Williams 'just wants diffuser clarity'

Williams technical director Sam Michael insists that the team is seeking clarity on whether or not 'hot-blowing' exhaust blown diffusers are legal, rather than pushing for the system to be banned

Williams 'just wants diffuser clarity'

Williams played a part in triggering FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting's decision to ban the system in the build-up to this race, a move that was subsequently put on hold subject to Technical Working Group discussions next month.

But despite believing that the concept, in which the exhaust continues to be blown while the driver is off the throttle to maximise downforce under braking and at corner entry, is illegal, the team is willing to continue to develop its system if the FIA deems it permissible.

"The reason why we asked the question of Charlie is that we didn't know," Michael told AUTOSPORT. "There is a strong enough argument on both sides. There is a reasonable argument to say that it is illegal and that certainly appears to be the view of the FIA, even though they have given this delay.

"Charlie's view on it is very clear - they do not consider it to be legal. But I can see why other people can say that there are vagaries in the rules. The important thing is that the decision shouldn't be clouded by not interfering with a championship. It's either legal or illegal.

"Being selfish, I would like them to ban it so that it means we can go and spend the money on something else. That's where we are at the moment. But if they don't, we will just crack on and do it."

"If it's illegal, then people should stop doing it, including Williams. When something like this comes up, people say there is manipulation, but that's not the case at all."

Michael added that his biggest concerns relate to the costs of developing a hot-blowing diffuser to the exploit the full potential of the concept. He believes that this would not only raise costs, but have a huge influence on the design direction of F1 cars in the future.

"Whether we end up with it or without it, I don't mind, as long as it goes through a thorough process of saying where this is going to end up," said Michael. "That is one of our biggest concerns. We have what we have got now, but what we have presented to the FIA is where we are going to end up in six months or a year's time.

"We would have to invest a lot of money with Cosworth to complete a full hot-blowing engine running. It would take serious cash and that was one of the reasons for making sure that if we do this we don't spend the cash and then be told that it is illegal. At the moment we are cold blowing and the extent of hot blowing we would like to do is significant."

Although Michael believes that the system is illegal, there is dissent among the teams, many of which believe that the concept of hot-blowing the diffuser should be allowed to continue.

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn is hopeful that the FIA will not rule it illegal, adding that teams cannot forget what they have learned and will inevitably use the exhaust gases for aerodynamic advantage however the regulations are framed.

"I don't have a big problem with it," said Brawn. "Cars have had blown diffusers for years and, as is the nature of F1, we try and get the maximum from it. I don't think we can put the genie back in the bottle, so thinking that we will come up with some regulations that will stop people using technology that they have discovered and enhanced is naive.

"Someone said to me we should put the exhaust pipes where it doesn't make any difference. Well, if you can me where that is I would be impressed - as wherever you put them they make a difference. I think we need to have a sensible approach, listen to the concerns that teams have who seem to have raised the issue and see if we can find solutions."

Brawn believes that the cost argument does not hold water, contending that after the initial investment in development it is relatively cheap to run a hot-blowing exhaust.

"I don't think what is being done is particularly expensive once you come to terms with the technology. You have to find the right heatproof materials and I don't think it is exceptionally expensive.

"This sort of technology we are using is no different to what we were using last year or the year before, so it is not extravagant. And really with RRA [the resource restriction agreement], if you want to spend your money on exhaust systems or windtunnel time or whatever, that is your decision."

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