Formula 1 technical chiefs have officially agreed to ban double diffusers from the start of next year.
A move to cut aerodynamic downforce was discussed with the FIA in Thursday's meeting of F1 think-tank the Technical Working Group, where agreement was necessary if the changes were to be implemented in future regulations.
Sources have confirmed to AUTOSPORT that a vote approved the tweaks to aerodynamics – with a tidying up of the controversial diffuser rules effectively outlawing double diffusers from the start of next season.
It is understood that the teams approved a requirement that the diffuser surface must be continuous on its inboard section from the start of 2011. This prevents the use of the controversial "slots" that were key to making the double diffuser work.
The matter still needs to get approval from the Formula 1 Commission and the FIA's World Sport Council before being put in the 2011 technical regulations, but this is believed to be a formality if the TWG has already voted in favor.
Double diffusers caused huge controversy at the start of 2009 when the design concept used by Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota was protested by rival outfits. The complaints to stewards fell on deaf ears, however – meaning the matter eventually went to the FIA International Court of Appeal. The ICA ruled that the diffusers were wholly legal, which forced a number of teams on the grid to revamp their cars to make the most of the advantage provided by double diffusers.
A move to outlaw them now has come about because teams have made such progress in increasing downforce that this season cars are expected to be producing more than at the end of 2008 – when teams were asked to reduce downforce with a dramatic change to the regulations. The aerodynamic changes for 2011 are expected increase lap times by around two seconds.
Although the diffuser ban goes some way toward arresting some of the progress made by teams since the end of 2008, there remain calls for a more thorough rethink. Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner, whose team had to integrate a double diffuser onto its car in the middle of last season, believes that changes should go beyond simple rule tweaks.
"I think the most important thing is to set clear objectives – as to what do the governing body and the promoters want F1 to be," he told AUTOSPORT. "What do they want the F1 cars to be able to do? Then, rather than cherry picking at bits and pieces, we can look at the package as a whole to encourage more overtaking, and to enable the cars to follow more closely.
"I think looking at components in isolation is often quite dangerous, so it is important that the overall objective is clearly defined and then worked on by the various technical groups."
The TWG also approved a regulation tweak to impose a maximum height for the chassis, for safety reasons.