch but it angers me that such incompetence, lack of backbone from the FIA to make a decision and stick to it! instead of dithering and creating this situation. If they left it as legal surely it would be the same for everyone and therefore fair? Then if the FIA had really still got there knickers in a twist they could ban it for 2013, they know full well that teams begin developing the cars nearly a year before the seasons start, if this is the case the regulations should be tied down THEN and anyone who does find a ingenious solution such as renault with this system or red bull last year is to be commended. You don’t see someone changing the rules of the game just before a football match for example! a simplified view probably.

    Great site by the way James it has worked its way onto my list of F1 sites to check everyday (ish) for a bit of news!

    1. Iwan says:

      Follow him on Twitter and you’ll get the heads-up when a new article has been posted as well as some other breaking news.

      @Jamesallenonf1

      1. Liam in Sydney says:

        Despite the FIA being rightfully criticised over other decisions, I think it is a bit much to criticise the FIA for making a delayed decision during the off-season. I mean, come on! We have a couple of months to go before the first race! They were surely just making sure they exhaust all angles and make the right decision. After all, that’s what we all want in the end.

      2. NutBallRacer says:

        No, Liam. You say “They were surely just making sure they exhaust all angles and make the right decision.” I don’t think so! If, indeed FIA were weighing all the facts and delaying the decision, they would have let the Renault/Lotus guys know that. But fact is, they approved, and then changed. They did not give tentative approval, they gave total approval. FIA changed the rules late in the game, allowing a competitor to proceed in good faith and invest a lot of time and resources for nothing. That is unfair, and FIA do look like a bunch of amateurs without technical understanding of thier own rules.

  11. Quercus says:

    Hmm. I would have thought that if a system just reacts to mechanical forces — in this case torque reaction from the front brake callipers, to extend the pushrod hydraulically under braking — and it doesn’t use computers or electrical sensors, then it would be legit.

    In other words I can’t see how using anti-dive to keep the front wing at a constant height above the track surface is a ‘moveable aerodynamic device’.

    Such a system also negates the need for dubious ‘flexing of the wings’ that a certain other team has been indulging in.

    However rules is rules — though sometimes they seem rather contradictory to the lay person.

    Poor Lotus: I thought we’d seen a spark of the old innovation we associate with that name (yes, I know the name is the only connection with the old team).

    1. Alex W says:

      I agree how is it any different to anti dive geometry?

      1. Martin says:

        You can argue that the wishbones, which just happen to be arranged with anti-dive if you choose to, are primarily there to provide suspension. This system is a form of ride height control and ride height control is primarily an aerodynamic benefit.

        The equivalent thing is the Brabham fan car in 1978. For majority of the air went through the radiators, so it was legal. FISA-FOCA politics meant that Bernie gave it up to maintain his own power.

      2. Rudy Pyatt says:

        I agree. That said, when I heard about this thing, it also made me think “active suspension.” The FIA might use that as an alternative rationale, should this come up again.

      3. Jeff says:

        Anti-dive geometry merely arranges the suspension components in a way which controls the amount by which the weight transferrence of the car can cause the suspension to dive during braking. The components are there to provide suspension.

        This system provides an external, non-standard input to the suspension (hydraulically actuated from the brakes) to control the height of the front of the car under braking. Brakes are there to stop the car, not to adjust the ride height. Using them to perform that ancilliary function crosses a line that anti-dive geometry does not.

        It was the right decision, but months later than it should have been made.

  12. Nick Pedersen says:

    How can this sport ever be considered to be based on an even playing field if the FIA keep changing the rules at the slightest whiff of disagreement? They told Lotus it was legal 12 months ago and they have subsequently invested heavily in it. It is quite simply ridiculous for the FIA to turn around now as the 2012 car is being built and say “Nah… it isn’t legal after all.” Couldn’t this be grounds for a lawsuit?

    1. mo kahn says:

      Injustice indeed :(

    2. daphne says:

      it’s better they ban it now rather than half way through the season, like the mass damper fiasco.

      1. Spinodontosaurus says:

        Even better if they announced part way through the season that it would be banned for the next one, so 12 months of investment arent wasted, and teams dont waste any on the next year (rather than being told mid-way through december 2012 that it couldnt be used in 2013).

  13. franed says:

    Ha!
    I always said it was illegal, but not for the reason they have picked. It is clearly not a moveable aero-dynamic device, but it does use power and it does alter the suspension while the car is moving, both of which are prohibited.

    Are we to read from this late decision, that Ferrari can’t get theirs to work right?

    1. Laurence H says:

      lol, that made me giggle.

    2. [MISTER] says:

      Just get over it dude. Everything that is not how you like it, blame it on Ferrari.
      I could jump and post here that it’s because of RBR. They can’t get it to work and they pushed FIA to ban it. Are we 12 years old? Grow up and show it!

      From my perspective, it looks that FIA agreed on it to be allowed and then somebody which doesnt want this system, has pointed out a few things which contravene with the rules and tadaaaa..FIA bans it because of that.

      I love this website and every bit of news that it brings with it, together with great comments from you guys, but sometimes you have to be objective and stop thinking that everything that doesnt go your way is a conspiracy.

    3. Arri says:

      What if it was the opposite? What if their version of this device, that they submitted to the FIA for approval, was so good that it would have given them a huge advantage thus causing the FIA to ban it in order to prevent Ferrari from running away with the championship? You see…..conspiracy theories can go both ways it just depends on which side of the fence you’re at

      1. franed says:

        Normally new devices that do not contravene the regs are allowed for a season.
        2.5 New systems or technologies :
        Any new system, procedure or technology not specifically covered by these regulations, but
        which is deemed permissible by the FIA Formula One Technical Department, will only be admitted until the end of the Championship during which it is introduced. Following this the Formula One Commission will be asked to review the technology concerned and, if they feel it adds no value to Formula One in general, it will be specifically prohibited.
        Any team whose technology is prohibited in this way will then be required to publish full
        technical details of the relevant system or procedure.

  14. Kevin Green says:

    Shame we are not even going to see the impact difference of the parts, James would they still be allowed to take the parts for comparison purposes on winter testing? I wonder how much Williams and Lotus were relying on these parts to push them on in the race.

    1. Martin says:

      I’m pretty sure the teams can run illegal parts (or parts yet to be deemed legal) if they want to. Certain components such as the monocoque and the gearbox would have to pass crash testing before being allowed to be used in a testing environment.

  15. Antonio says:

    This is such a shame. I love seeing new innovations like this the development race is all part of this sport. And I hate to see it diluted by countless rule changes.

  16. seas says:

    FIA is a joke!!!!

  17. seas says:

    Seems particularly harsh on Lotus ‘coz they have been preparing their car around this system for many months on the understanding that it is legal and then two weeks before the first test all of a sudden it isn’t anymore. I wonder how this will affect Lotus and Ferrari development? All this money and time thrown in the wind. Saving????

