BARCELONA // The Renault team head Flavio Briatore believes that several Formula One teams are freely exploiting rules to get a step up on the competition going into the new season. Toyota and Williams are believed to have gained an advantage by using a different diffuser, a section at the rear of the car that controls air flow and figures heavily in aerodynamics. "There are two rules, one which allows a team to have a diffuser of a certain conformity. When other teams had ordered it, it wasn't legal and it's a weird situation, something we weren't expecting," Briatore said as Renault tested along with nine other teams at the Catalunya Circuit.
The FIA president Max Mosley had previously called this season's regulation changes the biggest set of aerodynamic modifications in 26 years. "There's a rule but then if everyone reads it in their own way it makes for some odd situations, which isn't logical. There are teams that aren't doing things correctly and following the rules," Briatore said. "It's the same soap opera as always." The Governing body FIA has already approved the two teams' interpretation of the diffuser.
"The current FIA view is that Williams and Toyota have been clever and found a loophole in the rules. It's probably wrong but they've exploited the wording of the rules in a clever way," Mosley said in London last month. "Somebody may challenge it and then the stewards could take another view." Both Toyota and Williams have been considered the leading teams in the development of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), a hybrid technology that allows cars to store energy under braking that can be released for overtaking.
Renault ended last season on a high with Fernando Alonso winning two races down the stretch, and Briatore is worried that the French team's position will suffer if the rules are not cleared up. "It's not fair that we start some cars at Australia that have KERS and others that don't have KERS," Briatore added. "We're hoping for black and white rules that are equal for all." FIA may have to act if Renault or any of the other teams make the diffuser an issue.
"The view of our technical people is that it's OK, we'll wait and see if someone challenges it," Mosley added. The season begins with the Australian Grand Prix on March 29. *AP