Williams makes point with protest

Posted on

| Written by

Williams' protest was a reaction to the diffuser appeal

Williams has withdrawn a protest against Ferrari and Red Bull Racing “in the interests of the sport”.

It had protested that the pod wings on the front of the F60 and RB5 contravened the rules. After cancelling the protest it issued a statement saying (emphasis added):

The AT&T Williams team confirmed that following today’s qualifying session, it submitted protests against two competitor teams under the 2009 Technical Regulations.

After further detailed consideration, Williams has withdrawn both protests in the interests of
the sport.

Williams recognises the possibility that in this area there could be more than one interpretation of the rules and therefore does not feel it appropriate to continue with the protests.

Williams, along with Toyota and Brawn GP, are subject to an appeal brought by Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault about the legality of its diffusers.

It looks as though Williams’ protest was the team’s way of making a point: that its diffusers are no less legal than Ferrari or Red Bull’s pod wings.

I have every sympathy with Williams’ argument. There are always going to be disputes about designs that stick to the letter of the rules but contravene the ‘spirit’ of the regulations, whatever that is.

But perhaps not everyone agrees with how they made their point. Autosport’s Jonathan Noble noted in his news story (emphasis added):

Despite hours of deliberation by the Australian Grand Prix race stewards following Williams’ complaints, and media and other officials being forced to remain at work in the paddock until the matter was resolved, the Grove-based outfit chose to call a halt to its complaints shortly before midnight.

Still, I hope the diffuser appeal gets thrown out. Or, better yet, the three teams see sense and withdraw the diffuser protest. But seeing what Renault’s Flavio Briatore has to say about it, it seems unlikely:

The interpretation of the regulations was very clear in the past – the cars need less downforce for safety reasons. Correct? Every time we build a new car it was to be two to three seconds slower than the previous car. Correct? That was always the intention of the [FIA] What happened here is that the three teams are going pretty clearly in the direction of downforce. And as we all knew that we will run on slick tyres from ’09 on, it was the intention of FIA president Max Mosley and the Federation to impose new rules to reduce downforce.

He says that now, but you can be sure if the FIA rules the diffusers legal at the appeal meeting on April 14th, Renault will have one on their R29 as soon as they possibly can.

Read more

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

32 comments on “Williams makes point with protest”

  1. What load of rubbish from Briatore. If someone then designed a car that produce more downforce than last year, it should be banned due to “spirit” of the rules.

    1. They’ve already let Renault have free development of their engines over the winter, how much help from the FIA do they need?

    2. i would have thought they learned their lesson, after getting burned by the spirit of the rules for 2 years now.

  2. The teams agreed to allow Renault to develop the engine, so it wasn’t so much the FIA helping them.

    Flav’s argument doesn’t really hold up, but the three teams that protested haven’t actually done anything wrong, and although I expect the protest to fail, I don’t blame them for trying. I think Williams comes out of this quite badly though if I’m honest.

  3. Flavio is confusing “interpretation” with “intention”.

    The intention (or spirit) of the new rules was to reduce downforce and make it easier for one car to follow another closely. But you can’t write that into a set of rules because they have to be much more specific. If the Brawn meets all of the requirements of the rules then it’s legal, regardless of how clever it has managed to be in getting around the intention of the rules.

    I think Williams point is a valid one, even if they could have found a better way of highlighting it.

    1. MacademiaNut
      29th March 2009, 4:26

      It is ridiculous of Flavio to say that they wanted slower cars. Why would you force yourself to have slower cars?

      I think the right way to look at is add additional constraints and challenge the teams to race as fast as they can within those constraints. Given more constraints, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the car must be slower than last year’s.

      If what Flavio were to say is true, then why give the teams KERS? Doesn’t that allow the teams to go faster than if KERS was not there?

  4. Interpretation is the main problem anyone needs to deal with when faced by rules of any kind…

    The diffusers issue would be a good case to study in any Law School, mostly because everyone agrees that, whatever is the final decision, FIA will judge it politically.

    So, I agree that Williams was very clever to protest against those who protested their car and, shortly afterwards, withdraw, giving a clear “message”.

  5. Williams have been smart here. They’ve sent a clear signal to the sport that they’re happy to play the game both on and off the track, and I think their actions deserve respect.

  6. These cars should be checked and deemed legal or illegal before 1st Practice on a Friday….I thought this was the process, the decisions taken should be solid, either a yes or no, and it should be dragged on throughout the weekend giving the sport soo much bad press isnt good for the sport.
    BTW…am loving the BBC coverage, Jordan and Coulthard are like 2 old women bickering, the coverage has been spot on thus far…Well done BBC!

  7. What I find interesting is that the diffuser thing has been know for some time now and none of the protesting teams have done their plan B and copied it.

    Clearly it’s just not that easy. So in that sense it is understandable that they would like the diffuser teams to change their design. Cause whoever need to change their design is going to lose performance in short term.

  8. He says that now, but you can be sure if the FIA rules the diffusers legal at the appeal meeting on April 14th, Renault will have one on their R29 as soon as they possibly can.

    Well hasn’t this whole diffuser fuss been going on for about a month now and Mosley refused to give judgment on it in an effort to break FOTAs solidarity?

    If that’s the case, I would think that the teams that don’t have the clever diffusers on already, would have built some prototype diffusers back at their respective headquarters and wind-tunnels weeks ago. At least as an insurance policy, in case they were indeed ruled legal.

    And if not weeks ago, they probably started in earnest within the past day or so when the performance disparity became apparent.

