Diffuser row finally defused
The British Grand Prix weekend was dominated by the ongoing debate over the FIA’s ban on using engine mapping for the off-throttle blowing of diffusers, and against expectations, the issue came to a satisfactory conclusion.
In the face of threats of protests from some teams Charlie Whiting had tried to restrict blowing as long ago as the Spanish GP in May. However, in the end it proved impossible to police, as engine manufacturers — and specifically Renault — claimed that they could not operate their V8 engines reliably under the new conditions.
The matter was further complicated by the need to create a level playing field between those with butterfly throttles (Renault and Ferrari) and those using a barrel arrangement (Mercedes and Cosworth).
The unusual outcome is that Silverstone will be the only race of the year to run with diffuser blowing restricted to what the FIA regards as acceptable ‘legal’ levels. In a development without precedent, the FIA has returned to the original rule interpretation after the teams signed a document and agreed not to protest.
Even Ferrari, the team that appeared to gain most from the restrictions, agreed.
“This situation was not good for anyone,” said team principal Stefano Domenicali. “We need to draw a line and look ahead, because otherwise where are we going? Even if I don’t agree with the process, I think we took that action for the benefit of the sport.”
The problem should disappear in 2012 as the rules will restrict exhaust designs and direct them well away from the diffuser area.