Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, has declared the controversial double-decker diffuser designs on the Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams cars as legal.
After lengthy deliberations overnight, the judges at the International Court of Appeal hearing in Paris rejected protests against the design from Ferrari, Red Bull Racing, and Renault.
The FIA said in a statement: “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.”
The ruling has huge implications on the outcome of the 2009 Formula One World Championship with those teams running regular diffusers now forced to play catch-up.
The decision is good news for Jenson Button who won the opening two races of the season for Brawn GP and finds himself in a strong position to challenge for the title. The British driver could have been stripped of his points had the judges ruled in favor of the protesting teams.
“We are pleased with the decision reached by the International Court of Appeal today,” said team principal Ross Brawn. “We respect the right of our competitors to query any design or concept used on our cars through the channels available to them.â€
“The FIA Technical Department, the Stewards at the Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix and now five judges at the International Court of Appeal have confirmed our belief that our cars have always strictly complied with the 2009 Technical Regulations.
“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.â€
What is a diffuser? [See HERE]
Toyota and Williams will also have a head start on their rivals as a result of the ruling.
Toyota Chairman and Team Principal Tadashi Yamashina welcomed the decision: “I was confident the Court of Appeal would reach this verdict and I am satisfied with it.”
“It is important to stress we studied the technical regulations in precise detail, consulting the FIA in our process, and never doubted our car complied with them.
“This has been a challenging period for Formula 1 and I am pleased this issue is now in the past and we can focus on an exciting season on the track.”
But the ruling is bad news for those teams running with regular diffusers. Given the apparent performance advantage of the double-decker design, the other teams are now in a race against time to develop their own interpretation of the diffuser.
Besides the logistical problems involved in making changes of this scale, there are also high costs involved which many teams have complained about.
It also means that Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota can turn their attention to other areas of development while the remaining teams are forced to play catch up.
Renault in particular seem to have pre-empted the ruling better than others. The Enstone-based team have a design ready to run in this weekend s Chinese Grand Prix.
Ferrari meanwhile recently restructured their trackside operations to integrate new components onto their car quicker and are therefore well placed to develop their diffuser.
The decision could spell disaster for defending world champion Lewis Hamilton. The British driver has been struggling in an uncompetitive McLaren. The Woking squad already has a long-list of changes it needs to make to the MP4-24 and a new diffuser could prove timely.