Diffuser row to explode Thursday

107 1 1233213553The diffuser controversy which has been dogging pre-season testing and the build-up to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix is expected to come to a head on Thursday.

The row surrounds the rear diffusers of three teams – Toyota, Williams and Brawn – which are thought by the other teams to exceed the maximum height required by the regulations. The three teams in question are equally convinced they are within the rules.

The FIA has not had time to rule conclusively on the legality or otherwise of the diffusers, and so matters are expected to come to a climax at pre-practice scrutineering in Melbourne tomorrow.

An examination of the rear ends of the cars will take place and in the event that they are found to be within the rules, some other teams – including Red Bull – are thought to be preparing an official protest.

Williams technical director Sam Michael has spoken out to defend his team’s arrangement.

“To be honest we were surprised that it even turned into an issue because for us it was very clearly inside the regulations,” Michael is quoted as saying by autosport.

“It was something that in various forms teams have been doing for two years, so it wasn’t really a big issue for us or the FIA. So it was something that we clarified with the FIA well over a year ago.

“There wasn’t really any confusion from our side, although there appeared to be some confusion from the other teams, but I don’t know on what basis that was.”

One of the parties will be disappointed tomorrow, in which case the matter will be sent to the FIA’s International Court of Appeal. This would result in another delay, and could be extremely frustrating for fans and teams if the outcome affects the winner of a race.