A car capable of running low on light fuel for qualifying but not bottoming-out on heavy fuel at the start of the race would give a team a distinct aerodynamic advantage, as it would always be able to run at the optimum ride height to maximise the floor and diffuser of the car. However, the FIA has now clarified that by no means are teams allowed to change the ride height while the car is in Parc Ferme conditions between the end of qualifying and the start of the race.
Red Bull denied in Malaysia that it was running such a system and welcomed, alongside McLaren and Mercedes, a clarification of the rules. On the Sunday night after the race the FIA issued the following statement to the teams.
“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 Ferme conditions will be deemed to contravene article 34.5 of the sporting regulations.”
Article 34.5 states that any car that has work carried out on it between the end of qualifying and the race must then sacrifice its grid position and start from the pits
The letter added: “any self-levelling damper system is likely to contravene article 3.15 [a set of rules relating to aerodynamics] of the technical regulations”.
Such a system would be similar to the active suspension technology that was outlawed in 1993 after Williams used it to devastating effect over its rivals in the early 1990s.