F1 Winter Break
The world title could be decided tomorrow..
The world title could be decided tomorrow..
Posted By:   |  13 Apr 2009   |  7:48 am GMT  |  56 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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surely it would be a DISASTER if they had to find those designs "illegal", and change the results of the grands prix. i find that impossible to believe; the designs are not illegal, its just a loophole, which has already been passed by the stewards as legal. so i really dont see how this is going to happen.

is it not just a proper clarification of the rules and wording that will happen? so in future races the teams will know in what direction to go. im imagining the diffuser gang to have spare conventional diffusers made in case the fia rule the one way, and of course we know the rest have some form of the trick diffuser waiting if the fia keeps the wording as is. i wouldnt think it will affect previous results


The diffuser "hoodies" will definitely 'win' the argument tomorrow

The WMSC, FIA and FOM know that if they have to penalise Toyota, Williams and Brawn, the implications of having to recalculate the results from Melbourne and Sepang will cause even more damage to the sport

The "hoodies" have done nothing wrong within the rules - it may just be an argument on the 'spirit' of the rules.

So the WMSC cannot prove any wrong doing.


Whatever the ruling is, there will be unhappy people. It should never have been allowed to get to this position, a decision should have been made BEFORE the opening race.

F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motor sport, yet it cant seem to get the basics right.

I for one hope the diffusers are ruled legal, they have been allowed to race in the opening two races, so if they were illegal, they would never have been allowed to race. If they are ruled illegal, people will argue that the FIA want a closer championship, and to give Ferrari (their perceived favourites) a fighting chance.

Come on Jenson!


The double-decker diffuser concept may be announced as legal by tomorrow. But even Max Mosley admitted that this is a loophole in the regulations and this will punish team that don't look for the loopholes.
I think we're really missing a point. The new regulations set by FIA with assistance of the OWG which is strengthened by Ferrari, Renault and McLaren to increase overtaking. So it's logical not to look for the loopholes for these teams, isn't it? You don't help FIA to set the regulations and at the same time look for the loopholes. Also we all know that these three teams are very good at finding loopholes as we saw in the past. I believe they could easily come up with a similar design if they really looked for the loopholes in the regulations.


I think it's a shame that everything is decided at the court. What do you think, will the DD be banned? I'm praying that the results of the first GPs won't be changed. It'd destroy the complete F1.


I'm not sure you're correct about having to reach the 'right' decision here (which would be to ban the diffuser), the FIA have already alienated a lot of fans with all the furor over winter. I think if they wipe the slate clean now the arguments about the points system will seem like childs play.
The diffuser three found a loophole and took it, I think it's fair that they get a few races advantage before the other teams bolt one on.
I would rather see the FIA allow the diffuser for this year, then clarify the rules for next year to disallow them. This way they get to save face, not cause a huge argument and the 'spirit of the rules' would be upheld.


The stewards have already decreed the diffusers to be legal, so if the FIA appeal court contradicts this assessment it will surely prove F1 to be an extraordinary farce (if it hasn't already).

It's a real pity that the actions of the FIA/stewards are screwing the sport over, because the guys on the track have been producing some great racing the last few years.
Are they even aware how much they're tainting the sport?


Would be hard to see F1 quickly recovering from as big a scandal as a total reversal of the first two race points, wouldn't it? Credibility would be strained to breaking point, surely?
If found illegal, isn't it more likely that the diffusers will be banned going forward rather that retrospectively?


Is it possible to have a compromise? Banning the Brawn/Williams/Toyota-diffuser but keeping their results of the first 2 (or 3) GP's.

The WC could bring a clarification of the rules starting future races.


Why the first 4 races? We've only had 2 races.


Mr. Allen, do you think that the diffuser rule might just be "clarified", so DD are banned, but from round 3, thus keeping the results from the opening races.


How sad that the title will be decided in a courtroom, and what an indictment of the sports current administrators.

Like many others I will be on the edge of my seat watching the lawyers go wheel to wheel…….


If the championship is to be decided on Tuesday, why bother to watch and pay to watch the remaining races? I have a feeling that it won't go the way many expect.


