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FIA Rules Double-Decker Diffusers Legal

April 15, 2009

Jenson Button will race in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, knowing the car he drives is legal, after the FIA rejected the appeals of four Formula One teams.

Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull and BMW Sauber all appealed the legality of the diffusers of Brawn-Mercedes, Toyota and Williams following the stewards findings in the opening round in Australia that the teams had complied with 2009 regulations.

The FIA issued a statement saying: “The FIA International Court of Appeal has decided to deny the appeals submitted against decisions numbered 16 to 24 taken by the Panel of the Stewards on 26 March at the 2009 Grand Prix of Australia and counting towards the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship.

“Based on the arguments heard and evidence before it, the Court has concluded that the Stewards were correct to find that the cars in question comply with the applicable regulations.

“Full reasons for this decision will be provided in due course.”

Whatever way the FIA could have ruled, one thing was inevitable, that the ruling will have a big effect on this year’s championship.

Prior to the appeal being heard, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen told the Italian team’s official website: “This decision will have an enormous impact on the championship. You just need to analyse the performance in the three sectors at Malaysia to understand that we are losing a lot compared to the best cars. You can see that especially in the middle section, where downforce is really crucial.” So far this season Ferrari have yet to score any points, and with the FIA’s ruling, it may be a while before they are catching up with Brawn.

Renault’s Fernando Alonso had also said previously: “The championship could more or less be decided. If the diffusers are legal, then the Brawns are going to be nearly unreachable for any other team.”

Although the appealing teams produced a strong argument against the diffuser design, the judges at the International Court of Appeal have sided with the FIA and the stewards who originally deemed the part legal.

Ross Brawn, team principle for Brawn-Mercedes, said after the ruling that he was pleased that the team would be allowed to put the issue behind them and carry on racing. He said: “The decision of the International Court of Appeal brings this matter to its conclusion and we look forward to continuing on the track the challenge of what has been a very exciting start to the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship.”

One thing is now for certain, for the seven remaining F1 teams who are currently not using the double-decker designed diffusers, it is time to play catch-up. With Sunday’s race looming ever closer, and testing banned during the season, the remaining teams are going to find it very hard to adapt their diffusers and get them up to standard, particularly before Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix. The earliest we can expect to see these changes is likely to be in Bahrain in a week’s time.

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