Suspension row likely to rumble on into 2017 F1 season despite successful Ferrari challenge
Ferrari Mercedes
Posted By: Editor   |  04 Jan 2017   |  12:25 pm GMT  |  229 comments

Ferrari has successfully challenged the legality of suspension technology that rival teams have been using, but the row is set to rumble on into the 2017 season.

F1 banned the FRIC (Front and Rear InterConnected) suspension system back in 2014, but some teams – notably Mercedes – have since come up with a workaround that optimises ride height and offers extra downforce in corners.

Working at its optimum a system that can drop a couple of millimetres of front wing ride height is probably worth around 2/10ths of a second a lap.

Ferrari’s chief designer Simone Resta wrote to the FIA’s F1 race director Charlie Whiting to explain that as a result the Italian team was considering its own novel suspension designs and asked for clarifications on specific areas. This could indicate that Ferrari was a few months behind their rivals like Mercedes and Red Bull in this technology, while medium size and small teams would not have the R&D resource or capability to compete in this area.

Whiting replied with his view that the concepts outlined in the letter would be illegal, which is a signal to the other teams not to appear in Melbourne with the system on their cars or they risk being sanctioned by the FIA Race Stewards.

Simone Resta

In his letter, which was distributed to all the teams, Resta wrote: “We are considering a family of suspension devices that we believe could offer a performance improvement through a response that is a more complex function of the load at the wheels than would be obtained through a simple combination of springs, dampers and inerters.

“In all cases they would be installed between some combination of the sprung part of the car and the two suspension rockers on a single axle, and achieve an effect similar to that of a FRIC system without requiring any connection between the front and rear of the car. All suspension devices in question feature a moveable spring seat and they use energy recovered from wheel loads and displacements to alter the position of the heave spring.

“Their contribution to the primary purpose of the sprung suspension – the attachment of the wheels to the car in a manner which isolates the sprung part from road disturbances – is small, while their effect on ride height and hence aerodynamic performance is much larger, to the extent that we believe it could justify the additional weight and design complexity.

F1 suspension

“We would therefore question the legality of these systems under Art. 3.15 and its interpretation in TD/002-11, discriminating between whether certain details are ‘wholly incidental to the main purpose of the suspension system’ or ‘have been contrived to directly affect the aerodynamic performance of the car’.

The two areas that Resta requested be clarified in detail were: “1) displacement in a direction opposed to the applied load over some or all of its travel, regardless of the source of the stored energy used to achieve this.

“2) a means by which some of the energy recovered from the forces and displacements at the wheel can be stored for release at a later time to extend a spring seat or other parts of the suspension assembly whose movement is not defined by the principally vertical suspension travel of the two wheels.”

Charlie Whiting

Whiting’s response to Ferrari’s letter explained that the two areas Resta asked for clarification on were likely to be in breach of F1’s technical regulations.

He wrote: “In our view any suspension system which was capable of altering the response of a cars’ suspension system in the way you describe in paragraphs 1) and 2) would be likely to contravene article 3.15 of the F1 technical regulations.”

It is understood that the teams that were running the innovative suspension layout in 2016 have presented their own queries to the FIA.

The row comes ahead of the 2017 season where F1 cars will feature new rules on chassis designs that will make the cars look more aggressive and are intended to lower laptimes.

Brawn GP

During the last major bodywork overall back in 2009, the debate over the double diffuser system on the Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota cars dominated the early part of the season. Protests were filed at the opening round, but the system was allowed.

Ross Brawn, whose eponymous team ran the double diffuser that was eventually ruled to be legal and went on to secure both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships in 2009, said late last year that the teams that had made an early start on their 2017 designs would be at an advantage as they, “can start to shape the arguments.”

With F1 set to become an aerodynamic Formula once again in 2017, additional gains from systems such as the one Ferrari has challenged are well worth having.

Disputes over innovative designs and further solutions in this area are likely to feature prominently in the coming weeks as the new cars are unveiled and testing gets underway.

What do you make of Ferrari’s move to clarify F1’s suspension rules? Does it signal a new debate over aero rules? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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Typical of Ferrari to complain about things that other teams thought of first. Isn’t F1 about about pushing technical development? Let the innovation stand. D/.


It irks me how so many F1 “fans” show so much hate towards Ferrari. They are always criticised for lacking innovation or being too conservative or moaning to the FIA etc. Designing something that is deliberately trying to defeat the regulations is not innovation. I applaud teams for trying to design good cars within the spirit of the regulations.


@ Greg M ..there is no such thing as the ‘spirit of the regulations’.


It seems to me that several people in this thread has either misunderstood or failed to appreciate the complexity of the issues at hand. For instance, the issue is not whether the hydraulic devices at issue “store energy”. As some have rightly stated, mechanical springs store energy too. Rather, the issue is whether these hydraulic devices violate Article 3.15 of the technical rules. In short, the issue is whether these devices should be considered “aerodynamic devices” or not. As with so many aspects of the technical rules, the answer is not so obvious.

Ferrari is asking the FIA to consider what is the “primary purpose” of these hydraulic devices. Is it primarily contributing to the sprung part of the car or to aerodynamic performance? Again the answer is not immediately obvious.

Similar to his determination of FRIC systems, White’s answer to Ferrari’s inquiry is that if these hydraulic devices’ primary purpose is aerodynamic performance rather than contribution to the sprung part of the car, then it’s illegal.

This ruling, in and of itself, doesn’t immediately rule out any team’s particular hydraulic device. Whether the primary purpose of a particular device is aero performance or not is a matter of interpretation. Teams will, of course, argue that their particular device is not designed primarily for aero performance and therefore should be deemed legal.

So far I haven’t seen anyone point of out the real significance of all of this, namely: Ferrari’s inquiry and Charlie’s response set the groundwork for determining what is the “primary purpose” of a particular hydraulic device, and hence whether a particular device does or does not violate 3.15. Ferrari’s wording of its question is insightful. It directs the FIA to consider, in particular, the “weight” and “complexity” of the hydraulic device. If the device is particularly heavy or complex, then it should be initially suspect of being designed primarily to affect aero performance rather than sprung performance, and more scrutiny should be given to the device. Otherwise, it’s difficult to justify the weight and costs associated with its complexity. As with all of the rules, all the teams will attempt to step right up to the line without crossing it. For instance, I’m sure both Mercedes and Red Bull are already arguing their case. But an explicit (even if somewhat subjective) line has now been drawn. The closer they get to that line (i.e., the heavier and more complex the hydraulic device), the more difficult it will be to make their case. That is the real significance of the ruling.


I think it’s FIA that is being vague here. It well gets to know the technical innovations of each car on the grid. It well knew the ‘innovations’ behind Mercedes and Red Bull. It let them run it until, well, one of the teams seeks for clarification. Then they shout ‘ILLEGAL’. Who is confused here? You tell me


Aero arguments will go on all season. Every team, especially the top 3 or 4 will be spying on each other every practice and race. Part of the entertainment no ??


Haven’t quite understood.
1 – If it was legal in 2016 why might it not be in 2017 ? Which specific rule has changed ?
2 – Why can’t there be a definitive ruling now instead of letting it go on and on ?
3 – Doesn’t this favour the big teams who began early (à la Brawn 2009) ? Haven’t they anough advantages already ?


This is the problem with f1, anything that is innovative or genuinely gives an advantage is banned.

What f1 needs is a simple set of car dimensions (max length and height) and then it’s down to the teams to build the fastest car using whatever engine, aero, materials etc etc they like. As long as it’s safe it’s ok.

The ‘sport (lol)’ is completely strangled these days with ridiculous rules and regulations and leaves no room for genuine innovation anymore, it’s no wonder people are walking en masse.


James, this is where F1 loses the public through obscurity in its over complexity and arbitrary rule making. When parts of F1 cars that do not manipulate airflow are deemed to be ‘aerodynamic’ parts, how can the general public be expected to understand why? If the governing body of the sport wants to avoid a war over suspension, why not DEFINE the suspension rules with clear parameters instead of deeming the specific apparatus under question within the suspension system to be an ‘aerodynamic part’ when clearly ALL of the suspension moves ALL of the car ALL of the time while the car is moving.


Don’t forget: Money, money, money. Lie many others, I would love to see F1 treams have lots of design freedom that leads to many cool, unique and innovative designs in all areas. But the costs involved at this point are so high that only 2 or 3 teams could afford to sustain their F1 commitments in that type of free design series. IOW, F1 couldn’t fill the grid.

So, while I agree that Ferrari’s “inquiry” is likely primarily motivated by a desire to stop RB and Merc from running these expensive and innovative designs and to avoid having to try and match them, in the bigger picture the result of banning them will lead to a more evenly matched field, which is a benefit to everyone, including fans.


I think it’s time that the rules were written in a foreign language, on a rotational basis. The reason I say this is because interpreting the rules has become a matter of word-bending, and on some occasions this transpires as rule bending. My 1st language is English, but even for those who have learnt it fluently, there are nuances that simply don’t translate. The same would be for us English reading the rules in French, Italian…….Japanese!! Imagine that!
This is the main reason having an English engineer on board in many teams, to interpret the rules. Somewhat unfair.


