The first race of the season usually throws up some form of protest, or at minimum a bit of a sulk, but so far in Melbourne, the diffuser issue came to a head with no consequences as of yet and the Toyota drivers have been sent to the back of the grid. Williams have also protested the legality of the Ferrari and Red Bull Racing cars. The Toyota issue came about after a routine post-qualifying inspection of the cars, where it was discovered the rear wing mounts were in breach of the regulations.
It would seem that Toyota have breached the rule regarding flexibility in wings, and the rear wing on the TF109 has been or has the potential to move.
The Stewards have received a report from the Technical Delegate that the upper rear wing elements of cars No. 9 and 10 are showing extreme flexibility in contravention of Article 3.15 of the 2009 Formula One Technical Regulations.
The Stewards have heard the explanation from a representative of Panasonic Toyota Racing and have examined the cars in question.
The Stewards concur with the opinion of the Technical Delegate and find the cars contravene the requirements of Article 3.15 of the 2009 Formula One Technical Regulations.
It is the Stewards decision that cars number 9 and 10 be excluded from the Qualifying Session Official Classification. FIA Statement.
Article 3.15 of the Technical Regulations states:
With the exception of the cover described in Article 6.5.2 [the fuel connector cover] (when used in the pit lane), the driver adjustable bodywork described in Article 3.18 [permitted movable front wing element] and the [air] ducts described in Article 11.4, any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance:
– must comply with the rules relating to bodywork ;
– must be rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any degree of freedom);
– must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car.
Any device or construction that is designed to bridge the gap between the sprung part of the car and the ground is prohibited under all circumstances.
No part having an aerodynamic influence and no part of the bodywork, with the exception 3.13 above, may under any circumstances be located below the reference plane. FIA Technical Regulations – 18/03/2009.
In short, this means the rear wing is not allowed to move or flex in any way. According to the FIA, Toyota’s does. This puts Toyota at the back of the grid after qualifying well in P6 for Timo Glock and P8 for Jarno Trulli. At the moment, this promotes Felipe Massa to P6, Kimi Raikkonen to P7, Mark Webber to P8, Nick Heidfeld to P9, Fernando Alonso to P10 and similar along the grid.
However, the grid could change yet again because Williams have protested the legality of the Ferrari and Red Bull cars. This protest comes after Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault protested the legality of the Williams diffuser (along with Brawn’s and Toyota’s) yesterday. It is thought that Williams’s protest centres around some aerodynamic part of the F60 and RB5 cars.
And finally, Lewis Hamilton has also gone to the back of the grid after having to get a new gearbox fitted to his McLaren MP4-24. Originally qualifying in P15, Hamilton couldn’t take part in Q2 as his car lost all drive. The team had hoped it was something other than the gear box knowing the ensuing penalty would only make Hamilton’s Australian Grand Prix go from bad to worse. Unfortunately, it has done just that. According to the team, fourth gear was to blame.
Grid penalties are awarded to drivers in the order they were handed out, but it is unknown to me if Hamilton’s gearbox was changed before or after the FIA deemed the Toyota’s illegal. It more than likely was, and therefore Hamilton will start in P18 while Glock and Trulli take P19 and P20 respectively. Of course, Hamilton could end up starting higher than his original qualifying place if Ferrari and Red Bull promote him to P14.
Williams has now withdrawn it’s protest against Ferrari and Red Bull Racing.