Assuming the diffusers are declared legal and other teams start to add them to their cars, will Red Bull/Toro Rosso have a hard time adapting to the double-decker diffuser because of their car design?

I'm kind of wondering who's going to have the hardest time catching up (for my fantasy F1 purposes, of course! lol)...


I reckon that Rory's argument about holes is totally invalid because the article he quotes is referring solely to the reference and step planes. The diffuser is on neither. Moreover the reference plane extends only to the rear wheel axis and as far as I know there is no step plane at the rear.
Unfortunately the tech regs summary does not include a full step plane specification.

Does anyone know where to download the FULL tech regs?


What a mockery. So we have three "DD" teams desperately redesigning their whole aero package to accommodate a non DD system in case the system is declared illegal, with the rest desperately redesigning their whole aero packages to come up with DD systems in case the system is declared legal.

What a waste of resources.

Nice one FIA, make a sport incomprehensible to potential followers while simultaneously costing the teams a fortune. What a waste of resources. Give the FIA a brief to cut costs and this is what you get.

Why on Earth these things aren't clarified before the season begins escapes the common sense of most people. I'm sick to the back teeth of not knowing who's won a race till six weeks after the chequered flag.

Adam Milleneuve

If anyone is confused by exactly what a diffuser is and how some are illegal and some not you have a read of this: http://www.f1badger.com/2009/04/diffuser

Explains it all as well as the possible outcomes.

James - this blog is just fantastic, really enjoying your articles. Keep it up!


My hunch, Brawn, Williams and Toyota will be legal. Well, it's F1, we want speed don't we?


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.


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.


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.


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!!


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!


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.


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 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...


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.


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.


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....


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.


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 ) !!


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?


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.


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.


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.


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


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?


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 ...


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...


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.


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.


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.


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! 🙂


Thought you would be in Paris today Rory! 🙂

You know very well that the "holes" argument applies to the reference and step planes. Not the area behind the rear wheel centre line.

If the FIA find against the DDD they will be bending the rules.


Of course the other teams won't "slap" a diffuser change onto their cars. They don't have to - they've all been preparing new diffusers from the moment they realised that they'd missed the boat on this one, and pretty much every front-running team will have their new diffuser design ready imminently.

Why is it fair that the teams who followed the letter of the rules should be punished for not following some vague "intent" of the rules? They invested their money in a design that complied completely with what the rules stated, and indeed that Brawn had personally given his rivals an opportunity to close the loophole on before the problem reared its head. ven if their points are retained, closing the loophole mid-season is not fair and effectively punishes those teams by forcing them to redesign their cars.

For that matter, at this point, the majority of the teams have now spent their money on developing new diffusers. Where's the logic in throwing all this development money and work away?

Frankly, there is no logic. Close the loophole at the correct point - before *next* season starts, giving everybody a level playing field.


Ed's not the first to make that mistake 🙂

The scores as they would be if the diffuser teams all get DQed are here:

See post #2 for the drivers and post #4 for the constructors. There's a mistake in post #4, Ferrari would be on 3 points not 0.5, though they would still be in 7th place.

Amazingly, Toro Rosso would be winning the constructors' championship!


yeah, there wont be any mind reading or telepathy anymore. if the fia had any sense, they'd get those intentions clear on paper, and the diffusers would be outlawed. plain and simple. they generate more downforce at the rear of the car, which is exactly what is not wanted for there to be more chances of overtaking. thats why that rear wing is tiny and the front wing is huge.

the only argument going for those trick diffusers is if drivers havent complained about those cars being harder to follow. but nobody has mentioned that as an argument, so what they're going on doesnt make sense to me at all (the whole "innovative" crap, when its just a loophole in the wrong direction of what f1 was trying to go for).