If the suspension systems in the Mercedes and Red Bull were illegal during 2016, shouldn’t the FIA have found out before the end of the championship? This is odd.


for some reason people seem to have a problem seeing closer run races from front to back.
Maybe they prefer to complain about how horribly dull it all is and are worried this little thrill will be taken away.


Yea, right. Why do i have a feeling Ferrari new Whiting’ answer even before they started writing that letter. If you can’t beat them on track, try to beat them off track. Ferrari did the same few years ago by sending letter to FIA in relation to homologation date, and the FIA suddenly changed the rule. Well, the “interpretation” of the rule.
This teams need better lawyers, but mainly better management. And by better I mean someone with the guts. With the guts to bring this dispute at FIA IT, and I’m 100% sure FIA would lose. They use that article about “movable aero devices” as they like. Totaly arbitrary. And this needs to stop.


I wonder how much of this is Ferrari trying to peg back Red Bull so they can compete with them.

Pity they can’t find an engine PU loophole to pull back Merc towards both Red Bull and themselves, to avoid the boring “turn up the engine and blitz everyone to the front row” scenarios week inweek out, year in year out…

It is quite easy being Charlie though. Just need to say “that’s a grey area it may or may not be illegal” 😉


Here we go again.
Innovation gets a knock from Team Catch-Up and the Suits.
‘. . . likely to be in breach . . . ‘
Is subjective enough to keep the subject in spin and maintain F1’s tenous media presence during the off-season.


I think all this stuff should be banned. The smaller teams would be able to compete better and it would lower costs. Charlie should be going to every factory NOW and looking at all aspects of the car. Either give them the ‘all clear’ or tell them to change it. I don’t want to see all the [Mod] fighting and protesting at the beginning of the season.


Sounds like there is more competition in the stewards office than on the track these days.


It is like everyone against Ferrari they have checked with FIA weather it is allowed or not. They have gone forward for a suspension and wanted to check if it is valid or not before implementing it, if that was invalid than they want others to stop taking advantage of such tricks what is wrong in it. Formula 1 is a business and every one wanted to win do not forget everyone is for himself here.


Why the hell ask if its ok? Merc didnt and got away with it for a year. JUST CHEAT, they did in the old days and it was more exciting!


The politics of this is more interesting than the technology. This letter does not read like someone looking for a design concept to be approved – particularly when we are less than a month away from cars being unveiled. This is a question contrived solely to get the answer that the system is illegal – and therefore scuppering any other teams considering a similar concept. If there was any doubt about this, why distribute the question to all other teams rather than keep a potentially advantageous idea to themselves?


It seems half the battle to get these grey-area devices deemed legal is in how you phrase your questions to the FIA.

If you tell the FIA you’re planning to build something that you think may break rule X they’ll just say you’re right. Don’t build it.

If you don’t ask the FIA anything, build it, mask it as something else to hide it from race inspectors, and defend it in court if challenged by a competitor who doesn’t fully grasp how your particular thingamajig works is a lot easier (and a lot more profitable) in my view.

NASCAR is a lot straight forward, American-style. “We don’t like the look of that thing over- whatever you call it- there because we didn’t understand a word you said. Yank it out right now, or go home.”


@Carlos Marques re: NASCAR – Just wondering, are they still running about 40 years behind current road car design? New technology would be wasted on their hammer and wrench ‘engineers’.


If Ferrari spent half as much time and money on their design team as the did on their legal team then they would be far more competitive. It is quite a compelling narrative to see the two historical titans of F1, Ferrari and McLaren, in turmoil and lon term terminal decline as the modern superpowers of Mercedes and Red Bull now dominate what the sport.


Why now and not last season when Mercedes and Red Bull already ran with this system.

Seems to me that they cannot get it working and therefore want it banned, just like with the active suspension in the 90s.


Obviously Ferrari have failed to reproduce this tech to good advantage otherwise they wouldn’t have gone to Charlie. What puzzles me is the timing. Surely it would be better to get clarification after testing, then Mercedes / Red Bull would be even more on the back foot when they arrive at the first race with a new legal suspension system that hasn’t been tested?


F1 Technical Regs for dummies.

Use this type of PU.
Use these tyres.
Everything else is up-to you.

And just to be clear,money will not necessarily win the day. The freedom of ideas and ingenuity will.


The cars in F1 have to confirm to a Formula, as does every other type of motor racing, whatever you and others might believe. The FIA cannot allow complete freedom in design, as the cars would soon be too fast for the circuits. That’s why so many circuits have had to install chicanes.


Crazy Ferrari and it’s friendly ways with FIA.
Bit like Man Utd ganging up on the Referee in the last minutes before the whistle blows…and lordy lordy they get a penalty.
Ferrari can’t develop their own car so they go running off to the headmaster’s office and shout “unfair sir they’re cheating…aren’t they?”
Petty as they know they already have a bad car for 2017. Three legged stallion now where did I put the old Bludderbus?!😉


All other teams would do exactly the same and would be very stupid if they didn’t.


I think it is very misleading by JA to say “Ferrari has successfully challenged the legality” of the Mercedes device. If one reads carefully what Simone Resta wrote to the FIA on can notice that he is mentioning his team wants to come up with a similar system. Assuming that no one could do so in 2 months it clearly means Ferrari has already done the homework. In other words they are saying we want to the same, if it’s legal. Now, if anyone says Ferrari wants to ban the trick used by Mercedes & RB he fis clearly bending the truth. – The problem here is not what th teams do. The real problem is how the FIA goes about enforcing legality. The procedure of calling Charlie, who then gives a non-binding interpretation, which can then be challenged at a much later date before the World Council is total nonsense. The idea that an engineer can build something which is perhaps illegal but could be challenged (or not!) is total nonsense as well. Why don’t we make a rule that says : ANY interpretation of a given rule must be explicitely allowed by the FIA, otherwise it shall be ruled as illegal? Any such question by the teams should be reviewed by a permanent FIA panel, not by the World Council with its members of Papua New Guinea and Turks & Caicos where they don’t have the slightest clue what the 3rd element is.


It’s not misleading, it’s how it works


@ James….As a direct corollary to this then if ‘Ferrari has successfully challenged the legality of mercedes’ then surely it has ramifications for the 2016 championship! If the system is the same, in fact and in principle then, if it is illegal now it also was then,2016. There should surely be a retrospective account called for.


I doubt that Mercs championship, or Red Bulls wins are in any danger. The cars passed scrutineering at the tracks, and that’s the end of it.


Leaving aside the more obvious issue of the fact that the rules don’t really allow for this type of retroactive action, how do you propose the FIA prove now in 2017 the exact parts being run on the Mercedes at any given grand prix in 2016? It’s impossible. Even if the cars still existed in one piece (and they don’t – we know well that every car gets stripped down to the chassis and rebuilt for the next grand prix, potentially with prototype parts), what would stop Mercedes from removing any “dangerous” parts when presenting the car for inspection now many months after the fact? That is why cars get inspected and weighed as they come off the track and why we have parc ferme.

But beyond the impracticability of what you are suggesting, I would recommend you google around and you might find a very detailed article explaining that almost everyone in the paddock was aware of the Mercedes system with zero protests (which means that no one thought it to be even remotely illegal, or a protest would have been lodged immediately). It’s the Red Bull system that raised eye brows as a result of a radio message and it was only at the last grand prix, leaving no real opportunity to protest the system as the season was effectively over.


There was a reason why i directed my post to James as he has the contacts who could throw accurate light on my question. Now i don’t know who you are. Are you actually employed within F1 and do you actually have access to informed opinion? By my reckoning, i would have thought that the FIA inspectors would know the intimate detail of what systems were being run in ’16 and they would’ve had sanction by the FIA in the wake of the FRIC debacle. To now actually face a query might necessitate a rethink of what was sanctioned last year, if they are of the same principle. The fact is that i don’t know hence my question to James.


No, you got me there. I don’t work in F1 and I don’t have any F1 contacts. What I am is a barrister and solicitor, which has allowed me an albeit limited understanding of this concept called “procedural fairness”. That’s just a fancy way of referring to the rules applied when something is being fought out in any type of tribunal or arbitration environment. And while there are variations across the many systems out there, certain fundamental principles are always the same. Such as “you can’t make a factual determination on evidence if the evidence is no longer available or reliable”. That wouldn’t be “fair”. I was merely trying to explain this to you as what you are asking about is a non-starter for a good many reasons, one of them being the issue above. And a smart lawyer would need little time to shut something like this down very quickly.

But you are 100% correct, I am speculating as I haven’t really bothered to google the FIA’s rules, which are surely available online somewhere.


@ BLE1 FU55… thanks for the response. I don’t think that you have grasped what i had said. Let me re state. If the system, as outlined in the ferrari letter, is, in essence, the same as that that was deemed to be acceptable in ’16 then if it is successfully challenged in ’17 then it was illegal in ’16? As i have said, the FIA would’ve been fully aware of what was in place in ’16 and i would assume [possibly dangerously] that mercedes/RB would’ve sought FIA approval in the first instance. It is here that we encounter the legal issue of ‘precedent’ which allows a decision to be challenged If the ‘evidence’ supports either an identical or reasonably identical system deemed to be legal.Given that there exists a precedent then surely any change could be challenged. Hence a re evaluation of the ’16 results? I am not saying that those results could be deemed to be null and void but those results would always be deemed to be ‘questionable’. I have absolutely no legal qualifications and i may well be entirely wrong. I am just putting out there, a point for debate. However, the fact that ferrari have made this query a point for public discussion says two things to me, namely, either they are putting subtle pressure on other teams, that they will consider protesting any system that in their opinion flouts the FIA’s determination or that they are considering employing a similar system themselves and are seeking to flush out what the others are doing. Interesting but not unusual.


