Formula 1

F1 to ban 'F-duct' for 2011 season

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McLaren Formula One driver Hamilton and teammate driver Button drive during the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang circuit

Image credit: Reuters

ByEurosport
10/05/2010 at 18:00

Formula One teams have agreed to ban from 2011 the so-called 'F-duct' pioneered controversially by McLaren this season to give Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button a straight-line speed advantage.

Other teams, notably Ferrari in Spain this weekend, have rushed out their own versions of the system triggering fears for safety as well as an expensive new 'arms race' just when the sport is trying to slash costs.

The controversy has echoed last season's furore over the use of double-diffusers, now adopted by all teams but also outlawed for 2011.

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The systems appear to be operated by drivers temporarily diverting the airflow to stiffen the rear wing and reduce drag by blocking a vent in the cockpit with their hands or knees.

Ferrari's double world champion Fernando Alonso could be seen taking a hand off the steering wheel while accelerating at around 300kph down the Barcelona straight.

"It's a clever piece of engineering and hats off to the guys who invented it but some of the solutions this weekend look a little bit marginal when I see drivers driving with fingertips and no hands basically," said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

"I think there is a safety issue and a cost issue to take into account," he said.

The ban decision came at a meeting of the Formula One Teams Association on Sunday. Horner said: "The majority voted through not to have it next year."

Mercedes team chief executive Nick Fry said the systems had to be "nipped in the bud" because developments could prove even riskier and they also had no applications to the kind of cars driven by ordinary people.

"By the end of this year I know that we, and I'm sure most of the other teams, will have an F-duct on their car and I'm sure that just neutralises the advantage of having it," he told said.

"I think on F-duct in particular there are other ideas which one can come up with and the engineers have already come up with which are even zanier than that.

"When I look at some of the things our engineers have come up with and which on the face of it apply the same principles, they are zany in the extreme," added Fry, who has seven times world champion Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg as his drivers.

"I know its disappointing for those that invent these ideas but I think what people have got to get used to is that, like the double-diffuser, they may be fairly short-lived."

Brawn GP, the team Mercedes bought last year, won both titles last year thanks in large part to the double-diffuser that they pioneered and that helped Button win six of the first seven races.

By mid-season, the other teams had caught up but by then it was too late.

"If it isn't a useful technology then it comes off," declared Fry. "What we should be encouraging is stuff we can use elsewhere and I am personally a big proponent of KERS (the kinetic energy recovery system) because of that."

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