    1. Jeff says:

      Last year they designed their entire car around the unsuccessful forward exiting exhaust concept. Now one of their big ideas for 2012 has just been shot down. I hope this doesn’t mess up their entire design concept like last year’s did.

  18. Red says:

    Presumably Ferrari cant get their reactive suspension system working then…….

    1. Paul says:

      Fia to the rescue of the prancing horse again

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      This is nauseating

      Lotus, Williams, Mclaren or any choice of F1 team, take your pick, Ferrari will always be dragged into the argument.

      Vettel, Schumacher, Liuzzi, Brundle or again any driver, Alonso will always be dragged into the subsequent comments.

      ZZZZZzzzzzzzzz

    3. justabloke says:

      +1 ;)

    4. anil says:

      Don’t you mean red bull? Ferrari and lotus have been developing the idea for quite some time.

      1. franed says:

        In fact rumour has it that it was in operation last season on some cars

    5. Tony says:

      Maybe you should wonder why RBR didn’t bother developing it

  19. David Taylor says:

    Left hand, right hand? I’m confused! It doesn’t put the FIA in a good light, does it?

    David

  20. Dizzy says:

    There’s been some speculation that the ban has something to do with Lotus getting a patent for the system.

    Do you think there’s any truth in that?

    1. Davexxx says:

      Apparently that’s a totally different system that was patented… apparently… I made a mistake in this regard too.

  21. Ag says:

    Which team are the likely culprits that objected? Ferrari? Williams? Mercedes or McLaren? We know Ferrari submitted their version for review recently..

    1. B.Rider says:

      Red bull, they were not even interested in developing it.

      1. Ag says:

        Red Bull are suspect, too, though the most efficient way to protest an innovation is to submit a version to the FIA that is right on the borderline w.r.t. legality, or to suggest system may be open to abuse if it is not declared illegal. As far as we can tell the only team that submitted their version for review recently has been Ferrari.

    2. Wu says:

      You missed the team that never had intention of developing their own version – Red Bull.

  22. captainj84 says:

    these engineers and mechanics must be so disheartened working in F1, they dedicate so much time devising and designing new technology/parts etc just to be told they cannot use them, it must be so frustrating! I was hoping this was going to stand up and be legal, just to see some other team get the jump on RB and watch them playing the catch up game for a change!

  23. If this is true, then it looks like we are in for a season with yet more meddling from the powers that be.

    F1 used to be about technical innovation, as well as the drivers. It just seems now that this is being stifled – whenever someone comes up with something clever, it is banned on the basis of ‘safety’ or cost cutting.

    And the cost cutting argument cannot stand up if they’ve spent a year telling Lotus Renault that it’s legal, only to turn around and say it’s not now that the cars have been designed and are about to start testing.

    The FIA need to stop acting like an over-controlling parent, and let the racing happen.

  24. Brent McMaster says:

    James would Lotus not have submitted the design to the FIA months ago for approval?

    1. daphne says:

      apparently they have has the green light on the system for several months now…

  25. Chirs says:

    Something tells me that if Ferrari or Red BUll had come up with the system it would not have been banned.

    1. VV says:

      Ferrari did come up with their own version of the system. So your comment is nonsense.

      1. Ag says:

        Ferrari were the ones that submitted their version to the FIA for review, and now this happens. Bet they couldn’t make their version work so got it banned by submitting an extreme version instead.

      2. Spinodontosaurus says:

        A more likely conspiracy comes from the team who never had an interest in spending time and money on this system in the first place.

      3. Kevin says:

        Unless Ferrari’s system didn’t work …. Under the current Concorde Agreement (negotiated by FOTA) everything’s fair play. The days of Ferrari International Assistance (FIA) are over. Opps wait, who’s the current president of the FIA?? Oh and red bull, the team that’s always led or closely followed leading edge technology (blown diffusers and exotic engine mapping for the former and double diffusers the latter) have been ambivalent for weeks on this. I would like to check Charlie Whittings ‘in box’, this backflip is politically motivated. Charlie Whiting if he was independent, would take some pride in his work (like any professional ). If he made a decision within his sphere of power than a man of his stature would back it 100%. Think of what happened at Silverstone this year and the teams who didnt lodge formal protests in the races prior. There are wheels within wheels and Mr Whitting is employed to take responsibility for other peoples decisions.

      4. Frank says:

        Let’s think about that for 5 seconds. Ferrari is working on the system but hasn’t cracked it yet. So should they, (a) throw away all their work and have to find a new way to catch up to Red Bull, or should they (b) continue to develop it in the hopes of having something in 4-5 races which Red Bull would have no answer to (since as many have pointed out Red Bull has not even started on this system)?
        Really, you can spend 5 seconds thinking and still want to believe that Ferrari would do this because they were behind Lotus? wow. Ok, so you really just want to blame Ferrari and accuse the FIA of doing anything that Ferrari want, then why wouldn’t Ferrari wait 4-5 races and then ban it – that would really screw Lotus over (just in case it was the blown diffuser of 2012) and would also have given them the chance to develop it for themselves.
        [And part of me wants to apologize for the tone of my post, but I really don't want to see this quality forum be dragged into yet another battle front for the flame wars where the inane is kicked out from pure knee jerk hatred.]

  26. How can the FIA change their mind like this!
    It must stifle innovation in the teams

  27. Michael Carty says:

    Very unfair decision since Lotus were told it was all legal as far ago as 12 months ago. They have wasted alot of resources on it

    1. justabloke says:

      Agree, at what pointdoes the FIA face a bill from one of the teams for abortive effort, especially when they went to the effort to get it approved ahead of time… :(

  28. Chris H says:

    It’s a bit of shame, I was looking forward to seeing Lotus pushing the front teams to mix it up.

    However, I am grateful this wasn’t banned mid-season.

    Any idea what prompted the change of heart James?

  29. toleman fan says:

    - Briefed by Lotus 12 months’ ago? Check.
    - Repeatedly confirmed that the system was legal, encouraging the team to integrate it into the car? Check.
    - Perform complete U-turn witihin a couple of weeks of the system going public, immediately prior to the start of the season? Check.

    Perhaps Ferrari couldn’t make it work.

    Lotus should sue. Not because it’s been banned, but for being misled for the last year.

    Utterly unprofessional behaviour by the FIA (besides being inconsistent with the treatment of previous innovations).

    What a shower.

    1. justabloke says:

      Couldn’t agree more, what a pants way to start to the season :(

    2. Dren says:

      I think we have to also look at how/why the Lotus system became public knowledge, and the timing of it.

    3. Jeff says:

      +1

      I personally think the system should have been given the red light the moment clarifying information was sought. Charlie didn’t do a good job on this one.

  30. Nick Hughes says:

    Apparently it was Ferrari looking into the legality of the device. This just sounds like the FIA siding with Ferrari again, especially with Jean Todt involved

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      You may care to read up the Ferrari/ Todt relationship.
      Montezemolo and Todt didn’t part on friendly terms

    2. [MISTER] says:

      I am very outraged by your comment. How dare you involve JT in this? Shame on you! Blame it on Ferrari.

