FIA closes rear diffuser loophole

McLaren, Mercedes GP and at least two other teams will have to make modifications to their diffuser designs in time for the Australian Grand Prix, AUTOSPORT has learned, after the FIA told them that it is clamping down on a loophole being used by the outfits

FIA closes rear diffuser loophole

Discussions took place between the FIA and representatives from four teams over the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix weekend about the size of starter motor holes in their diffusers.

The size of their starter motor holes was believed to be excessively wide, which, although not in breach of the regulations, was reckoned to be going against the spirit of the rules.

F1's technical regulations state that a hole can exist in the diffuser to allow access for an engine starter motor - although there are no strict dimensions laid down.

Article 3.12.7 states: "A single break in the surface is permitted solely to allow the minimum required access for the device referred to in Article 5.15. [supposed to refer to starter motor, although this is Article 5.16]."

There is no specific definition of what the 'minimum' size is though - so some teams have been using exotically shaped starter motors to allow themselves to feature wide-shaped holes in the diffusers. This concept was pioneered by Brawn GP in 2009.

Such a hole in the diffuser helps create another tunnel for air to flow through - which as well as helping to produce more downforce, also ensures such downforce is more consistent throughout a lap - especially under braking, when the rear of the car rises up and the airflow can stall.

The FIA inspected the diffuser designs in Bahrain and promised to issue a clarification about the matter after the weekend had finished.

AUTOSPORT understands that the FIA has duly sent a note to all teams, laying down strict dimensions for not only a maximum diameter for the holes but also for a maximum projected area.

It is believed that McLaren, Mercedes and two other teams - believed to be Renault and Force India - will now have to make modifications to their diffuser designs in this area prior to the next race in Melbourne.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said in Bahrain last weekend that his team was one of many that was under investigation over the matter.

"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," he said. "And also no bigger than it is on about four other cars."

shares
comments
Webber confident of Red Bull reliability
Previous article

Webber confident of Red Bull reliability

Next article

Sauber bullish on chances for Australia

Sauber bullish on chances for Australia
Load comments
The six F1 subplots to watch in 2022 as a new era begins Plus

The six F1 subplots to watch in 2022 as a new era begins

As Formula 1 prepares to begin a new era of technical regulations in 2022, Autosport picks out six other key elements to follow this season

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2022
Why newly-retired Raikkonen won't miss F1 Plus

Why newly-retired Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Autosport on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2022
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup Plus

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. Autosport breaks down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems Plus

Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway. But instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Plus

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Plus

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Plus

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022