22 May 2011
Q&A - Charlie Whiting, FIA
Excerpts from a media briefing held by FIA race director Charlie Whiting at Catalunya during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend on topics from blown diffusers to DRS.
Why does the FIA believe that the use of blown diffuser technology may be illegal when used with certain engine maps?
It became apparent to us, through examination of data, that what we thought was a fairly benign feature was turning into something that was being used, in our opinion, illegally. An exhaust system is there for the purpose of exhausting gasses from the engine and when you're off-throttle, it isn't doing that any more. Therefore it's being used to influence the aerodynamic characteristics of the car. We think arguably, this infringes Article 3.15 of the technical regulations.
Why has this issue been raised now, rather than last season, over the winter period, or earlier this year?
Simply because these things start off little, appearing to be quite benign. They then get worse and worse. Now we are faced with the possibility of even more extreme systems coming along. We felt it was time to do something about it.
Why has the FIA revised its intention to ban the devices immediately?
In light of what we've learned since sending the first note to the teams, we felt it needed more discussion. Having already discussed it with a few of the engine manufacturers, we felt it was not right to rush something through. We are always open to constructive debate.
We are going to discuss it on June 16th at the next Technical Working Group meeting. We'll come up with an introduction plan after that. We've made it clear in a follow-up note that we still maintain these systems arguably contravene the regulations. We are not backing off on the principal, we are just backing off slightly on the planned introduction.
Why are the current diffusers not illegal per se?
We accept the fact exhaust gasses have to come out somewhere, and teams are going to do the best they can to get a benefit from that. We have never had a problem with exhaust positions. This latest phenomenon is what we have a problem with.
Could there be a protest by teams not using a blown diffuser?
I've told the teams we have decided to postpone this introduction but this [a protest] could happen.
It's always a possibility, and I've made that clear to the teams that it could happen. We would take it to the stewards in the normal way. We always maintain, in all of our technical directives that we have sent for many years now, that this is merely the opinion of a technical department, and anyone is free to challenge it in front of the stewards. It doesn't happen very often, but has happened in the past.
I'd like to think that probably wouldn't happen, but one never knows. It's not beyond the realms of possibility. A protest is open to anybody. It would go before the stewards.
DRS use in Monaco:
What has been discussed with the drivers in recent weeks?
We were made aware of drivers' concerns about using [DRS in Monaco], and I've spoken to the drivers a few times about it, and it was quite clear the majority of them would prefer to not use it in Monaco.
Why has the FIA not banned the use of the DRS at Monaco
There is no evidence to support the theory it [DRS] is going to be dangerous. It was introduced as an overtaking aid, it would be somewhat perverse to not allow it in the place where you need overtaking [assistance] the most.
As far as we're concerned it's a device that's open to anyone to use legally at any race. That's what it's there for.
Might the FIA disable DRS, should empirical evidence suggest it is dangerous?
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