Compressed gas is key to Red Bull ride-height – rumour

Thu, 1 April 2010, 10:01

Apr.1 (GMM) The secret of Red Bull’s supposed adjustable ride-height system is compressed gas, according to strong rumours inside the Sepang paddock on Thursday.

Officials for McLaren and Mercedes have admitted their suspicions about the system, with the dominant Adrian Newey-designed RB6 somehow able to have a low-ride height in qualifying and then not bottom-out when gallons of fuel are added prior to the race.

“Our understanding … I can’t remember the article exactly, but you are not allowed to make any suspension changes between qualifying and the race,” said Mercedes team boss Brawn when the controversy arose in Melbourne.

It seems, however, that Red Bull could have simply interpreted the rules cleverly, rather than broken them.

An article in the technical regulations prohibits “any powered device” that affects the suspension system, while another forbids adjustments “while the car is in motion”.

But the parc ferme rules, found in the separate sporting regulations, do allow “compressed gases” to be “drained or added” from the cars in the period after qualifying and before the race.

And another rule says a driver will only be penalised with a pitlane start if the team “makes changes to the set up of the suspension” during parc ferme.

The rumour in Malaysia is that all Red Bull is doing is draining compressed gas from a system aboard the RB6, which is resulting in a raised ride-height for the race.

It appears that the FIA is not going to intervene unless one of Red Bull’s rivals lodges a complaint, as Spain’s AS newspaper reports that leading teams including Ferrari have already prepared a technical challenge to the system in writing.

“I do not know what the other teams are doing,” Brawn told Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper in Kuala Lumpur.

“That is why I have asked for clarification (from the FIA) about what is the situation,” he added.

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said in Australia that McLaren is now working on its own adjustable ride-height system, for possible debut in China in two weeks.

The Woking based team’s managing director Jonathan Neale said in Malaysia that he is “not obsessed by ride-height control”, adding: “It’s one of a number of things we are evaluating.

“I wouldn’t say there was any silver bullet as to why Red Bull are particularly quick. It’s one of a number of things, but it’s not my headline story at the moment,” insisted Neale.

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