Red Bull allowed to keep Bahrain and Monaco wins but forced to modify car
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Jun 2012   |  10:05 pm GMT  |  271 comments

The controversy over the holes in the rear floor of the Red Bull, which appeared during the Bahrain Grand Prix in a car which has gone on to win two of the last three races, has been resolved.

After much discussion and threatened protests in Monaco, the FIA met with all team technical representatives after the race and issued a clarification at the end of the week in the form of a technical directive – like the ones banning off throttle blowing of the diffusers, issued last summer.

In essence, the FIA had originally accepted the concept from Red Bull as legal. But it was once implemented on the car and having heard representations from other teams about it, they’ve changed their minds and now say that the fact that there isn’t explicitly a rule banning the idea, doesn’t make it legal.

They now say it’s illegal, because it’s presence on the car must contravene other rules by association.

Red Bull’s idea is to have a hole in the floor ahead of the rear wheels, through which exhaust gases can blow into the channel of the diffuser, gaining downforce at the rear of the car, which has been severaly cut by the ban on blown diffusers this year.

Red Bull suffered rear end stability issues at the start of the season, which is why they got off to a slow start this year. The “enclosed hole” solution went a long way towards fixing that problem and the team has scored 45 points including two wins with it – more than any other team in that period.

Now they will have to find another solution to boosting rear end downforce.

This process is similar to the one that rival teams launched – unsuccesfully – against Mercedes over the double DRS system at the start of this season.

Because the FIA likes teams to run ideas past them first before implementation and then is open to reviewing their decision if other teams have an argument which proves illegality, the team is allowed to keep its results during the period the idea is on the car.

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Why people still use to read news papers when in this technological globe everything is presented on net?


Right away I am ready to do my breakfast, later than having my breakfast coming yet again to read further news.


As for the ‘holes’ issue, I think the FIA & Charlie are desperately trying to divert attention away from Pirelli. RBR are just helping out.

As for the ‘LH’ incident. The officials didn’t punish Lewis, they punished McLaren. McLaren let Lewis down. Who do you think Lewis blames for being sent to the back of the grid?


Why would the FIA & Charlie want to divert attention away from Pirelli? They have done eaxactly as asked! when they got the tyre contract they were specifically told not to produce a tyre the same as Bridgestone,make one that will fall off in grip gradually,but fall off a cliff if pushed to far,to create better racing,which it has in spades! they just should have seperated the compounds more at Monaco. You’re 100% right about LH & McLaren

Craig in Manila


Is it fair to assume that, if the offending hole had’ve been in an area of the car that was hidden from external view, the other teams therefore wouldn’t have known about it, it’s legality therefore wouldn’t have been challenged, and the car would’ve therefore been “legal” for the whole season ?



Other sports don’t seem to have an issue with stripping an athlete or team of a victory if they’ve been found afterwards of having breached a rule. Why doesn’t the FIA do the same thing? Surely it can’t be that difficult.


Problem is though that no-one remembers the rightful winner. take the tour de france for example,who was the actual winner after Alberto Contador was stripped of 1 of his titles? who was the winner after Floyd Landis was stripped? even better question who got the medals that Marion Jones was stripped of? It’s too late once the presentation has been made,it costs people and companies millions in lost revenue that they can never get back. by the way the answers to the TDF questions are Andy Schleck & Oscar Pererio,but stuffed if i know about the others?????? LOL


I think the FIA has this the wrong way round and are creating this controversy. RBR have earned those wins with a now illegal design and thats a shame because it may negatively affect the outcome of either of the championships. It’s not fair to penalise RBR and it’s not fair on the fans because they know it wasn’t a level playing field.

Why don’t the FIA change their policy and put these features into a ‘Pending Approval’ state to allow time for appeals. The teams can be allowed to run the designs (and the car would be legal at scrutineering) but if the design does not get full approval then they lose any points gained while it was in a pending state.

This forces the teams to be more certain the designs are legal before running them but also gives them a chance to take a risk and get out ahead of their rivals with something innovative.


the reason it has been dealt with this way is because it is “legal” in some areas of the regs but contrevenes others & as such has been redressed in this way,simply because the FIA were the ones that passed it as legal,at multiple venues. Had Red Bull turned up at Bahrain & won by a massive margin,it may have been looked at sooner,but they didn’t,it took abit for them still to come on,and therefore it probably isn’t the sole reason for their recent success,and probably won’t hinder them too much to open the ends of the holes,aka Sauber etc.You can’t have “Pending Approval” situation,simply because if two or more drivers from multiple teams were able to win the championship at the final round,teams might be tempted to create “pending approval super f1 cars” that it would take months to argue out,leaving a situation where a team can make money as World Champion’s,but then be stripped later,which is too late. ask any lay person who won the tour de france,the year Floyd Landis cheated,and most couldn’t tell you, they’ve had Floyd burned into their memory for too long! By the way it was Oscar Pererio! The same situation would happen,because you can’t hold off the presentations etc. for months on end ,it would be farsicle!


