Rule switches 'confusing,' Red Bull says
VALENCIA, Spain -- Formula One teams called on FIA to better organize rule changes after a significant in-season regulation switch was imposed for this weekend's European Grand Prix.
The latest change stipulates teams can no longer alter engine setups between qualifying and the race, while an aerodynamics alteration will come into force from the British GP.
While F1 teams criticized changes that will raise costs when the sport is looking to cut expenses, auto racing's governing body said the actions were necessary because teams were looking to illegally exploit regulations.
"There are no changes to the rules -- what we're doing is making sure people don't break the rules. All we're doing is making sure cars are running, in our opinion, legally," FIA chief technical delegate Charlie Whiting said at the Valencia street circuit on Friday.
Whiting said the decision was not intended to bring Red Bull, the runaway leader in this year's championship, back to the field.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner led criticism of the changes, though the paddock was nearly unanimous in its opposition.
"It is slightly confusing with the technical directive that it was not addressed at the end of the year going into next year," Horner said. "Why has it been done midseason?"
Lotus team principal Mike Gascoyne and HRT counterpart Geoff Willis said their teams -- both in their second seasons -- will incur costs as a result of the changes.
"We have all spent a lot of money developing something," Gascoyne said. "We are always pushing to get an advantage and will obviously implement it if it is within the rules. It is just frustrating it is done in the middle of the season without consultation."
Whiting was mystified by the criticism, saying the governing body had to respond after an unidentified team raised objections following the Monaco GP. He added that too much emphasis is being put on extreme setups that try to gain aerodynamic advantages from parts that were not meant for that purpose.
"We know they all have blown diffusers but it's how they are being used. The design should minimize the impact of the exhaust on the car and not be used to improve the aerodynamics of the car," Whiting said of the coming aerodynamic changes. "These things usually escalate to a point where things have to be done."
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said Whiting made the right decision because if a team had raised a protest it would have set off a chain of events.
"The protagonists behind raising this issue were threatening to protest the cars and that was the difficulty they had," Brawn said. "If they hadn't have taken action, then it sounds like some teams were going to protest the situation to get clarity through the stewards and that wouldn't be very good for Formula One. We want to avoid that at all costs because ... it would probably end up in the appeal courts again and that's no good."
Teams did not say whether they expected the restriction on engine setup changes to have a significant impact on performance during the races. However, some teams have speculated that Red Bull could be affected because it tended to run extreme setups during qualifying that were altered for the race.
Sunday's 57-lap race along the street circuit will offer a first glance at the impact of the latest rule changes.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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