The FIA’s Charlie Whiting has come down on teams using suspension tricks to increase car performance, giving a 5mm limit on height changes from steering lock to steering lock.
Speaking on last season Whiting revealed concerns that teams were deliberately manipulating their cars to reduce ride height below acceptable limits in corners, with the end product being improved aerodynamics and grip for offending cars.
“It became clear during the season that some teams were designing the suspension and steering systems in an attempt to change the front ride height of the car,” Whiting said.
“Whilst some change is inevitable when the steering wheel is moved from lock-to-lock, we suspect that the effect of some systems was a far from incidental change of ride height.
“We also believe that any non-incidental change of ride height is very likely to affect the aerodynamic performance of the cars.”
Though it’s only coming to light now, teams playing tricks with suspension to gain an advantage is far from a new thing. A twenty-five year old ruling was given by Whiting as a reference, stating “any car system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited“.
Whiting continued by saying that teams will be expected to keep cars above the 5mm limit when moving from steering lock to steering lock, and that the duty is on them to prove that their cars adhere to this.
“It is our view that such steering systems should be treated in the same way as suspension systems, i.e. that the 1993 ICA ruling should apply when assessing compliance with Article 3.8 of the Technical Regulations.
“Hence, any change of front ride height when the steering wheel is moved from lock-to-lock should be wholly incidental.
“We will therefore be asking [teams] to provide us with all relevant documentation showing what effect steering has on the front ride height of [their] car and, in order to satisfy us that any effect is incidental, we believe that ride height should change by no more than 5.0mm when the steering wheel is moved from lock-to-lock.”