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Diffuser appeal hearing underway in Paris 14 Apr 2009

Brawn GP BGP 001 rear diffuser detail Formula One Testing, 16 March 2009, Jerez, Spain. Timo Glock (GER) Toyota TF109 diffuser detail. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Wednesday 18 February 2009. Williams FW31 rear diffuser.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 26 March 2009

The FIA’s International Court of Appeal meets in Paris on Tuesday to consider the legality of the diffusers used by the Brawn, Toyota and Williams teams at the first two Grands Prix of 2009. Whatever the outcome, the Court’s decision is likely to have a huge impact on this year’s title chase.

The revised technical regulations for 2009, designed to cut downforce, specify a much smaller rear diffuser. Brawn, Toyota and Williams have interpreted the rules differently to their rivals and have adapted other areas of bodywork to effectively enlarge their diffusers.

Stewards at both the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and the second round in Malaysia declared the ‘double-decker’ designs, which use bodywork openings to feed them more air, legal. However, BMW Sauber, Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault have all appealed the stewards’ findings, questioning whether the diffusers adhere to the wording and spirit of the regulations.

Should the Court agree with them, it could in theory strip Brawn, Toyota and Williams of their points from Melbourne and Sepang, which would dramatically alter the face of the championship table. Alternatively, it could insist they change their diffusers for a more ‘conventional’ design.

If the Court deems the diffusers legal, then it will leave the other seven teams on the grid playing catch-up. Many have already begun development of similar diffuser designs - thought to be worth as much as half a second per lap - which, if required, could be introduced as early as the Bahrain Grand Prix later this month.

A decision is expected from the Court on Wednesday afternoon.