FIA sends note to teams: Reactive suspension system is not legal
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Jan 2012   |  11:43 am GMT  |  238 comments

Last week we reported a story from technical journalist Giorgio Piola about a clever device Lotus Renault had developed to stabilise the suspension under braking.

After initial signals from the FIA that the system would be considered legal, last night it became clear that there has been a change of heart in Paris with a message to teams saying that it will not be allowed during the 2012 season.

It contravenes the rules regarding moveable aerodynamic devices.

Williams’ senior operations engineer Mark Gillan confirmed the news on Peter Windsor’s “Flying Lap” webcast last night.

“The FIA has just banned that particular type of system,” he said. “We have been investigating that type of system for a while. It obviously has an impact on the aero platform of the car. Anything that gets the front ride height lower is beneficial from an aerodynamic perspective.”

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Reviving dead thread, to link to Craig Scarborough on Twitter. This. Just, this:

Fake Jonathan Legard @FakeLegardJ

“So tell us Craig @ScarbsF1. The 2012 cars are all sporting 4 black round rubber attachments, one on each corner. What are those for?”

Craig Scarborough @ScarbsF1

“@FakeLegardJ its an aero thing, the FIA wil make them square next year”


Oh well, at least one less thing to worry about + fail on, much like the front-exhaust they innovated last year.


The rules state and always did for 2011 & 2012 as I have posted on other sites,the FIA have banned this devise on the grounds of Aerodynamic influence. If they had not chosen this rule it would still be illegal and more importantly in my opinion is rule 10.2.3.

The relevant rules are below.

Aerodynamic influence 3.15 :

With the exception of the driver adjustable bodywork described in Article 3.18 (in addition to minimal parts solely associated with its actuation) and the ducts described in Article 11.4, any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance :

‐ Must comply with the rules relating to bodywork.

‐ Must be rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any degree of freedom).

‐ Must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car.

Any device or construction that is designed to bridge the gap between the sprung part of the car and the ground is prohibited under all circumstances.

No part having an aerodynamic influence and no part of the bodywork, with the exception of the skid block in 3.13 above, may under any circumstances be located below the reference


With the exception of the parts necessary for the adjustment described in Article 3.18, any car system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited.

and most relevant in my opinion is –

10.2.3 No adjustment may be made to the suspension system while the car is in motion.

No rules have been changed by the FIA to ban or make this device illegal. It never was legal.


There is an article on this issue which explains why FIA reversed its stand:

Makes me wonder that they could give approval earlier without making a good study! So FIA really works that way when it comes to approval?




James, is it possible to find out the truth about what was approved (…if it was approved)last year on the young drivers test vs. what was banned now? Is it the same thing?



James, apologies if this has already been raised/queried.

In an instance such as this does it not severly hinder the design of, for example, Lotus’ car? As this deisgn was spotted on their car back at the young driver test and the FIA subsequently passed the device, I would imagine that the whole 2012 car was designed with this aspect in mind, as RBR stated, it’s about the car as a whole and not simply bolting a piece of kit on.

Is this not smiliar in reverse, ie. after designing a car with this device in mind, simply taking it off would unbalance the car? basically, is this a complete disaster for Lotus, or is it a design aspect that can be easily rectrified and altered before the start of the season?

Isn’t it a little unfair to ok a design aspect (therefore allowing a design team to incorporate it as part of the overall package)only to reverse that decision 2 weeks before the start of testing?

Would it not have been fairer to ban it from the start of next season (2013) similar to what they did for exhaust blown diffusers?


It’s a trend from FIA to tweak the rules as you go along. Depending who’s running away I betcha the rules will change.

After one third of 2012 has gone by, watch out for more rules twitching.

Poor engineers and worse of all, more money spent, talk about trying to keep the cost done. I’m just an ordinary F1 fan.


Maybe, just maybe, there hasn’t been any conspiracy.

Perhaps Lotus developed a system which on paper looked legal to Whiting. Maybe after the recent announcements they took a closer look at the finished product and found that it didn’t quite fit within the guidelines as it was expected to.

Then Ferrari submitted their version and it was clear that these systems were unlikely to be easily scrutineered and were too likely to contravene the rules therefore resulting in a pre-emptory banning of the system before too many teams got too carried away with it.

If you’re looking for a conspiracy, how about the insurance companies responsible for the public liability for Formula 1 getting worried that this was a system that could be held responsible in the event of a fatal crash and therefore attract mega- compensation payouts…

Seriously, though, maybe something got banned because it contravenes the rules. And maybe there is a perfectly good reason why the rule exists…


all this begs the question, why do teams bother asking the FIA to look at a piece of technology, given its tendency and history for backflips?

Tornillo Amarillo

Oh, I am confused.

I’ve already put it in my car, no license needed…


I’ll bet you any money Red Bull will have a similar device in their car this coming season. They’ll just claim their particular device is there to keep the brakes cool if the FIA comes across the device mid-season…

Adrian Newey Jnr

James – perhaps I have gotten the facts wrong, but it appears from a number of blogs that this feature was uncovered through “spy shots”. Does that mean the FIA may have privately approved the technology without the other teams knowing, but once it became public, they protested? If that is the case, would it be fair to say that the teams unduely influenced the FIA’s decision rather than it being an independent umpire?


