Silverstone Qualifying for the British Grand Prix was overshadowed on Saturday by a row after Formula Ones ruling body the FIA performed a U- turn on its technical rules on the eve of Sundays race.
As defending ch&ion Sebastian Vett
el clocked the fastest time in the mornings final free practice all eyes were focussed on the stewardsroom where Red Bull team chief Christian Horner stormed in to protest.
‘I am going down to speak to Charlie ( Whiting, the FIA race director) about it,’said a testy Horner as he marched through the paddock.
‘I am not saying anything else..’It was the same story as he left following an exchange of views. ‘No comment at this time,’he snapped.
This pantomime scene followed Fridayact of public bickering between Horner and his McLaren counterpart Martin Whitmarsh over the FIAs decision, taken during Fridays practice action, to allow Red Bull a special concession in the latest tightening up of the regulations.
Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes described the series of events as ‘a shambles.
The row centered on the new rules that ban the deliberate use of engine exhaust gases to improve rear down- force, and therefore grip, notably when the driver is not pressing down on his cars throttle – a practice that, it was believed, contributed towards Red Bulls clear performance advantage this year.
Initially, the FIA banned all use of alt145 blownexhaust fumes in this way, but this provoked a storm of protest.
The FIA relented, allowing teams running with Mercedes engines – including McLaren – to let their engines over- run under braking, thus creating some alt145 blown exhausteven when the driver was off the throttle.
This concession to McLaren left Red Bull fuming and led to their own pleas for equality, based on a need for 50 per cent throttle usage under braking for teams with Renault engines.
This concession, on Friday, sparked the public row between McLaren and Red Bull and was followed, on Saturday morning, by the FIAs decision to withdraw the concession given to the Renault- powered teams on Friday.
The overnight U- turn was widely regarded as a victory for the Mercedesteams, but many fans, large sections of the media and further numbers of seasoned paddock observers were left bewildered.
The Red Bull team garage was immediately in uproar.
Horner, visibly angry, and technical chief Adrian Newey, together with a Renault engineer marched through the paddock to see the stewards alt145 for clarification, F1- speak for an unofficial protest and further rumpus.
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