Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The diffuser thing

The FIA have decreed that Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams were within the rules when they ran with their "double-decker" diffuser for the first two F1 races of the season. This is great news, because it sets up much excitement for the rest of the season.

There is no doubt that those without the special diffuser will implement one, and that their performance will increase. McLaren in particular have much to gain, since their major issue was getting that rear wing to work, and with the extra rear downforce from the new diffuser that will become less of a problem. Ferrari are said to be ready to go with a new design, and they desperately need it after a shocking start to the season. Red Bull have looked to be amongst the "best of the rest", so in theory they could be right up at the sharp end. However, their car will not easily accommodate a change to the diffuser, so it may be some time before they can implement it. Renault might easily run something new as early as this weekend. What we can expect to see is the "Diffuser Three" become the "Diffuser Four" at China, then Ferrari and McLaren jumping on board at Bahrain, and (maybe) the remaining teams by Spain in May. This has effectively handed Brawn, Toyota and Williams a 2-4 race "head start" on the rest of the field, something that Brawn have best capitalized on. By the middle of the European season I can see the field being very evenly matched, which sets up a thrilling climax at the end as the powerhouse teams look to claw back their deficit from the early-season upstarts.

I think it is still quite possible for Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello to be in the thick of the title fight as we approach the season finale.

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