After two races of inter team accusations, the FIA have moved to outlaw any suspension system that aims to adjust ride height in between qualifying and the race. According to Autosport, the FIA have confirmed “Any system device or procedure, the purpose and/or effect of which is to change the set-up of the suspension, while the car is under Parc Fermé conditions will be deemed to contravene art 34.5* of the sporting regulations”.
It’s been believed, but never proven that several teams had found ways to correct the cars static ride height to cope with both low fuel qualifying and the more heavy fuelled race. McLaren were vocal in suggesting one of the teams was Red Bull and announced they themselves would have such a system ready for the Chinese race. Red bull of course refuted all of these allegations, stating that none of the solutions rumoured were in use on their car as they would be illegal within Parc Fermé conditions. Its not clear whether McLarens plans to run such a system were true, or a simply prompt for the FIA to act. They took this approach to the alleged Ferrari movable front splitter, asking the FIA for permission to run such a system in 2007.
This is not a rule change, but what is known as a clarification, these often go unpublished but are happening all the time. A Clarification is the FIA’s way of explaining how they see a rule being interpreted. In this case they see the teams interpretation of a rule conflicts with theirs and send out the clarification. If a team does not accept this, then they have to present their car to scrutineering at the next race. The stewards will make a decision if they feel the car is within the rules and any relevant clarifications. If this means the car is considered outside of the regulations, then the team appeal and the case will go to court to decide.
If teams have found a way to circumvent the spirit of the Parc Fermé rules, they will of course have to qualify with a compromised set up from now on. This is bond to have a small effect on their comparative performance between qualifying and the race.