Lee, I hope you're right on this one! if, as I suspect, the ruling goes against Brawn, Toyota and williams, it rather makes the antics of McLaren even more stupid. LH may have been awarded 10 points.
JA did'nt feel the three teams would be penalised, but I for one am still not confident. The suits have form when Ferarri are involved. I wrote previously that I felt that the FIA/WMSC take too long to make decisions and I still feel the same way. Whats's the wage bill for this hearing? Max & Bernie must be laughing in their respective offices, FOTA is fighting amongst itself and McLaren, well, emough said, and all before the third race of the season. I've now got to the stage that I am waiting for the stewards decision (2 or 3 hours after the race) before I believe any rusults. So much for considering us fans!


That would send a message to the teams for the future that Might Is Right, that you don't need to read the rules if you can drum up a majority to gang up on those who do.
In theory F1 isn't about that, but about doing the best you possibly can within the regulations as they are set out on paper, and not by divining the intentions behind them by mind-reading or telepathy. If you jettison that basic principle, chaos beckons and politicking will corrupt the sport at even the level of the design process.


That is a good shout actually - rule book anyone?


I think it depends on the perceived potential of the income which ever decision will generate from the audience.

In 2006 it was thought that a Schumacher 8th title would be the big income earner, so Renault had to be slowed down. The result was the banning of the mass damper.

I think they have a bit of a problem here. Brawn is popular, but will they have year long big-income-popularity if they do actually dominate all season? Will the crowed get bored of them and miss Ferrari being at the top? Or will Ferrari catch up and become faster than the Brawn? Or even if the diffuser is banned will Ferrari be competitive or reliable anyway? What if they ban it and by doing so simply open the door for RedBull to win? They may as well have stuck with Brawn then...

The long and the short is that pleasing the crowed and making money is the decider, juts like it was with Renault's mass damper vs a Schumacher 8th title.

Given Ferrari's self destructiveness and the speed of RedBull, I think they would do well to leave the Double-Diffuser alone and let everyone chase. It is extra cost though in the down turn, which for once is also a concern.

Either way this issue has been handled very badly by the FIA. A decision should have been reached a long, long time ago...


Is this the Mike Doodson who has been involved in F1 for a number of years? It's an interesting point Mike raises about the 2007 World Championship. Had Kimi Raikkonen been disqualified I believe Fernando Alonso would have been world champion. Both he and Lewis Hamilton finished on the same number of points. However, if KR was disqualified FA would have won the race. LH would have been promoted to second. They would have had the same number of points still but FA would have been champion with 5 wins to LH's 4. However, how many people remember this? I feel that if the diffusers are deemed illegal but the results from the first two races stand there will always be a stigma associated with Jenson Button's success.
It's my understanding that this situation could not be resolved until the GP season started as this was where the process for making protests could occur.
I have also noticed that the MotoGP had a very high profile pre-season test at Jerez recently with red button tv coverage; prizes for the rider with the fastest lap, and so on. Could F1 not do the same, perhaps at the new Portuguese track in the Algarve which looks superb but is unlikely to ever hold a GP. It would be compulsory for every team to attend and protests, appeals, etc could be made here before the season started. Somehow rules need to be set in place so that no team hides any possible developments until the first race especially innovations as radical and controversial as the diffusers.


i dont think the advantage brawn gp has is totally down to this diffuser thing. nor do i think the other teams could simply take the trick diffuser and "slap it on" the car. its going to take a little development work. and during that period, brawn will still enjoy their advantage.

thats if they are deemed legal. which i really think they shouldnt be. their points should stay, as the diffuser designs are legal with the current rules wording, but that should be changed and made crystal clear to outlaw the use of those things.

the whole point of the 2009 rule changes was to get the cars overtaking with drastically reduced aerodynamic downforce. those diffusers take those intentions in a different direction, and its at the rear of the car which makes the whole turbulent wake business even worse.


malaysia is only half points so it wouldnt be the points that u suggested.


I think from the sense that its hard for the non-diffuser teams to react and update their diffuser with us still being in the flyaway leg of the season. Teams are more likely going to be bringing updates to Spain, round 5, so the diffuser teams will be trying to make hay whilst the sun shines, assuming their designs are pronounced legal.


I think if that were to happen it would effectively render the Brawn, Toyota and Williams cars illegal for China and thereafter and they will have to update their cars before this weekend

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