The FIA is set to issue clarification on 'trick' suspension systems being used by Mercedes and Red Bull after Ferrari failed to gain support of all its rivals in a recent meeting of technical chiefs.
Ferrari triggered a row over technology -- pioneered by Mercedes -- at the beginning of January, writing to the FIA to query whether certain concepts were legal. The question centred around a system used by Mercedes and Red Bull last year which Ferrari perceived to be a way of controlling ride heights to provide greater downforce and stability in corners and over kerbs.
Ferrari's letter asked whether a system which would replicate Front and Rear Interconnected Suspension (FRIC, which was banned in 2014) without a physical connection between the front and rear of the car -- similar to the Mercedes and Red Bull concepts in question -- would be accepted under the regulations. The query was essentially a way of seeking guidance on whether rival concepts were illegal -- something FIA race director Charlie Whiting appeared to confirm in his response to Ferrari's enquiry.
According to Auto Motor und Sport, in a recent meeting of team technical bosses, Ferrari only found support of three other teams. The split opinion is hardly surprising given how far along the teams are with development of their 2017 cars and how detrimental a new rules restriction could be for the upcoming season.
Motorsport.com reports several ideas were proposed -- including a return to conventional suspension, a switch to active suspension or no restriction on the current concepts in question -- but teams failed to come to an agreement. It also states Whiting is expected to issue another technical directive on the issue before testing begins in Spain on February 27, which should help shape whether the controversy continues into winter testing.
However, technical directives are only advisory in nature and it would be down to race stewards to make binding interpretations of the regulations -- meaning the row could rumble on until the Australian Grand Prix on March 26 if disagreements still exist and an official protest is lodged by a team.
Article 3.15 of the regulations states that "any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car" -- effectively banning moveable aerodynamic devices.