F1 team asked to make suspension changes as inspections begin

The FIA is hoping to inspect all Formula 1 teams' suspension systems by the end of pre-season testing next week, with it understood that one outfit has already been asked to make revisions to its planned 2017 design.

F1 team asked to make suspension changes as inspections begin

One of the major pre-season talking points has been the development of trick suspension systems that cleverly alter the aerodynamics of the car both at high-speed on the straights and in cornering.

Interest in the matter was prompted by a clarification request from Ferrari at the end of last year where it queried the use of such 'pre-loaded' systems, and the FIA stated they were not allowed.

It was widely assumed that Ferrari's action was prompted by it trying to get clarity on why systems used by Mercedes and Red Bull were within the rules.

New ruling

Ahead of the first pre-season test, a fresh technical directive was issued by the FIA where it made clear what was and was not allowed.

Furthermore, it went on to make clear that the onus was now on teams to prove that their suspension systems complied with the regulations.

The most recent technical directive stated: "Should a competitor fail to satisfy the FIA Technical Delegate that the primary purpose of the suspension systems fitted to his cars is to insulate the body/chassis unit and the driver from undulations in the road surface the FIA may ask for the system to be removed or disabled."

Motorsport.com has learned that in response to the technical directive, and to ensure that there are no surprises at the Australian Grand Prix, inspections of teams' suspension systems have already been taking place at Barcelona this week.

It is unclear how many teams have had their suspension systems inspected, but it is understood that one team has been told to make revisions to its design concept for 2017 because it would not have been in line with the FIA's view on what is allowed.

It is unclear which team has had to make a change but sources suggest that Red Bull – which has been singled out as having a design that could be impacted by the latest directive – has not yet been looked at.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said ahead of the pre-season test that the FIA ruling 'appeared' to clear his team's design, but the matter would only be sorted by a physical inspection by the governing body.

"The FIA appear to be happy with the way we have interpreted the rules," said Horner. "If anybody has a problem with that, they have the right to protest.

"We can only go on the advice we receive from the governing body. Certainly all the feedback we've had has been - [there is] no issue."

Bad for fans

The suspension row has been singled out by new F1 sporting chief Ross Brawn as the perfect example of where the sport has gone wrong in terms of spending money that does not benefit fans.

"We've got a controversy with suspension systems at the moment," he said in an interview with Sky. "Nobody understands them and nobody knows anything about them and we've spent millions on them. So are they really good value in this equation?

"I know we have to keep the sport at the peak of technology, but are those things good value? That's where we want to play a part with the FIA and the teams to try and find the ideal path.

"It won't be perfect because it's a bit of an oiltanker, Formula 1, and you nudge it and steer it and I hope we can get it going in a better direction."

 

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