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Whitmarsh, Horner clash over regulations

Friday 8th July 2011

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Whitmarsh, Horner clash over regulations

Whitmarsh, Horner clash over regulations

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh and Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner were embroiled in a public spat over the shifting sands of the latest rule changes.

Whitmarsh accused motor sport's governing body, the FIA, of making alterations to the rules "by the hour" in light of one remarkably issued midway through the first practice session for Sunday's British Grand Prix.

It all relates to the ban from this weekend of off-throttle blown diffusers, a device that increases downforce and aids performance.

Engine manufacturers Mercedes, who supply McLaren, initially argued their case on one technical point, to which Renault, who supply Red Bull, responded in kind.

That led to a war of words between Whitmarsh and Horner in the team principal press conference, who both feel aggrieved the other has the upper hand.

"The rules are slightly fluid and appear to change by the hour at the moment," said Whitmarsh.

"We were a little surprised when the regulations changed halfway through FP1, and I'm sure that has put many teams on the backfoot.

"When the goalposts are moving part way through a practice session then it makes it very difficult. We're trying to cope with that at the moment.

"To do this in a cloudy, ambiguous and changing way, inevitably, in a competitive environment, every team feels hard done by."

In response, Horner said: "A lot of focus has been placed on us and whether we have a silver bullet in our car. We don't.

"But at the same time we expect the FIA to regulate in a fair and proper manner, and that's exactly what they have done in this case.

"They've looked at Mercedes' case, and that of Renault, and allowed them certain parameters.

"It's very hard for the FIA to pick their way through it. They've tried to be as fair, balanced and equitable as they said they would be.

"We're not totally happy with the solution, and I'm sure Martin feels the same."

Both men agreed the FIA should not have interfered eight races into the season, and instead should have left the issue alone until the end of the year.

It took Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes to add levity to the matter, and indeed to draw on the fact the average man on the street either has no interest, or does not care about such technical intricacies.

"It's a little bit of a shambles we are having these discussions," said Fernandes.

"You don't have it in other sports. The rules should be very clear, they should be pretty black and white.

"These changes cost the sport a lot of money. The regulator of the sport needs to make things clear.

"It needs to be easy for the spectators to understand. I mean, I don't understand anything these two have just said, so God knows about all the fans.

"I don't think it makes a huge amount of difference to the people watching it."

Horner brought the matter to a close by highlighting the fact the FIA, and technical director Charlie Whiting in particular, should have left the rules alone.

"When you enter a championship at the beginning of the year and you design your car around a set of rules, for them to change halfway through is cost, time, effort and money, and it's confusing," said Horner.

"It's confusing to the media, to the fans, to Formula One, but hopefully we can draw a line under it and we can move on."

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