Well (and my understanding here is somewhat limited as we don’t have all the facts) it seems the Mercedes system run in 2016 was actually okay. Or at the very least was not considered by their competitors as worth a protest. It appears people knew of how that system worked. Red Bull is a different question though and they my well have been running something that would be deemed illegal. Time will tell, but if they did run it no one was the wiser, until Ricky Bobby’s radio message at least. Even there though, I’m not sure anything can be done retroactively. As James said in the title though, this will surely rumble on into the new season. I kind of wish more sparks were flying now to add to the entertainment betweens seasons.


@ BLE1FU55…. If you don’t have the facts then what you are saying is ‘supposition’ eg, red bull is a different question though and they may well have been running something that ‘WOULD BE ILLEGAL’. You then say then that if they did run ‘IT’ no one was the wiser? All this is pure supposition, throwing something out there without any idea at all about what ‘IT’ is or even if ‘IT’ was there in the first place! It does seem quite interesting though that there has been very little comment appearing across the board which is relevant to this issue ATM. I do think though that you underestimate the extent of the FIA’s ability to wisen up to any tricks that are being played by the teams. Mercedes and Red bull are experts in finessing the rulebook and they would be skirting the edge all the time but i very much doubt that they would move to a position of known ‘illegality’ as there is too much at stake.


The Perks of an Italian F1 team not having a Briton technician to read the FiA Regulations… written in English.
The linguistic barrier is a handicap.


Really, this comment passed moderation? Then again, this particular contributor has missed the obvious.

The rules are written by the FIA – a French organisation.

But of course!!! It explains why English teams have such an extensive history when it comes to ‘interpreting’ the rules… badly.


Just saying than a person which 1st language is English can capture loopholes in his mother language better than someone which 1st language is not English.

Don’t know if you remember but the argument among FiA and BrawnGP was the subtle diference among a “hole” and a “slot”.

Ferrari/Schumacher raced with several illegal parts, including a bargeboard with wrong measurements before Suzuka, but the boss was Ross Brawn.


Hole is completely contained by an edge. A slot is open at one end and I don’t think a slot has to be parallel…


If you take anything else away from a team to differentiate them from another then I say let’s all be like Haas! You may as well employ 20 people to build the car and 10 to build your own bespoke steering wheel. Ridiculous.


seems as if Ferrari’s been caught with their pants down again


This clarification will save Ferrari and other teams a fortune, and alot of time investment. It would seem that Merc and Red Bull got away with breaking the rules last year!


The amount of Ferrari bashing in the comments below really surprises me. Full disclaimer – I am not a Ferrari fan. As a matter of fact, I only support/follow drivers. Any affection I show towards a team will have been as a result of my heroes driving for that specific team.

Having said that, what Ferrari is doing here is tactical and very smart. Any team in their position would have done the same thing and if they didn’t they wouldn’t make it far in F1. They have broken no rules here, they are playing it by the book. If I was running an F1 team and had limited resources (time in particular) with which to work in developing my car, I too would first question the legality of a system before embarking on an expensive adventure of developing my own. If deemed legal, then ok, the time and money needs to be spent on it. But to not first do what they did in questioning it would be the sign of a poor manager.

There are suggestions below that the FIA had approved these systems before. I don’t ever recall reading that anywhere. If anyone can point me to a statement by the FIA declaring these systems ok or a statement by either Red Bull or Mercedes saying that they have asked the FIA and received their blessing, please do so and I will eat my humble pie. And to those folks calling Ferrari sore losers, I believe you have completely missed the point of what just happened. Ferrari just drew first blood – that’s called winning in any competition.

Let’s not forget F1 is not just a competition on track, but also a technical competition among engineers. Those latter battles (which are a big part of why I find the sport so attractive) are by their very nature sometimes fought in this way, by questioning the legality of an opponent’s developments.

So all that to say bravo to Ferrari and, just like in a tennis match when the ball is about to land in the opponent’s court, I now turn my head towards Mercedes, Red Bull and whoever else may have been working on this for their response.

Finally, I should point out I’m not in any way commenting on the desirability of such systems and the financial implications for smaller teams. I also don’t comment on how the rules should be interpreted, I leave that to the professionals having the requisite experience. That is besides the point and a different conversation anyway. All I’m saying is let’s try to keep the commentary a little more even keeled here. As far as I can tell Ferrari have done nothing wrong other than play a card it had. And let’s see if the other teams can fight back on this.

PS I read somewhere (can’t recall the source) that the Ferrari 668 will feature a very narrow nose. That would seem to lend even more support to what they are doing here, as I imagine introducing this system would require extra space in a front of the car.


Very objective and pragmatic post.

I’m also astonished by the pervasive anti-Ferrari sentiment that seems so prevalent. It seems that many F1 followers are developing the Football fan mentality of trash talking about rival teams / drivers. Shame – I thought we were better than that.


I’m looking at your post, sent to me by email, but not yet refreshed at James:
“…the beauty of it is now they are likely causing Red Bull and Mercedes to also hedge their bets and have two concepts going at the same time.”
Yes, this is part of it.
But we have an interesting dynamic, with two teams almost certainly having their prime design inclusive of the ‘legality’ of the suspension, while Ferrari will have an independent bias, who knows, 50:50; it’s impossible to say what their play is, from the outside.
But the marker is key.
I expect both the Merc and the RB would have a tough time backing into their contingency cars, especially RB, who have typically gone all the way on their conceptual approach, whereas the Mercs have so much stuff, taking out single components aren’t as critical. They probably have been running with a conceptual design that can be converted, without a fundamental rework of the design.
I think RB would be more exposed.
But then again, maybe Ferrari have found the ‘double-diffuser’ in their potential like solution; then would prefer acceptance.
Who knows?


I think you’re right, Red Bull may actually be the only ones exposed (and potentially McLaren seeing as they follow a similar design philosophy under Prodromou).

From reading a very detailed technical analysis on another website (my apologies James, I’m not sure what the rules are on referencing other websites), it sounds like this “ruling” may not affect Mercedes at all. Someone else on here was talking about how the trick suspension is the fundamental concept around which the entire Red Bull chassis was built. What I read appears to confirm that. The Mercedes didn’t even use it at every grand prix in 2016, it is much less integral to their design and the article I read suggests that there was general awareness in the paddock about what they were running with zero protests. It’s the Red Bull system that was more of an unknown and it seems Ricky Bobby let the cat out the bag in a radio message in Abu Dhabi. Fascinating.

Of course, this all speculation based on last year’s cars. We have no clue what anyone’s come up with for this year.

But isn’t it fun to have something to read about in the off-season (well other than the “we need to be fit” platitude quote most drivers seem to be churning out). 🙂


Oh at last!!! A voice of reason amongst all the ignorance.
BTW, if my second sentence upsets…


great comment.
thank you.
this is how the sport is gamed, and ferrari have to lay down some markers, whether they develop their own not cheating/cheating suspension, or not.
Regardless, they will likely have to parallel develop two different concepts, because it is impossible to know, with the current consistency in rules application, how any ruling on the respective legalities of systems brought to the first race, will turn out.


Agreed on the parallel development of two concepts. But the beauty of it is now they are likely causing Red Bull and Mercedes to also hedge their bets and have two concepts going at the same time.


This is exactly the sort of thing that turns me off F1.
It’s not that Ferrari have asked the question or that any other team has or hasn’t got it or had it last year or whatever.
The issue for me is why is there a need to ask?
Either a) who cares,let the teams do what they want.
b) who cares,let the teams do as they want
c) who cares let the teams do what they want……..I could go on but I think you get the point.


“who cares,let the teams do what they want” That sounds like a good idea. Why not run 4 cars of a single team? Now don’t say rules don’t allow it!


El Mass Damper returns ?
Resta made a very macarronic inquiry to FiA [Charlie].
I would veto it right away as there could possibly be a trojan horse within that question.
IMO there was a shady intention going on.
Resta, let it go.

I noted the wet Brazil GP that Ferrari engined cars have very bad traction.
Grosjean Vettel and Kimi spun while trying to accelerate in the wet track going uphill. It can’t just be a coincidence.
That’s a clear sign that the rear suspension – that has common mounting points in all cars – can’t provide traction or/and that the the power surge after gear shifts is too abrupt in the early stages.

And I agree Merc seems to run or air cushions.
It is very stable on high speed over bumps and flex a lot in low speed corners.
Check this photo of Nico buttscrapping the track on a low speed curve in Suzuka.
A lot of suspension travel there.


Yeah, and still got plenty of available traction on the inside rear to plant it on the way out. It is a gem of photography.


Ferrari cant win on the track so they try to outlaw technology that they cant compete with,
and Ferrari International Assistance plays along again


Who ya gonna call Sergio? Ferrari Intenational Assistance of course, same as usual!


off topic but isn’t nice to see Champions being excited about F1 each time I log on JAonF1 ?


