Byrne: "The diffusers are illegal"
13 April 2009 – Ferrari design legend Rory Byrne has added his opinions to the argument surrounding the diffusers used by the Brawn, Williams and Toyota teams. The three outfits are set to attend court on Tuesday to counter a protest from four rivals regarding the legality of their cars, of which Byrne also believes are not within regulations.
South African Byrne, a leading designer and aerodynamicist behind Michael Schumacher's Ferrari triumphs, is adamant that the trio should not continue with their cars' current configurations. "If you look at the Brawn car from underneath, you can see the suspension," he explained to Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport. His comments refer to article 3.12.5 of the sport's technical regulations, explaining that "Fully enclosed holes are permitted in the surfaces lying on the reference and step planes, provided no part of the car is visible through them when viewed from directly below." In simpler terms, the regulation states that the holes seen in the diffusers are legal, but only providing that no other parts of the car can been seen if looking at the vehicle from directly underneath.
"It's a rule set at least 14-15 years ago, and that for many years everyone interpreted in the same way," Byrne continued, who struggles to believe that the three teams' comments explaining that small holes in the underside are only to assist airflow. "Ross Brawn (Brawn GP owner) and I remain good friends, but one thing is personal relationships, another thing is the professional aspect - and I work for Ferrari," he added.
The case, launched by Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull and BMW, will be taking place on Tuesday afternoon at the FIA's International Court of Appeal (ICA) in Paris; the final decision is likely to, as well as confirm the final results of the first two races, contain a huge deciding factor in the outcome of the 2009 World Championship.