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The world title could be decided tomorrow..
The world title could be decided tomorrow..
Posted By:   |  13 Apr 2009   |  7:48 am GMT  |  58 comments

It’s been a fairly quiet Easter as far as happenings in F1 are concerned. I guess Malaysia was such a momentous weekend, with the McLaren/stewards affair and the crazy race, it’s hardly surprising that the sport needed to take a breather.

But tomorrow (Tuesday 14th) things will get intense again as the international appeal court makes its decision regarding the legality of the diffusers of Brawn, Williams and Toyota.

This decision could well decide the outcome of the world championship, certainly that is the view of former world champions Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, who are on the wrong side of the debate. Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Red Bull know that the first four races -a quarter of the season – will have been lost if the decision goes against them.

If the decision goes with the protesters, we will have to unpick the results of the first two Grands Prix, which will be very messy. We’ve already had a high profile reversal before the season started on the points system. To tell the world also that the first two races are meaningless would make neutrals wonder what the heck is going on in F1.

However that’s a risk we have to take because the important thing here is that we get the right decision, so everyone can move forward. The top teams all have their own versions of the ‘double decker’ diffuser in the wind tunnel at the moment and will be ready to run them either in Bahrain or Barcelona, depending on their manufacturing capability. This should give them a vault in performance.

The Brawn team hopes to keep its nose ahead and has some updates of its own to roll out in Spain, because the team has the luxury of being one step ahead of the rest. But it will be interesting to see whether these updates give anything like the returns that the diffusers will give to the rest. Meanwhile Toyota and Williams have benefitted from the diffusers and, for as long as it lasts, they are taking points off the top teams.

McLaren and Ferrari look out of sorts at the moment, McLaren because of a slow car and the strife they have brought on themselves. Internally there is some real soul searching going on and a threat that they may lose their lead driver over the damage done to his reputation. That is very destabilising.

Ferrari are on the ropes because they have made mistakes and had reliability issues. They need to get onto the right path as a team and I’ve no doubt that they will. This is not like turning an oil tanker around, an F1 team with a winning culture can adapt and change direction very quickly.

BMW should benefit greatly from the updated package they will bring out in Spain. They have combined the need to build a car with a trick diffuser with the need to make a lighter chassis for Robert Kubica, so he can use the KERS system and he will be driving essentially a B spec car in Spain. I expect him to start to feature in a big way after that. He’s been one of the few top team drivers to have given the diffuser cars a run for their money in the opening races.

Renault are coming from a bit further back, while Red Bull have a different concept to the rest and have been quick in the opening races. If forced to adapt to the trick diffusers, it will be interesting to see whether they gain or lose relative to the opposition.

If the appeal court decision goes Brawn’s way it will certainly give Jenson Button a fighting chance of winning the title, as he will have had four ‘open goals’ at the first four races, a head start that it will take the big teams a lot of the season to catch up.

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Double Diffuser…….D?????? (Doubters!)

anyway…They’re legal (as has been said by race stewards) its a no brainer surely. Plus if they were illegal, all the teams who have been going 36/7 (because they were already at 24/7 with their development!) would have to confine all their hard catch up work and $$$$,$$$,$$$ to the very expensive carbon fibre graveyard that Bernie is busy digging up and preparing….JUST TAKE YOUR MEDICINE! FER, MCL, you guys have had your glory days…you are boring! – A FRESH wind is blowing through F1 now…let it blow for the season please..its been such a year of firsts and its only 2 months old! 🙂


The court case is a combined appeal against the stewards decision on the legality of the cheat diffusers.

So the only possible outcomes are:
1. Appeal succeeds, stewards decision of both races overturned which means three teams were racing with illegal equipment, they will be disqualified, points taken away and redistributed to others.

2. Appeal does not succeed, results from existing races stay in place

I feel teams racing with illegal equipment should be fined $100 million each for bringing the field of aerodynamics into disrepute.


Judging by the early reports of the diffuser hearing it looks as though Bernie and Max are succeeding wonderfully in creating a climate of vindictiveness which will end up by tearing FOTA apart.


One more thing, lets just add that the engine reliability upgrades made by most teams last season were legal, even though the likes of Renault and Honda were a good 60bhp down at the end of the season. This is a similar situation in my eyes, taking the rules and finding a way to use them to your benefit. The likes of Ferrari, McLaren and co have no place complaining following that little example.


I can’t see how the FIA can make them illegal after during pre-season Charlie Whiting agreed they were legal, and since then 6 race stewards have said they’re legal, heck even Max has said they are legal.

