Daily Archives: March 19, 2010

FIA closes rear diffuser loophole

Artwork of McLaren's starter motor and diffuser design

Artwork of McLaren's starter motor and diffuser design

The FIA has clamped down on 4 of the teams’ diffuser designs, after they closed a loophole in the technical regulations which allowed the teams to aerodynamically improve their diffuser with the starter motor.

At the moment, there is a hole in the starter motor, to allow the car to be started up. However, these holes have since been aerodynamicaly sculpted to allow diffuser improvements. While the FIA cannot do anything about the aero sculpting, they can limit the size of the starter motor hole. They felt that this hole was too wide, which is not a technical infringement, but is against the spirit of the rules.

While there is no strict dimensions for the starter motor hole, the FIA have sent out a letter to each of the teams, laying out the maximum diameter of the hole, and maximum projected area that is now allowed. This rule change affects four teams – McLaren and Mercedes, and Renault and Force India are rumoured to be the other two.

This means that these four teams will have to change their starter motor and diffuser designs before the Australian Grand Prix next weekend.

Renault allowed to make engine improvements

The Renault RS27 engine

The Renault RS27 engine

Renault has been allowed by the FIA to make changes to their engines, even though the governing body had previously rules out any power equalisation for this year.

The changes are believed to be to save costs and for reliability. This comes after Red Bull team principal Christian Horner complained to the FIA that not all of the engines were equal, after the engine freeze. He said:

"I think the problem is if you don't allow some development, then you freeze in an advantage for one team or a 
disadvantage for another.

So there has to be a balancing of that, otherwise we will end up with Mercedes-powered cars winning all the races - 
which I think is not good for F1. And other manufacturers may choose to leave F1 off of the back of that.

The engine isn't supposed to be a key performance differentiator and therefore hopefully the ruling body will balance 
out somewhat the differences there at the moment."

It has been understood that the FIA is moving away from engine equalisation because they do not feel there is enough power difference between the many engine types. Despite this, Renault has put in many requests to develop certain parts of their engine, for cost and reliabiliy reasons. These requests have been mostly accepted.

However, the FIA rejected the requests to make changes to help Renault’s fuel consumption, as they felt that it was purely for performance reasons. Already, teams who run Renault engines can carry about 10kg less fuel than anyone else at the start of the race. Therefore, any further fuel consumption improvements would mean too large a performance advantage to Red Bull and Renault.

At the moment, neither Red Bull or Renault are lacking in engine power – Robert Kubica got the fastest lap at one point in Bahrain don’t forget. But, the Achilles heel of these teams – the reliability – may be getting better, after these latest changes.

Australia FIA press conference schedule

Next week, on Thursday, two rookies join two old hands in the FIA press conference. Meanwhile, on Friday, 4 team principals from the top 4 teams will field the questions. The current schedule is as follows:

Thursday March 25, 1500 hours local time (0400 GMT):
Vitaly Petrov (Renault), Bruno Senna (HRT), Jarno Trulli (Lotus) and Mark Webber (Red Bull).

Friday March 26, 1600 hours local time (0500 GMT):
Ross Brawn (Mercedes GP), Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari), Christian Horner (Red Bull) and Martin Whitmarsh (McLaren).

Full transcripts will be available here.

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