Fernando Alonso fears this season’s Formula One world championship could today be decided in court.
Ferrari, Renault, BMW Sauber and Red Bull face Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota at an International Court of Appeal hearing in Paris.
The case centres around the conceptual design of the diffuser – an aerodynamic body part that aids performance – at the rear of the cars belonging to the three defendants.
As has been witnessed in the opening two grands prix in Australia and Malaysia, the three teams have a clear performance advantage, with Brawn GP’s Jenson Button winning both.
If the judges deem the part is illegal, they have it within their power to overturn those two race results, potentially expunging Button’s two victories from the record books.
However, double world champion Alonso believes if the judges side with the ’diffuser gang’, it will be difficult for any of the other seven teams to win either the driver's or constructors’ title.
“We’ll have to see what they (the judges) decide,” said Alonso.
“It’s a complicated issue, but the championship could be more or less decided.
“If the diffusers are legal, the Brawns are going to be nearly unreachable for any other team.”
The major concern for Ferrari and the rest is that if they do lose, they will be forced into a radical redesign of their cars as the diffuser affects a number of areas.
“You have to work on the whole car,” explained Renault star Alonso.
“It’s not just about adding the diffuser and suddenly the car is a second quicker.
“The diffuser makes you go fast if you have a new front end, new sidepods, a new engine cover.
“You have to rebuild the whole car, and that would take a lot of months.”
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen is of the same mind as Alonso as the Finn said: “The FIA’s Court of Appeal will decide about the diffuser and this decision will have an enormous impact on the championship.”
Brawn GP boss Ross Brawn naturally maintains the design is merely an alternative interpretation of the rules their rivals failed to envisage.
It is a difficult case for the judges to preside over as the FIA and the stewards in Melbourne and Sepang have already deemed the part is legal.
The four offended teams protested the stewards’ ruling, and it is now up to the ICA to determine whether the stewards in question were correct in their assessment or not.
But Brawn said: “The stewards have said it is legal.
“It’s the International Court of Appeal that is going to hear whether the stewards have made an incorrect decision.
“Some teams are unhappy with that decision, but it (the diffuser on his team’s cars) is in line with our understanding.
“You have to see how these things go, but even if they decide there is a different interpretation, I don’t think they’ll wipe out what went before because we’ve been told our car is legal.”