[Updated]Formula 1 avoided a controversy on Sunday night when a threatened protest against the floor of the Red Bull car of race winner Mark Webber and fourth place Sebastian Vettel did not materialise.
A possible protest was discussed by management figures from McLaren and Ferrari on a couple of occasions, with Martin Whitmarsh meeting Stefano Domenicali in the Ferrari motorhome and the two teams technical directors also discussing the matter in the window of opportunity in which protests can be lodged post race.
There was a lot of talk, but no action, with suggestions from some quarters that it was agreed by teams not to mar the Monaco weekend with controversy and instead to sort the matter out behind closed doors before the next race in Canada.
An FIA spokesman told Autosport, “Red Bull have not been asked to change anything yet. However, there is a difference of opinion over interpretation of a regulation, which we intend to clarify our position on during the next days.”
Many of the leading FIA and F1 team figures have remained in Monaco for two days of meetings on 2013 rules and budgets. As mentioned on this site on Friday, there is a move among most of the teams to establish a firm cost cutting structure for next season, with many teams facing serious funding difficulties.
The target is to get a majority vote of eight votes before the deadline of June 30th, in order for a cost control mechanism to be in place for next year. This would require Mercedes and McLaren to be part of it even if Red Bull and Ferrari along with their satellite teams Toro Rosso and Sauber decided to boycott it.
If this were to happen the teams who oppose it would still have to abide by the rules and subject themselves to the cost control plan, which would probably by FIA controlled. Some teams are still keen on a budget cap, but it’s hard to imagine things going that far at the moment.
Red Bull is the team that is most deaf to appeals from the others on cost control, a disruptive stance which led to them leaving FOTA, along with three other teams including Ferrari. This has caused some resentment among other teams and Sunday’s insinuations of illegality from their rivals may not be unconnected to this.
But it does seem that there has been genuine doubt about the legality of the hole in the floor ahead of the rear wheels on the Red Bull since it first appeared in Bahrain two races ago. It is a very simple looking hole in the floor with a small duct which helps to channel exhaust gas down to the diffuser and this helps the rear end stability of the car. Since it was introduced, Vettel has won a race and scored 45 of his 73 points, while Webber has also won a race and scored 37 of his 73 points.
The FIA Technical Working Group will meet this week and is the appropriate place for this to be discussed. FIA’s Charlie Whiting has said he’s happy with the interpretation of the rules on the floor, but the indications are that he’s happy to discuss it with the other teams in time for a firm ruling before Canada.