      You -those which say Ferrari is behind this- should think before you write something like this. Obviously someone pointed out something that is against the rules, otherwise Lotus after putting so much work into it could easily prove everything is legal.

      Even if it’s Ferrari who did this, if somethingis agaist the rules, then why let your opposition get the best out of it?
      The rules are for everybody.

      Would you feel the same if Ferrari would invent something that is not completely within the FIA rules and other teams would object and get it banned? Of course not. Wake up!

  31. DB4Tim says:

    Figures…one week one answer then next a different…seems like they do this so others can spend millions to start or keep up with the other teams and then stop….RedBull says they never looked at it…so all the others just wasted time and money …once again no consistency. OR RB has someone one in the FIA that keeps them informed …and you cannot say they are NOT above that!!!

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      I suspect Newey didn’t look too closely into this because as a design genius, he knew the returns of this system would be miniscule.

      I would imagine he would have realised that the figures produced in a wind tunnel couldn’t be replicated on an uneven track surface.

      How many designers have designed amazing cars in a wind tunnel which just doesn’t work in the real world

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        @hws so how many designers?

      2. 4u1e says:

        Newey, for one.

        On the one hand he has long experience of failing to transfer wind tunnel performance to the race track (See 1990 Leyton House F1 – non qualifier at the bumpy Mexico City track, nearly a race winner at the billiard table smooth Paul Ricard a couple of weeks later…). 1994′s Williams might fall into this category too. So you might say he’s had plenty of time to learn this lesson.

        On the other hand, last year’s Red Bulls still showed signs of being optimised for theoretical performance over racetrack usability – witness unconventional and possibly unsafe use of tyres at Spa last year or a car that left Webber unable to compete with slower cars around him in Korea.

        Don’t get me wrong, the guy’s a genius, but he pushes the boundaries and sometimes this has resulted in something that’s not quite as practical as it could be.

  32. snailtrail says:

    So Lotus Renault had developed a system and now they are told they cant use it? Does the FIA pay for the costs to date for the development James?

    If not why not?

    1. CH1UNDA says:

      that is a business risk Lotus and everybody else who copied them took. They cannot say they don’t know how FIA works, can they?

  33. alexyoong says:

    Is that not going to cause a big uproar from Lotus? Hadn’t they invested rather a lot of time and money into the car after getting the FIA go-ahead?

  34. Werewolf says:

    The FIA really should promote oval racing, being essentially a series of U-turns.

    1. Ross Dixon says:

      LOL

    2. Davexxx says:

      Yeah, and make the cars run in slots, picking up electricity from long metal strips…

      1. Werewolf says:

        Excellent idea, Dave. You’ve solved the racing line issue, too!

    3. Damo-McLarenF1 says:

      Ha ha ha

    4. Kevin says:

      Brilliant!!!!!!

    5. Mitchel says:

      he he. Nice one!

    6. Kevin Green says:

      Lol is that not what the Yawn boring aero developments are dave :)

  35. Blaize says:

    i cant believe im going to say this since im by no means a Ferrari Supporter and have quite a distaste for the way they run thier team in F1 but im dissapointed.

    We have seen Red Bull and McClaren dominate the last two years and i was looking forward to Ferrari and Lotus having a setup that can possibly close the gap or even make a gap between them and red bull and mcclaren.

    1. CH1UNDA says:

      McLaren dominate? Hallow, what did i miss?

      1. 4u1e says:

        6 wins last year to Ferrari’s one and a clear second place in the constructors’ championship, I guess.

      2. Blaize says:

        Red Bull AND McClaren. Fernando is outperforming his car. When i say dominate i mean Front Runners as a whole. McClaren were the only team capble of challenging Red Bull Last Year.

        Im dissapointed as i would like to see Lotus and begrudgingly Ferarri challeging and beating the Red Bulls too. Something only McClaren achieved last year.

  36. Housey says:

    Ferrari springs to mind here. I’ve a feeling it’s going to be Ferrari win at all costs in 2012.

  37. Housey says:

    James, do you know what teams that are struggling with the system?

  38. eric weinraub says:

    Lets be real. it was 100% legal … This boiled down to removing innnovation because every team would have had to devote time and money ie resources to copy it. i think its time to get serious and have every tream drive around in a golf or mondeo

    1. [MISTER] says:

      How do you know it was 100% legal? Are you a top engineer in F1? Didn’t think so.
      If its legal as your professional opinion says it, why can’t Lotus take FIA to court for banning a completely 100% legal device?

      1. Arri says:

        It was given approval by Charlie Whiting initially which in opinion means that they deemed it ‘legal’. Hope u don’t mind me posting a link James…http://www.formula1.com/news/technical/2012/0/923.html

      2. [MISTER] says:

        I know that Arri. But since they changed their mind, it looks to me that some bits are not legal and somebody pointed that out to them.
        FIA had no choice but to ban the device.

        My point is that because they banned it, something (that they missed when they deemed it legal the first time) must be against the rules, otherwise why ban it?

      3. Beer_Stalker says:

        Nothing is legal until the scrutineers at the first race look at the cars. The Lotus system was always likely to fall fowl of regulation 10.2.3: “No adjustment may be made to the suspension system while the car is in motion”.

      4. eric weinraub says:

        If truth be known, yeah, I happen to be an engineer. I based my argument on several facts. 1. it was approved by Charlie. 2. They were notified by the FIA that they would get approval 3. It passed scrutineering at the young driver’s test 4. The ‘moving aero’ rule is nothing more than a catch all for anything that is either flagrantly illegal or costs too much for other teams to copy.

  39. Steve Zodiac says:

    I was under the impression that this device was to stabilise the ride height under braking, not lower it, so, surely it isn’t moving the aerodynamics. The FIA really need to stop messing people around and also stop killing off innovative ideas all the time

    1. shane says:

      That’s what I thought. But then I’m assuming the car could be run at a lower suspension setting which would in effect alter the aero.

    2. Dren says:

      I think the reason for the ban is that the main purpose of the device is for aero benefit, not brake stability. It is sort of ironic that the device was opposing the movement of the car so it would retain its aero profile, yet it is banned for being moveable aero.

  40. Kevin Green says:

    And there’s another thought is it just a coincidence that it’s Williams and Lotus (Renault) that have the very similar idea/system designed and proposed giving into account there new rekindled partnership??? Seems a little bit suspect to me.

    1. 4u1e says:

      There’s no connection between Lotus and Williams, other than they have the same engine supplier. As do Caterham and Red Bull.

      The Renault car company has had nothing to do with the F1 team since the end of 2010. Unfortunately various political factors meant that the team had to continue using the name.

      1. Kevin Green says:

        Ah right ok as far as i understood it Renault still held a stake in the team that’s where I found it unusual that them of all teams had similar systems. :)

  41. Haha says:

    And which was the top team who said “nah, we won’t look into it’?

