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F1 teams decide on 'F-duct' ban for next season

Nick Fry

F-duct ban likely - Mercedes chief

By Andrew Benson
BBC Sport at the Circuit de Catalunya

Formula 1 teams have decided to ban the controversial 'F-duct' aerodynamic device pioneered by McLaren this year.

The device, which increases a car's speed down the straights, has since been adopted by Ferrari and BMW Sauber but will no longer be allowed in 2011.

It was controversial because some teams felt it contravened the rule that bans movable aerodynamic devices.

The vote to forbid it next year was taken at a meeting of teams' organisation Fota on Sunday in Spain.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, the chairman of Fota, confirmed to BBC Sport that the teams had voted to ban the systems.

Before the meeting, McLaren had written a letter to all the teams saying that they felt banning the system was the wrong thing to do. But their plea was rejected.

The system - which McLaren actually call a 'J-switch' within the team - works by channelling air through a hole in the monocoque in the cockpit area through the car and on to the rear wing.

This increases the airflow on to the wing and makes it 'stall', ie stopping it creating downforce.

The system is only used on the straights, where the reduction in downforce on the car reduces drag and makes the car able to reach a higher top speed.

It is operated by the drivers, who are able to open and close the hole at will.

McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton are understood to do so using their knees.

Ferrari's system, by contrast, is operated by the driver's left hand.

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso has appeared at times in Spain to have only one thumb on the steering wheel as he operates the 'F-duct' with one hand and changes the car's brake balance with the other.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said this had influenced the teams' decision.

"It's a clever piece of engineering and hats off to the guys who invented it, but some of the solutions this weekend look a little bit marginal when you see drivers driving with no hands basically. So I think there is a safety issue and a cost issue to take into account."

Alonso denied there was any inherent danger in how the Ferrari drivers were operating the system.

"I always have hands on the wheel," the Spaniard said. "All the drivers operate the brake balance these days, and the button for changing the front wing and there are other buttons as well. I think there is nothing wrong with that."



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see also
Eddie Jordan Q&A
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Webber & Vettel head Spanish grid
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Spanish GP Saturday photos
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Red Bull are untouchable - Button
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Red Bull duo fastest in Barcelona
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Spanish Grand Prix practice photos
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