Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn has called on the FIA to clarify the regulations about suspension systems in Formula 1, amid suspicions in the paddock that some outfits may be using a form of "active ride."
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has openly talked about his inkling that Red Bull Racing in particular may be using a clever mechanical system – perhaps based around a ratchet – that will allow the team to run a low ride height in qualifying yet can adjust itself to be well suited for the heavier fuel loads needed in the race.
If a team was able to get some form of adjustable suspension between low fuel qualifying and the race to keep its ride height constant it could potentially hand it a significant advantage on Saturday afternoons – something that could explain why Red Bull Racing has been so quick in qualifying form.
"I don't know anything specific," Whitmarsh said. "There is some debate around the paddock as there normally is on these things, and there is an opportunity for us to have a look at it.
"It is an area where, frankly, a few months ago if the engineers had come to us and said we need to design this system, then I would have said I don't think it is permissible. But if there appears to be some evidence that perhaps such systems are considered legal, then we need to get one as soon as we can."
Red Bull Racing has strongly denied that it is running such a suspension system, and Brawn reckoned it would be better if the FIA and its technical delegate Charlie Whiting made a ruling on the regulations to avoid any suspicions between teams.
"I think we do need to tidy it up, in fairness to Red Bull because there are accusations being thrown around. It is very unfair," said Brawn. "They have a very good car, and there is no evidence they are unnecessarily doing anything untoward. You can do things with tire pressures between qualifying and the race, which is a simple way of helping the situation. But it is necessary for the FIA to just clarify where we stand.
"Our understanding – I can't remember the article exactly, but you are not allowed to make any suspension changes between qualifying and the race. Anything that influences the suspension, be it gas pressure, be it the intentional manipulation of temperature, would have that effect. I think we need Charlie to clarify that to get rid of the controversy."
When asked if he believed Red Bull Racing was doing anything suspicious, Brawn said: "No, not particularly. It depends on the track – some tracks, for sure you need to run a much higher ride height with high fuel, other tracks because the ride height is controlled by features on the track it is not so significant.
"I don't necessarily think there is something going on but there will be some tracks where you have to set the car up for the race and accept the compromise that comes from qualifying."