The Aus GP stewards have thrown out protests that three teams' diffusers are illegal

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    The Aus GP stewards have thrown out protests that three teams' diffusers are illegal

    Post by Ross on 26th March 2009, 13:49

    Rear diffusers deemed legal

    The Australian Grand Prix stewards have rejected the protests against the Williams, Brawn and Toyota teams' diffusers, meaning the three cars are free to participate in this weekend's Melbourne race.

    But the controversy is set to continue, with the architects of the protest thought likely to appeal the decision.

    Red Bull, Ferrari and Renault, backed by BMW – which had its own objection dismissed on a technicality – had officially queried the diffuser designs following scrutineering earlier today.

    After lengthy deliberations on the issue, the FIA declared that it believed the teams' designs to be legal.

    The three cars in question feature different interpretations of the 2009 technical rules on diffuser height.

    The opposing teams want to clarify an apparent grey area in the rules with a view either to having the Brawn, Toyota and Williams designs outlawed, or to emulate the diffusers on their own cars.

    If an appeal goes ahead, it is unlikely to be heard until after the Malaysian Grand Prix next weekend, meaning that the results of the season's first two races could remain in doubt.

    Following the stewards' ruling Toyota issued a statement insisting it had "studied the wording of the new 2009 regulations in precise detail to ensure that we have interpreted them correctly".

    Toyota Motorsport Chairman Tadashi Yamashina added: "We are pleased with the decision of the race stewards but we prefer not to comment further on the situation.

    "This weekend promises to be a tremendously exciting Australian Grand Prix so we are now looking forward to starting the competition on track with the first practice sessions on Friday."

    Williams technical director Sam Michael said: ”We are pleased with the stewards’ decision and we have no further comment to make.”

    What is the diffuser?

    The rear diffuser is an upward-sweeping 'ramp' on the underside of the car, located beneath the engine and gearbox behind the rear wheel axle line.

    While the front and rear wings (aerofoils) work the air that passes over the car's body, the diffuser harnesses the air that travels underneath the car.

    The diffuser's shape causes air to be channelled through it and creates a suction effect that pushes the car into the ground.

    Working in conjunction with the undertray, the diffuser generates a large proportion of the car's rear downforce.

    Why the controversy?

    The 2009 regulations restrict the maximum height of the diffuser's central section to 175mm.

    But by exploiting regulations that allow extra bodywork within a 150mm zone in the centre of the car, Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams have cleverly shaped their cars' rear crash structure so that it effectively extends the diffuser's central section.

    Taken together, the result is a central section that exceeds the 175mm height limit that applies to the diffuser alone.

    A taller diffuser means more rear downforce, a commodity that is in short supply this year due to the higher and narrower rear wings.

    The three teams who have taken this route are adamant that they have observed the letter of the rules, and FIA president Max Mosley has conceded that they have been "clever" in exploiting a grey area.

    But rival teams believe their interpretation flouts the spirit of the regulations, with Renault boss Flavio Briatore recently claiming they had simply drawn up their own rule book.


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