Saturday, 21 January 2012
Episode 52 of The Flying Lap with Peter Windsor interviewing Williams Mark Gillian and Toro Rosso rookie driver Jean-Eric Vergne. About 11 minutes into the show Peter asks William's chief operations engineer Gillian about the much talked about reactive ride height system.
The response was a great surprise with Gillian saying he had just received word 15 minutes before the show that the FIA were banning the system. "The FIA have just banned that particular type of system," Gillian revealed "It looks, from a cursory look, that they are aiming to ban that type of system, but I need to look at it in a bit more detail."
It is rumoured the reactive ride height gives 0.3 second per lap advantage. Lotus has pioneered the system and have consulted with the FIA over it as far back as January last year. Because Mercedes technical director Bob Bell was with Lotus Renault at that time it is thought Mercedes also had a very good grip on the system with speculation Bell took the Lotus engineer that came up with the idea with him to Mercedes. Ferrari had recently submitted documents about their own version to the FIA.
The likely reason it is only banned now is rival teams have went through the system with a fine-comb to see was it legal rather than play catch up. Another likely reason could be some of the rival teams knew all along it could be proved illegal and so just waited for the FIA to take a stance which they did earlier in the week suggesting there was nothing wrong with the system.
Whatever the reason, what Gillian said has now been confirmed by Matteo Bonciani (FIA's head of F1 communications), to Reuters and what had initially been approved by the FIA, is now banned under Article 3.15 of the sport's Technical Regulations which govern moveable aerodynamic devices. Not great news for comeback man and new Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen.