McLaren have abandoned work on a ride-height adjustment system after the FIA, F1’s governing body, warned recently that any such development would be considered illegal.
The Woking-based outfit began working on the mechanism in response to the belief that rival Red Bull Racing had been using one in the opening grand prix, hence the pace of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in qualifying.
Red Bull have always insisted that they have no such system – whereby they can alter the distance between the underbody of the chassis and the track from qualifying to the race depending on the fuel level – and team boss Christian Horner warned prior to the FIA’s statement on the matter that the Milton Keynes-based outfit would protest at any team that turned up with a form of ‘active’ suspension.
McLaren, however, were not convinced and were pursuing their own solution for this weekend’s Chinese GP, until the FIA’s clarification.
“We had things we were working on which we have now suspended. These were things that haven’t yet been raced,” McLaren engineering director Paddy Lowe told BBC Sport.
“We were aware over the last few months of a different approach to [the suspension system]; an approach which historically we hadn’t thought to be the typical interpretation of the regulations, and we were reacting to that.
“Now that the FIA has taken a fresh view of it and drawn a different line – and one we think is nearer the historical line – we are reacting to that too, so we’ve had to change some of the things we’re doing.”
Lowe added that their work on the system wasn’t as far advanced as other teams’ efforts.
“We got the feeling we were rather late to the game – relative to perhaps some others,” he said. “We absolutely don’t know who has been doing what and whether anyone has been racing anything in the nature of ride-height control systems. But we definitely got the hint that others were further advanced in development.”