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Renault’s Flavio Briatore on the diffuser controversy 27 Mar 2009

Flavio Briatore (ITA) Renault F1 Managing Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 26 March 2009 Brawn GP 001 diffuser
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 27 March 2009 Williams FW31 rear diffuser.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Looking at the times from Friday practice, there’s no doubt that the innovative diffuser designs of Toyota’s TF109, Williams’ FW31 and Brawn’s BGP001 is making a difference to performance at Melbourne’s Albert Park. For those seven teams who chose to develop their diffusers differently, it’s a fraught time, as they watch last season’s midfielders divvy up the front between themselves. Renault team principal Flavio Briatore talks candidly about the diffuser debate…

Q: Flavio, all the other teams saw the innovative diffuser designs of Toyota, Williams and Brawn during testing. Why an uproar here in Australia? Could you not have settled the issue before the season started?
Flavio Briatore:
The interpretation of the regulations was very clear in the past - the cars need less downforce for safety reasons. Correct? Every time we build a new car it was to be two to three seconds slower than the previous car. Correct? That was always the intention of the Federation (International d’Automobile). What happened here is that the three teams are going pretty clearly in the direction of downforce! And as we all knew that we will run on slick tyres from ’09 on, it was the intention of FIA president Max Mosley and the Federation to impose new rules to reduce downforce. But somebody was going in the downforce direction that was forbidden by the FIA, and that is not following the principles of the rules. At the moment we have two different interpretations, but we will all have similar cars in Barcelona. We will see tomorrow in qualifying that we will have faster lap times than we had last year - at least for six drivers. My opinion is that the interpretation of the three teams in question is not the right interpretation. This is how we feel.

Q: But these three teams in question surely asked before they started to design their car if their interpretation of the rules conformed to the new regulations…
FB:
There we have to be very careful. In many cases the technical director tells the exact truth of what he wants to do. They might tell where they go and in reality they go much further. But let’s wait until tomorrow. If these people are quicker than last year’s cars this will clearly show that we are not going in the right direction. It is that simple.

Q: Should we see the six cars in question at the front of the grid, what will you do? What will the four teams that protested do?
FB:
It’s not only the four teams - it is everybody else. I believe we have two possibilities. Either we do exactly the same as the three teams from Barcelona on. But then we have to be careful as we are then going into a completely new direction. And there is no doubt that we, Ferrari, McLaren, etc, have the capacity to make that change. But if we are all going into the direction of downforce, it means that we are heading in a direction that Max never wanted over the last 15 years. The other possibility is dealing with the three teams.