Renault have quite voraciously hit out at the FIA over the decision to declare McLaren’s MP4-25 car as legal following an inspection at the Sakhir circuit ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix. The criticism comes after Christian Horner spoke to the British media last week about rivals McLaren and their ‘stalling’ rear wing. McLaren retorted by inviting the FIA to inspect the contentious part, and this has resulted in the governing body deeming it legal and meaning other teams will now have to decide if spending time and money on developing a similar device is worth it.
The part in question is actually a driver-operated function that essentially closes off a vent while the car is moving at high speed. This helps the rear wing ‘stall’ and improves the straight-line speed of the car. According to the regulations, movable aerodynamic devices are outlawed (aside from the adjustable front wing flaps). However, McLaren have some how managed to circumvent the rules and during the design process of the component, they maintained communication with the FIA who gave the all-clear to develop and build it.
Although most teams have remained quiet over the matter, Renault have spoken out alongside Red Bull Racing and have criticised the FIA for allowing such a device.
It is fundamentally clear that the McLaren wing design is totally illegal – and they have driven a cart horse through the sprit of the rules and regulations.
They have opened up another arms race; it’s going to cost everybody a lot of money. The governing body needs to be a lot stronger with these things.
I think that it is ridiculous in this era where we are all trying to save money. We are restricted by the number of people that we can bring to the track, with mechanics working ridiculous hours at night to prepare the car.
Now we have just opened another arms race that will cost us all a lot of money. It’s just a nonsense. I think the governing body needs to be more responsible in decisions like this. Bob Bell.
Like last year, the opening round of the season usually sees controversy as the teams arrive with their cars in full race-spec. In 2009 it was Brawn who came under fire with the ‘double diffuser’. The diffuser was eventually deemed legal and the other teams had to quickly develop a similar part just to keep up with the eventual world champions. In the past, McLaren have shown innovation, particularly with their third pedal which controlled a brake to one of the rear wheels. This was sensationally revealed to the world after respected F1-photographer Darren Heath took an unsuspecting shot of the foot-well of the McLaren and noticed the strange configuration.
Other teams are now looking at developing a similar part, which up until this weekend was generally kept well-hidden by McLaren.
We will have to get on and make our own version of it now. It wasn’t clear what the situation was, but we have had clarity from the FIA about how they want to treat it, so we are all off running in that direction. Ross Brawn.
Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne believes the system is illegal and refutes the FIA’s claim that the driver cannot be considered a moveable part of the car.
I still believe it’s a moveable aerodynamic device because the configuration of the aerodynamics are changing. Whether the driver is doing with it his knee or not, they [the aerodynamics] are not the same all the time so therefore it must be a moveable aero device.
We know what the rules are… but it is a pretty silly interpretation.
Everyone is going to go and do it, no one will have an advantage, we will go and spend loads of money – and for what? It will be worth two or three tenths, everyone will go and get it – so it is a complete waste of time. Vintage F1! Mike Gascoyne.
Along with Mike Gascoyne, Renault team principal Bob Bell believes this so-called ‘F-Duct Vent’ system will cause an arms race in the sport, and goes against the spirit of the regulations at a time when all involved are trying to save money and keep the sport as fair as possible.
While no official protest has been lodged, it isn’t out of the question that a team could. If McLaren perform particularly well during Sunday’s race, and rival team’s believe the McLaren has a significant straight-line advantage, then this issue could be dragged on. At the moment though, the MP4-25 is legal and will contest the Bahrain Grand Prix.