MARCH 22, 2012
Mercedes wing and Renault cylinder cutting OK
BY TONY DODGINS
The FIA has ruled that Mercedes' controversial DRS-activated 'F-duct' wing is in compliance with the F1 regulations, as is the manner in which Red Bull is cutting cylinders, leading to engine misfiring which has caused suspicion with rival teams.
Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug confirmed in Malaysia today that the team had sought clarification from the FIA on the engine issues, while both Red Bull and Renault sought likewise on the subject of the Mercedes wing in Melbourne.
Speaking about the Mercedes wing, Whiting said: "I think it's legal. There were some counter arguments provided by a couple of the teams, which I've thought about and discussed, and I don't think they are very powerful. As a consequence we haven't changed our minds."
Mercedes is understood to be using a hole in the rear wing endplate, revealed when the DRS wing is operated, to duct air through to the front of the car and stall the front wing, reducing drag.
"Some teams are saying that it's a separate system and that any system other than the DRS shouldn't be allowed," Whiting explained. "But the difficulty is drawing a line between what is a DRS and what is not. DRS stands for 'drag reduction system' and they are reducing drag somewhere else on the car. There's no actual rule that says where the air should go when that flap is moved.
"A counter argument is that a duct to the front of the car is ridiculous and is not what is meant by the rules. But how many times does that happen? You could look at 10 bits on a car that are now in a form that was not foreseen. I don't think there's enough of an argument there to say, 'Gentleman, we don't want you to use that anymore.'
"That's where we are at present. If another argument comes along we may have to review it."
Whiting confirmed that if teams feel strongly enough about the Mercedes wing, they are going to have to protest it.
As far as the issue of Renault cylinder cutting is concerned, Whiting revealed: "Mercedes has presented us with some audio analysis. It's quite complex but the upshot is, they say it shows that Red Bull are cutting more than four cylinders, which you are not allowed to do.
"Actually, the cut pattern is not determined, so you can cut as many cylinders in whatever order you like. We've got the data and we can see quite clearly that there are four cylinders being injected, four cylinders firing and they are timed at the right time, so there's every reason to suppose that there's combustion going on.
"Moreover, the throttle opening at that point is not any more than it is normally, so if they are doing anything funny they are not opening the throttle any more, so it negates the arguments a lot. As far as we are concerned it's entirely legal because they are not cutting more than four cylinders, which is what the contention is."
Whiting said he believed that the governing body is particularly well placed to check the engine issues because its new Head of Powertrain, taking over from Gilles Simon, is Fabrice Lom, who has worked with Red Bull Racing during recent seasons.