Ferrari has written to the FIA ahead of the 2017 season to question the legality of Mercedes and Red Bull’s suspension systems, which the Italian team believes to contravene the technical rules.
The two teams have developed similar systems in response to the banning of adaptive ride-height systems such as FRIC (front and rear interconnected) suspension in 2014, which helps a car to remain level under braking, acceleration, and cornering.
The new system uses a third suspension element (or heave), which is placed behind the rocker assembly in the chassis, to control the vertical movement of the suspension – producing similar benefits to the FRIC system.
Ferrari’s chief designer Simone Resta has therefore written to the FIA’s Charlie Whiting questioning whether the system is legal, citing Article 3.15 and technical directive TD/002-11, which outlaw the use of moveable devices to control aerodynamics.
Whiting’s response to the letter, which was distributed amongst all teams, confirms he too believes the systems to contravene Article 3.15.
“In our view any suspension system which was capable of altering the response of a cars’ suspension system in the way you describe in paragraphs 1) and 2) would be likely to contravene Article 3.15 of the F1 technical regulations.”
Therefore Mercedes and Red Bull now face the dilemma of continuing with the system for 2017, or dumping it all together, which would likely cost them a large chunk of performance.
Whiting’s response is however only a guide and isn’t legally binding, but gives teams the opportunity to protest a rival, which Ferrari is likely to do should Mercedes and Red Bull keep the current suspension setup in place.