The aerodynamics that provide such a fundamental part of Jenson Button’s double race-winning car are legal, according to a decision from Formula One’s governing body yesterday.
That’s great news for a man who has gone from the back of the grid in 2008 to staring unemployment in the face at the beginning of this year – only to discover in the last days of winter testing that he had a potential championship-winning car on his hands.
But Button is taking nothing for granted, saying he expects his Brawn GP team to have to fight hard from now on to retain its dominant position.
And his car is not running KERS – something that team boss Ross Brawn admitted in the run-in to the Malaysian Grand Prix frightened him, particularly at the start of races.
The design of the diffusers on the backs of cars run by Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams were the subject of a challenge by almost every team not running one.
The diffuser saga, which has been hanging over the sport since the beginning of the season, is an indication of the scope for uncertainty in the sweeping new regulations that were recently introduced.
But the FIA has ruled them legal, as widely predicted, and was thought to be unlikely to overrule decisions already made by two sets of stewards and race director Charlie Whiting to allow the cars to race.
Nevertheless the non-diffuser teams, led by Ferrari, have been vocal in their opposition with Nigel Tozzi, the combatative lawyer for the Italian team, describing Ross Brawn as “a person of supreme arrogance” and the decision as incomprehensible.
(Presumably Brawn only developed that arrogance since he retired from delivering world championships for Ferrari and started winning races on his own behalf? No, we didn’t say that. Carry on.)
The seven teams not running the diffuser are now expected to produce their own in very short order. Likely to have most trouble with this is Red Bull since Adrian Newey’s design is based on entirely different aerodynamic principles from the rest of the cars in the field.
Button, however, will not be sitting on his hands as a result of the decision.
He said, ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend: “I am understandably delighted with how our season has begun. However we are only two races in and everyone at the team is aware that our competitors will not stand still. We fully expect a tough fight from here if we want to continue our early successes.
“Looking ahead to next weekend, the Shanghai International Circuit is an enjoyable one for the drivers and a good technical challenge to find the right set-up. I particularly enjoy the high-speed sections and the overtaking opportunities going into the tight right-hander at turn five and at the end of the back straight.”
Ross Brawn added: “Whilst there have been no developments to the car, we have taken the opportunity to address a few small issues which arose over the first two races and we are in good shape for the next race in China.
“We are expecting temperatures will be cooler and less humid this year with the race taking place six months earlier. Therefore as was the case in Malaysia, we will need to be prepared for the unexpected as rain has played its part in recent races at the Shanghai International Circuit.”