Formula 1's FRIC suspension systems, believed to be one of the strengths of the dominant Mercedes car, could be banned for the German Grand Prix, AUTOSPORT can reveal.
Less than a fortnight before the next race at Hockenheim, the FIA has informed F1 teams that it believes the Front-and-Rear Interconnected Suspension (FRIC) systems used by most of them are illegal.
According to sources, the governing body wrote to teams on Tuesday to tell them that following detailed investigations into the design of the FRIC systems, it believes they are in contravention of the rules.
In the note, a copy of which has been seen by AUTOSPORT, FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting said: "Having now seen and studied nearly every current design of front to rear linked suspension system we, the FIA, are formally of the view that the legality of all such systems could be called into question."
Whiting suggests that the way the suspension systems help control pitch and roll could be in breach of article 3.15 of F1's technical regulations.
Article 3.15 is the catch-all regulation that relates to moveable aerodynamic devices. It outlaws any part of the car that influences the aerodynamics that is not "rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any degree of freedom)."
The FRIC systems link the front and rear suspension to maintain a constant ride height for improved performance.
Lotus (then called Renault) was the first team to introduce the concept in 2008.
Mercedes more recently took the design to the next level and is now believed to run the most complicated system, however it is unclear which team would suffer the most from a ban.
FIA OPEN TO DELAYING BAN UNTIL 2015
With limited testing time before the next race at Hockenheim, and 2014 designs being based around FRIC, the FIA is open to delaying the ban if there is consensus among teams.
It has asked teams to vote on whether or not they will be in favour of delaying the ban until the start of 2015 rather than it coming into force for the German GP.
However, for that to happen it would require unanimous support from all the teams on the grid.
It is unclear how easy it will be to achieve unanimous support for a delay - especially if any team feels its FRIC design is not as good as a rival's, or indeed if a team is not running the system at all.
If unanimous support is not reached, then Whiting has made it clear that from the next race in Germany, any team running FRIC risks being reported to the stewards by the FIA for non-compliance with the regulations.
The fact that the FIA has indicated it believes FRIC to be illegal also opens the door for a team to protest one of its rivals from the next race.