An agreement on the legality of ‘trick’ suspension systems in Formula One has not been reached with the FIA now expected to rule on the issue.
A debate has been on going in regards to pre loaded suspension systems since Ferrari designer Simone Resta wrote to race director Charlie Whiting about the devices helping aero performance, something that is frowned upon in the rules as an aide previously.
Ferrari had been seeking guidance about the legality of such a concepts legality before pursuing its own development of a similar design.
The response from Whiting at the time was that he felt any such suspension system that improved performance through better ride height and aero would be in breach of the rules. No team ever put forward an official protest during a grand prix weekend about the system. The understanding today is that a further meeting took place last week with the teams technical directors but no agreement could be reached. Options ranged from a return to active suspension or conventional suspension or even to maintain the current hydraulic systems and thus theoretically make them legal but opinion was split.
With Whiting due to give a further technical directive in the coming weeks it is now unclear how this will effect teams running the system, including champions Mercedes, in time for the new season. If the system is deemed illegal then those teams running it face a major overhaul just weeks before the new season. It could also state that no changes are made and the system is legal which would prompt the likes of Ferrari to go into developing their own systems.
it is hoped that the ruling from Whiting will be in time for winter testing and give clear guidelines as to what is and is not allowed so there is no grey area at all for exploitation. However should the disagreements rumble on it is possible that it could rear its ugly head again at the first race in Melbourne at the end of March.
Any directive from Whiting is an opinion and advisory in nature and that any binding interpretation of the rules and regulation can only come from race stewards at the events or the FIA International Court of Appeal. This is a situation that if not solved quickly could go on for a good bit of the coming season.
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