The controversy over Toyota, Williams and Brawn GP’s rear diffuser arrangements is dragging on and is unlikely to be settled until the first race on 29 March, Forumula1.com understands. The three teams have innovative designs for their rear diffusers, which rival teams accuse of breaching the maximum height allowed for the structure. But the legality or otherwise of the design will not be confirmed until Melbourne, when the first official protest may be lodged by other teams.
Renault boss Flavio Briatore has been outspoken in his criticism of the three teams’ arrangements, and has bemoaned the fact that the designs have not yet been declared illegal.
“It seems that there are two rules: one that allows some teams to mount a diffuser in a certain way while for the others it is considered illegal,” the Italian is quoted as saying by Reuters.
“It is not what we expected. We want black and white rules for everybody.”
The cause of Briatore’s anger is the tentative green light the FIA have given to Williams and Toyota. FIA President Max Mosley said in February that the rear diffusers on the new Toyota and Williams were innovative and did not break the rules. The race stewards in Melbourne will have to adjudicate, however, if a protest is lodged. Brawn’s design is said to take the others’ interpretation further, with the result radically improved rear downforce.
Williams in particular are being secretive about the design, for fear that others will copy it. Despite McLaren’s ‘Spygate’ controversy in 2007, teams spy on each other and routinely copy visible aerodynamic features. Yesterday at Jerez, Forumula1.com witnessed the Williams team throwing a cover over their car’s rear end when it pitted.