Date:Wednesday March 21 2012
One of the major talking points regarding the latest designs of the 2012 Formula One cars was based around the back end of the cars, most notably Mercedes.
The team of course have form in this area, under the previous guise of Brawn GP, the team developed the blown diffuser concept that dominated the early stages of the 2009 F1 World Championship.
By the time the teams caught up in their development, Jenson Button and Brawn were no longer unbeatable, but it was too late to put any challenge together to wrestle the titles from them, with Button taking the World championship and Brawn the constructors.
This year the team have come up with another clever design which has caught the other teams on the back foot.
Their rear wing concept is, in a way, similar to the F-duct-type device which had previously been developed by McLaren and others.
That concept has been banned as any device which is seen as driver operated is now deemed as illegal.
Mercedes version appears to be a hole on the rear wing endplate. The purpose of it appears to be to direct air to the front wing of the car, to basically give it a straightline speed boost.
In Australia the Mercedes was regularly around 8kph quicker than Red Bull in the speedtraps.
It works when the driver activates the DRS, the rear wing moves, which then uncovers the hole and immediately it begins to directed air to the front wing to 'stall it' for a speed boost.
Teams such as Lotus and Red Bull told the press that this made the device driver enabled and therefore illegal, although they stopped short of protesting to the race stewards.
While FIA race director Charlie Whiting who has examined the Mercedes design and deemed it legal ahead of the Australian Grand Prix: 'What it appears some teams are doing is that when the DRS is operated, it will allow air to pass into a duct and do other things,'
'That is all I can say – you will probably have a pretty good idea of what it might be doing, and other teams will as well. But it is completely passive. There are no moving parts in it; it doesn't interact with any suspension. No steering, nothing. Therefore I cannot see a rule that prohibits it.' he told Autosport Magazine.
But it would seem that the teams would like to have further clarity on the design before attempting to implement it themselves.
'There were other teams perhaps more animated than we were, but it is something we just want clarity on because one could argue it is a switch that is affected by the driver.' Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports.
'The driver hits a button which uncovers this hole, and so it is driver activated, which is not in compliance with the regulations.
'I think there will be a lot of debate about it during the next five days, so we have requested there be more clarity on it because it is a grey area.'
'We need to do this before everybody charges around, committing considerable cost to development, If it is a clever idea and it is accepted then fine, but it does seem to be somewhat grey at the moment.'
McLaren were not one of the teams complaining about the Mercedes design in Australia and McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale believes that the teams should trust the decisions made by the FIA.
'I don't understand well enough what Mercedes are actually doing, and we have to rely on our colleagues at the FIA.
'If we have anything that we think is innovative or pushing the interpretations of the regulations, we are all obliged to disclose that to Charlie Whiting and his colleagues, and I'm very confident that Mercedes will have done that and got a ruling that's OK.' he told Autosport Magazine.
Date:Wednesday March 21 2012
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