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GP Week : Issue 39
‘Diffusergate’ to be se “ THE row over the design of the BrawnGP, Toyota and Williams diffusers will be settled before the Grand Prix of China, at a sitting of the FIA International Court of Appeal, in Paris, on April 14. As had been widely predicted, a protest over the legality of the teams’ diffusers was submitted on the Thursday of the Australian Grand Prix by Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull and BMW. All four were rejected by the stewards, with the first three on the basis that the cars in question complied with the appropriate 2009 F1 technical regulations. BMW’s protest was thrown out on a technicality after the paperwork was handed in too late. Ferrari, Renault and Red Bull all subsequently appealed the stewards’ decision. The design of the diffusers had been questioned for some time, with Toyota and Williams’ designs being debated as early as January. The confusion lies in their two-tiered layout, which some claim gives these cars a type of ground effect (see separate story). “Toyota Motorsport has studied the wording of the new 2009 regulations in precise detail to ensure that we have interpreted them correctly,” a team statement read. With the ultimate decision over the legality of that interpretation now in the hands of the courts, none of the teams under appeal wished to comment further on the situation. The seven teams which were not protested are all believed to be working on their own versions of the controversial diffuser, which they will put onto their own cars should the Court of Appeal’s decision go in the favour of the Diffusergate Three. For most ,the transition should be simple, albeit without being able to test the parts on track before taking them to a race, but for Red Bull and Toro Rosso the task will entail an almost total redesign of the rear end, given that their pull-rod suspension layout is incompatible with the new diffuser. The teams which launched the initial protest have been accused of being caught “with their pants down” by 1992 F1 World Champion Nigel Mansell: “The biggest problem they have is that they didn’t think about it.” Ferrari, Renault and Red Bull claim they are merely seeking clarity over the regulations. With Brawn, Toyota and Williams all proving to be highly competitive in Australia, their diffusers, which exploit a grey area in the technical regulations, are thought to provide a substantial performance advantage over those which have stuck to the more conservative interpretation. With the possibility that the Court of Appeal could find the designs to be illegal, the final results of an incredible Australian Grand Prix could yet be changed – there’s a chance it could yet be won by Lewis Hamilton! For a full technical debrief on Diffusergate, turn to page 14 Super Aguri