Mercedes and Red Bull had to alter F1 suspension designs for 2017

Formula 1's suspension row is unlikely to escalate to a protest at the Australian Grand Prix, after Red Bull and Mercedes were asked to change elements of their 2017 designs

Mercedes and Red Bull had to alter F1 suspension designs for 2017

The controversy over suspension systems blew up over the winter when Ferrari sought clarification from the FIA on the legality of concepts that were pre-loaded to cleverly help a car's aerodynamic performance.

While Ferrari's original letter was based around a theoretical idea it wanted to pursue, it was widely understood that its real motivation was to challenge clever designs that Mercedes and Red Bull had been running.

Following a final clarification from the FIA ahead of testing last month that made it clear suspension systems should not be designed to deliberately help aerodynamic performance, the governing body inspected the designs of all the teams during the pre-season running in Spain.

The FIA was clear that teams had to prove that their clever suspension systems were not designed to help the car's aerodynamics, and concepts that Mercedes and Red Bull had wanted to run did not fully comply and had to be changed.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting said in a media briefing on Thursday at the Australian Grand Prix: "You are not allowed to have a suspension system that affects the aero performance of the car in anything other than an incidental way.

"We wanted to see whether the suspension is generally suspension or if it is there predominantly for the aerodynamic performance of the car.

"That is the change. We have been focusing far more on that this year.

"If a suspension system behaves asymmetrically, then there is not a very justifiable reason for behaving like that - if a suspension system goes down at one speed and comes back at a different speed.

"If they are not able to convince us then they are not able to use it."

It is unclear how much of an impact the suspension decision will have on Red Bull and Mercedes, but it is known that Mercedes did not run its trick system at every race last year so it was not essential to its performance.

With Red Bull and Mercedes having been asked to make changes ahead of the weekend, Whiting said on Thursday he was hopeful the matter had been sorted.

"Marcin [Budkowski] and Jo [Bauer] did a lot of work in Barcelona going through all the systems, and the ones we have inspected so far [in Australia] have been as we expected them to be," he said. "We don't anticipate any problems."

It is understood that every team had their suspension checked on Thursday, with all 10 complying ahead of free practice starting on Friday.

Whiting also said that checks of engine systems would take place over the Australian Grand Prix, following an issue regarding oil burn.

Red Bull had asked for a clarification on the matter amid its suspicions that Mercedes had been using the tactic in qualifying for a power boost - something the German car manufacturer strongly denied.

Whiting said: "We are certainly monitoring it. We did quite a lot of work on it in Barcelona.

"We are going to inspect all the oil systems here and we are going to randomly check oil consumption to make sure that it is not being used as fuel."

shares
comments
Australian GP: Sauber F1 driver Pascal Wehrlein cleared to race
Previous article

Australian GP: Sauber F1 driver Pascal Wehrlein cleared to race

Next article

Hamilton keen to see Red Bull's F1 Australian Grand Prix upgrades

Hamilton keen to see Red Bull's F1 Australian Grand Prix upgrades
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Plus

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Plus

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022
How Verstappen's record-breaking 2022 season compares to the F1 greats Plus

How Verstappen's record-breaking 2022 season compares to the F1 greats

The 2022 Formula 1 season will be remembered as a record book rewriting Max Verstappen masterclass, a completely different challenge to his maiden world championship last year, and a clear sign he is still raising his own level. But where does it stack up against the all-time great F1 campaigns?

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022