July 10, 2014

What the FRIC is going on?

XPB photo: AutoMotorSport

At Hockenheim, Mercedes will not run the suspension it has spent two and half years perfecting.

Faced with a ominous yet vague  message from the FIA, Championship leader Mercedes is not willing to risk being penalized according to an article published on Auto Motor ind Sport.  Red Bull may do the same.

FRIC, as you know, is the acronym for Front, Rear InterConnected (or Interactive Control) suspension,  think an evolved version of the circa 2002 Audi RS6 suspension, or the more recent Mclaren MC12c where front and rear are interconnect hydraulically to keep the car's attitude, in roll and pitch, constant.

In the current era, the system was first tried by Lotus and perfected by Mercedes and Red Bull but the basic idea itself is far from new having been first seen in the early 90's on a Minardi,  the engineer in charge then ...wait for it...  Aldo Costa, now engineering director at Mercedes AMG F1.

Most teams on the grid are said to run a more or less successful version of it.  It is set to be banned as of 2015 and replaced, eventually, with active electronic suspension which is actually less expensive to develop then the current "analog" system.

What the FIA have intimated is that they might consider banning the system effective immediately, despite it having been seen as perfectly legal for the past nine races.  The impetus behind this move, according to the article, are possible protests (or requests for clarification) from Mclaren, Ferrari and Caterham.

The argument against it is similar to the Renault mass damper issue of 05/06, that the suspension, by keeping the wings at a fixed angle, is effectively a movable aero device.

It's not very likely that a FRIC-less Mercedes will all of a sudden be within reach of Mclaren, and Ferrari in Germany, a smooth fast track.  Hungary may be a different story.


  1. Next to get the ban-hammer: sway bars. They have exactly the same effect laterally across the suspension as the FRIC systems have longitudinally. They allow the wings to stay horizontal to the air stream, despite the car going around a corner.

  2. Looks like this is payback from Charlie to Niki Lauda for his negative comments about the long red flag.

  3. what about the helmet being a movable aero device? let's ban the drivers' head

  4. I understand that Ferrari need to pull strings to get back at some competitive level.. but this is BS. Especially stating that this is a movable part that affect the wings. well as Scooting said... sway bars, change air pressure in tires are next.

  5. With cost-cutting supposedly being the reason behind so many rules, banning yet another innovation not quite mid-season will just cost the teams more money. It's been fine so far, so let it the FRIC be this year.


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