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Mat Coch writes:
The 2013 season was not even twenty-four hours old when the first technical debate seemed to break out in the Jerez paddock.
On Tuesday, Lotus Technical Director James Allison suggested Caterham was running an exhaust design he did not feel was legal. "There is one feature of the Caterham's exhaust that I don't think will be there when we get to Melbourne," he said. Specifically his concerns seem to relate to a small deflector in the channel where the exhaust exits.
At the end of the 2011 season the FIA amended regulations surrounding exhausts and how teams were allowed to use the expelled engine gases.
This was a direct response to the blown diffusers many teams had developed, with new rules effectively stipulating exhaust gases could not be redirected on to the cars bodywork.
The Caterham solution therefore appears to be in breach of those regulations, seemingly supporting suggestions that at least one rival team may seek clarification from the FIA's technical boss Charlie Whiting.
For its part Caterham was dismissive of the intrigue. When asked by Pitpass if the team had been in contact with the FIA over the design a spokesperson simply stated that the team is "evaluating a number of items as part of our pre-season test programme."
Legal or otherwise, there is nothing preventing the team from running the device in testing - indeed it has been known for teams to run cars underweight to show well for their sponsors during pre-season testing. Only during scrutineering at the Australian Grand Prix would any legality issues arise if rivals still held concerns.
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