  9. never,ever,ever listen to flavio!

    he loves a bit of downforce himself
    look at his nose…

  10. It’s quite a neat way of making the point, what Williams have done. I suspect RBR/Ferrari are going to bluster something along the lines of “that’s different” if questioned, but is it?

    There’s a reason why teams run to the letter of the law and not the “intention” or “spirit” – because “intention” and “spirit” are almost by definition entirely subjective.

    Ironically enough, you’d have thought Flavio would understand that more than most after mass-damper-gate.

  11. Flavio was most vocal KERS critic and in the end Renault was the first team to run it… He doesn’t understand technical side of F1 – that is a well known fact – but that doesn’t stop him from acting he knows all about it.

    1. i’m under the impression that he’s very good at his job.

    2. But he’s not an engineer. So “doing a good job” is not knowing all the technicalities of the design of the car.

  12. …only that it’ll be better if he stops going public and instead asks his engineers to read the rules from more angles.

  13. I don’t get it, sure I don’t know as much about F1 as some of you guys, but mass damper by Renault was deemed legal by stewards at the German GP the same way the diffusers but later FIA ruled that it was infringement of Article 3.15 of the F1 regulations. Or the flexi-wings the Ferrari ones they would pass the inspection and were within the regulations sort of, but they were banned, I mean even Brabham BT46 was legal at first. All of this tech solutions were declared illegal cuz’ they made the rest of the field really slow. So. why is BrawnGP diffuser special?

  14. Because Renault claimed KERS was a waste of money doesn’t mean they didn’t spend it, they just thought it was a waste.

    Anyway, what was the Williams protest about? If it was the turning vanes, then why not also protest Renault, Toyota, Toro Rosso, etc? Well, one obvious reason not to protest Toyota I suppose!

    It just feels wrong – Williams is a team I would normally put in the class above “if you don’t like our diffuser, we’ll claim your car is illegal too” – they gave loads of people an extra few hours of work for nothing. Either see the thing through or don’t start counter-protesting in the first place.

    1. Because Renault claimed KERS was a waste of money doesn’t mean they didn’t spend it, they just thought it was a waste.

      Ferrari were similarly critical of KERS and they’re running it now too.

  15. What in the devil is Flavio talking about now?

    What happened here is that the three teams are going pretty clearly in the direction of downforce.

    Um, derrrrr!

    How does this guy think his team won it’s championships? By interpreting a new set of rules better than every other team in 2005, that’s how. That was the year that the front wings were massively raised to cut downforce by supposedly 50% or something like that (which surely helped to create some overtaking problems), and the tyres had to last a race distance. His team managed to claw more of that lost downforce back than their competitors, and won both championships. That’s how it’s done. No wonder Renault are in the poo for the third season in a row – Flav’s forgotten how the sport works!

  16. Done with absolute class.

  17. I would much rather see the rest of the grid develop their own similar diffusers, than see BrawnGP, Toyota, and Williams forced to take them off.

    This whole protest is just stupid. The FIA had better throw it out the window.

  18. Briatore should croak. If he had his way, F1 would be a fashion show.

  19. Deem the double decker diffuser as legal.

    And add an extra testing window of 3-4 days sometime before the European leg starts. Everybody will copy it; and the play field will be even.

    Its a simple solution. Please don’t change the results of the Australian GP 3 weeks after it is over.

    1. MacademiaNut
      29th March 2009, 4:21

      I agree. I would like to have one year of Racing where the stewards or the court doesn’t decide the winner. Let’s decide the WDC & WCC on the track pls!

  20. MacademiaNut
    29th March 2009, 4:18

    The three teams were not represented in *some* meeting when the rules were discussed (read it somewhere, will try to dig up the link) — Toyota, Honda (Brawn), and Williams.

    So, Flavio could be correct that the intent of the rule is to reduce the downforce. But, the problem is that the rule does not say “the downforce should be lower than last year”, it says that this is how the structure should be (which we are sure will lead to a lower downforce). But, it turns out that’s not the case.

    Ferrari, of all teams, should not be complaining about these “interpretations”. When clearly all movable parts were not allowed, their side pods were moving say to much last year. This year, the side mirrors have the same issue.

    I think Williams made a great point here.

  21. Flavio has more faces than an 8 sided clock, he is just mad that his guys did’nt come up with the same ideas, if(or when) Renault pull out of F1 the only way he will go up in my estimation is if he dips in his pockets and OWNS a team rather than running one, then we’ll see if he has the kind of cojones that Braun has shown….

    1. Flavio has more faces than an 8 sided clock

      Nicely put!

  22. So I take it that in the interests of ‘the show’ and entertainment value (ie dollars), Max and the FIA would prefer to see cars on slick tyres and less downforce, therefore less drivable and more unstable, as both the Ferraris and McLarens were this weekend, than cars which are stable and have more downforce as the Brawns, Toyotas and Williams were.
    This is crazy. Even from a safety aspect a stabler car is better than an undrivable one!

  23. Everybody seems to be forgetting that Williams diffuser was declared legal by the FIA more than a year ago, according to Sam Michaels.

    And if that is the case it would seem strange that the FIA would now declare the diffuser illegal, just because some teams think that it is against the spirit of the rules. If that was the case the FIA would not have allowed the diffuser a year ago, I would think.

    Or am I a bit naive in my thinking here? :)

  24. Has anyone actually seen the offending diffuser?

    Everyone is talking about it, but there have been no actual pictures of graphics of the offending diffuser.

    Has anyone seen it?

Comments are closed.