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Catch 22 for the teams who lost the protest
Catch 22 for the teams who lost the protest
Posted By:   |  27 Mar 2009   |  3:33 am GMT  |  31 comments

A thought occurs to me. The seven teams who unsuccesfully protested the diffusers of Brawn, Williams and Toyota are actually in a worse position than before.

With the appeal not likely to be heard for at least a couple of weeks, what do they do now? Do they put their own copy of the Brawn diffuser in the wind tunnel and burn up valuable tunnel time, which could be spent on something else, trying to make it work with their car, when the whole thing could be wasted if the appeal succeeds? Or do they not spend that time in the tunnel with the copy and risk losing two weeks development time if the appeal finds for Brawn et al?

Very tricky. As a racer you’d do option 1.

The other teams reckon it’s worth half a second. They are having to catch up. And time is of the essence.

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This is exactly what I thought when I heard it's going to appeal, surely it would have been better to cut their losses and bolt one on for maybe the 3rd or 4th GP then get stuck in a no man's land for possibly half the season. They obviously cant assume the appeal will succeed when they've already been denied once.
Of course on the other side of the coin the other three teams have to decide whether to continue developing with the current diffuser or reverting to a standard one, difference being those teams have probably considered that option already as they've known about this issue for quite a while.


But then if they do option 1, doesn't that jeopardize their protest? After all, the Court of Appeals can tell them, "Well, you're running their diffusers on your cars now, so why are you still protesting?"


Great work on this blog James.

Isn't it great to hear the engines again!

Good on Frank and Patrick's boys, it's only one session but they are surely everyone’s favourite underdog.

And isn't it great that Liverpool are winning in such style again??


i think the appeal was a last chance shot in the dark. i reckon the parts are already on computers. we'll see who's wind tunnel / cad match up to real world the best. if someone gets their sums wrong, with only friday to test it could be very expensive. i wonder if red bull's pull rod rear suspension and rear wing end plates allow such a diffuser...


Wow James, this will be really interesting for all of us. My guess is the so called illegal diffusers are legal. Ross Brawn is a veteran in F1, don't think he will flout with the rules at all. So the other teams need to make quick plans for changes. Now "Catch Me If You Can" belongs to the three musketeers for now.


Interesting point you raise, James.

What's the procedure for withdrawing an appeal? If Renault, Ferrari et al do have success testing this diffuser, could they ask the FIA to drop their investigation?


If I were them, I'd do option number one too ... It's safer to do that. Especially with the limited test time,you'd gain a lot if the diffuser is legalised completly...

Hey, James.. where's your free practice review? I'm curious to know what happened with Vettel on Practice 1. Hehe....


Oh,and just now,Vettel stopped again on the track..Really curious to know what's up..There's no explenation on the live timing board.Is it reliability issue on red bull?


They must have new diffusors and other components in the windtunnel and on CFD now, just waiting for the appeal would be silly, I think. It would be great to know how much time approx. they think It will take to develop a new diffusor and have it intergrated into the original car concept.


The investigation could be dropped very simply - the teams have only to formally ask the FIA and pay whatever amount the FIA thinks it cost it for the inconvenience.


Love" rel="nofollow">this chirp from Brawn:

"Ferrari have only woken up because someone has driven faster than them. The accusations are coming from teams who did not come up with the idea and now they are getting angry."



well then, fri practise has been pretty conclusive. the high end diffusers definitely help! toyota, williams, brawn, all at the strong end. mclaren and BMW nowhere...


It's wonderful to see Williams back at the front after all this time!


The irony of the title obviously being that the protesting teams are doing it to catch car no. 22!


Pat Symmonds was saying the other day that BGP was not illegal, just very clever which makes me think the other teams are on the case despite protestations.

And what role did the Stewards play in this seeing as everyone knew that whatever the outcome it was going to go to appeal? Surely this could have been presented to the FIA in time to avoid this embarrassment and the possibility that all three podium places will be changed in the first two races


Surely Ferrari & Mclaren have their "controversial diffuser designs" on paper and at least tested on computer simulations if not in a wind tunnel before the season opener. They are just waiting for clarity because we all know the sky would fall out if they had this diffuser and where 0.5s ahead of the field.
That said i'm having a flutter for kimi winning the opener based on first practice times and the way they normally go about fri practice not bothering to do low fuel runs.

