The International Appeal Court has ruled that the diffusers used by Brawn, Toyota and Williams are legal. So now we have clarity and we move on, although there will be rumblings from the other teams, they can do nothing more and have to bring their own versions of the double decker to their cars as quickly as possible.
But bad feelings remain. The hearing yesterday certainly got nasty, it seems, as it dragged out into yesterday evening, Paris time.
It was a bruising encounter for the protagonists, with some real niggle between former colleagues and lawyers getting stuck in to others’ reputations. But some of the things said yesterday will surely come back to haunt those who said them.
The impression the protesters are keen to give is that they are unanimous in their feeling that the three diffuser teams have not only been crafty, but have violated the spirit of sporting competition.
Certainly I’m told that all the teams are backing the protest, with the exception of Toro Rosso (no point in paying twice if Red Bull have already paid) and Force India, for political reasons.
One argument, advanced by Adrian Newey and Flavio Briatore, is that the diffusers should be banned on safety grounds, the Brawn car in particular, because they make the cars too fast.
Although three teams are in the dock, only one team owner seems to be getting the flak and that is Ross Brawn. He had to sit there, while Nigel Tozzi, Ferrari’s lawyer and a man who was on the same side as Brawn until two years ago, described him as a ‘person of supreme arrogance,’ because he sees things one way when everyone else sees things a different way, “Only a person of supreme arrogance would think he is right when so many of his esteemed colleagues would disagree.”
Instead, Brawn is now looking like a person of supreme intelligence.
Tozzi then went on to say something which a lawyer representing an F1 team in an FIA hearing really should have thought twice before saying, because the words will surely be used against him one day,
“Anyone with a command of English will tell you it is a hole, so do not let someone attempting to be clever with words defeat the express purpose of the rules,”
Being clever with words to defeat the purpose of the rules in F1 is what getting an edge in F1 is all about. It happens every time someone comes up with something the others haven’t got and every time there is a protest and an appeal into some genius device, or loophole.
I remember in 1999 sitting in a steaming hot Ferrari office in Sepang after the race as Ross Brawn showed us with a ruler why the barge-boards had been ruled illegal by the stewards. And yet a few days later, through using words at a hearing in Paris, Ferrari’s lawyer managed to get the judges to agree that by viewing the car from a certain angle and by applying tolerances mentioned elsewhere in the rules, the barge-boards were legal after all.
Brawn may forgive and forget, maybe not. But I was very surprised to hear Tozzi having a go at the FIA for inconsistency. The FIA denies that other teams had applied to use a similar diffuser design and were knocked back. In any case I was surprised to see Tozzi using the terms he used,
“The position of the FIA is totally baffling. We urge you to save the FIA from itself,” he is alleged to have said, according to Press Association.
That is strong stuff. Whatever you may think of the historical relationship between Ferrari and the FIA, this line shows you that as of right now, they are at loggerheads and that there is a huge amount of frustration on Ferrari’s side.
Ferrari are frustrated by the FIA’s position on this issue, by the way they have allowed this uncertainty and dispute to develop. The FIA say that their position is clear and as always been consistent; the diffusers are legal.
But also bear in mind that Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo heads the team’s association, FOTA and is more than a little frustrated by the way the FIA World Council ignored all of FOTA’s hard work and suggestions and instead voted in a £30 million budget cap for 2010.
These things work themselves through in the end and Ferrari and FIA will be friends again at some point in the future. But right now they are the focal point for the needle, which is central to this issue over the diffusers.