FIA to clarify on double-decker diffuser issue

Double decker diffuser

Double decker diffuser

Before the Australian Grand Prix begins in two weeks time, the FIA are to clarify on an issue surrounding the double-decker diffuser.

The FIA’s Charlie Whiting inspected the cars in Bahrain before the race began, and it is understood that many people are concerned about teams using the starter motor to benefit the double-decker diffuser.

The F1 technical regulations state that there may be a hole or slot in the diffuser area, to allow space for a starter motor. The exact rule reads as follows:

"A single break in the surface is permitted solely to allow the
minimum required access for the device referred to in Article 5.15."

There is a mistake in the regulations, however, as Article 5.15 refers to what components in the cars can be constructed of. The starter motor, which they were supposed to be referring to, is actually Article 5.16. The idea of this rule is that there is a hole in the back of the car, where to mechanics can plug the starter motor into (an F1 engine cannot start itself), and fire up the car.

However, certain teams have exploited this rule, in that the starter motor housing and shape has been aerodynamically sculpted, so as to provide an aero benefit.

The FIA is keen to sort out this issue, and has already had a meeting with 3 teams (McLaren and Mercedes being two of them), to sort this out. The FIA are of the opinion that, although no regulation has been broken, the rule has been exploited.

It has been suggested that a clarification will come before the Australian Grand Prix. Martin Whitmarsh had this to say over the matter:

"I think Charlie came came down and looked at all the cars in that 
area, but I am not aware that anyone had any action taken against 
them over it. There were some concerns expressed.

There is a discussion between all the teams about what we are going 
to do. There are holes in the diffuser for the starter, the hole in 
ours is no bigger than the one on the championship winning car last 
year. And also no bigger than it is on about four other cars."

Very interesting. Whitmarsh is going down the route of  “It’s been done before, and everyone else is doing it, so why stop?”. A bit cheap, I suppose, but it would be expected of them. Personally, I want the exploitation of the rule to be banned, but of course teams would then be complaining about it being allowed last year.

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