Mercedes boss Brawn doesn't fear FRIC suspension tech war

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn has played down talk that development of new ultra-sophisticated suspension systems could lead to a spending war in Formula 1

Mercedes boss Brawn doesn't fear FRIC suspension tech war

Brawn's squad and Lotus are believed to be the first F1 teams to get fully get to grips with the latest must-have technical development: front and rear interconnected suspension (FRIC).

The concept, which both teams have worked on for several seasons, uses hydraulics to connect the front and rear suspension so that the car's ride height is kept constant through braking, acceleration and cornering.

AUTOSPORT explains FRIC suspension

With a number of other outfits already believed to be testing their own FRIC suspension, there has been talk that the quest to fast-track its introduction could prove expensive at a time when teams are already juggling the switch to the 2014 regulations.

But Brawn is adamant that there is no danger of teams being priced out of the development.

Asked if a spending war was on the cards, Brawn replied: "I don't think so. Ever since F1 cars have been invented and aerodynamics were understood, the compromise between suspension and aerodynamics has always been that - a compromise.

"You want a nice softly sprung car, but you cannot do that because you compromise the aerodynamics too much.

"So every year I have been in F1 I have always tried to seek that ideal balance between suspension performance and aerodynamic performance, and it is no different today to how it has been for many years."

Although the early 1990s method of overcoming that compromise through active suspension was banned, the FRIC concept is allowed because the hydraulic system is completely passive as no on-board computers are reacting to what the car is doing.

Alongside its aerodynamic benefits, more pliable suspension should make FRIC cars better at tyre conservation.

FRIC NOT DECIDING FACTOR

After 2012's often wide-open competition, this year the frontrunning teams have jumped clear of the midfield pack, despite regulation stability.

Brawn does not think that the leaders' pursuit of FRIC suspension is a major factor in that change.

"I think it is too early to draw any conclusions," he said. "I don't know if the pecking order has been established yet and I don't know what the other teams are doing.

"I feel we have made good progress with the car compared to what we had last year but it is very difficult to judge what other people are doing, why they are doing and whether it is contributing to their performance.

"We have improved in lots of areas and that has at least given us a step forward this year. It is not enough but it is a step forward."

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