With Formula 1's diffuser controversy remaining a hot topic of conversation in the Chinese Grand Prix paddock, comments made by Williams CEO Adam Parr in the FIA's Appeal Court hearing earlier this week caused a major stir in Shanghai.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali and Renault boss Flavio Briatore were left unhappy about suggestions that Parr had implied their cars had been "illegal" for years if the Scuderia reckoned the diffusers were against the rules.
AUTOSPORT caught up with Parr in China to get to the bottom of the matter and clarify exactly what he meant in court.Q. Stefano Domenicali has said he wants to speak to you about comments you made at the FIA's International Court of Appeal hearing. Flavio Briatore has also been critical about what you said. Can you clarify the situation please?Adam Parr:
I think that there has been a very fundamental misunderstanding of what happened in the court on Tuesday.
Part of the case presented against us related to what we call as the use of multiple vertical transitions. Essentially, you have to have a reference plane, which is like the plank, and 50mm above that you have the step planes. One of the key issues in the case was: when do you have to have a transition between those two?
Essentially you have to have a vertical transition between the two when the step plane is visible directly above the periphery of the reference plane. Where you don't, it is explicit that you don't have to have one. So one of the key issues in the case was that if you don't have to have one at certain points then by definition you can have many transitions.
Ferrari's case was that you could only have one or at best only one on each side. The problem that they had was that for many years cars have had multiple vertical transitions because at the front, where they have turning vanes or bargeboards, they have had a slot in that transition that creates more than one.
So, they actually said in their submissions that on a strict interpretation of their case, their cars were illegal. Then they gave various reasons why that should not matter, but they said in their submissions and in their evidence, by their interpretation of the rules, that those cars were illegal.
So, therefore, in our case, we said: one of the reasons why you should not accept this argument is because it would mean that, as Ferrari have said; their cars have been illegal for years winning 11 championships.
To be absolutely clear, it was never our case that their cars were illegal. It was, if anything, their case. So we rejected that as being quite wrong. I want to be absolutely clear, on the record, that we have never said and we do not believe that for one minute either the Ferrari cars, or Renault cars, or anyone else's cars, for the last eight years have been illegal. What we say is that they, and we, have used the same principles for eight or nine years.Q. So this was more a legal argument, typical in a court case, than a direct accusation about legality?AP:
Well, I quoted them. It was not a point that we brought up it was in their submissions. So, I think that to say that we said their cars were illegal is quite wrong. Our whole case was that their cars were legal.Q. And likewise yours as well?AP:
Absolutely.Q. So are you planning to speak to Stefano and Flavio to clear all this up?AP:
Yes, I see them regularly. Williams, I think everyone knows well enough to know that we are absolutely the last people to go around casting slurs on other people's cars.
We have got nothing but respect for the Scuderia and what they have achieved over many years. That was why it was such a forceful point in the court that it is ridiculous to suggest that their cars have been illegal for eight years in winning 11 championships. That is just nonsense. If anything, it was a sign of respect that we discounted the argument and fortunately so did the court.Q. Do you think this diffuser matter has become too personal now, because there is so much at stake for so many teams? We have your comments in court being interpreted one way, Domenicalis concerns, Flavio being critical of Ross Brawn and yourself.AP:
Yes. To be honest I would put Flavio in a very different camp to where I would put Stefano. Stefano Domenicali is a man who you cannot but respect. I've always found him to be incredibly straight. It is not just that he is a charming guy; he is an intelligent, straightforward man. I think he is about a week older than me, and in some ways we have a similar education, he is from a legal/economic background although he has worked for years in F1 unlike me. He is just someone you just get on with, you trust and you like instantly.
We've known him in his previous role for many years and one of the first things I did when he became the team principal was, when I spoke to Tim Newton (Williams team manager) I he said he Stefano was a guy you could always trust. I would just hate anybody to think that there was any disagreement between myself and Stefano, or between Williams and Ferrari.
Flavio is a different character. He is a loveable rogue, isn't he? He is a fantastic, flamboyant character who I think doesn't necessarily always have his thumb on the details, but he is very happy to wave his arms and state his case. Again, you have to like Flavio really, but I would not necessarily take too seriously what he is saying not least because I am not aware that anyone in the media has identified or commented on this point before he raised it himself. So he is running around saying, they said this, that and the other, but we are not actually. He is doing it. Flavio is Flavio.