FIA clamps down on Ferrari-Haas-style loophole

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The FIA stewards at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix have ruled to prevent future collusion between teams on aerodynamic testing after the relationship between Ferrari and Haas raised questions among rivals.

Mercedes wrote to the FIA in October regarding a number of ambiguities in the sporting regulations, amid suspicions the Haas/Ferrari partnership had helped Ferrari get around restrictions on wind tunnel use. As the questions related to appendices in the sporting regulations, Mercedes was told to raise the issue with the stewards at a grand prix if it wanted clarification, and at the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi it submitted its request for the issues to be clarified.

As a new team, Haas was not bound by the same restrictions as the existing outfits in F1 and tested extensively in Ferrari's wind tunnel as part of its technical relationship with Maranello. The FIA found nothing wrong with the relationship when it investigated it earlier this year and the stewards in Abu Dhabi upheld that in their report. However, they have also ruled that new teams must be bound by the same regulations as existing teams in the future.

"Having examined the reports (including audit reports team facilities) provided to us, the Stewards confirm that there is no evidence that competitors have not complied with the requirements of Appendices 6 and 8 as they were interpreted prior to today's date," the report stated

However, the stewards have moved to close down the ambiguities in appendices 6 and 8 of the sporting regulations. Appendix 6 lists the parts a team must own the intellectual property to in order to compete and appendix 8 deals with restrictions over aerodynamic testing.

In answering Mercedes' concerns, the stewards have made clear that teams cannot share information gained during aerodynamic testing; cannot share staff or swap staff without a normal period of gardening leave; cannot acquire aerodynamic surfaces from external entities unless the testing for them was conducted under the team's own Aerodynamic Testing Restriction quota; and must put appropriate barriers in place to stop teams using the same wind tunnel sharing information.

If teams believe any of their rivals are in breach of the ruling going forward, the stewards have advised they protest the situation at the next round, i.e. Australia 2017.