This is more like mechanic surfing than crowd surfing. The crowd would drop him.)


if such system was in place at mercedes during the whole 2016 year…does that say that FIA do not look at all at the legality of cars and that “compliance” is the job of rivals teams by asking these “clarificatiions”….that sounds insane !!!
also I agree that “likely” is a poor answer…..


On another topic, engines, the thought occurs to me. The ‘manufacturer’ teams wanted technology that related to their road cars. Is Renault or Mercedes anywhere leading the car market with hybrid cars? NO. Mercedes hybrid line up seems rather pathetic. I see absolutely NO relation with their race car and their road cars. Rather, I would suggest, their goal with F1 is to gain the perception that they are leaders in road technology in general, which winning in F1 does for them – buy a MB and you ‘are part of the team.’ That said, I think some form of hybrid is here to stay, and rightly so. Can you imagine internal combustion engines in race cars, and in race cars alone, 20 years from now? F1 must move on with the technology, otherwise it dooms itself to irrelevance. Perhaps in the future, it will be a new kind of race that we watch.


The issue that they’ve chosen the most boring aspect of road cars (fuel- efficiency) and put it into a Motorsport which has always been not about that.

There is so much more to roadcars than fuel-efficiency. Why not make f1 a marketing channel for extreme performance supercars and ditch this nonsensical fuel- saving ideology once and for all? It is clear as daylight that fuel-saving and f1 are incompatible. The one is too rational, too sterile and too boring, the other seeks to be exciting, dramatic, excessive, and above all, entertaining.


riffraff, is the Mercedes hybrid range that pathetic? They have hybrid versions of their core C,E and S class models, as well as the plug in hybrid S class and full electric B class. I’m not sure why you think they aren’t class leading, or who you think is? Learning lessons from F1 that are useful in road cars has always been difficult, but the amazing thermal efficiency figures of the PU’s will trickle down eventually. Road car technology has a very long lead time, I would expect any lessons learned from the F1 programme to appear on the next generation of engines, but these improvements in efficiency may be hard to spot, we are only talking about small percentages, but a small increase in efficiency spread over many hundreds of thousands of road cars can have a large effect.


My thinking has to do with 2 things.
1. Toyota at least in USA seems to be ahead of everyone else with the hybrids, and they sell their cars in decent quantities, and they are dependable. The Prius is a dedicated hybrid car – most other manufacturers have modified existing models to become hybrid, and the milage numbers don’t seem to increase drastically from the petrol powered model.
2. Perhaps I am smarting from my recent $3000 repair bill from MB for my E Class for items that really shouldn’t be breaking (it seems to me). This is the worst car for repair that we have owned. Of course I am probably biased, I have driven 800,000 miles in Toyotas with almost nothing going wrong.


Riffraf, Toyota still the market leaders, but Merc are doing a reasonable job in their sector. you aren’t alone in experiencing major problems with your road car, they are way too complex these days….


Learning about stuff is fine, as long as you don’t bore people with it.

If car manufacturers wish to learn about hybrid they are free to do so, but they should not be so arrogant as to presume that they can highjack people’s entertainment and tell everyone to just get used to it.


Luke. A good point, but we are where we are. Putting the genie back in the bottle is going to be difficult now, and we risk losing manufacturers. I think letting the technology mature would be the better option, the noise issue can be addressed, the cars are already significantly noisier than before, and the weight will be reduced as time goes on.


Yep, agree with your last point.

Still, we’re stuck with these engines until at least 2020. Hopefully a better solution can be found thereafter.


Nick, maybe the best solution will be to stick with what we have, just a lighter noisier version.


TimW; I agree that in the event that f1 can’t return to normally aspirated v10s,or v8s, the hybrids will have to do.

Howevever, these hybrids need to be consistent with what people have come to expect f1 to be i.e. Noisy, high-revving, extremely powerful ( 1500 Bhp at least) extremely high-performance engines.

In my view, fuel rationing and f1 go together about as well as a multi-million dollar jewellery store operating out of a public toilet. And based on what I’ve been reading on social media since 2014, I am not the only one. Far from it.


LukeC. the old V8s were pushing out around 750bhp, Ferrari say their PU will top 1000 this year. The Pus need to be noisier, and the FIA seem to think this can be achieved, progress has been made in this area, so hopefully this will continue. Weight will be reduced as this is F1, that’s what the teams are good at.
Fuel saving has always been a part of F1, in the first part of 2014 it seemed to be more of an issue than previous, but it seems to me that the teams have found extra efficiency from the power units since then, and it isn’t something you hear about much now. I know the teams are short filling at certain circuits as they can easily reach end of the race within the 100kg limit.


TimW; yes the old engines were pushing out 750 bhp, and the cars weighed 200 kg less. These PUs don’t push out that much more in race trim, despite what Ferari say.

Plus I disagree that we had fuel rationing in f1 before. The closest thing to rationing was in the eighties, but that was done to limit the power outputs of the turbo engines, which by the way were pushing out much more than these hybrids, despite being ancient.

A fuel flow limit is simply inconsistent with the aims and philosophy of f1. I mean, we will soon have these wonderful, extreme new cars designed to outperform anything ever seen before on the chassis side, and yet they are going to continue to literally be choked by a fuel flow limit. Why? Why not just let the teams decide the optimum fuel load for each race and let them rev these engines to 15000 rpm, or even more? Maybe then they wouldn’t have to contrive ways to make these cars sound like racing cars.


LukeC. 200kg?! Have you been listening to Sebee? The weight in 2013 was 642kg, last year it was 702kg, rising to 722kg for this year. These numbers will come down as the teams trim the cars, and the batteries in particular. The cars are too heavy now, but they are not that far off what they used to be, even the 600kg cars we had 10 years ago would have been over 700kg at the start of the races with fuel. I’m not sure what the current engines push out in race trim, but I doubt that even Mercedes could afford to drop 250kg in race trim, I believe the race pace to quali pace discrepancy has much more to do with nursing the silly tyres than having to save fuel. This is another area that needs to be improved, although Pirelli have promised “racier tyres” for next season.
Fuel saving has been a part of F1 since 1950, it has always been a compromise between saving fuel to save carried weight, and having enough to make the end of the race. Malaysia 2013 (Lewis and Nico) and Turkey 2012 (Lewis and Jenson) are both examples of situations caused by the need to ‘lift and coast’ to get to the end of the race. The fuel flow limit was voted in by the teams to prevent cars being on track with wildly different performance levels. You could have one car being very slow at the start of the race to save as much fuel as possible, and then burning it all off to be quick at the end, you could have two cars with a 500bhp difference in performance! This would make the races difficult to follow for the fans, and potentially dangerous for the drivers as there would be a huge discrepancy in straight line performance. I don’t think the fuel flow limit is that much of s problem to be honest, 100kg per hour is a lot of fuel! They are restricted in qualifying as well remember, and there is no shortage of performance there. The 15000 rev limit isn’t being reached in qualifying either is it? I believe this isn’t because of the flow limit, but rather with a turbo charged engine you can produce more power and especially torque at lower revs than you can in a naturally aspirated engine. I doubt very much that removing the limit would make any real difference other than the occurrence of the situation I mentioned earlier, you would also run the risk of a farcical race like the 1984 San Marino GP when cars were running out of fuel all over the place on the last lap!


TimW; the 1991 Ferrari weighed 505 kg, and that had a glorious sounding v12 in the back, putting out 700 plus horses.

Now the cars weigh over 700 kg. That’s 200 kilograms more. That’s a massive increase for a racing car that weighs in the 500 kg range.

I’m sorry but a 705 kilogram single seater is not the stuff of F1. In fact, indycars are now lighter than f1 cars, and that was never the case before. How exactly is this progress?


LukeC. The minimum weight limit for F1 cars in 1991 was 600kg, last season it was 702kg. These weights include the driver but not fuel, the Ferrari you mention may well have weighed 505kg on its own, but sit Jean Alesi in it and it would weigh quite a bit more! Stick enough fuel in it to keep that V12 fed and it weighs a lot more! We never saw that car at snything less than 600kg as the rules wouldn’t allow it.
I ducats weigh 690kg not including the driver, and have a driver equivalency weight of 85kg. So they remain significantly heavier than F1 cars.


Indycars weigh 691kg, not I ducats!!


Ok, fair enough, the weight increase may have been more like 100 kg, which is still a lot by single seater standards.

The point is, they were able to build a single seater in the 90s with a massive v12 and big fat tyres that weighed just over 500 kg by itself and that they can’t do it now with the hybrid PUs.

These batteries and regeneration gizmos have added a lot of unnecessary weight to these cas, there’s no sugar coating it.

If Colin chapman were designing a single seater, and there was no minimum weight requirement, would he stick a light na engine in the back, or add an extra 100 plus kilos with the PU to save a bit of fuel. I think he would opt for the former.


Fact. Dry weight of V10 was 600kg. With pit stops they would take on 60kg of fuel max, which the would burn off. V8s went to above 600Kg to 642Kg or whatever it was because of the KERS – a hybrid of sorts.

PUs were now 705kg. In 2017 will be 722kg. Add 100KG of fuel and you have a car starting at 822kg. Nearly 200kg heavier than V10 cars were. And these PUs don’t burn this fuel weight off until the last part of the GP, at which time they are still 122Kg heavier. There is no argument here, PUs are fat pigs!