    Red Bull Racing.

    And all the other top teams, you know the ‘legendary’ teams who for some reason ‘deserve’ to win championships, wasted lots of money, energy, time on it.

    Haha.

  42. Bones says:

    There they go again…. banning innovation!

  43. RichardB says:

    Although i couldn’t understand why it was legal when it’s clearly a moving device that affects the aerodynamics, it seems a bit unfair on lotus to suddenly class it illegal.
    They showed the FIA the idea from the start then put a lot of effort developing it having been told it’s legal. I’d be very annoyed if i were lotus.

    1. Ross Dixon says:

      By that definition the brake pedal is illegal then as when the driver presses it moving parts come together to slow the car causing the front ride height to lower. Also its driver operated so breaking another rule!

      For me a movable aerodynamic device is something like DRS. I mean an engine cold be classed as MAD as under acceleration the aero of a car changes.

      1. LAH says:

        spot on ross.
        well stated!

      2. CL says:

        Why not ban the entire suspension. It all effects the aerodynamics of the car.

      3. justabloke says:

        Yeah I was thinking the same thinking.

      4. Steven says:

        Except you NEED brakes in order for the car to be a car. Plus, you guys are failing to see the fact that its a sort of active suspension.

      5. 4u1e says:

        Active would actively change the ride height. As described, this system passively prevented the ride height from changing. Different thing altogether.

      6. justabloke says:

        I thought it was the design intent for suspension to manage ride height in resposne to chaning dynamic parameters. How far do you take your argument…Suspension that smooths out uneven surfaces is reacting and trying to give a constant ride height if at all possible.

      7. Jeff says:

        4u1e – Active suspension’s sole purpose was to prevent the height / attitude of the car from changing in the presence of changing aerodynamic and mechanical inputs.

        Exactly the same thing, in fact.

      8. Msta says:

        The drivers helmet is also a moveable aerodynamic device!

      9. Ayron says:

        Except it was mentioned above that the parts become illegal if that is their primary purpose.

        the brakes’ primary purpose is to stop or slow the car down. Using the effect they have on the car to improve aerodynamics as a secondary benefit is okay.

        So, if the system was designed to cool the tyres and then there was a secondary benefit of improving the aerodynamic balance of the car, the system would be legal.

      10. Ross Dixon says:

        I understand this but a primary purpose for me
        Should not be something that directly affects something else first. The suspension is not classed as a movable device. This new innovation is in the suspension to aid braking stability as well as other things. To me the primary function argument is just a way the FIA can control things they don’t like. The mass damper is the perfect example!!!

        That was designed to aid the tyre contact patch. The idea was to maximise the use of the tyre for better mechanical grip. Tell me…. Why was it banned on the grounds of it having an effect on aerodynamics???
        My answer: Ferrari were getting beaten and they wanted the season to be closer

        Fact is if the mass damper was illegal then so is ever other bit of the car!!

        I just feel that moveable aero should be just that. Things that move to alter aero…. Oh like flexi wings!!! How the FIA can allow that but ban this is beyond me!

    2. Davexxx says:

      I agree with this. James, I hope you’re looking into this – can you find out exactly what the FIA had considered, i.e. how could they have decided it was ‘legal’, originally? I agree with their final decision as it was a (driver-imposed) changeable aero-height.

  44. Andy says:

    I guess Ferrari was not able to copy the system so FIA needed to change its mind…

    1. RichardB says:

      brilliant, well said

    2. DB4Tim says:

      Sad…very sad

    3. Arri says:

      The operative words in your sentence being “I guess….” ;-)I personally think that it was the teams that cannot afford to develop their own but I could be wrong. The details of this decision will eventually come out. They always do.

  45. Tom says:

    What hope is there for technical innovation anymore? Granted there is a cost involved, but only because rivals teams weren’t astute enough to incorporate it in their initial design & instead have to develop the idea.

    May as well scratch F1 & call it GP1, with spec chassis instead.

  46. I don’t get why DD wasn’t banned in early winter testing in 2009, thus effectively creating 2 different championships for the first 7 or 8 races. LF1 guys have worked together with the FIA, spending time & money on the design. “It’s OK, oops, sorry, we changed our mind, it’s illegal”.

    Double standards, that’s what I’m saying. They should allow at least a bit of innovation here and there, allow an invention at least for a whole season. Pat Symonds said this system wouldn’t make such a big difference.

    Gutted, F1 can do better than that. Jean’s losing it already, he wants WRC events to last for weeks and all drivers to crash out on day 1 without any possibility to continue and for F1 to become more like F3. Not good.

  47. Charlie B says:

    Why couldn’t they have said this last year when lotus asked? Now everyone is disappointed we wont see it in action.

  48. James D says:

    I just read in Autosport some suspect Mercedes may have actually raced a similar system at some point last season. Do you know anything about this James?

  49. goferet says:

    Well at least the FIA banned this before the season even got underway, would have been frustrating to deem a device legal only to ban it a season after the fact.

    We are no longer interested in teams that try to pull the wool over the fans eyes with their clever (illegal) devices & funnily it’s always the Renault team that’s the guilty party in one form or the other —> From Schumi’s Benetton team to Alonso’s mass damper then the recent diabolical blowing of gases through the diffusers.

    Renault sure does have unscrupulous people up in their ranks, Flavio or no Flavio, somethings never change.

    Good job FIA!

    1. Kevin Green says:

      At the same time if the boundaries are not tested then the sport would not move forward or be revised to suit available proven up and coming technology i think its more credit to the teams willing to spend the time and money trying to exploit the potential methods out there as long as its not electronic type driver aid type things then im all for it would rather see aero effects been gained through mechanical movement as opposed to the money spent on the aero components directly these days flexi wings/double defusers etc as i have said many a time get them back to the mechanical grip and more driver movement involved type set up ie manual clutch pedal and transmittion’s etc. I mean even physically look at the cars now compared to the cars of what for me was the ultimate era ( mid late 80s) never mind acctually watching them race you could pick virtually any race from then compared to a race from the 90s on and find it more interesting/exciting to watch. I bet the drivers other than for the danger (trackside and tub) enjoyed the racing more back then. real drivers in real cars!

    2. LAH says:

      clever (illegal) devices?
      isn’t that how we got disc brakes, mid-car engine placement, wings, and for that matter, internal combustion in the first place?
      unscrupulous?
      innovative would be the proper term.

    3. Tom says:

      You’d be better to follow Indycar or GP2 then.

      Innovation & exploiting loopholes in the letter of a regulation are key to a winning car – no one ever won a championship with a conservative approach to designing a car.

      I can’t see how it amounts to pulling the wool over fans eyes? Every team has tricks up its sleeve that they don’t want revealed, for obvious reasons.

