Formula 1 News

FIA brings technical 'farce' to end

FIA said it still believed the whole practice of diverting exhaust gases in this way was 'questionable', but conceded the situation complicated.
Thursday, July 14, 2011

LONDON, July 14, 2011 (AFP) - Formula One brought its technical and tetchy civil war to an end on Thursday with former champion Austrian Niki Lauda declaring the episode as the 'biggest farce ever' in the sport's history and few teams happy with the outcome.

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Lauda, as outspoken now as a media commentator as he was brave as a driver, made clear that he had feared a tighter clampdown on the rules surrounding 'off-throttle blown exhaust fumes' would be seen as a move to restrict champions Red Bull's performance advantage.

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In turn, any move to restrict Red Bull - following their hugely successful runaway start in the drivers and constructors championships - could be seen as a bid to help Ferrari, a scenario he told N-TV "would be the greatest insolence".

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But a statement by the sport's ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA) on Thursday ended the arguments which had included a public row between the McLaren and Red Bull team chiefs at Silverstone during the British Grand Prix last weekend.

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There each made accusations and counter-accusations about their respective teams' use of systems designed to make use of exhaust fumes to enhance down-force, and the rear grip and performance of their cars.

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"It was the biggest farce ever," said Lauda, of the Silverstone quarrels. "The crucial thing is that absolutely no-one was protesting -- the practice was tacitly accepted by all the teams.

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"But then suddenly the FIA and (race director and technical delegate) Charlie Whiting had the idea to change the rules in the middle of the season. I personally don't understand it.

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"I very much hope that this absurdity stops now and that we and the crowd know at the Nurburgring (the venue for the next race) exactly what the rules are."

It was as if by magic that the complaints of Lauda, 62, and many others, were answered with the FIA statement making clear that the Silverstone episode is now history and that for the rest of this year the rules will remain those that were used at the European Grand Prix at Valencia in Spain three weeks ago.

This means the use of 'off-throttle exhaust blowing' will remain legal for the remainder of the season, but that teams will not be allowed to change their engines settings between qualifying and the race.

In the statement, the FIA said it still believed the whole practice of diverting exhaust gases in this way was 'questionable', but conceded the situation was so complicated that it was easier to revert to a known set of rules.

The statement said the FIA had acted because teams were using extreme settings for their engines for qualifying and then changing to less-extreme and more reliable ones for the races.

The FIA wanted to ban all the relevant technology this year, but came up against varied technical arguments related to safety and reliability as the teams fought over the issues and attempted to gain advantages.

In the end, said the FIA, "this was felt to be the most sensible solution to a very complicated matter as the possibility of finding an alternative solution, which would be fair to all engine manufacturers, was becoming increasingly unlikely".

In 2012, all of the teams will have to compete with cars that have exhaust pipes exiting at a higher level on the car so that the gases cannot be used to aid aerodynamic performance in the diffuser, at the rear of the car.

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