Cynical minds within F1 – and there are plenty of them – will draw far-reaching conclusions from the FIA’s court of appeal verdict upholding the legality of the ‘double diffusers’ featured on the Brawn, Toyota and Williams contenders.
Many feel it has inflicted a body blow to the supposed solidarity among the Formula One Team’s Association at a time when the F1 entrants have been displaying an unusual degree of solidarity during negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone over how much cash they can expect to earn from a new Concorde agreement in 2012.
The intensity of the technical debate at the court of appeal was certainly unusual in terms of outspoken comment.
When Ferrari’s lawyer Nigel Tozzi QC opened yesterday’s proceedings with an electrifying attack on Ross Brawn, the team principal of the former Honda F1 team, it was clear that this was going to be an unusually feisty technical debate.
He described Brawn as a “person of supreme arrogance,” an observation which brought wry smiles to the faces of many who recalled that the British engineer was the key technical driving force behind the five of Michael Schumacher’s seven world championship titles that he won with Ferrari.
Tozzi eventually concluded his 90-minute opening address by returning to the same theme. “Only a person of supreme arrogance would think he is right when so many of his esteemed colleagues would disagree,” he said of Brawn.
The arcane technical arguments relating to the legality of the diffusers centred round the positioning of certain apertures in the undertrays of the cars in question. Tozzi railed: “Anyone with a command of English will tell you it’s a hole, so do not let someone attempting to be clever with words defeat the express purpose of the rules.”
At the end of the day, however, the FIA Court of Appeal upheld the decision of its own stewards which had twice decreed the ‘double diffuser’ to be legal. That means that Brawn, Williams and Toyota will continue with their flying start to the season while everybody else will be forced to play catch up with their own versions.
It will be interesting to see what the consequences are for FOTA solidarity. And whether a leading team insider’s view that the teams’ association will be all but finished by the time of the Spanish Grand Prix proves correct or not. Self-interest rules, OK? In F1 that’s always been the way.