    4. justabloke says:

      Sorry, but I can’t agree. For sure in the Benetton days there was the traction control,launch control option 13, that post Verstappen fire fule flow filter issue but to be honest the Mass damper and Anti diveride levelling are just good enginnering. The fact the they approached the FIA means to me that you “illegal devices” jibe is at best badly aimed and would probably be better directed at flexi wings. I think they can feel very hard done by…

    5. toleman fan says:

      You do know that Lotus told the FIA all about this in January -last year-?

      And got FIA approval that it was legal?

      And that that approval was repeated about a week ago?

      Yeah, really unscrupulous.

    6. 4u1e says:

      Although Renault did pioneer exhaust gas blowing, that was back in the early 1980s. The idea has been used off and on ever since, being de rigueur in the mid to late 1990s, for example.

      Renault had nothing to do with last year’s flirtation with this rather old idea, as can be seen from the fact that their exhaust gases vented at the front of the sidepods, about as far from the diffuser as you can get.

      The front blowing exhaust was a nice idea that unfortunately for them didn’t work all that well and probably cost them over the season

  50. Franco Lobue says:

    Disappointed that once again innovation has been restricted but even more disappointed that some comments seems to be insinuating that Ferrari have played a role in getting this banned. Lets not forget Ferrari had already submitted their version of the system therefore why would they want it banned.

    1. Brad says:

      “Lets not forget Ferrari had already submitted their version of the system therefore why would they want it banned.” As someone else already insunuated… they could’nt make it work!

      1. Arri says:

        It’s amazing how all of a sudden Ferrari are incapable of developing anything that works yet they prove time and again how they able to develop their car over a season. Mind boggling to say the least.

  51. Richard says:

    Yes a pity from the Lotus/Ferrari perspective, but I suppose a sigh of relief from others, however it does level the playing field initially in that sense as it would have been someway through the season before others caught up.

  52. Iwan says:

    Either way I don’t mind – use it, don’t use it. What I find amazing is how the FIA always seem to make a mess of things. Reports suggest Lotus / Renault has been busy with this as early as Jan last year. Why wait to ban it till teams start copying it and have spend LOTS of money to develop and test.

    Like they don’t know their own rules and wait for teams to appeal or ona about the legality of something.

  53. Mikael says:

    Once again FIA ruins the technical side of F1…

    I want to see technical development! Thats what make F1 special. I couldn’t care less for aero development. The last ten years have been really boring when looking upon F1 from a technical viewpoint, only aero, aero and a little more aero…

  54. Matt Yau says:

    I’m disappointed because innovative thinking loses out again, but my reaction is reserved because the exact impact it would have had is still relatively unknown.

    I’m sure you’re working on it James, but could we get a definitive answer as to why the system has been banned.

    Also, you say it is banned for the 2012 season, does that mean there’s a possibility – with further investigation by the FIA – that it might come back in 2013?

  55. Rich C says:

    I’m telling you – the steering wheel is next to be put on the banned list!

    If there was *ever a ‘movable aero’ device its got to be those big ol’ front wheels!

    1. justabloke says:

      Drivers helmets have started to aquire ever more aero like shapes…. ;)

  56. GT_Racer says:

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

    Go back to 1998 with McLaren’s 2nd brake pedal, It was banned as other tems got together & put forward an argument as to why it was illegal & the FIA then agreed with them. Same with other innovations.

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

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

    1. GT_Racer says:

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

  57. Victor says:

    I feel disappointed. I understand FIA’s point of view that it’s a movable aero device, but then again F1 cars are dominated by aerodynamics and virtually everything affects the aereo behaviour. Race pace in 2011 was pretty slow and the new rules will only make it slower. Ultimately, I also reckon that some very ingenious innovative ideas are being killed before birth, let alone if indeed any team was misled into thinking it would be legal.

  58. Kevin Green says:

    Just been reading the BBC Website article on this and they are referring tp the system that Ferrari and Lotus have both been developing being banned BUT no word on the systen that Williams have been developing! can you put any clarity on this James???

    1. James Allen says:

      No, it’s all only coming out now

  59. Vipin says:

    One thing I would like to say.

    This FIA is just supporting some drinks company in this sport.

    A real shame for this sport. It becomes like politics.

    1. Kevin Green says:

      Sad reality about everything in life seems to be all about money one way or another with or without corruption, Redbull are a huge Brand which brings a lot of money to F1 Alongside virtually every form of Motorsport/Action sport Prob the biggest fear Bernie or the FAI have is them walking away and possibly creating a viable rival or supporting another discipline of Motorsport to a higher or even near as high a level as F1 currently. Certainly seem to get the impression The favouritism is moving from Ferrari a bit and poss more so towards Redbull. There contribution has undeniable raised the profile of F1 in the last few years particularly for sure. Certainly pushing the others to raise there game ridiculous thought really mainstream performance/mass Manufacturers getting Thumped by a fizzy pops company who would ever have thought it, But thats money and to a huge extent the genius of a certain Mr newey! Dont think they would be near where they are or would maintain where they are if he moved on in which i have a feeling he will jump to Ferrari within a few years :)

      1. Vipin says:

        Thank You.

  60. mo kahn says:

    Good it happened :) Now atleast Kimi’s exploits and his superior racecraft won’t mistakenly be credited to the car :)

  61. Richard D says:

    We constantly hear talk of rules that limit the spending in F1 but the over complex specifications must surely cause the teams to spend a fortune on developing little wrinkles that may squeeze out a little more speed. Surely it would be better if there was a less constrained formula where intuitive design was encouraged.

  62. Les Arrowsmith says:

    The FIA have allowed F1, which used to be the pinnacle of motor sport,to become humdrum, artificial, and barely interesting by their endless nannying and interference. They set a formula and then tinker and fuss with it; make the teams adhere to ‘standarisation’ of components like the engine but Fia cannot observe their own ‘concorde’ of no change. THe suspension ban is a disgrace and one of the reasons why people are losing interest. If anyone wants to remember what fantastic racing was about got U-Tube and look up Villeneuve v Arnoux, 1979. We’ve only gone downhill since then!

  63. jim says:

    Well, I hope Lotus finds a use for the patent on their road cars/race cars in other series. Otherwise, it’s just money p*ssed away due to the [mod] FIA. :(

  64. mo kahn says:

    Mclaren J Dampers – APPROVED

    Brawn Double Diffuser – APPROVED

    Mclaren F-Duct – APPROVED

    Redbull Blown Diffuser – APPROVED

    RENAULT REACTIVE SUSPENSION – BANNED

    Catch my drift? :?

    1. Vipin says:

      You are right.

      Even they banned Renault’s “Mass Damper” from Hockenheim in 2006.

    2. monktonnik says:

      Renualt forward facing exhausts and off throttle blowing was actually allowed last year.

      Seriously though, in the early Schumacher days Ferrari had stuff banned at races and were deducted points when it had been allowed previously.

      I actually don’t think that the FIA plays favourites as much as everyone suggests.

      I will be disappointed if the banned system is the same one that was approved 12 months ago though.

