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Horner, Dominicali: Double diffuser was our downfall

Negative CamberCorrespondent INovember 2, 2009

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 01:  Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner celebrates with the winning Constructors Trophy following the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 1, 2009 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Both Red Bull and Ferrari’s team bosses are pointing to the double diffuser as the reason for Brawn GP’s success and their own failures in 2009.

In separate Q&As with Autosport, Christian Horner and Stefano Dominicali both hold little back about the design element that helped the Brawn GP cars jump to such overwhelming leads in the first half of the season.

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First Horner; my emphasis added in both:

If you reflect on the season for us, the damage was done in the first third. I think in reality, probably the double diffuser had a big impact on that. Brawn GP made hay while the sun shone and also had great consistency and reliability – and we lost too much ground in the first phase of the championship . I think since Istanbul, we have outscored every team. As I say, the damage was done early on. We’ve developed the car continually through the season, and every member of the team in Milton Keynes can be very proud of what they have achieved this year. We have learned a great deal from this championship and it will make us stronger as a group.

And Dominicali:

I think for sure on the technical side, the championship was in a way steered with the double diffuser situation at the beginning .

That, for us, we had to work on the car without that kind of structure and it was difficult to catch up. We knew it, and this is the reason why – considering what we saw when we did the first step of development, we took the very difficult decision to say in the middle of July, look let’s stop work on this car and work for next season.

[snip]

Q. What are the factors that make you confident next season will see you back at the front?

SD: Well, the confidence comes from the fact that we don’t see any loophole in the regulation that can be considered, I would say, legal. Now things are legal full stop. No discussions and we can look ahead always.

We also did the choice that Ross [Brawn] did with Honda two years ago, to concentrate all the efforts into the new project. I think we did something different to McLaren was because our car was structured so as to not to develop the double diffuser . It was blocked, and that is why we said we don’t have to do work here, because it will not carry on next year. That is why, looking at the numbers we have in the wind tunnel, I am positive now. With my feet on the ground – but for sure positive.

Domincali, especially, circles around the nagging question of whether the double diffuser should have been found legal. I cannot imagine that argument will ever go away. That is unfortunate for Brawn and Jenson Button; Brawn saw a loophole and exploited it, as Formula 1 engineers and teams are supposed to do.

I think the heated disputes about the legitimacy of 2009 — which have been an ongoing theme of F1B podcasts — are more a result of fans’ lack of faith in the FIA than any personal hatred of the Brawn crew. [Probably there are a few exceptions of people carrying ill will toward Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher from their dominant Ferrari days.] Fans see favoritism toward “smaller teams” and a shake-up in the results — and that is a result of the FIA losing the fans’ trust.

I know I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating: Getting back that lost fan trust ought to be Jean Todt’s top priority.

And, no, I don’t think putting Schumacher — or Max Mosley! — in charge of F1 on his behalf is the way to do it.

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