Diffuser Row to be Heard by FIA

April 13, 2009

The FIA are due to hear eight Formula One teams at the International Court of Appeal tomorrow over an appeal into the legality of some of the teams’ diffusers. Here I explain what a diffuser is, and what the current interpretations used by Brawn, Toyota and Williams means for last year’s winning constructors Ferrari…

Imagine you are Kimi Raikkonen and you are driving a Ferrari. Your F60 is lacking that special something and so far, in two races your team have failed to score a single point. You’re stuck on the grid behind three teams, one of which didn’t exist last year, and two who had previously posed no championship threat. Those teams, Brawn-Mercedes, Toyota and Williams all have something you don’t, and as you are sitting behind them, you stare into the back of it, a diffuser at the rear of their car that you know has that added something yours doesn’t.

Ok, so what is a diffuser? It is the extension on the back of a racing car which is situated between the rear wheels, where high-speed air gets sucked beneath the car and gathered to reduce drag and increase downforce to make it go faster.

Ok, so what is the problem? The 2009 regulations stated what the diffuser should be like, and many of the teams conformed to these rules. Brawn, Toyota and Williams adapted their own versions of the diffuser meaning their cars go faster as they have more downforce, particularly through high-speed corners. The more downforce you have, the more grip you have, something both Ferrari and McLaren are struggling with this year.

On the Brawn-Mercedes car, the other teams argue that a simple hole is increasing the flow of air, and consequently more downforce. Their argument has been since the Australian Grand Prix that the presence of this hole is against the new regulations, even though it was passed on inspection prior to the start of the championship.

So far, it is legal, and if it continues to be legal, the other teams have got their work cut out to adapt their cars quick enough to be in with a chance to score vital points in the coming races. With testing having been banned since the start of the season, it may take the likes of last years front-runners Ferrari and McLaren even longer to catch up.

The appeal into the legality of the diffusers is due to take place tomorrow at the International Court of Appeal, where Ferrari, Renault and Red Bull, who all appealed against the initial stewards decision that the diffusers were legal, along with BMW and McLaren, will all appear to have their say. Brawn, Toyota and Williams will also appear. If the diffusers are ruled illegal, the championship as it stands will be shaken up prior to Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.


One comment

  1. Hi, good post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting. I’ll likely be coming back to your site. Keep up the good posts

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