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Brawn plays down suspension concerns

13 April 2013

Ross Brawn has denied that there should be any controversy over the Mercedes F1 team's latest suspension development, but also admitted that there would be no problem dealing with a protest should one arise.

The system, dubbed FRIC for 'front and rear inter-controlled', acts in a similar fashion to the banned active suspension that teams used to great effect in the 1990s, but is legal because there are no computers controlling its activity. Instead, the front and rear suspension are linked hydraulically and can be adjusted from one to the other in order to maintain ride height and, as a result, improve aerodynamic balance. That, in turn, could lead to better treatment of the tyres – a notable area of concern in 2013.

As with all new ideas, there has been a degree of suspicion about the Mercedes system – even though the team has been working with it for a couple of seasons – but Brawn insists that the he has no fear of it being outlawed.

“There's speculation, but nobody knows what our suspension system is and, from what I know, it's not uncommon throughout F1,” he claimed, aware that Lotus has been trialling a similar idea for as long as Mercedes, and others are gradually catching up, “The old days of simple rollbars, springs and dampers are long gone, and they've been long gone for several years. I don't think it's controversial, so I don't think there are any issues.”

Brawn also denied that there could be issues arising from any protest, given that the lack of a current Concorde Agreement meant that there were no formal procedures in operation.

“I think the situation would be exactly as it has been before,” he claimed, “Somebody would go to the stewards, complain, they'd look into the matter, and it would be resolved one way or another. If people weren't happy with that, then it would be appealed and go to an appeal court.

“The sporting and working groups are continuing as they did before, in the absence of a Concorde Agreement, which I think is showing good spirit from both the F1 teams and the FIA. I know our technical director attends technical working groups, our sporting director attends the sporting working groups and they are following the same voting procedures and approaches which they did before, and the FIA have advised the teams that's how they intend to continue until the Concorde Agreement is concluded.”

At a time when the sport is once again concerned about rising costs, particularly with the introduction of new engines, drivetrains and regenerative energy technology for 2014, Brawn has already said that he does not believe that push forward on suspension development will add to the problem, pointing out that there will always been the need to compromise between suspension and aerodynamics.

Ironically, having been used to good effect on Friday morning in China, the hydraulics failed in Nico Rosberg's suspension during the afternoon session, depriving the German of a chance to complete his planned programme and compromising his preparation for qualifying. He will line up fourth on the grid in Shanghai, while team-mate Lewis Hamilton took his first pole for the team.


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