I think Ross Brawn has his bases covered with this one as he suggested a revision of the rules to make it clearer, and he was ignored. What more can he realistically do?

I actually think if McLaren, Ferrari, Renault and BMW had these at the start of the season in place of the current three teams and their cars were at the front of the grid there would be no protest, the other teams would just develop something similar PDQ. I think a generous portion of sour grapes has aided the situation.

Fingers crossed they are made legal…


I am grateful to JW1980 for, among other things, supporting my hint that there can be no question of “unpicking” the results of the AGP. Thank you, too, me old cleverclogs, for putting me right on who (Nando, not Lewis) would have been WC in 2007 if the FIA had thrown out Kimi’s flagrantly illegal Fazazz from that year’s AGP. My only excuse is that I’m halfway to Shanghai and they don’t have F1 reference books on board Air China, at least not in steerage. The old grey cells aren’t what they once were …


James is there any chance one or two cars could be found legal and the other not? I was wondering if the toyota triple decker has pushed it too far?


What time will we get the decision? Do we have to wait until they have all been out for a nice lunch?


all the fia will do is make them illegal as of china brawn,toyota,williams,will have to deal with it.For the other teams it will be a logistical and monetary nightmare remember the credit crunch guys.ITis far easier to keep the majority happy than the minority, let them keep there points from the last two races and they all carry on as per normal.Will be interesting to see the brawns without there trick diffuser if that is all the advantage they have got jenson may be yesterday days news if he can’t make quali 2 in china.


James can you check something out here… I understood that if the Stewards knowingly passed feature on a car as legal and did not require a competitor to change it then the competitor could not be disqualified later for that feature. (e.g. Ferrari’s flexible floor of 2007 – which won in Oz, and ended up giving KR the championship).

All the court of appeal can do is tell Stewards at future races the feature must be treated as illegal. If they don’t then each set Stewards must follow the precedent set by the previous set.


Why does everyone keep saying that making diffusers illegal would lead to disqualification? Whenever there’s been rule changes in the past about technical parts in the grey area there’s been no disqualification. The parts have been disallowed and the racing has continued. So either the diffusers will be made completely legal or then they will be banned, but I don’t see how that would lead to disqualifications.


Red Bull (Vettel’s) is giving the DDD (Double Decker Diffuser) teams a run for their money already. Is it really the Diffuser which is making those teams so fast?

I say that the FIA shoud rule the diffusers legal and force the three teams running them to share that data with the other teams and give those teams an opportunity to test the diffusers on their cars before the next race.

FIA have already said that the decision is for the stewards to make and they have made the decision, so why all the fuss?


Eddie Jordan accidentally called a diffuser a “confuser” during his first BBC F1 piece to camera, he couldn’t have been more correct. If the FIA scrap this rule it’ll make F1 into a complete joke & it will not recover.

Why bother watching races ? buy a paper the following Thursday to see where your favourite driver actually came ( not including appeals ) !!


I have to agree with knoxploration; to say that the championship will be decided on April 14 th is just plain silly, nothing less. This season looks like being one of the most exciting and close for a very long time, and I’ll bet that it will probably go to the wire as the factory teams throw a fortune at the aero to haul Brawn GP in.
Declare the early season results illegal? Virtually impossible for the simple reason that the stewards have cleared the DD cars already. That fact would I think prove an insurmountable legal hurdle.
What is to be decided is whether the Three or the Seven (teams) will have to redesign.
In the real world, some, and probably all, of the Seven are already redesigning for the simple reason that they know they missed the bus, and DD is a legal interpretation of the rules, loophole or not.
What of course is happening is that the Seven are wheeling out their drivers to moan and whine and cry and whinge in order to apply the maximum pressure on the Court of Appeal to scare them into making a political decision which will be in their favour. And the greatest possible fear they can possibly evoke is the spectre of one of the teams (Brawn in particular) failing to keep to the F1 script, which calls of course for the championship to be decided on the very last race. All must recoil in fear and terror at anything other than this coming to pass. It probably won’t anyway, but if it doesn’t, so what?
I am sorry that you, James, seem to have been taken in by all the silly play-acting.


The ICA should “blame” the FIA and the TWG for making bogus regulations, last year was the different engine homologations, which leaved the Renault team underpowered, today the “DD” row which will leave one side of the parties very unhappy and with a large bill to foot. I love F1, the teams, the soap opera, the politics, etc but if F1 wants to keep their fan base and expanding it, should realy consider go racing and leave the stupidity at home….