Sebee. Explain to me how the V10s used to one stop Monza with only 60kg of fuel. The Pus have 100kg on board at certain tracks, but at others it is significantly less. I’m not sure why you think that the Pus dont burn off their fuel until the end of the race, by half distance they will have have less than half a tank as they burn more fuel at the start of the race due to the extra weight of that fuel! Either way, 722kg is not nearly 200kg more than 600kg, and 822 isn’t nearly 200 more than 660 either.
if you are aguing for the reintroduction of refuelling, then that’s fine, but lets not muddy the waters with innacurate information.


LukeC, Colin would build the car that satisfied the regulations of the championship he was entering. The cars are too heavy, I think if they got back to the pre PU level of around 650kg, then that would be fine, I don’t remember anyone complaining about how portly they were then. It’s also worth remembering that not all the extra weight has come from the PU, that 91 Ferrari would seem pretty fragile to todays drivers, and wouldn’t get anywhere near passing an FIA crash test. Those high cockpit sides, stronger tubs and crash structures have played a part, even going back to NA engines now wouldn’t give us cars as light as that. I do think that 650kg range is achievable though, the 2013 cars had Kers and batteries, if the FIA bring in a rolling weight reduction, (10kg per year) then the teams would react to this.


It seems that both Ferrari and Charlie are referring to last years regs, where 3.15 refers to Aerodynamic influence. The 2017 regs have this as 3.14. Though the relevant wording is the same:

From Ferrari’s description it is clear that the proposal in effect bridges the space between the sprung part of the car and the unsprung, whereas it is allowed to be connected rigidly only to the unsprung part “with no degree of freedom”, it is also clear that one end, or part does move in respect to the fixed end thus is not rigidly fixed with no degree of freedom.

Once again it is the form of the written regs that allows some interpretation.
I would guess that the hydraulic FRIC system had a cylinder/actuator (or several) attached to the totally sprung body, though I have not actually seen a diagram of it.

However like several other commenters I think it would be good to allow these compound action suspension systems.
There are many other areas which could be developed if allowed, several of which were contained in Max’s original cost capped regs. (Four wheel electrical recovery/drive/braking/steering assist/abs, independently moveable front flaps,
my own chestnut, smart surfaces.


“four wheel electrical recovery/drive/braking” Actual electric recovery and drive are not done by the wheels but by the engine crankshaft.


Of course that is the current situation as we all know. However I was referring to the Cost Capped Regs proposed by Max in his last few months as president, They included electric drive on the front and induction braking on all four wheels, front flaps etc, many very interesting innovations.


I honestly hope they strictly ban and punish something if it contravenes the rules. Who wants to see something only 3 teams can afford?? We want innovators to reap the rewards but if it is purely a money race then it’s not really the same league is it? Why let the rich get richer in a series? So I hope they don’t allow it, narrow the gap among the field and provide us with some closer racing.

Meanwhile I can only assume Mclaren have slept thru all this news having fully focused on having the cleanest floors in their Technology Center.


The last bit is pure genius 🙂

Its not clear that they are contravening the rules, just the “spirit of the rules”.


The part of this technology that in my opinion makes it undesirable, is that small teams can only follow on this and never lead – they don’t have the money required to do this work to have these innovations on their own.
For those on this blog that want this kind of thing, there are much more simpler ways to achieve adjusting the wings of the car. The fact is, the suspension tech to do this work is designed to adjust the wing height – therefore, it should be made illegal, unless we now want adjustable wings, and in that case, there are probably much simpler ways to do it.


the mclaren F-Duct cost virtually nothing, it was just clever thinking – as was the double diffuser – but stifling development in general prevents the opportunity for smaller teams to find a niche that others have missed as one route is chosen which everyone eventually then follows under the current system of assessing “legality”


Sore losers! They couldn’t create their own system, and because of that try to ban rivals’ systems.

I hope Mercedes, RBR and others successfully challenge FIA in order for such systems to be allowed. And I hope FIA is not that stupid to suddenly outlaw something, which has been openly allowed for several seasons.


Errr… double diffusers, off-throttle maps, mass-dampers… there is only one way this is going to end up.


Double diffuser was successfully challenged against FIA.


@Lovejoint – well yes, it went back and forth, but the net outcome was the same, and we no longer have double diffusers, right?


I always find it fascinating that F1 promotes itself as the most technologically advanced racing series in the World yet it seems to want to ban revolutionary technology on the cars.


With all due respect to you, i must question, how is this an advanced technology? ( because, you didn’t fully understand it? or you think similar or better implementations are not available in the auto industry? or this is a hack for the regulations?)


…….. they are trying to replicate active ride as closely as possible, which i would respectfully suggest is “advanced technology” compared to springs, dampers and anti-roll bars?


Somebody who was with a team that had a system of this type, and is now at a team that doesn’t have one, might have whispered in an Italian ear?


The RB rake, and how it alters dynamically, is a clear give-away about some sort of ride height control trickery.


I think the ‘catch all’ moveable aero device rule needs updating. The whole point of modern F1 cars suspension is to optimise the flow of air over and under the bodywork. Maybe a clause needs inserting into the rulebook so that the device/bodywork has to be in the airflow before it’s classed as a moveable aerodynamic device.

Ferrari have form for this type of FIA query, think back the the Mass Damper (a lump of metal on spring in an oil filled tube) fitted to the Renault.


Major rule change always has the potential for causing dispute as teams push the envelope. This typically sees F1 embroiled in farce at the first few races, as the legality of certain cars is questioned and race results potentially left pending. McLaren break-steer comes to mind (I’m sure there are many other examples).

So, why can’t this issue be resolved before Melbourne? Undertake a “pre-scrutineering” during testing to confirm a car’s compliance with the rules, so that when the cars get to Melbourne everyone knows all the cars are legal and a fair race is to be had.

I don’t see why the FIA cannot be categorical and state clearly if a suspension trick is / is not within the rules. Instead, Charlie Whitting responds to Ferrari’s letter by saying “In our view any suspension system which was capable of altering the response of a cars’ suspension system in the way you describe in paragraphs 1) and 2) would be likely to contravene article 3.15 of the F1 technical regulations,”.
His response creates ambiguity when clarity is needed.


That is just carefully used legalese. Resta’s question, while providing a fair amount of details, is at this point a question in the abstract. Meaning he is not pointing to any one specific system on a car that the FIA could look at and inspect. In the absence of a specific existing system, the FIA has to give a qualified answer because to do otherwise could be to predetermine the issue. It would be a rookie mistake to flat out say “yes” or “no” to the type of question the FIA is being asked. This way they have given an indication of how they are leaning, but they have left the door open to make a proper call when asked to do so and faced with factual evidence. Perhaps Mercedes alter their system so that the benefit is less aerodynamic. Or perhaps they can argue that it is not aerodynamic, but rather mechanical grip related to begin with. Only when both sides have had their day in court, as they say, can they issue a clear “yes” or “no” answer, and only when talking about a factual system not a hypothetical one.

And before you ask, Ferrari couldn’t have pointed to a specific system in their question because the 2017 cars have not yet hit the track in an official session. It would of course be a tad late to protest the 2016 cars now. So this is the best Ferrari could have done to cause their opponents to have to perhaps hedge their bets and focus some resources on a parallel development path without the system.


Thanks – very well articulated explanation.


Great edification, thanks.


Disputes over stuff like suspension should be sorted pre season . If they can’t decide on a clear interpretation on what is banned and what isn’t then they the FIA should leave teams to do whatever the want with suspension so long as it isn”t an obvious form of active suspension . James this seems to me to me like another attempt to to mask over the previous seasons abysmal failure and and simple trying to use this as an excuse for potential failure next season and i’m sorry but for me James Ferrari need to deliver or get out of F1 and do something more worthwhile. If Ferrari have another season of failure the board at Maranello should demand the immediate withdrawal of the Scuderia from F1 and a switch of focus to WEC for a 2019/20 start. People say Ferrari have a great history in F1 but actually 15 WDC’s and 16 WDC’s in 67 seasons ( 58/59 seasons for WCC) that less than a 25 % or less championship hit rate in terms of WDC’s which is okay but not great considering they’ve been it so long (from the inaugural season in 1950. About half of those of those WDC’s have been reliant on Ferrari being dominant reliant ( 1952-53 , 1979 , 2000-04 have all been dominated by Ferrari The WCC hit rate is slightly better albeit aided by the fact there was no WCC ’til 1958. Traditionally with Ferrari ( Schumacher years excepted ) if they don’t dominate they do badly)


This is what really grinds my gears when it comes to Forumla 1. The constant need to stop innovation. The rulebook really needs to be torn up and a simpler one created, with only some form of budget cap as the restriction. If the teams want to spend more on top of the cost cap, they pay a penalty in kerb weight for eg. add 10kg ballast per £10m extra spent etc.

F1 should be all about developing the best possible cars with unheard of technology for a certain price. Hopefully the tech developed can also filter down to cars we can afford to buy and drive.