I recall someone from Ferrari saying that they develop ideas and put them in the cars knowing they are outside the rules or at the edge. They think it is worth it if they can get away with it for a few races or more and score more than they would have done.

Every point matters and even more so now the tyres are making it an almost random event. The hole was worth about 0.1s.

Likely there’ll be other holes in the rules which have not yet surfaced…


What should be the penalty for FIA, when they allow the illegal car to race.

Why FIA need someone else to tell them, what is right or what is worng in the regulation that was written by FIA.

Wrong decision from FIA also made the whole situation differnt, let the illegal car have 2 win, which is too much for tight championship.

Even in Monaco, why they allow the suspicious car to race as legal and have some illegally advantage to take the win. I don’t feel it fair to the rest.


What i find a little ammusing is the way people think redbull are being punished for their inginuity that it was their design. I am sure Sauber had a version first but that their’s with the slit to the edge is a legal version and redbull have just copied the legal version and tried to push the boundries and unfortunately it has not worked for them.


Well it has worked for them. They’ve won two races with it in place 😉


This air blown diffuser seem to provide RB8 with rear stability, which shows Neweys genius by allowing exhaust plume and air to flow onto the hole. Now we see how they cope without it, as witnessed in Bharin and Monaco they performed well on slow flowing corners. This could affect traction on the rear end. Mclaren are quick in fast flowing CORNERS, the next big development would be the exhaust plume flow, and i believe Mclaren will be trying to flow the exhaust plume on to the floor or even keep them slightly higher.


Seems unlikely it will have too much impact, they will just put an extra cut in like that on the Sauber and Ferrari designs to make sure it is no longer an “enclosed hole”.


In this case I completely see why the penalties (or none) handed to RBR and McLaren were different. However, I don’t understand why Schumacher was handed a 5 place grid penalty for crashing into Senna in Barca when in 2010 Webber received zero sanctions for rear ending Kovaleinen in Valencia. This is the type of discrepancy that does need look at.


You can’t compare Webber/Kovaleinen and Schuey/Senna! Schuey just plain missed his brake point,while trying to overtake a competitive car,whereas Webber did not expect a back marker in a car that qualified 4 secs off the pace to defend,especially when he was on fresh tyres,Kovalainen on olds & defending against a kers car when he had none! PLAIN SILLY move by Kovaleinen then,but would be axpected now as that car is better.


Both Webber and Schuey were guilty of the same thing – screwing up their braking. Both misjudged the actions of the car in front and were guilty of indecision. Kovalainen moved right to let Webber past, but needed to then move left in order to regain the racing line for the corner. I don’t think he was defending. Senna did the same thing, except he was defending. Two identical incidents in my opinion. My point is that both Webber and Schumacher deserved a penalty, only Schumacher received one. I don’t know if the rules have changed since two years ago, I don’t have copies of the regulations to compare. However, I do know that causing an avoidable collision has always been frowned upon (even Schum was questioned by stewards for rear ending Coulthard in the rain in Spa 98). Ultimately there are far too many penalties in F1 these days (i.e. Karthikeyan in Malaysia) for incidents that wouldn’t have attracted a penalty in the past.


Sorry to say you are mistaken. Kovaleinen,both on the team radio at the time immediately after the incicent, and later when interviewed said ” i was defending!” They played the radio conversation during the replays and analysis during the ensuing safety car,and his interview in the paddock upon release from the medical centre. I feel they are actually finally dishing out penalties for the right reasons instead of the way some drivers got away with anything and others overpenalised for trivial infractions. Mark Webber’s drive through for touching Rubens Barrichello at the start of the 2009 German GP at the start is a classic example of overkill(lucky he was untouchable that day anyway)yet Schuey “brushed” many a competitor in the same way when along side. I believe Vettel should have been penalised for his altercation with Mark in Turkey 2010,but nothing ensued. At least the Schuey’s and Alonso’s,etc. now know they’ll be hit as hard as anyone else,for whatever infraction(except Narain Karthekayen.who should be hit with a ” you’re not good enough penalty of exclusion, PERMANENTLY,LOL,unless he can do a test in a competitive car and show he has actually got the talent!)


2 situations in 2 different season. The regulations regarding penalty’s for avoidable contact has changed since 2010.

For the start of 2011 (At the drivers request BTW) the FIA stewards started investigating every incident & implementing more penalty’s for ‘avoidable contact’.

Carlos Marques

Is it legal (or fair) for the FIA to declare something illegal mid-season? It wasn’t a safety concern. The team spent time and money designing their car around this solution after they were told they were legal. How is it fair they’re now being told to change their design because they’re winning “a bit too much”? Imagine if the Brawn cars were deemed illegal mid-season and forced to drop their double diffusers because they were winning too much. It would have been better for the FIA to declare the design legal for 2012, and allow others to copy, and illegal for 2013 onwards…


The complete transcripts of conversations between Red Bull and Whiting should be made available.

