Tag Archives: Double-decker diffuser

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.

Yet another diffuser row?

McLaren's diffuser was blocked away

McLaren's diffuser was blocked away

The prospect of another diffuser row boiling up again appears to have come back, with many teams pursuing “extreme” solutions.

At the launch of the McLaren MP4-25 today, McLaren engineering director Paddy Lowe said the team had had pushed the diffuser regulations as far as possible. Not only this, but he believes that other teams will go for extreme solutions. He said:

“This is the first car in which we have had a clean sheet of paper to really exploit the interpretation [of diffusers] that was developed last year for a design of floors,” said Lowe.

“You will see we have produced a fairly extreme incarnation of that but we won’t be alone in that. We believe you will see some pretty extreme solutions on our competitors’ cars as well.”

The writing on the wall comes from the fact that, when the MP4-25 was launched today, the diffuser was blocked from view with black boards. However, Lowe believes there is no rule infringement, saying:

“We think the interpretation is very clear,” he said. “In certain aspects we have sought guidance from the FIA and they have come out with very clear interpretation, understanding and guidance – and we think that has been made available to all the teams.”

“We are hoping for a much cleaner start to the season then we had a year ago in terms of the teams’ collective understanding of the basis from which we go racing.”

Ferrari, however, say differently. Aldo Costa told Gazzetta dello Sport:

“We were and still are convinced that the double diffuser concept was illegal. We feel there may still be interpretation over this, as the rules leave the door open to many possibilities. It’s up to the FIA to supervise, but we are rather worried.”

This sort of thing coming up again would just be a disaster. The double-decker diffuser row last year put so much doubt into people’s minds and, as Fernando Alonso predicted, decided the outcome of the championship. Hopefuly, the FIA have learnt their lessons from last year, and hopefully the teams won’t have been too radical with this year’s design.

Double-decker diffusers banned for 2011

Williams' double-decker diffuser

Williams' double-decker diffuser

The infamous double-decker diffusers, the centre of the contreversy at the start of the 2009 season, has been banned for the 2011 season.

This rule could not be implemented for the 2010 season, as it was too late and the F1 cars had been nearly completed. However, technical rule changes for the 2011 season have meant that the undertray slots, which allow double-decker diffusers to work, have been outlawed.

Artwork of Toyota's double-decker diffuser

Artwork of Toyota's double-decker diffuser

The F1 Technical Working Group has been the reason these rule changes could be implemented, as it is a meeting of all the F1 teams. However, Christian Horner, boss of Red Bull, believes the rule changes should be further beyond simple tweaks:

“I think the most important thing is to set clear objectives – as to what do the governing body and the promoters want F1 to be,” he told AUTOSPORT last weekend. “What do they want the F1 cars to be able to do?

“Then rather than cherry picking at bits and pieces, we can look at the package as a whole to encourage more overtaking, and to enable the cars to follow more closely.”

“I think looking at components in isolation is often quite dangerous, so I think it is important that the overall objective is clearly defined and then worked on by the various technical groups.”

It is expected that the effective outlawing of double-decker diffusers will slow the cars down in 2011 by up to 2 seconds per lap.

Double-decker diffusers to be banned by 2011?

Williams' double-decker diffuser

Williams' double-decker diffuser

Formula 1 teams are reportedly negotiating a rule that would see the infamous double-decker diffusers banned from the 2011 season onwards.

According to Autosport, the FOTA Technical Regulations Working Group (TRWG) met late last year, and agreed that rules should be changed to outlaw the revolutionary diffuser.

For those of you that don’t know, originally Formula 1 cars ran one diffuser at the back under the car. This channelled the air under the car, to generate a large amount of downforce and rear grip. For the 2009 F1 season, the diffuser was made much smaller, to reduce downforce levels. However, a loophole was found by Brawn, Williams and Toyota. The loophole was that slots could be made in the underside of the car, which would force a large amount of air into a much larger diffuser on top.

This generated a huge amount of contreversy in Melbourne, where, after many complaints from other teams, the FIA eventually found the DD diffusers to be legal. The other teams were forced to play catch-up as the season progressed. These diffusers have got more and more complicated, and are generating much more downforce than the 2009 technical rules were expecting.

It is expected that, with the outlawing of DD diffusers, the cars will be slowed down by up to 1 second per lap.

This means that, if the diffusers are outlawed, major changes will have to be made to the back of the cars, including the gearbox and rear suspension. Several teams have already voiced their concerns at the cost of this redesign.

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