The controversy has started


Staff Member
Well the season hasn't even started and already we've got the first potential problem with the threat of official protests, stewards rulings, appeal hearings, etc.

FIA president Max Mosley expects a furore over diffuser legality to hit the start of the 2009 season.

Brawn, Toyota and Williams have interpreted the technical regulations differently to their rivals and their diffuser designs are set to be protested in Melbourne.
Mosley admitted that the controversial diffusers fell within a grey area in the rules, and expects a row to erupt in Australia next weekend.

This is what happens when you try and define down to the tiniest details the size, shape, dimensions and every other little apspect of the design.
Why can't the FIA just define a broad outline of the specifications and let the designers have a free hand?
That way we avoid potential issues such as this and we just might even see some inovative designs...

If Brawn, Toyota or Williams get banned for illegal diffusers at the first race of the season then it's just going to make F1 look even more farcical after the points fiasco this week.

More here: Mosley expects trouble over diffusers
Hmm. "Ferrari" and "moveable floor" are two phrases that spring to mind....

Max says ...

"If there had been more time before the detailed objections to the system were sent in, I would probably have sent it to the FIA Court of Appeal before Australia."

How long have these design rules been thought out? Do they love 'grey areas' or what?

"We are FIA. We thrive on controversy we do..."
"The controversy has started" and it looks like it is set to continue through out the season, if this article from pitpass is correct.

Bernie's QPR cohort, Flavio, and big Ron threatened to boycott Melbourne over money. They backed down, but Bernie's comments are telling about how he feels about threats! "If they come in here with a gun and hold it to my head, they had better be sure they can :censored: pull the trigger", said Bernie!!!
Yes I read that earlier.
It would seem good old Bernie is still flexing his muscles and showing who's boss
This is something you have to love about the FIA which I reckon should now stand for Forever In Ambiguity !!! For a governing body just about the only thing they don't govern is the sport itself.

Taking the FIA logic to the extreme, I could pitch up at pre-season testing with a Massy-Ferguson Combine Harvester and proceed to put in some of the slowest laps that the world of F1 has ever seen. I could then enter this as the official car of Team Cider and it wouldn't be until scrutineering before first practice in Oz that the Cider001 would be rejected !!!!!!

Surely there should be a mechanism in place whereby all cars should be submitted to a panel of stewards at a certain cut off date prior to the commencement of the new season whereby the cars could be declared legal to take part. The stewards of each GP would still be required to scrutineer the cars to ensure that they met the regulations because as we all know, the development of the car carrys on over the season.

It's the same as Charlie Whitings "should be ok" ruling at Spa. It would appear that the FIA are once again washing their hands of a ruling with a brief "should be ok" statement while letting the stewards in Oz take the hit.

Well the protests have been made by Ferrari, BMW Sauber, Renault and Red Bull against Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams after the stewards ruled the cars legal.
Apparently there will be a verdict on the appeal by the end of today but I doubt that will be the end of it.

Ho-hum, here we go again...

Protest row sours opening F1 race
Having just looked at the timings of various articles on Autosport, their first article on this issue appeared on Weds 28th of Jan. So we have had 2 months in which the FIA could have produced a verdict (one that was binding not just a suggestion that it may be ok but you'll have to wait and see), The teams involved in the protest could have asked for a rulling (again this has been undertaken in the past) or the teams with the diffusers in question could have got gaurentees but no...... once again F1 makes itself look silly from the top down.

I've read and re-read the article in Autosport that covers the description of the problem and the various solutions aplied and once again it just shows how difficult the regulaitons make things. While I'm sure it's clear to the likes of Adrian Newey and Ross Brawn it's difficult for the average person to get to grips with.

The intent of the new regulation was to limit the size of the "mouth" of the rear diffuser to allow less air to exit and therefore gain less benifit in generated down force. What it actually seems to come across as is a haphazard list of dimensions in relation to various unfathomable reference lines that don't make much sense to anyone least of all the designers.

F1 law making seems to work best when it is a difinitive and simple statement. An example being ground effect aerodynamics. For several years FISA looked to control this by little (on often very dangerous) rules such as No sliding skirts, No protective rubbing strips (forcing cars to harden the suspension further in order to maintain some ground clearence) and the infamous 6 inch ground clearence rule that saw the introduction of the hydraulic suspension systems to jack the car up. This issue was only eventually resolved with a simple clear rule. All cars must have a flat bottom, done. At a stroke, the side skirt, ground effect issue was solved. Ok so this issue is slightly skewed by the surrounding politics involved such as dear old Bernie desperate to gain assurances from Balestare that there would be no change to the skirt ruling for 1983 but the flat bottom rule achieved far more than the haphazard rulings of the previous few years.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the key to the whole thing is clarity. Until the FIA start taking responsiblity for there own rules make sure that they are both enforcable and clear we will always end up in this mess.
There are several theories but I'm not sure I buy into any of them.

The first is that Mercedes supply Brawn GP with engines and are keen to see a good result.
The second is that VMM have had enough of locking horns with the FIA.
Lastly is that they're waiting to see the outcome and then if it's in favour of the 3 disputed teams they're going to fit their own version of the diffuser.

I guess we'll find out soon enough :D

Forgot to add, excellent summary of the situation c_a_t.
If I didn't know any better I'd think the FIA actually wanted these situations to develop...
Apologies if this has already been discussed elsewhere, however I've read just about every article on the Brawn diffuser, and checked as many pictures as seem to be available, but none seem to explain clearly the reasoning for it being either legal or not.