As much as certain teams would love us to believe that we’re “deciding the championship” tomorrow, it is complete and utter nonsense. If the diffusers are found legal – and they should be, given that the teams were given the opportunity to close the loophole long before it was exploited – then those teams will simply put the new diffusers to work on their own cars too. Brawn, Williams and Toyota will have had a brief advantage – but that’s it.

Brief advantages don’t decide championships at the start of a season. They may help a team that is already almost capable of winning the championship to do so towards the end of the season, but to suggest that allowing the diffusers somehow gifts the championship to Brawn without them needing to work for it is totally disingenuous, and I for one am not falling for the PR campaign on this one.


Surely the previous results would stand even if they were illegal. If that’s the case then why did Renault get to keep all there points in 2006 after there illegal mass damper was removed? It will be a farce if they are deemed illegal, especially after stewards said they were legal in Melbourne. IF they are judged illegal by the F(arce)IA then it’s another situation in pulling back the front runner so we’ll be in for a tight finish to the season, just like they did to Hamilton in Belgium last year.


If the diffuser cars were excluded from the first two races, Heidfield would be leading the championship, on 14 points. Alonso finished 5th in Austrailia, behind the Diffuser teams Brawn and Toyota, So he would have won the first race, with Rosberg’s 6th being disqualified, Sebastian Buemi will have finished 2nd on his debut, with his teammate Bourdais in 3rd. Sutil would have finished 4th, Heidfield 5th, Fisichella 6th, Webber 7th, and Teammate Vettel 8th.

Malaysia: Heidfield would win, with Webber 2nd, Hamilton 3rd, Massa 4th, Bourdais 5th, Alonso 6th, Piquet 7th and Raikonen 8th.

Alternate Championship: Heidfield 14 pts, Alonso 13 pts, Bourdais 10 pts, Webber 10 pts, Buemi 8 pts, Hamilton 6 pts, Massa and Sutil 5 pts, Fisichella 3 pts, Piquet 2 pts, Raikonen and Vettel 1 pt.

Well, is this Better or worse? do we want to see random, unpredictiable starts to a championship decided in a courtroom?

Of course they could order a different verdict/punishment…


If the appeal was accepted and the 3 teams using the U diffusers are disqualified from the 1st 2 races, The championship standings will be as follow:


if they go back and DQ the diffuser three the results of the first two races will look like this:
Aussie GP:

Malaysian GP:

(might be a few mistakes)
i really doubt they will ban the diffusers, but if they do i can’t see them going back with the results,but i still expect brawn to have an advantage whatever the outcome.


James (or anyone else close to the action in a sense), do you think Brawn GP (and Toyota and Williams) could have covered all bases just in case the diffusers would be brought into the courts?

In light of Ross Brawn bringing up the subject last March about the rule book needing tightening in regards of any loopholes, do you think he got the team to draft up an alternative in case what has happened, happened?

I know it’s a big change, but I would have thought it would be plausible to be an alternative, being as a year ago the team was still Honda, and effectively throwing money at the car, but I could be wrong!


Me again, James. Interesting you should suggest that the results from Oz and Malaysia would have to be “unpicked” if the court rules against the DD. After all, the DD was declared legal by Max (well before the AGP) and then by the scrutineers and the Stewards in Melbourne. If the case goes against the DD, do you think the FIA would find the time to do the same to the results of the 2007 AGP? That would only be logical, and Kimi — in case anyone’s forgotten — won that race driving a Ferrari with a flagrantly illegal floppy floor. So Lewis is to be the 2007 World Champ after all!!


I think the straightforward will happen:

• diffuser declared legal. Teams without it will just introduce it at the next race, if they can.

• McLaren fined or lose constructor’s points. No chance of Lewis leaving McLaren. Turning his back on the team that has supported him since 11 is unthinkable, and the resulting upheaval would be a million times more damaging than the incident in Aus, which seems a million years ago now.


If they are deemed illegal, the results of the first two races should not be rescinded. The logic for this is that, for Australia and Malaysia they were legal, they will be illegal only when and if declared so tomorrow. Same applied to the Michelin tyres 2003 and Renault’s mass damper in 2006.

What do you think James (and others)? Surely there is no chance of the diffusers being outlawed now.


Could they not just declare the diffuser legal by the rules at the moment, so the first two race standings count. But then close the ‘loophole’ therefore outlawing the double decker diffusers for any future races.

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