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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Conspiracy theory behind F1’s latest controversy?

FRICS hydraulically links the front and rear suspension and helps maintain the balance of the cars.

Written by Saikat Ghosh |
Updated: August 25, 2014 5:57:46 pm
(Source: AP) The drivers said that any technical advancement would only affect the race minimally. (Source: AP)

F1 has its fare share of technical issues and every season there is one thing or the other keeping the fans and drivers on the receiving end.

This constant change in the machines have kept drivers on their toes.

It’s only on Saturday that Lewis Hamilton had learned it the hard way; he crashed during the second German grand prix practice session at Hockenheim where his team mate Rosberg snatched Pole. Rosberg, unlike Hamilton, was using different front discs, and in the end it was only the quality of equipment that separated the best from the rest.

Reports suggest that it was a break failure and certainly puts the suppliers-Italian company Brembo-in the docks.

Piling on to the misery of drivers is the most sought after issue in the build up to the race: FRICS (Front and rear interconnected suspension) which is a vital cog in the wheel for the teams to win a race.

The issue made its way to limelight when FIA’s technical director Charlie Whiting wrote to all the teams, advising them that in his opinion such systems were not legal.

The FRICS is very important in maintaining the balance and the ride height of the cars  which usually accelerates up to 300 kmph and then slows down abruptly on to the corners leading to the shift of the weight from the front to rear tyres.

The system was introduced by Renault five years ago but since then teams like Mercedes had used it to their advantage and experts say it is one of the factors for their dominance this season.

Noted F1 writer, Mark Hughes, wrote in Motorsports magazine:

“FRICS hydraulically links the front and rear suspension through a series of actuators and reservoirs. It is a purely mechanical system. Some teams – notably Mercedes, Williams and Lotus – have the further refinement of side-to-side linking. There are several side benefits but the key one is aerodynamic (which is what, in Charlie’s opinion, makes it illegal).”

Hughes didn’t stop at that and had made serious claims which gives rise to the conspiracy theories.

“The only reasons teams try to have a technology banned is 1) because they believe it will neutralise an advantage held over them by a rival or rivals,” he wrote.

In 2011, Ferrari’s sole victory in that season came only after a ban on the blown diffusers by the FIA.

He claims there is a lobby of Ferrari and the Red Bull which is pushing the world body to compromise on FRICS so that they can make the most of it since the season is only half-way through and still ten races to go.

As of now, Mercedes is leading the constructor’s championship with 326 points while Red Bull and Ferrari both have 168 and 106 points respectively.

The FIA has asked the teams to ditch the system but has given them a time frame till next year after which the governing body might ban it.

At the time of writing, the drivers have reacted and they said any technological advance will only affect the race minimally.

Fernando Alonso was quoted by ESPNF1, “You won’t see a Marussia on pole position or anything like that. It’s just a couple of tenths for everyone.”

Saikat Ghosh

(Saikat Ghosh tweets @saikatghosh12)

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