Two days into the 2017 winter testing and the FIA have already issued a clarification/warning over suspensions as well as asked for wing changes. It’s a bit interesting as in the past, these issues have been left until the first race in Melbourne Australia for the race stewards to manage but the FIA have taken a more direct approach in righting perceived wrongs up front.
Teams had asked the FIA about Renault’s RS27 support pillars and the concern was over the pillar’s joint on the DRS actuator pod instead of extending to the main plane. It seemed to have breached Article 3.9.6 of F1’s technical regulations and the team were asked to change it. Ultimately the concern was that the design could boost the effectiveness of the DRS system.
Another issue heading into the season is the FRIC suspension systems and variations that Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes are running. You’ll recall that Ferrari asked for clarification of the suspension design concepts prior to the first test in order to get the FIA on record as to whether Mercedes or Red Bull’s design contravened the regulations or not.
The teams have spent a tremendous amount of resources on designing a suspension that will optimize aerodynamic efficiency of the chassis in braking and on-throttle moments. The systems are intended to stabilize the car in these situations and remove the peaky nature of the aerodynamic impact on the car. A consistent, stabile aero impact makes the more manageable.
The FIA did release a clarification prior to the first test but now they have released another directive due to concerns over the dampers, the compression and extension characteristics of those dampers and the adjusted ride height in the process.
According to reports, the FIA have started suspension inspections in Barcelona and one team has been asked to make changes. While some believe Red Bull could be running tech on the edge or legality, the reports suggest that the FIA have not inspected their system yet. Team boss Christian Horner says he believes the FIA are happy with their approach and sees no reason it would be deemed illegal.
To be perfectly honest, I am glad to see the FIA ferret this issue out in testing and not leave it to legal wrangling and law suits in Australia as we’ve seen in the past. Sort it out in testing and get the grid squared for the first race running legal tech.
Hat Tip: Autosport