Adrian Newey tabled some interesting ideas the other day on how to make the regulations less reliant on how big a team’s resources are. Ban wind tunnels and limit CFD so there is literally no point in having armies of people like the top 3 teams have. Then the focus is on pure creativity rather than the sheer size of the operation. This would also reduce costs. Not a huge fan of Newey but does seem to make sense.


IF you can’t have lots of windtunnel testing, and are limited on CFD time, you’ll see the top teams invest in better / more efficient CFD software. Guess who will be leading in that case… Every restriction added has involved increased spending to circumvent the limitations


You are posing a rational question ! Are you a robot or an ET ? 😀


Whiting strikes again. This wouldn’t be the first time that he’s cleared a design by a team, only to reverse his decision when Ferrari complain. How much longer will we have to put up with Whiting? He’s caused at least 2 unnecessary problems for F1 in the last couple of years (radio messages & stupid qualifying), that should have been enough for him to receive his P45.


You are assuming that this design was fully understood and cleared by scrutineering last year.

See: 1990 Toyota Team Europe TTE, Turbocharger.


Very good point. Whiting is well past his sell-by date. He should be discretely put to pasture, and replaced with someone who can do the job.


As long as MR F1 is still around Withing will still be around.

The Grape Unwashed

I hope Ferrari are successful in this. I’m not a Ferrari fan, but if it closes the gap between the top teams it should be welcomed. You can argue whether the rule on moveable aero ought to be there, but given that it is it ought to be enforced – and taking Resta’s comments at face value, Mercedes and Red Bull are clearly in breach.


This makes me wish Ferrari falls even further down the grid.


Why? Because they want to make sure they are not harmed by a grey-area regulation interpretation by investing in the reseach to find it banned later on, or not pursuing the research and falling behind those who did? If you ask me, this is better than waiting unit the pre-season testing to file a complaint…


Any team in Ferrari’s position would do the same – and they do. One team bends the rules at the edges of interpretation, another team tries to get that curtailed. Both are done in the quest to find an advantage. The culture and ruleset of Formula One dictates this is how it works, which some fans find entertaining – after all, here it is providing a story at what is otherwise a quiet time of the year!


“altering the response of a cars’ suspension system in the way you describe in paragraphs 1) and 2) would be likely to contravene article 3.15 of the F1 technical regulations”

Likely? Where’s the clarity in that.

To be honest dquabbling over minor technicalities leaves me cold. Just let the innovators innovate.


Its a process thing: a team will need to protest a specific application in order to get a hard ruling on this.

As for it being a minor technicality; in a sport where the difference between P1 and P2 can be 1/100ths of seconds, how do you assess what is minor?


Minor technicalities? This is huge.
The tiny little slot RBR had in their floor at Monaco a few years back was a minor technicality and yet the internet and opposing teams near melted down over it. Ferrari obviously believe this is concept worth questioning and good for them. At the end of the day it will be officially deemed legal or illegal. Life will go on either way, I promise.


if it could only be so clear at the end of the day.
the rules and rules governing processes and personel need a complete re-engineering.


Hasn’t this been the Ferrari way for awhile now? Try to replicate a new innovation, fail at it, so then lobby to get it banned.

How would the FIA test the parts to determine their legality? What sort of test could they create that would properly indicate if a part or parts were legal or not? They can’t just say “yeah that doesn’t look legal, take it off”.

Lastly, is Ferrari aiming this at Mercedes, or more against Red Bull? Apparently RBR have made massive gains with this concept, big enough that they ditched their S-duct in order to accommodate this technology instead.




Thank you!


According to Mark Hughes – it will hurt red Bull more than Mercedes. Hopefully he’s right 🙂




The ‘test’ is easy – just look for the 3rd spring tucked in behind the conventional suspension springs. Just that it is a kind of inventive grey area which is why it has not been challenged so far. Does look like Ferrari’s failure to make it work successfully (perhaps insufficient room in the design to place the 3rd spring and shock absorber) so – make a protest and get the others to take it off. Would really upset Merc and RB if they had to redesign it this late date.


No. Heave springs have been around for ages across many formula’s. The Hughes article explains it reasonably well, even if there is likely a misunderstanding about the rear wing stall.


They sure as hell will have too. WHY? because they use this system to manage Aero ride height control.


The role of suspension is to make car more stable. Right? And more stable car automatically means more stable ride height. Right?
So, by your logic all suspension should be banned. Right?


Yes it should HAVE BEEN banned, anything that is intentionally designed to circumvent the rules should be banned.


Does this mean that Mercedes cheated last year and maybe 2015 and should lose there titles and if so how come no one spotted it till now


Has there been a single innovation on a Merc car that has been banned yet, during their period of domination? Don’t think so.
Whereas RBR could barely re-paint their cars during 2010-2013 without being accused of cheating and having the goal posts moved multiple times mid-season through rule changes to try and stop them.
Merc appears to live in a fairly sheltered world from the F1 rules, and has done for some time. Not sure why, maybe they really do weild all the power behind the scenes these days.


Hmmm… let me think…FRIC.
In RBR cases it was direct breach of the rules though they still weren’t punished, while in FRIC case FIA banned it through “interpretation” of the rules (movable aero device). This movable aero device article is being abused by FIA cuz it’s more than obvious this article refers to car body parts (wings…), and not some inner parts, like suspension parts.
Teams should object to FIA by bringing that case to FIA IT. FIA IT has some real lawyers (professional lawyers), and sot some no degree mechanics like Charlie, and they will solve this very quickly.


“Unlike Red Bull who are known to use illegal systems. In June 2012, they were caught…”

Really? How many points did they lose? How many races were they suspended for? What fines or penalties did they pay?


Both the Red Bulls were disqualified from qualifying in Ab Dab 2014 for an illegal front wing….


Why would any of Mercedes innovations be banned? They always check with the FIA before the use anything new to F1. Unlike Red Bull who are known to use illegal systems. In June 2012, they were caught using a device that enabled the Red Bull car’s suspension to be altered by hand, not with tools as the rules make clear. This enabled Red Bull to use different settings in qualifying to that they raced with.


Luke, I agree Merc seem to have a fair amount of say over the last couple of years. Said they would pull out of F1 if the new PU where not bought in (along with stupid Renault, who didn’t realise Merc where already developing a PU), Illegal tyres tests from memory with Perelli.
Merc are now taken over from Ferrari as the new favoured team of the FIA an can do no wrong. For me in 2017 any team to win except Merc.


I’m sure that’s how Dan and Seb would rule on it 😉 Seb would pick up another title and Dan would get 2.


I wondered the same thing. The FIA was all over Red Bull for every innovation they made back when they were dominating. Mercedes somehow seems exempt to this kind of scrutiny.


Suspension with an additional spring and shockabsorber have been known about for some time. However, it appears not many actually fathomed out how it actually worked and what it achieved. Often the way with clever and innovative engineering. Is it legal? well it was until now!


Except this goes beyond an additional spring and damper, which is nothing new. My understanding is that his is a system that accumulates hydraulic pressure created by the movements of the suspension, and then uses that stored energy to later adjust the spring seat thus altering ride height of the vehicle.


With the primary objective of managing the aero. Standard suspension is more about traction and mechanical stability.


Is a system designed to circumvent the rules an innovation?
Why do they use this system? Aero ride height control.


No, Red Bull too if you apply that rule.


For God’s sake, bring active suspension! An FIA mandated, standardised and supplied electronic actuator at each corner, just like the standardised ECU. AS provides a supple ride, can adjust for track conditions and variable weather, and does away with the 20th century springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. No more fiddling around during practice searching the perfect suspension set up…………AS electronically provides that. It also provides a stable underfloor aero map as well – in the wake of another car it can shift the aero balance [downforce distribution] more forward to partially compensate for the effects of the dreaded 𝘥𝘪𝘳𝘵𝘺 𝘢𝘪𝘳 (aerodynamic buffeting).

It’s incredible suspension in this day and age is springs, dampers and anti roll bars – a good analogy would be if cross ply tyres, aluminium monocoque’s, mechanical fuel injection, a clutch pedal and a gear lever were still in operation in 2017!


So we complain about DRS, but we are perfectly fine with cars that cover the clumsy inputs of inept drivers via electronic wizardry, thus making anyone a rock star?


Oh boy, you just made me want to undo the ‘+’ I gave Gaz! Spot on!


Don’t think so. Absolutely no AS cuz it only hides drivers talent. What’s next, driverless cars?


Maybe you’re right, why TF not?
It’s so political and shadowy backroom army of lawyers stuff now.


“aluminum monocoque’s, mechanical fuel injection, a clutch pedal and a gear lever” sounds pretty good to me. Worked well in the 1970s, far more exciting than today


Absolutely! Issues such as this are at the core of whether F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport or merely the world’s most expensive reality show.


Chilli: Ca y est! (my favority expression in French).
That’s it!
F1 is ‘Survivor’ for mega corporations.
It’s all about gaming the system, double dealing, and brutal ruthlessness.
So little to do with the drivers, ultimately.


I’m not at all interested in all the cars being the same, so standardised active suspension gets a loud NO from me.


Well it depends on the implementation. Standard hardware is no problem, as the clever bit is the control algorithms and maps – ie how the system actually responds, and that is down to the work of the individual teams.


