Red Bull Technical Kerfuffle

First, yes kerfuffle is a word, I was surprised too.  But that is not my point.  Instead, I want to talk about the technical dispute surrounding the Red Bull which was nearly protested in Monaco (no protest was ultimately lodged).  Lets use the F1.com technical drawings as a reference, here: http://www.formula1.com/news/technical/2012/869/967.html.

Charlie Whiting, the person in charge of such things, has given his approval of the device though further discussions are believed to be scheduled for Canada.  Now this is not a technical article talking about pressures and downforce and all the other complicated things that make a F1 car fast.  Instead, I find the FIA’s response to technical developments, such as the Red Bull device, to be extremely interesting and also detrimental to the sport.

By sending mixed messages and not coming to strong resolutions, the FIA forces a large part of the conversation concerning F1 to deal with immensely complex technical issues.  This is extremely detrimental, not only to the casual and new viewer who can easily be overwhelmed, but also to the cost cutting measures the FIA wishes to promote and the integrity of the sport as a whole.  This conflict was at its most dramatic at Silverstone last year when the must have device, an exhaust blown diffuser, was deemed illegal by the FIA for one race.

The impact of the FIA’s reluctance to solve the blown diffuser saga had several important impacts.  It meant that Sauber decided not to pursue a technology that was ultimately vital, costing them sixth in the Constructors Championship.  Had the FIA been direct and straightforward than the season would have been significantly different.

Also recall that it was at Silverstone that Alonso won in a car that was otherwise not competitive.  Guess which team was least proficient at the exhaust blown diffuser.  Ferrari. 

Constant changes in regulations mean that work that had been done is now worthless.  Red Bull’s very expensive exhaust is now limited to about 15% of its former power.  Sure Red Bull won the constructors with that tech, but what about the midfield teams who pursued the same route?  Their resources were similarly wasted. Of course, the fact that Sauber made a choice to not pursue the technology means that they theoretically can carry more of their developments from last year into this year but that is not really the point.  Clarity from the FIA is.

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