FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has defended the decision to clamp down on the use of engine mapping in conjunction with blown diffusers, insisting that what the teams have been doing is illegal.
Regarding the inevitable suggestions that the changes have been brought in to specfically handicap Red Bull, Whiting was adamant that it was not the case.
“If that’s what people want to say, then they’re perfectly at liberty to do it, of course,” said Whiting in Valencia. “All we’re doing is making sure that everyone is running how we think a car should be run legally. It’s not for us to say whether or not a certain team will be penalised more than others. It just depends on extreme they go. I’ve certainly seen evidence of maps from a number of teams that are extremely extreme. It’s not confined to one team, I can assure you.”
Asked why the FIA didn’t address the issue earlier, given that blown diffusers were in use last year, Whiting stressed that things had moved on.
“We know they all had blown diffusers, but it was how they were being used. It’s quite simply really. We know that exhaust gases have an influence on the aerodynamic performance of the car. We accept that, but the point is the design should minimise the effect that the exhaust has on the car, they shouldn’t attempt to use the exhaust for a completely different reason. That’s our view.
“It’s a bit like the mass damper for example, when it’s use, when first introduced by one team, it’s use was fairly benign when it came to aerodynamics. But the more it got developed, the more extreme the designs were. There were four or five or six mass dampers on the car, and they were clearly being used for aerodynamic reasons. These things escalate, as we all know, to the point where something has to be done. It’s exactly the same type of approach that we’re taking.”
However he drew a distinction between the current situation and examples such as the F-Duct and double diffuser, which were outlawed between seasons.
“The double diffuser and the F-Duct were legal, but during the course of the season the teams got together with us and decided that they weren’t good for F1, or weren’t needed in F1, so we wrote rules which would outlaw them. They actually complied with the rules, that’s why they were allowed to stay until the end of the season. But the new rules which came in the next year outlawed them.”
Whiting said the current changes were not prompted by any formal challenge from a team.
“The FIA Technical Department can only give an opinion. The stewards are the ones that decide whether or not the opinion of the technical department is correct. No one has yet challenged our opinion on this one. They are all happy to remove the extreme maps from their ECUs, but it’s just a matter of timing, and exactly what they do without affecting any perfectly legitimate routines and systems.”
Whiting admitted that one team had come close to filing a protest in Monaco: “I gave the team the assurance that we were going to follow this through, we weren’t going to give it up. That’s what they were concerned about. They were concerned about us changing our minds completely, letting things go for the rest of the season. On that basis we haven’t had any protests yet. I’ve always emphasised to the teams that that option is open to them. But I think everyone is doing to some degree the same thing. We just need to be sensible about it and approach it in a sort of pragmatic way in order to get the situation under control.
“Some are doing it more extremely than others, and you could even say some are doing it better than others. But everyone is doing it to some degree.”