It wouldn’t surprise me if a couple of teams turn up in Melbourne running a trick suspension, I highly doubt anyone would turn up with a suspension system that clearly goes against the rules, I think Red Bull and Mercedes would have queried this with the FIA before they pursued the design direction so there must be a loop hole somewhere.

Any idea why Charlie said they will ‘likely’ be illegal as opposed to ‘are’ illegal?


VB: (isn’t there a beer called that?), uhm… beer… Victoria in January… hmmm….
The entire blanket clause about gaining aerodynamic advantage has been used/not used in a pretty flakey way, i.e. highly political, i.e. the mass damper?!?
The issue is, let’s take RB, because it is so comparatively clear cut, their entire conceptual design, is to enable running with a large rake, then at the high speeds, theback end is pushed down, stalling the rear wing, and delivering a disruptive areodynamic advantage over the competitors (except Merc), then they work very hard to make the car work at slower corners, with all sorts of solutions.
In summary, their entire conceptual design (as one might suspect with the guru areodynamicist), is to ‘gain aerodynamic advantage’, but cleverly…

The problem with the modern F1, is that, with so many resources, Merc has so many of these marginal systems, that challenging them would be a nightmare, and they are also likely to have well-developed legal/rules appeal processes to back their technology.
It’s so political!


I think that’s Charlie’s way of saying it is up to the FIA Technical Delegate and Stewards as to what’s legal or not, based on a physical inspection of the car.


Any idea why Charlie….

This is what Mark Hughes had to say in his article (on the same subject):
“That is only the FIA technical delegate’s opinion, however, and doesn’t definitively make the device illegal. But it effectively invites any team to protest the technology to the stewards of a race who would likely be guided in their ruling by Whiting’s now-expressed opinion”.
So, it would appear that a team will need to take the risk of running with suspension that may well be declared illegal after the race to get the definitive answer. I guess Ferrari are gambling they won’t take that chance and therefore they have negated an opponents perceived advantage – all at little or no expense to themselves. Nice move 🙂


Reading between the lines of the Hughes article, it seems that it may be easier to challenge the RB use of the system, as it effectively allows them to run a higher rake than they would without it, thereby gaining an aero advantage.

From my limited understanding, it may be harder to challenge the Mercedes system?


Fair point , the article title does suggest that Ferrari may have handed Mercedes the keys to next years championship (by raising this query). Perhaps Ferrari have realised that Mercedes are just too far ahead and cannot be caught, but by putting a spanner in Red Bulls works maybe they can get them within reach and move up to second in the pecking order. Thus demonstrating an improved performance to their somewhat demanding and impatient boss. That would certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons if it were so 🙂


Routine F1 positioning, Ferrari are behind with something, so do they try and catch up, or try to get it banned? It might as well be banned as it doesn’t sound like something that would be useful outside of F1, and although it sounds like a genius idea it will only be useful in F1 until everyone has it. Might as well save everyone the time and effort. I wonder who else has the system other than Mercedes? Red Bull and McLaren?


Tim, you’ve got it right on!
“Gaming” is the issue, and the FIA (read Charlie) is supposed to have the systems in place to prevent it.
That is, a technical innovation, which, if everyone else (or most) are playing by one set of rules, and one team bends/breaks them, it gains an “extraordinary profit”, like a super profit, but if everyone develops the same bend/break in the rules, then a whole lot of money was spent (driving the operating costs to be in the sport way up), but it all comes out in the wash, not extraordinary profit, just expense.
Mercedes have gamed the system with so many such “innovative rules interpretations”.
We must be honest and admit that many times in the past this has been the route to success (I personally don;t know how the mass damper was rules illegal as an aerodynamic device, especially after it had been employed across two seasons to deliver two world driver championships).
But it’s the corporatization approach, which at a macro level is corrupt at it’s core.
But this is what we have now.
The next phase is for Merc to rev-up their in-house legal team to defend what they see as critical to their success.
The catch up team, Ferrari is left in a dilemma, develop the tech and get challenged, potentially having a system deemed illegal, and thus, large expense on contingency ‘parallel’ designs, or not go for it, challenge, but have it be deemed legal, for which we should assume they will have to have a contingency to hurry-up develop similar and start the season with a handicap.
Same gaming has been done successfully by RB for likely the majority of their World Championships.
But oh so difficult to prove.


“But it’s the corporatization approach, which at a macro level is corrupt at it’s core.”

Pronouns do not have apostrophes when used in the possessive.

“It” is a pronoun. Same as “He,” and you wouldn’t say, “He’s problem is grammar pedantry.” You’d say “His problem is grammar pedantry.” No apostrophe.

“Their elephant,” not “They’s elephant.”
“Her horse,” not “She’s horse.”
“My nose,” not “I’s nose.”

He -> His
She -> Her
They -> Their
I -> My
Its -> Its

No apostrophe.

So “…it’s the corporatisation approach…” – the apostrophe is correct – you are contracting “It is.”

“…corrupt at it’s core…” – the apostrophe is NOT used as you are you are using a pronoun possessive not a contraction.

You’re welcome. 🙂


While we’re being technical, your problem actually sounds like “grammatical pedantry”. Grammatical, which is an adjective, describes the specific type of pedantry, a noun, that ails you. “Grammar pedantry” sounds like a bit like a rookie mistake for such an expert as you profess to be. 😉

In all seriousness, I’m a stickler for grammar too. But I save that for drafting legal agreements and writing letters. You know, situations where it actually makes a difference.


I don’t profess anything other than to know when to use an apostrophe and when not to.

However, I don’t think “grammar pedantry” is wrong; neither, for that matter, is “grammatical pedantry.” We can agree to disagree, if you disagree. 😀


as you are you are …..

Was that a test , slipped in to see whether we are paying attention, or was it an error? 😎


Neither – I think it’s a ‘feature’ of the commenting system – I was VERY careful to proof read, as you can imagine!


Where we you in 1983 when I was failing English O level 😀



Ride height and stability control are extremely useful for development outside of F1, far more so than yet another element in the front wing. Suspension and engines are the areas F1 should focus on developing, instead they seem intent on re-naming the series Formula Adrian, Adrian is not an exciting name.


Except in this situation the ride height and stability control have everything to do with aerodynamics. That is the whole point of this. Active suspension already exists in road cars with simple tech that is outright banned in F1. Magnetorheological shocks, anyone?

This suspension trickery is part of the “Formula Adrian” that you are complaining about.


Yes, but not done this way. There are far easier ways to achieve at least the same level of control using active systems / electronics.


JNH, I don’t see a use in road cars for millimetre accurate ride height control, even if someone did want to do it, these things are easily achievable in a road car with existing active ride technology that is banned in F1.


This tech would be great in the medical field (automated wheel chairs ) and in the military field (robots) but one assumes existing ride height tech is already in use so it’s just a sole F1 tech.


Red Bull have a system this is very similar to that on the Mercedes, and is responsible, in part, to the gains that they made during the year.


Who else had the system…

Mark Hughes has written an article on this same subject and according to him the other team to really exploit this technology was Red Bull. He went on to claim that they are likely to suffer more than Merc,if the FIA do ban this technology, as they were/are using it to stall the rear wing at speed and reduce drag (they run their cars with a lot of rake and as the car gets up to speed so the rear of the car lowered , hence stalling the rear wing). His article was titled – Has Ferrari just handed Mercedes the 2017 title by keeping Red Bull off their back? Make of that what you will!
I’ll tell you what is confusing though – I’ve been led to believe (by some posters) the only reason Merc were any good was because they had the best PU. Now it appears they were class leading in other areas as well – who’d of thought it 🙂


For some reason I can’t reply to your reply.
An airfoil stalls when the angle of attack – angle between vector of airflow and vector of wing plane – becomes large enough to cause the laminar airflow to separate from the wing, create turbulence, and lose lift, or in this case down force. The drag increases as the angle of attack increases.
Feathering is when the angle of attack is reduced, reducing lift (or down force) and with lower drag.
I think Mark Hughes is using popular layman terms in his description, which is fine, although technically not correct.


As I said Gary, I make no claims or expertise and I am sure you are right -I was just repeating what MH had said. Although having checked the comments section (I tend to skim through the comments if I see that a particular poster has visited and sometimes miss some good ones) I see there is a comment from someone who appears to know what he’s talking about and he says that feathering only applies when discussing rotary wings such as windmills and helicopters. I’ve no idea whether he is correct, but if he is then would that term still be correct in relation to an F1 car.


Mercedes were the best because they had the best car.


had the best car…

Of course they did. But that isn’t what a number of posters used to say. They would spend a fair amount of their time complaining that the token rules stopped others from catching up and but for the fact they had the best PU, they wouldn’t have been so dominant. Nonsense of course – and this article confirms that.


Feathering the rear wing, not stalling the rear wing


I’m not saying you are wrong (feathering), and I certainly make no claims of expertise, but that isn’t what Mr Hughes (a renowned F1 technical analyst/author) says. Here is an excerpt from his article:

“Red Bull manipulated its platform rather differently – using it to enhance the effectiveness of its high static rake philosophy, by allowing the rear to sink back down once past a certain (pre-set) load threshold and thereby stalling the rear wing to boost straightline speeds”.


On his forum/discussion page about the rear wing stalling subject MH was told by an ex Aero student at imperial that “he (this guy) WRAPS IT ALL UP IN NUMBO-JUMBO HE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND”.


