The FIA has told Formula 1's teams that any self-leveling damper system used to regulate the ride height of a car between qualifying and the race during a grand prix weekend would be deemed illegal.
An FIA spokesman confirmed to AUTOSPORT that the sport's governing body made its position on the matter clear by faxing the teams last Sunday night with a clarification on the use of suspension in Formula 1.
"Any system device or procedure, the purpose and/or effect of which is to change the setup of the suspension, while the car is under parc ferme conditions will be deemed to contravene art 34.5* of the sporting regulations," read the communication.
The move follows Red Bull Racing's firm denial during the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend that it was using a clever system that lowered its cars in order to maximize their potential during qualifying – with team boss Christian Horner insisting that not only did Red Bull not have such a device, but that it would protest any team that ran one.
The FIA gave the RB6 the all-clear after a thorough inspection during the weekend, but rival teams have suggested that Red Bull may have found a way to achieve the effect without the use of a mechanical system. But another line in the communication suggests that any such solution may also be outlawed: "Furthermore we believe that any self-leveling damper system is likely to contravene 3.15** of the technical regulations."
McLaren indicated last weekend that it intends to develop a system of its own that would allow it to exploit its car's low-fuel potential, while Mercedes' Ross Brawn has called for a clarification of the rules.
*Article 34.5 states: If a competitor modifies any part on the car or makes changes to the setup of the suspension whilst the car is being held under parc fermé conditions the relevant driver must start the race from the pit lane and follow the procedures laid out in Article 38.2.
** Article 3.15 states: Aerodynamic influence :
With the exception of the cover described in Article 6.5.2 (when used in the pit lane), the driver adjustable bodywork described in Article 3.18 and the ducts described in Article 11.4, any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance:
• must comply with the rules relating to bodywork
• must be rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any degree of freedom);
• must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car.
Any device or construction that is designed to bridge the gap between the sprung part of the car and the ground is prohibited under all circumstances.
No part having an aerodynamic influence and no part of the bodywork, with the exception of the skid block in 3.13 above, may under any circumstances be located below the reference plane.