Basically, I'm trying to figure out how the diffuser gets it's airflow to the upper portion without being illegal. That is to say, (to my understanding) the air flowing underneath the car exits through the channels underneath the diffuser, and only these channels, unless, there is a hole or holes between the lower surface of the diffuser and the bottom of the car, around the area where they meet (say, around the rear axle line). This picture seems to suport this


Doesn't this contravene the rule that says :

3.12.7 No bodywork which is visible from beneath the car and which lies between the rear wheel centre line and a point 350mm rearward of it may be more than 175mm above the reference plane. Any intersection of the surfaces in this area with a lateral or longitudinal vertical plane should form one continuous line which is visible from beneath the car. A single break in the surface is permitted solely to allow the minimum required access for the device referred to in Article 5.15.
Additionally, any bodywork in this area must produce uniform, solid, hard, continuous, rigid (no degree of freedom in relation to the body/chassis unit), impervious surfaces under all circumstances.

Is my understanding of the bit in bold correct, which I think implies that the surface visible from below needs to be solid at all areas within this section? Would a gap or hole make the intersection non-continuous?

Or, is the air coming in from a gap between the sideplates in the diffuser, i.e. they don't run fully to the axle line? Or is that also illegal?
I think the section you have highlighted in bold is the key.

As I understand it the diffuser should be a continuous unbroken line right across its length, but not necessarily on the same plane.

If you look at the McLaren design here, I believe this is how most of the teams interpreted the design rules:
The area highlighted in yellow is what it all hinges on.

Conversely, look at the Toyota and Williams:

I could be wrong but I suspect it is the fact that it's not one continuous unbroken horizontal plane which is the cause of the protests.
Yeah I've seen those, and it's still not clear for me. The highlighted yellow section only seems to define the trailing edge. I'm sure Brawn's design isn't just a factor of having a 'sculpted' lower surface, but more a result of getting air above that surface. I may be wrong.

Personally I think the Toyota is fully legal, at least the section that extends beyond the 350mm behind the axle line is.

It's the Williams and Brawns that appear to have slots to allow the air onto the 'top-deck', so to speak.

Maybe more will be revealed over the weekend.
Muddytalker said:
Yeah I've seen those, and it's still not clear for me.
Maybe this image will help?

It looks like it's due to the maximum height of 175mm being exceeded which is the main thrust of the teams objecting.


  • Diffusers.jpg
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But the Toyota obeys the height rule, as the higher section is more than 350m behind the rear axle line, hence it's legal.

Likewise, on the Brawn and Williams the lowest, 'visible from underneath' section is less than 175mm from the reference plane, and therefore within the rules. The question for me is, if the benefit of running the lowest surface below 175mm is to have airflow above this surface, then how is this achieved?
I don't know a lot about technicalities, and I'm sure that Gordon_Murray can enlighten us further if he were to appear on this forum. However, I can see how Ferrari, Renault etc. could believe that the top of the car was not a horizontal line. I would be annoyed if I had interpreted the laws to mean -----------, and I find that the laws actually mean ______|--------|______, so as to speak.

However, the only sense of real injustice will happen if Brawn/Toyota/Williams go well in Melbourne, get wins/podiums/points etc. and then get booted out at a Flaming Idiots Alliance meeting after the GP. I just want to see that the result by Sunday lunchtime is the result by the time the circus moves on to Kuala Lumpur next week.

If the car is illegal, FIA, change it now or forever hold your peace.

Bernie, Flavio, I now declare you owners of QPR. Why have you sold Dexter Blackstock?
Oh heck!

Brogan's diagram clearly demonstrates that when viewed from below, there is no section of the diffuser more than 175mm in height; they all employ a sort of false ceiling.

The cars all have stepped flat bottoms up to the rear wheel centre line (that is, they have flat bottoms with the famous "plank" section running down the middle). The diffuser only begins at the rear wheel centre line.

"3.12.7 No bodywork which is visible from beneath the car and which lies between the rear wheel centre line and a point 350mm rearward of it may be more than 175mm above the reference plane."

That's fine, theoretically, because the Williams/Toyota/Brawn raised sections are not visible from beneath the car. However, if we assumed that the "false ceilings" extended backwards under the car to the rear wheel centre line (as is suggested by the regulations) then clearly, there would be no air reaching the upper part of the diffuser tunnel, because the false ceiling was blanking it off.

"3.12.7 (cont'd) Any intersection of the surfaces in this area with a lateral or longitudinal vertical plane should form one continuous line which is visible from beneath the car."

This is where we start reaching for the headache pills! From what I can gather - - this means that the intersection between the flat floor and the diffuser, at the rear axle line, must be a continuous line.

The inference, therefore, is that the floor is actually extending up into the upper chamber of the diffuser, with the false ceiling beginning at a point before the diffuser height gets above 175mm. It seems to me therefore that the answer is as follows:

When viewed from the side, the flat floor (A) gives way to the diffuser's central tunnel at the rear wheel centre line (B). This then forms the upper channel of the diffuser (C), which ultimately extends above the 175mm restriction.

However, before it reaches this height the false ceiling (D) comes into play, fulfilling the requirement of the regulation that there cannot be any bodywork greater than than 175mm in height when viewed from below. Air can access both sections of the diffuser (blue arrows) and the steeper rake of the upper tunnel makes it considerably more powerful in creating downforce than it was only reaching the 175mm line.

Remember too that this is only the central channel - the outer channels are at the regulation height, and so the false ceiling is not floating in thin air, as my amateurish sketch would have you believe - it is attached to the vertical tunnel walls on both sides.

That's my take on it.
That's a great post GM and helps to complete the puzzle.

What will be interesting now is to see how the FIA deal with it.

I expect it may be similar to what happened with Ferrari and the flexi floor last year.
The first race or 2 will be allowed to stand but then the regulations will be tightened up to remove this "loophole".

Shame really as it's little innovative outside the box thinking like this that makes the difference.
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