FIA moves to clarify ride-height systems

The FIA has issued a rules clarification on the subject of adjustable ride-height systems, following suggestions that some teams are either already using such a device or plan to do so in future.

In a letter sent to all teams last sunday, the sport’s governing body stated that any system which allowed for the ride-height of a car to be altered between qualifying and the race would be deemed illegal.

“Any system device or procedure, the purpose and/or effect of which is to change the set-up of the suspension, while the car is under parc ferme conditions will be deemed to contravene article 34.5 (which makes clear that cars will be forced to  start from the pit lane if any work is carried out following qualifying) of the sporting regulations.” read the letter.

The clarification comes days after Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner forcibly denied that his team was using such a device on its car and threatened that any team that introduced such a system in future would face a protest.

It was revealed that the RB6 underwent scrutineering in Malaysia and was deemed to not be running any system that adjusted the ride-height. However, some teams have suggested that the Milton Keynes-based team may have managed achieve this  without the use of a mechanical device.

As a result, the FIA’s letter also sought to confirm the legality of such devices, adding that: “any self-levelling damper system is likely to contravene article 3.15 of the technical regulations.”

Article 3.15, of the sport’s technical regulations, clearly states that any specific part of the car, influencing its aerodynamic performance, must comply with the rules relating to bodywork and must have no freedom of mobility in relation to sprung part of the car.

The news could come as a blow to some teams with F1 Journalist Mark Hughes, claiming in his blog for the BBC Sport website, that McLaren is planning to introduce new suspension parts onto its cars for China.