Rarely shy when it comes to proffering his opinion – albeit one palpably not appreciated by Lewis Hamilton of late – former three-time F1 World Champion Niki Lauda has slated the sport's on-off-on-off blown-exhaust saga of the past few weeks as 'the biggest farce ever'.
The practice of off-throttle exhaust-blowing – gaining aerodynamic performance by using the engine's electronic systems to send a full blast of exhaust gases into the diffuser when the driver is off the throttle in corners – was outlawed by the FIA in the build-up to last weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The regulation was subsequently altered and amended repeatedly over the course of the meeting, even mid-session during practice, leading to a press conference showdown between rival team principals Christian Horner and Martin Whitmarsh – and the bewilderment of competitors and fans alike.
Lauda contends that the whole episode has done the sport and the FIA no favours at all, and admits that he hopes the governing body does not change its mind once again after the twelve teams unanimously agreed on Sunday to revert to the pre-clampdown, Valencia situation from next weekend's German Grand Prix onwards. The Austrian legend added that he would be disappointed indeed if the rumours about the ban being primarily an effort to rein in Red Bull Racing's F1 2011 dominance transpired to be true.
“If that was so, it would be the greatest insolence,” the 62-year-old told N-TV
, questioning the FIA's motivation behind the unusual mid-season rule change. “You cannot punish someone just because he is better.
“[It was] the biggest farce ever. The crucial thing is that absolutely no-one was protesting; the practice was tacitly accepted by all the teams. Suddenly the FIA and Charlie Whiting had the idea to change the rules in the middle of the season. I personally don't understand it. I very much hope that this absurdity stops now, and that we and the audience know at the Nürburgring in two weeks exactly what the rules are.”