      1. 4u1e says:

        “in the early Schumacher days Ferrari had stuff banned at races and were deducted points when it had been allowed previously.”

        Er, when?

  65. JB says:

    What a bunch of kiddies, can’t make up their mind of what’s legal while they’re the ones who must say what is! Flipping like flag whatever direction wind comes..

  66. Keith says:

    OK so it is banned in F1. Now on to the next question, how much does it cost to make, does it work, and when will it find its way onto a road going Super Car?

    James with all your years and knowledge, there have been a few banned bits and pieces in F1, but have any of these found their way into a super car. Just because they are banned in F1, doesn’t mean they don’t work.

    1. James Allen says:

      THat’s a fantastic question. I’ll try to find out

      1. Kevin Green says:

        Well yes for sure Active suspension being one Keith Williams were using a form of this when prob not even Half of New road cars had Abs systems.
        And electronic traction control and ABS are still currently banned for 2012 are they not??

    2. Alex W says:

      There are plenty, the new Mclaren supercar has active suspenion much like the 93 Williams, Bugatti has a moveable rear wing that was banned in F1 at the time it was produced…….

    3. monktonnik says:

      Actually, this is the thing I don’t like about banning innovative ideas.

      Some of these do have merit and would be amazing on road cars. Mass Dampers spring to mind here.

    4. Jodum5 says:

      quite a few technologies are banned in f1 but in road cars: active suspensions, CVT transmissions, abs, etc.

    5. Tom D says:

      Active suspension I think has featured, though that maybe for fuel economy. The McLaren brake system features on their latest road car? Movable rear wings feature on Porsche 911s, Veyron. Launch control and stability control continue to develop on all road cars. Can’t imagine the double diffuser on a road car!

  67. Rob Gregory says:

    Im interested in Red Bull’s apparent dis-interest in the system. Could it be a smokescreen for the fact that they already have been running something similar since last season (FIA informed Lotus in January 2011 that ot was legal). Therefore they never had a flexible wing allowing them to get the front wing close to the ground at high speeds, rather they had a system that raised the front under breaking allowing them to run a lower front ride height. No wonder they always passed all the flexibility checks?!
    I think them not being bothered by the system has 2 parts – firstly saying don’t bother copying it as its not really that good (even though we already have it) and a message to the FIA in please don’t bother banning the system, we’re not even that bothered about it. Could this actually hurt RBR more than they are letting on. As conspiracy theories go, I’ve seen crazier

  68. Andrew Carter says:

    Cant say I’m surprised but this is getting ridiculus. It’s getting to the point where it’s impossible to make some kind of mechanical inovation because it’s almost certain to impact on the cars aero, regardless of whether thats the main point of the system or not.

  69. The conspiracist says:

    When I read this story the other day I thought to myself the FIA will ban it.

    Throughout history the FIA and it’s advisors have preformed u turns that leave most of us scratching our heads.

  70. Jonathan says:

    Lunacy rules again.

    It is nothing short of stupidity to ban something that could really make a difference to road cars. This is a device that needs developing and brought into everyday use. It is a logical extension of the concept of anti-roll bars. This device does the same for fore and aft balance as the anti-roll bar does for side to side balance. Perhaps the FIA should ban them too… although I’m not sure if F1 actually use them as the suspension travel is so small.

    1. Dmitry says:

      Sorry, can you explain what “normal” simple road car will benefit from system like this? And how?

      1. Jonathan says:

        think about it!

        Using the system would allow a lot more supple suspension – a great amount of front end stiffness is needed to counter the dive effect under braking. This system stiffens the suspension as the brakes are applied to counter this effect.

        It frightens me how few road car drivers are aware of how road conditions effect a car’s handling. Anything that improves handling without involving the driver has to be a good thing – however much I hate the sledgehammer approach of ABS.

        A huge number of motorbikes have adjustable shock absorbers to allow the rider to set the bike up for personal preference – hard braking needs firmer shocks.

        Perhaps they should try the front suspension as used on the old Honda 90 – where braking would make the front end lift.

  71. Wu says:

    How much you want to bet it was Red Bull that complained to the FIA about it? They publically stated they have doubts about usefulness of the device, but privatly they must have pressured the FIA to ban it because they concnetrated on other things.

    The ban itself wouldnt be a problem if all teams or none except Lotus developed it, but it seems most teams spent resources on the device instead of other things like Red Bull. I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but it looks like Red Bull has won it again before the season even started.

  72. Tom in adelaide says:

    James, out of interest, do you have any means of feeding the general sentiment of fan comments back to the FIA? It seems like as an organisation they are way out of touch.

    1. James Allen says:

      They check the site and the comments.

      1. DB4Tim says:

        That is good…but do they take heed of what direction …this group….(JA ONLINE POSTERS)think of how they are handling different situations??

      2. mo kahn says:

        Its nice to know that FIA officials read this site, for this site does hold the most active interactive medium with fans, I don’t know any sites and could care less honestly. So yes, thank you for providing us fans with a medium where we the fans can come and criticize/applaud the course F1 and the stars and personnel thereof.

        However, Renault’s saga in this matter is laughable considering this very mechanism was approved by FIA almost 12 months ago and it doesn’t take an IQ of Einstein to understand just how much resources Renault must have allocated to develop and make it race ready and now with under a fortnight for 2012 cars to roll out they come up and ban it. It however, throws established teams like Ferrari (though they have claimed to be working on the similar mechanism, but as blow diffuser we the fans doubt that they got it right), it throws Mclaren who are always whining about other teams breakthroughs and praise their own, it also makes Redbull’s influence on FIA where it manages to get their innovations legal and so was the case with Brawn’s double diffuser.

        All in all, this debacle proved one thing for us fans, those who have the bargaining power with F1 will win championships and those who don’t will be crushed by bans.

        Sad for Renault, sad for F1, sad for us fans.

        The only good thing we the fans can take into 2012 season is the Return of Kimi, apart from that its a season already wronged out by FIA.

      3. James Allen says:

        Sometimes a decision is taken on practical grounds. For example, if Charlie thought that this would give rise to teams spending fortunes on new brake calliper designs and so on.

        F1 engineers I’ve spoken to are disappointed that this idea was banned as it seemed harmless enough.

      4. mo kahn says:

        Didn’t Double Diffuser, F-Duct and Blown Diffuser give rise to to spending fortunes when had to be adopted by other teams during in-season on a accelerated pace hence giving rise to disproportionate resource allocation?

  73. emmepi says:

    Better a straight “NO” than a “YES” followed by a ballet of YES and NO, but…
    Mechanical reactive suspension is a real technical progress, a feature of the car, mechanically driven and making faster and safer the car, absolutely 100% in line with actual rules, let’say 100 times more legal than it was the aero of Brawn GP in 2009. But FIA decides it’s illegal.
    DRS is the most stupid device i’ve seen on a racing car. It’s a fly by wire driven tool, not activable by pilot choice, unfair by nature and use (handycapp), a potentially dangerous preformances flattener, but it’s seen legal by FIA.
    Lead as is, F1 is drifting to be a circus, a little sport featured like a play station vidogame.