Why did Whiting think this complied with the regulations?

We now have some transparency with the stewarding decisions; lets have the same on the scrutineering front.

This preliminary advice from Whiting should of been made available to all teams. The regulations are a collaborative effort, every team should be working to the same framework.


You can protest at any time if you believe a car is illegal and not in the spirit of the rules. We’ve seen that game play out before of team not protesting until the most inconvenient time for the opponent. And how much more inconvenient can you get than after opponent wins?


How badly do you think this will hurt Red Bull James? history has shown that when a team is asked to take something off their car they lose pace and with the field as tight as it is this could hurt them.


Not so much in Canada, they have time to adapt before races in Valencia and especially Silverstone



I have seen a picture of the alleged slot – hole, which was legal now isn’t. I do follow your comments about how they couldn’t get their cars to work the first couple of races, and now have. But looking at the slot, how much extra down force can it produce. Can that size of slot make such a big difference?


How can anybody here answer that? Only Adrian

Newey, surely. I certainly can’t answer from my

armchair. Perhaps I’ll have a guess.


Yes, it can make a huge difference. What aerodynamicists call “tire squirt” is the air that the tire is pushing away, parts of it gets into the diffuser. Tyre squirt can reduce the diffuser’s flow by almost 50%, as it is very turbulent, slow air (the higher the speed the lower the pressure, the more downforce). The slots in front of the tire guides air coming from the sidepods to the diffuser, pushing away the tire squirt.

Additionally the downwashing air going over the sidepods at high speeds pushes the exhaust plume down, so it’s hot and fast exhaust gas that gets into that slot to replace the tire squirt, which in turn improves downforce. Not as much as a blown diffuser would, but the effect should still be pretty noticeable.

Of course your mileage may vary depending on your diffuser’s design and other aerodynamic details in that area, but I’m pretty sure other teams will follow Ferrari, Sauber and Red Bull in that respect.


I am well aware of the “Tyre Squirt” problem as it has been around for a very long time. It was know about back in the early 1980’s when I first started following F1. We also have the winds that hit a track, which the cars have to deal with. These also cause major problems with the aero package cars run.

But looking at the size of the slots, it is very hard to believe the amount of pressure this size of slot can generate, and the volume of air and pressure seems a little unreal to make such a big difference in the handling of the car. As for the 50% lost, that has been talked about, but not proven, just a wild guess, and has been repeated on a number of other blogs.


“the team has scored 45 points including two wins with it”?? Doesn’t two wins = 50 points?


From what i have gathered the cars are checked over for rules violations by a different crew at every race. With the amount of money involved in this series why isn’t there a dedicated fia tech crew to travel to every race to check the cars. Pretty puzzeling that nascar/indycar have a set tech crew that travels to every race and checks the car.

As far as whether this penalty is just, sorry but this just smacks of favoritism by fia. Changing the result of a race happened at spa even though maclaren got the ok of hamiltons pass of alonso from whiting they took the win away. I think if you asked the fans fia has little credibility.


Those are spec series, regs are much simpler, should renault lose 2005 and 2006 champs?


It really doesn’t matter whether it’s a spec series or not F1 should have a traveling tech crew. That way you would have people that are familiar with the teams and the cars. The way it is now there is to much of a chance for favoritism. The argument that the rules are to complicated to police is bogus. If the tech crew was to be involved when the rules are being written and checked the cars every race they would be more likely to notice changes. How can it be a good system to have the cars checked by people who only see them once a year?


Absolutte joke IMO! the Red Bull design has noe been declared illegal yet the race results in which Red Bull have raced the illegal design have been allowed to stand?

Have Red Bull become the new Ferrari with seemingly lienient decsions in their favour but other teams (mostley McLaren) getting cained for any breach or regulations?


Oh oh …. Holegate……


The name of my next music album: “It’s not illegal until it’s illegal!”


How could the FIA approve such a clear breach of rules, in the first place? I think this Whiting guy must go. Isn’t he and his assistant who always rejoice whenever Vettel, Bernie’s darling, raises his winning finger?! I have never seen them hugging other drivers except Sebastian.


Oh please, think about what you’re saying mate. Seb gets hugged because he has an extremely high hugability factor. Who of the others would you rather got hugged? I admit Felipe’s pretty huggable but his stock is a little too low to be seen hugging at the moment 😉


Has it been explained why the Red Bull floor with enclosed holes was legal for those three races?

My only guess, and it’s a total guess from the rule and a photo of the floor, was that when viewed from below it appears as a covered area (like a shadow plate). But would love to hear any better informed opinions or statements.


Hi James,

Have you maybe heard how much performance per lap would such a hole give?.


Clearly the FIA misunderstand their own rules. I understand that they approved the design, but all the technical directors and designers knew the design was illegal as stated in the regulations. So for them to allow this to me is typical of the FIA in drawing attention to themselves whether right or wrong to spice the show. I do think that McLaren were trying to get one over in quali.