British Grand Prix: F1 exhaust row ends in compromise

By Andrew BensonBBC Sport at Silverstone

Formula 1 teams have agreed to a compromise deal to end the technical row that has split the sport at the British Grand Prix.

The weekend was dominated by meetings and rule changes over the use of exhaust gases to increase downforce.

Ferrari and Sauber have agreed to back down after earlier blocking a deal.

"This thing was not really good for anyone," said Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali. "For the benefit of the sport, we took this action."

The deal means the technology that governing body the FIA is trying to ban - so-called off-throttle blowing of the diffuser - will remain allowed for the rest of the season, but that teams will not be allowed to change their engine settings between qualifying and the race.

Off-throttle blowing has become a key technology in F1 in the last year.

This is where teams blow exhaust gases over the rear floor of the car even when the driver is not pressing the accelerator, smoothing the airflow and therefore increasing downforce and grip.

The FIA wanted to ban it, but it became clear that it was impossible to reach an agreement over the technicalities of a ban as different teams argued that they were being disadvantaged by different versions of the rule.

The arguments became heated at Silverstone, and the bosses of the McLaren and Red Bull teams ended up having a public row on the subject in a news conference.

Renault team principal Eric Boullier said: "It's a completely useless debate, and the more it goes public, the more stupid we look."

World champions Red Bull and their engine supplier had argued that the version of the rules intended for Silverstone put them at a disadvantage, so argued successfully for a change, which was introduced during the first practice session on Friday.

This led to the argument between Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and his McLaren counterpart Martin Whitmarsh, more meetings and a reversion to the previous rule before practice on Saturday morning.

Horner agreed to the cars running in that specification for the rest of the British GP weekend if the situation was looked at again for the rest of the season.

Another meeting on Sunday morning between the teams and FIA race director Charlie Whiting broke up without agreement, before the teams all concurred following further discussions.

That means for the rest of the season off-throttle blowing will be allowed, but teams will not be able to change their engine settings between qualifying and the race.

For next year, the practice will be banned by moving the position of where the exhausts exit.

Domenicali added: "This thing was not really good for anyone. We need to draw a line and look ahead or else where are we going? I don't agree with the process that was taken, but I think for the benefit of the sport, we took that action."

Horner said it was "the most sensible outcome for Formula 1 to draw a line under this."

He added: "One has to have sympathy for Charlie Whiting trying to pick his way through all of this.

"It's impossible to have equivalence because someone is always going to feel aggrieved, so the maps go in before qualifying.

"Two teams just wanted to take a little time to think about it."

Top Stories