    1. A de Kock says:

      I totally agree,and furthermore,if i understand this device correctly,it actually serve as an “antidive” system,so if its not going down or up,how can they deem it as movable,they should call it a stationary device,i for one is very disapointed,not because I’m a lotus fan,but it seems the FIA is killing all innovations as soon as they emerge from the drawing board,what happened to the PINNACLE of motorsport

  74. PaulL says:

    Hey James, is this likely to be a significant setback for Lotus and Ferrari?

  75. jjpm says:

    There should be an amendment to the technical regulation stating that once approval has been delivered by the FIA, at least 6 months or more prior to the beginning of the following season and concerning the legality of a technical modification, said approval couldn’t be reversed until the end of the following season except for a case of major security situation which could be clearly linked to that technical modification occurring later on.

    And if the FIA’s technical people are not sufficiently qualify to judge of the legality
    of the technical changes submitted to them by the teams, then just get ride of them and replace them by the proper personnel.

  76. Astronaut says:

    Innovation is what drives F1, these technologies then filter into road cars. These are reasons why I love F1 and the creative minds who think of them. Where would we be without the Colin Chapman’s & Adrian Newey’s in motorsport?
    Maybe Lotus should link this system directly to the brake pedal and pressure, by using the brake fluid to stiffen the suspension pushrods? Would the FIA considering banning brakes altogether? They play a large role in the aeodynamics.
    Everything is fair play in the technology race, as long as we don’t see a repeat of 1st race Aus. 1998, where McLaren introduced EBD (electronic brake distribution) using a 3rd pedal – Hakkinen & Coulthard lapped the entire field that day.

    1. Jonathan says:

      Sorry – you are wrong! The McLaren system was an excellent idea and should have been copied by the others. It had nothing like the downside of some of the other systems that have been banned. Its advantage over the others was not really any different to the DD and – probably a lot easier and cheaper to copy.

      The system lives on with McLaren who use it on their road cars.

      1. Astronaut says:

        I was just saying the only thing wrong with McLaren’s development of EBD was how dominant they were in the first race. Well done to them for the innovation, thankfully the season wasn’t a walk-over as other teams were able to challenge them, even if it took a few races. Point is this technology is now widespread in road cars and we have McLaren and Formula 1 to thank for that. :-)

  77. Andrew says:

    How can F1 evolve if engineers are restricted to the limits they have to (none) there is no room for innovative technology which is what I thought F1 was about? Free for all I say then we may see a real race between teams not who can bypass Bernie’s shitty rules the best . Free engineers innovations up we will see true racing not manufactured overtaking!!!! Grrrrr

  78. StefMeister says:

    From the BBC Website:

    “But the governing body initially felt the device in question was a part of the suspension and did not contravene that area of the rules.

    But insiders say that, once it became clear its main role was to improve aerodynamics, banning it was a “no-brainer”.

    Article 3.15 of the F1 technical regulations requires that any aerodynamic effect created by the suspension should be incidental to its primary function.

    It further states that any device that influences the car’s aerodynamics “must remain immobile in relation to the spring part of the car”.

    An FIA insider said Lotus and Ferrari seemed unconcerned at the decision to ban the device.”

  79. zxzxz says:

    every year i become less interested in the sport.

    f1 without mechanical innovation is not what i want from the series.

    they are regulating themselves out of their niche.

  80. daphne says:

    looks like F1 is slowly heading towards FIA spec cars, where every element is controlled and defined by them. Like Nascar, which is not really the “pinnacle” of motorsport, but simply entertainment for their fans. So F1 is going to become the “pinnacle of entertainment”, rather than automotive engineering.

  81. Fred says:

    James I understand the Renault (Lotus) device was banned as it changed the areodynamic charcteristics of the car by a driver action as per Article 3.15 of the technical regulations. Can you please confirm what the DRS system does and why this does not go against the same regulation? Does it not change the areo dynamic characteristics of the car by a driver. The problem I see is one is sanctioned by the FIA the other is not? now that is what I call Hypocrisy. The sport is no longer the technical playground for engineers it once was. Every new inovation is soon canned.

    1. James Allen says:

      No it’s called regulations! DRS was agreed by all teams and approved by FIA.

      1. emmepi says:

        With all the respect to your point, James, if all the “innovation” has to be agreed in advance by all teams and “in advance” approved by FIA, then a great part of the F1 spirit is lost. If this was the original spirit of F1, sure the story of this racing sport would have been different, with different champs and cars.
        True that DRS has been agreed and approved, but it remains an unfair “japanese cartoon tool”. Who leads can’t use and followers can take advantage by it (at least this happens in some tracks).
        A tool which alterates performances to someone against someone else because os standing position, doesn’t became fair because approved by rules.
        Moreover, limiting pilot freedom to use car features to maximize performaces is against common sense in motor sport.
        If the third millenium F1 has to be only entertainment, at least let’s drop the word sport when talking about it.

  82. Mark says:

    I’m more interested in why RB were not showing that much interest in it as well, however if we are to look at the teams who would be interested in having it banned, then start from the bottom.. Williams, reported to have there own version.. Carterham, would be looking to have it banned as they don’t want to spend money on making there own version.. HRT, same as Carterham, Marussia, Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso all would fall into wanting it banned so they could save money… RB not interested, Have not heard much from McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari have been working on there own version.. So I’ll leave it up to you to pick which one’s lobbied the FIA to ban the device…But the question still remains, Why aren’t RB interested?? Do they have there own version that works much better??

  83. Chad says:

    It’s simple, spend 5 million developing, or spend 1 million on the FIA

  84. jpinx says:

    I suppose it gets caught between “interactive suspension” and “moveable aerodynamic devices”. The thing that escapes me is why they need it. With clever design the front suspension can be made to not dive under braking – similar to the rear not squatting under aceleration. This has been in use for years and I am sure Mr Newey has got a good handle on the design aspects. Any thoughts, James, about why Lotus and others can not get their suspension geometry right?

  85. HFEVO2 says:

    Like many enthusiasts I’m disappointed in this last-minute decision. If Charlie approved the Renault design, then surely that decision should be final – unless the system they intended to race was significantly different from the original proposal.

    Motor Sport used to be about innovation and technical progress for our road cars came about through developments in racing. Disc brakes being the perfect example.

    We also had interesting concepts like active suspension, the Chapparel CanAm fan car and then the Brabham F1 fan car.

    These were big steps which were relatively inexpensive to develop and were exciting to see.

    Now we have the 12 teams, supposedly at the very pinnacle of Motorsport, whose ability to innovate is being strangled by the most restricted set of regulations in the history of the sport.

    The result of all this regulation ?

    The top teams spending close to a billion dollars a year to develope minute improvements in aerodynamics which the spectator and TV viewer can’t even see.