Just remember this genius/idiot after the race on Sunday.


To my mind there are two main issues here - do the diffusers meet the letter of the rules and, if so, do they meet the spirit of the rules?

From the verdict handed down by the stewards it would appear that the diffusers do meet the letter of the law and are therefore legal. The only way a protest could succeed at the Court of Appeal would be for the teams who have lodged the protest to show that the stewards were remiss in coming to their conclusion. The case that springs to mind is the Ferrari bargeboard row after the 1999 Malaysian GP, where both cars were reinstated after Ferrari were able to demonstrate flaws in the way the FIA had measured the boards.

If the protest succeeds then presumably Brawn, Williams and Toyota will be excluded from the results of the first two races. If the protest fails, which it appears more likely to, the other teams will have to get on with exploiting the loophole.

However, presumably we could find ourselves in the position where the diffusers are found to be within the letter of the law but the FIA decides that they are outside the spirit of the new regulations. In which case, the FIA could decide to issue a clarification to tighten up the rules. This would ban the offending diffusers for future races but allow Brawn, Williams and Toyota to keep any points from Australia and Malaysia.


I'm sorry to ask this, but I'm really struggling to find any good informative articles about the diffuser issues. Lots of articles talk about the row, but none explain the facts.

I'd love to know what the actual wording of the rule section is, the fundamental difference betwen a "standard" and a "contentious" design (with a photo of each?!) and understand what the basis of the claims are. Briatore and Horner seem particularly emphatic in their choice of words, but not in rationale.

Can you try to enlighten me (and I'm hoping others, unless I'm the only thicko!) or point me to any good articles you already know of?


if p2 form is true then the 3 cars with the new diffuser will lap the field.But this is the aussie gp and always throws up the unusal.Three drivers at the front who have never been there before thats got disaster written all over it ,the kers cars mid pak charging to the first corner to make up spots you do the math.These snow ploughs are going to have more say in this race than anyone thinks yet.


This is my first post so this may have been already asked but what developement route do think Ferrari will take with the diffuser (if not already) & will they be able to apply this to the car successfully, I know there was talk of some teams not being able to fit it on?

Also do you think Mclaren will do a Brawn & right this season off & concentrate on next year?

Keep up the good work & I think you've undeservedly had some stupid comments made about you on other forums but your just a real fan like most of us here!


@ Mark R - I would guess McLaren would continue to develop this car as the rules should remain reasonably static for next season. The reason teams decided to direct resources last year was because the new cars are something of a blank canvas, they had to develop it from scratch, whereas for the last few years the cars have just been evolutions of the year before.

Of course I could be wrong, especially if there's something inherently wrong with the car, but they're pretty adamant that there isn't.


I'm pretty sure almost all teams are working flat out on a similar diffusor solution for a some weeks now. So in case the diffusor layout is deemed to be legal they can bolt on the new floor in Shanghai. McL might probably even try to have something for next week as they've nothing to lose. Hence their reluctancy to log a protest on Thursday.


I've read somewhere that it wouldn't be until around Barcelona before most teams would be able to use the new diffuser as it's all about getting correct airflow from the front of the car & under the floor to the diffuser. It probably costs a fortune too!


Cheers Colin. Have just heard that the diffuser6 will keep their points regardless of the decision but would have to adapt the car if found 'guilty'


As far as I understand it, even if the diffuser is found technically illegal at the appeal they will keep their points from the first two races, as the stewards have given it the 'OK' for now.


Does the Brawn diffuser make passing more difficult for cars running behind it compared to the other diffusers? By Brawn diffuser I mean obviously Williams and Toyota and whoever else too.


"Just listen... that's the sound of war!"


No Shaun, nobody can protest an entry until it been officially approved by the "scruits".

Brawn could have changed the diffuser design many times since testing. The one they enter is the one that counts.


Well and truly burned his bridge back there then.

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