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Protests to mar Melbourne weekend?

NEWS STORY
11/03/2020

As if the coronavirus and the ongoing row over Ferrari's "agreement" with the FIA wasn't enough, the season opener in Melbourne is likely to witness the first protests of the year.

There is already concern that rivals will protest Racing Point's car for its undisputed 'borrowing' of Mercedes' 2019 contender's concept, and though the matter has gone quiet in recent days this could all change if the RP20 proves as competitive as feared.

However, the main bone of contention is likely to be the German team's decision to use its controversial dual axis steering (DAS) which appeared during testing.

Again, this has gone quiet in recent days, but already there is talk that Red Bull could protest the system either after qualifying or the race.

Should such a move occur it wouldn't be the first time that the two teams have crossed swords before a wheel has even been turned in anger, the Austrian team having sought the advice of the FIA over the rear brake duct and suspension upright that was featured on the 2019 car and has been carried over to the W11.

Essentially, the suspension upright is used to create an additional inlet above the main brake duct, which then feeds airflow into over the top of the brake drum, thereby helping tyre management as it lessens the heat transfer between the brakes and wheel rim.

Article 5.1 of the technical regulations states that:

Air ducts around the rear brakes will be considered part of the braking system and shall not protrude beyond:

a) A plane parallel to the ground situated at a distance of 160mm above the horizontal centre line of the wheel.

Following an enquiry from Red Bull the FIA issued one of its dreaded technical directives advising that Mercedes would have to make adjustments as the upright sits above the 160mm measurement.

However, with insufficient time to make the adjustment ahead of the opening back-to-back races the FIA has suggested two alternatives.

Either a similarly-sized outlet can be made at the rear of the upright in order for the airflow to pass directly through, or the inlet can be completely closed-off. However, the latter solution can only be used at the opening two races.

With a protest of the DAS system looking likely, not forgetting Racing Point and Ferrari, it is likely to be a lively weekend on and off track.

Indeed, among the concepts that Racing Point has 'borrowed' from the 2019 Mercedes is an additional inlet above the main brake duct, which then feeds airflow into over the top of the brake drum...

Check out our first pictures from Melbourne, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by NS Biker, 12/03/2020 4:01

"C5 .... I do like the approach.
Simple straight forward limiting rules that leave it to the teams to design what they think will work.
Problem is that of the various regulators, half or more would be out of work. And that is likely a much bigger number than we can or want to imagine.
Having said that, it is an idea worth sticking out there and promoting."

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2. Posted by C5, 12/03/2020 0:14

"A lot of these issues arise from the rules being backwards and unnecessarily restrictive.

In my opinion, instead of describing how you can - or cannot - design the car and the components, the rules should describe how it must perform.

Rules are needed to describe some overall physical details like max width, height and length and different places, minimum weight with driver and maximum fuel but without any other fluids, and possibly, but not necessarily, the number of wheels and some maximum tire widths.

Rules are needed to describe safety parameters, such as crash tests, driver restraints and impact protection, driving position, and forward, sideways, and rearward visibility requirements.

And rules are required for performance maximums. Mechanical parameters like, maximum fuel allowance, maximum power sent to the rear wheels at any time, maximum brake force at any time. And some practical, measurable aerodynamic parameters, like how much the car disturbs the air behind itself and how much downforce it is allowed to lose when following either a standard model or itself (I can't work out which of the two would be the smartest) and different speeds and positions. Other parameters could be maximum straight or cornering speeds or g-forces.

And something about how the car is operated. Like no data links that sends data to the car, and what condition the car starts the warm-up lap in. This could for example be things like no energy stored in energy recovering systems, and a ban on any behavioral or programmatic changes that are not initiated by the driver through pressing buttons or turning knobs (i.e. the car is not allowed to do anything on it's own by for example knowing where on the track it is, or how much time has elapsed since any other event, or non-event, or by evaluating input from sensors that measure physical parameters like airflow, g-force, wheel or suspension position, ride height).

All of this no more than what can fit onto a handful of pages, and then just leave the rest up to the boffins.

If regulators think things are getting too out of hand, the "only" rule is they - outside the few basic physical and sporting parameters - can only regulate it by describing the behaviors of the car, not how the effect it achieved.
"

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3. Posted by Roli, 11/03/2020 20:43

"Why are we getting so wound-up by all the shannanigans? Its par for the course. I'm beginning to think that really, they are all cheating!"

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