    You have to doubt the sense of it all.

  86. Sri says:

    Similar to #84, I have this query: Can someone with insight or F1 inside info (James) let us now if Lotus has plans for developing (or already in place) variation of this system that could pass rules to get FIA approval?
    Also how bad will Lotus team’s car’s performance be affected due to this ban as they must have developed the car using this system? I read somewhere (may be here) that this system can be easily taken off the car without affecting its car’s stability or normal performance.

  87. Mike84 says:

    Too bad about FIA being more a fire extinguisher rather than lighting a fire under the sport, but if the aerodynamicists want a job where they’re more free to innovate, there are other aero-related fields than F1 to work in. Just like when the regs tied the engines down, those designers could go work on engines for something other than an F1 car.

  88. Steve Selasky says:

    James, I am under the perception that the FIA does not want – “game changing” technology or innovation to present. Just look at the double decker diffuser.

    Can you explain why they “rolled” over quickly when this became public and banned it after green-lighting the development.

  89. Jiri says:

    It is not a comment more a question to James. Do you have an idea why FIA suddenly changed their mind and from approving the system chose to ban it? And second, what if a team goes after FIA and asks for paying damages due to money spent on the development if there was previous okay from FIA?

  90. Spike says:

    All I can say is.. [mod] the FIA. Ban all the technological innovations on a technicality why dont you. The very thing that is the essence of Formula 1. Im starting to get very fed up with this flip flopping. This reeks of lobbyism to be honest.

  91. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – perhaps I have gotten the facts wrong, but it appears from a number of blogs that this feature was uncovered through “spy shots”. Does that mean the FIA may have privately approved the technology without the other teams knowing, but once it became public, they protested? If that is the case, would it be fair to say that the teams unduely influenced the FIA’s decision rather than it being an independent umpire?

    1. James Allen says:

      Piola spotted it on spy shots from Young Guns test at Abu Dhabi.

      It is not unusual for the other teams to have their say and argue against something. If no agreement can be reached then it’s left to the stewards at the first race to take a view. I think the FIA is keen to avoid those pantomimes as much as possible. They have the right to ban something as they’ve done here. Someone has to be the regulator and they have to be independent

  92. Carlos Marques says:

    I’ll bet you any money Red Bull will have a similar device in their car this coming season. They’ll just claim their particular device is there to keep the brakes cool if the FIA comes across the device mid-season…

  93. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Oh, I am confused.

    I’ve already put it in my car, no license needed…

  94. John Smith says:

    all this begs the question, why do teams bother asking the FIA to look at a piece of technology, given its tendency and history for backflips?

  95. Ayron says:

    Maybe, just maybe, there hasn’t been any conspiracy.

    Perhaps Lotus developed a system which on paper looked legal to Whiting. Maybe after the recent announcements they took a closer look at the finished product and found that it didn’t quite fit within the guidelines as it was expected to.

    Then Ferrari submitted their version and it was clear that these systems were unlikely to be easily scrutineered and were too likely to contravene the rules therefore resulting in a pre-emptory banning of the system before too many teams got too carried away with it.

    If you’re looking for a conspiracy, how about the insurance companies responsible for the public liability for Formula 1 getting worried that this was a system that could be held responsible in the event of a fatal crash and therefore attract mega- compensation payouts…

    Seriously, though, maybe something got banned because it contravenes the rules. And maybe there is a perfectly good reason why the rule exists…

  96. JohnBt says:

    It’s a trend from FIA to tweak the rules as you go along. Depending who’s running away I betcha the rules will change.

    After one third of 2012 has gone by, watch out for more rules twitching.

    Poor engineers and worse of all, more money spent, talk about trying to keep the cost done. I’m just an ordinary F1 fan.

  97. F1 dingo says:

    James, apologies if this has already been raised/queried.
    In an instance such as this does it not severly hinder the design of, for example, Lotus’ car? As this deisgn was spotted on their car back at the young driver test and the FIA subsequently passed the device, I would imagine that the whole 2012 car was designed with this aspect in mind, as RBR stated, it’s about the car as a whole and not simply bolting a piece of kit on.
    Is this not smiliar in reverse, ie. after designing a car with this device in mind, simply taking it off would unbalance the car? basically, is this a complete disaster for Lotus, or is it a design aspect that can be easily rectrified and altered before the start of the season?
    Isn’t it a little unfair to ok a design aspect (therefore allowing a design team to incorporate it as part of the overall package)only to reverse that decision 2 weeks before the start of testing?
    Would it not have been fairer to ban it from the start of next season (2013) similar to what they did for exhaust blown diffusers?

  98. Nuno says:

    James, is it possible to find out the truth about what was approved (…if it was approved)last year on the young drivers test vs. what was banned now? Is it the same thing?

    Thanks

  99. ray says:

    [mod] .WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE TO SEE LOTUS UP THERE GONNA BE ONE OF THOSE SEASONS YOU CAN JUST SEE IT NOW . GREAT SITE HERE JAMES LIKE ALL THE COMMENTS

  100. Sri says:

    There is an article on this issue which explains why FIA reversed its stand:
    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/97151

    Makes me wonder that they could give approval earlier without making a good study! So FIA really works that way when it comes to approval?

  101. Hairpin says:

    The rules state and always did for 2011 & 2012 as I have posted on other sites,the FIA have banned this devise on the grounds of Aerodynamic influence. If they had not chosen this rule it would still be illegal and more importantly in my opinion is rule 10.2.3.
    The relevant rules are below.

    Aerodynamic influence 3.15 :
    With the exception of the driver adjustable bodywork described in Article 3.18 (in addition to minimal parts solely associated with its actuation) and the ducts described in Article 11.4, any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance :
    ‐ Must comply with the rules relating to bodywork.
    ‐ Must be rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any degree of freedom).
    ‐ Must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car.
    Any device or construction that is designed to bridge the gap between the sprung part of the car and the ground is prohibited under all circumstances.
    No part having an aerodynamic influence and no part of the bodywork, with the exception of the skid block in 3.13 above, may under any circumstances be located below the reference
    plane.
    With the exception of the parts necessary for the adjustment described in Article 3.18, any car system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited.

    and most relevant in my opinion is -

    10.2.3 No adjustment may be made to the suspension system while the car is in motion.

    No rules have been changed by the FIA to ban or make this device illegal. It never was legal.

  102. K says:

    Oh well, at least one less thing to worry about + fail on, much like the front-exhaust they innovated last year.

  103. toleman fan says:

    Reviving dead thread, to link to Craig Scarborough on Twitter. This. Just, this:

    Fake Jonathan Legard @FakeLegardJ
    “So tell us Craig @ScarbsF1. The 2012 cars are all sporting 4 black round rubber attachments, one on each corner. What are those for?”

    Craig Scarborough @ScarbsF1
    “@FakeLegardJ its an aero thing, the FIA wil make them square next year”

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