Formula 1 teams have been given a reprieve to continue using blown diffusers freely from this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, after the FIA had a rethink about going ahead with a major change to the regulations.
As reported earlier today, the FIA issued a clarification to teams following the Turkish Grand Prix that would have banned them from using clever engine mapping settings to keep gases pumping through the diffuser even when the driver was off-throttle.
Teams had been benefiting from keeping gases flowing through the diffuser at the same rate as when the driver was on throttle, even when he was fully on the brakes. This maximized the downforce benefits gained from the use of a blown diffuser. However, a directive from the FIA clarified that teams were only allowed to use the throttle settings for increasing torque, not for "aerodynamic performance" – which effectively banned them from keeping gases pushing through the diffuser off-throttle.
That edict meant teams faced work to tweak their engine settings for this weekend's race at the Circuit de Catalunya, and leading figures – including Red Bull Racing's Christian Horner and Mercedes GP's Ross Brawn – said they were unsure how the competitive order would be affected by the changes. However, following dialogue between the FIA and the teams, AUTOSPORT reports that the governing body decided late on Tuesday not to go through with the change to the blown diffuser regulations for Barcelona.
A high level source indicated that the decision had been made because a number of "unforeseen and unintended consequences" of the ban had been brought to the FIA's attention. It is not clear what these consequences were, but teams that had benefited the most from the blown diffuser regulations may have complained about potential difficulties that they may have faced in making necessary changes to car setup in such a short space of time.
Although off-throttle usage of blown diffusers remains in place for now, the matter apparently has been put to the top of the agenda for the next meeting of F1's Technical Working Group. It is understood that the FIA is adamant that the off-throttle usage to be stamped out as soon as it can be implemented without causing further complications for the teams.