Piola spotted it on spy shots from Young Guns test at Abu Dhabi.

It is not unusual for the other teams to have their say and argue against something. If no agreement can be reached then it’s left to the stewards at the first race to take a view. I think the FIA is keen to avoid those pantomimes as much as possible. They have the right to ban something as they’ve done here. Someone has to be the regulator and they have to be independent


All I can say is.. [mod] the FIA. Ban all the technological innovations on a technicality why dont you. The very thing that is the essence of Formula 1. Im starting to get very fed up with this flip flopping. This reeks of lobbyism to be honest.


It is not a comment more a question to James. Do you have an idea why FIA suddenly changed their mind and from approving the system chose to ban it? And second, what if a team goes after FIA and asks for paying damages due to money spent on the development if there was previous okay from FIA?


James, I am under the perception that the FIA does not want – “game changing” technology or innovation to present. Just look at the double decker diffuser.

Can you explain why they “rolled” over quickly when this became public and banned it after green-lighting the development.


Too bad about FIA being more a fire extinguisher rather than lighting a fire under the sport, but if the aerodynamicists want a job where they’re more free to innovate, there are other aero-related fields than F1 to work in. Just like when the regs tied the engines down, those designers could go work on engines for something other than an F1 car.


Similar to #84, I have this query: Can someone with insight or F1 inside info (James) let us now if Lotus has plans for developing (or already in place) variation of this system that could pass rules to get FIA approval?

Also how bad will Lotus team’s car’s performance be affected due to this ban as they must have developed the car using this system? I read somewhere (may be here) that this system can be easily taken off the car without affecting its car’s stability or normal performance.


Like many enthusiasts I’m disappointed in this last-minute decision. If Charlie approved the Renault design, then surely that decision should be final – unless the system they intended to race was significantly different from the original proposal.

Motor Sport used to be about innovation and technical progress for our road cars came about through developments in racing. Disc brakes being the perfect example.

We also had interesting concepts like active suspension, the Chapparel CanAm fan car and then the Brabham F1 fan car.

These were big steps which were relatively inexpensive to develop and were exciting to see.

Now we have the 12 teams, supposedly at the very pinnacle of Motorsport, whose ability to innovate is being strangled by the most restricted set of regulations in the history of the sport.

The result of all this regulation ?

The top teams spending close to a billion dollars a year to develope minute improvements in aerodynamics which the spectator and TV viewer can’t even see.

You have to doubt the sense of it all.


I suppose it gets caught between “interactive suspension” and “moveable aerodynamic devices”. The thing that escapes me is why they need it. With clever design the front suspension can be made to not dive under braking – similar to the rear not squatting under aceleration. This has been in use for years and I am sure Mr Newey has got a good handle on the design aspects. Any thoughts, James, about why Lotus and others can not get their suspension geometry right?


It’s simple, spend 5 million developing, or spend 1 million on the FIA


I’m more interested in why RB were not showing that much interest in it as well, however if we are to look at the teams who would be interested in having it banned, then start from the bottom.. Williams, reported to have there own version.. Carterham, would be looking to have it banned as they don’t want to spend money on making there own version.. HRT, same as Carterham, Marussia, Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso all would fall into wanting it banned so they could save money… RB not interested, Have not heard much from McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari have been working on there own version.. So I’ll leave it up to you to pick which one’s lobbied the FIA to ban the device…But the question still remains, Why aren’t RB interested?? Do they have there own version that works much better??


James I understand the Renault (Lotus) device was banned as it changed the areodynamic charcteristics of the car by a driver action as per Article 3.15 of the technical regulations. Can you please confirm what the DRS system does and why this does not go against the same regulation? Does it not change the areo dynamic characteristics of the car by a driver. The problem I see is one is sanctioned by the FIA the other is not? now that is what I call Hypocrisy. The sport is no longer the technical playground for engineers it once was. Every new inovation is soon canned.


No it’s called regulations! DRS was agreed by all teams and approved by FIA.


With all the respect to your point, James, if all the “innovation” has to be agreed in advance by all teams and “in advance” approved by FIA, then a great part of the F1 spirit is lost. If this was the original spirit of F1, sure the story of this racing sport would have been different, with different champs and cars.

True that DRS has been agreed and approved, but it remains an unfair “japanese cartoon tool”. Who leads can’t use and followers can take advantage by it (at least this happens in some tracks).

A tool which alterates performances to someone against someone else because os standing position, doesn’t became fair because approved by rules.

Moreover, limiting pilot freedom to use car features to maximize performaces is against common sense in motor sport.

If the third millenium F1 has to be only entertainment, at least let’s drop the word sport when talking about it.


looks like F1 is slowly heading towards FIA spec cars, where every element is controlled and defined by them. Like Nascar, which is not really the “pinnacle” of motorsport, but simply entertainment for their fans. So F1 is going to become the “pinnacle of entertainment”, rather than automotive engineering.


every year i become less interested in the sport.

f1 without mechanical innovation is not what i want from the series.

they are regulating themselves out of their niche.

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