Salvuborg, people can claim to be anything on the internet, I could tell you that I was chief aerodynamicist for NASA if I wanted to. It comes down to commonly used jargon in a specific industry not being technically correct, but if everyone knows what you mean, then there is no problem.


Isn’t NASA the company involved in a business where gravity and drag are non existant? You could do a lot better by claiming to be the Aero guy at Boeing, Volvo or US Postal Cycling 😀


George, I believe NASA aircraft spend some of their time travelling through the atmosphere….



what’s numbo – jumbo ?


“feathering” is a term used by pilots in regard to propellers, where one lowers the angle of attack on the propeller blades to reduce their thrust. A “wing stall” in an aircraft is when the angle of attack is too high and the wing loses lift due to boundary layer separation and turbulence. There’s a good schematic of a wing stall here, top photo:

Note the large angle of attack, high drag, reduced lift. Rotate this diagram 180 degrees and you have a F1 wing


Thanks for that. I have a query though; if feathering only applies to rotary wings and stalling refers to the consequence of increasing the angle of attack – what is the correct term for reducing the angle of attack and the effectiveness of the wing along with the drag, as in the example we are discussing on an F1 rear wing ?
Also, whilst I have you ear – what keeps the Red Bull squashed down at the back if it’s not the force of the air pushing down the rear wing? I can see how the air would squash the car down, but once the angle of attack was such that the wing wasn’t giving all that nasty drag wouldn’t the squashing force stop and the car rise back up again?
Or maybe that’s why they pay Adrian Newey the big bucks for achieving just that 🙂


Check the comments section for Hughes’ article … he replies to someone making the same observation as Gary. He’s using the term as aero guys use it.


I only scanned the comments section on that article as there is a very prolific poster that grates with me. If I see his name/picture I tend to avoid the comments altogether or at best skim through them.


Hi 63.

Oh just let me guess who?

That guy has ruined that magazine for years. And then to go to discus?

Just got to love them…

Thank you James for what you provide. It is very much appreciated.


Thank you


I would like to second that – thank you James, it’s much appreciated.


C63, The article is very interesting, as were the comments! I wonder if I can guess who you mean, does he remind you of anyone……?


LOL – yes, I bet you can guess who I mean 🙂


C63, the Red Bull looked like a tractor in the slow speed corners last season, but not so much at higher speeds….hmmm…! I guess it is inevitable that the top two teams are the ones utilising this complex stuff, and even more inevitable that Ferrari have decided that as they can’t get theirs to work properly that they have suddenly decided it should be illegal!
It does appear that the description of the Mercedes as a drag racing car that only wins because it has 800 bhp more than anyone else, might not be that accuarate…


No Tim, I’d have thought you’d have noticed by now, that Merc was good in every area.
Hats off to them, but… it’s destroying the sport.


dean, I was joking about the drag racer thing, I am well aware how good the Merc chassis is, but saying it is destroying the sport is a bit melodramatic. They haven’t done anything the others couldn’t do, the Ferrari PU is on a par with the Mercedes, and the Red Bull chassis is at least as good as the Merc, but it seems no one else can do both. Heres hoping that the Renault guys and Ferrari chassis guys pull their fingers out for next season!


So far as I can tell, the sport is only ‘destroyed’ by a dominant team/driver when it’s not the team which is supported by that particular poster 😉


I’m surprised there’s any F1 left, after McLaren and Williams already destroyed the sport in the 80s and 90s, then Ferrari destroyed it again in the 2000s, as did Red Bull in the 2010s.


I still haven’t understood why FRIC was banned. And why shouldn’t suspension design be free?


It is not so much the suspension in itself but the fact that one can change the aero of the car by making changes in ride height using trick suspension. Except for DRS, movable parts that change the aero (like wings, floors and diffusers) are not allowed.


So simple, yet so hard for Merc and RB die-hards.


Like the Mass Damper and the revised wing loading tests it was an attempt to stymie the team running away with the title. Like both of those it didn’t have much effect, the best car is usually not reliant a single gimmick for it’s performance, not that Ferrari would ever understand.


Let’s do the maths here. 2/10 of a second per lap gained by use of this single ‘innovation’ translates to 1 second gain over 5 laps and 10-second gains over 50 laps. But it’s ok if Merc and RB are running it, right? What if the tables were turned would you say the same?


These innovations should be allowed. Simples.


Just thought I’d add this in as high up comments as possible. The antagonistic responses of many against Ferrari is frankly disturbing but unfortunately this article only states Ferraris letter.

Of course it appears no one wants to investigate further on the net.

Get your translators working and read why MERCEDES wrote to whiting questioning the Red Bull chassis.

I wonder of Brackley will receive the same vitriol as Maranello…


This follows the general trend over here. I have few doubts that the same letter, written by Merc or McLaren, would be received as a smart move…


Yep. I mentioned this without quoting the source elsewhere. Any team would have done the same as Ferrari in the situation. Mercedes is no exception. And as I mentioned in a different comment the Mercedes system turns out to have been well known to other teams, yet it was not being protested as it was understood to be above boards. The Red Bull system raised eye brows at the end of the season and has caused this whole saga. Which I find entertaining mind you.

So the question now is – does this, combined with Renault’s plan for an ultra-aggressive engine development plan (they made it clear they won’t focus on power at first as it’s a brand new design) mean that Red Bull will struggle in 2017? It sure as heck doesn’t look as strong of a case that Red Bull will challenge for the title.


so the trick suspension that is designed to circumvent the rules is an innovation and so should be allowed.


F1 is about innovations, but at the other end of the spectrum is a safety concern. I seem to remember 1994 Williams was pushing like crazy to catsh Benetton and some theorys about Sennas accident claim Williams car was closest to the tarmac – it gives more suction and therefore more grip… , but if suction stops because there is no space under the car grip goes and if it happens in the middle of the corner… well, be somewhere else.

I understand why there is a minimum ridehigh.


It’s a shame that only fuel rationing “innovations” are allowed these days.


Not when it’s called cheating (against the rules)


That hasn’t stopped Ferrari before.
There 1990 – to mid 2000s cars all had items that were hidden from the media. But other drivers and teams moaned about. Seems FIA pretended they didn’t see anything wrong. But the likes of Toyota Mclaren Williams all knew what was happening at Ferrari. Another helping hand from F1 governing body for the [Mod]


“F1 banned the FRIC (Front and Rear InterConnected) suspension system back in 2014, but some teams – notably Mercedes – have since come up with a workaround that optimises ride height and offers extra downforce in corners.” Clarify please, does that mean Mercedes were allowed to run it in 2016 and possibly before but seems to me that Ferrari ask to run a similar system and are told that it will be illegal


Lol, Ferrari is not asking because it wants to do it. It wants to do it because it probably tried and failed for many many years to copy the said innovation


Teams ask for a rule clarification if a) they’ve had a brilliant new idea, or b) someone else has had a brilliant new idea they haven’t thought of. The latter is probably the case here, better to get your rivals to scraps millions of dollars of work than to spend it yourself attempting to catch up. The timing of this ‘clarification’ is significant, what with the ’17 cars being pretty much finished…


There were over 50 clarifications issued last year.
Why is a system designed to circumvent the Aero rules called an innovation?.


There were over 50 clarifications issued last year.
Why do some call a system designed to circumvent the A


Ferrari weren’t asking to run a similar system. They were just using that as an excuse to link the suspension system with the catch all regulation that prevents moveable aero parts so it can hamper Mercedes and RB.

It’s just a political move which is very much a part of the F1 competition.

Well played Ferrari, although I’d prefer these innovations to remain.




Clarify what?
Mercedes had a legal system in 2016. Anything Ferrari couldn’t have they moaned about. Instead of developing there own car they just moan and moan and moan and moan and moan. If Marchionne had designers who could develop their own they would not be moaning. Sadly they are stirring a hornets nest and they may get stung in the process. As the other teams will keep a close eye on Ferrari. But they won’t mean anything as Ferrari are so behind the Mercedes and Red Bull teams.


Even the FRIC system which as this present was designed to circumvent the Aero rules was deemed legal until proved that it wasn’t.


“It is understood that the teams that were running the innovative suspension layout in 2016 have presented their own queries to the FIA.” So rather than go to the time and expense of designing a similar system, and then finding out it was illegal, Ferrari simply asked the question. Now nobody can use it, which should help tighten up the front of the field. Brilliant!


No. What this means is that the FRIC was banned. Mercedes found a way to create a “Disconnected FRIC”. Ferrari didn’t have a clue until recently and decided to write an accusation disguised as a clarification letter to the FIA.

If the FIA say the concept is OK, it gives Ferrari the greenlight to imitate Merc. If the FIA say No. The Ferrari have secured their “half-indictment” of their competitor(s) “Disconnected FRIC”.


Totally agree Glen 👍
In full affect once again.
Talk about people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Majority of Schumacher so cars had dubious add ons that somehow went unanswered. Hidden behind Red blankets and red division screens.
Ferrari can’t handle that Mercedes and Red Bull do a better job in developing their cars than they do. Sad Prancing Donkey chewing on a rotting carrot as always.


Specifically, what dubious add ons did Ferrari have on Schumachers cars?


…and they said nothing

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