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Whitmarsh: Diffuser row to overshadow season opener

NEWS STORY
26/03/2009

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh believes that this weekend's much-anticipated season opener will be overshadowed by the diffuser row.

Red Bull has already warned that it will protest the legality of the diffusers on the Williams, Toyota and Brawn, claiming that the six remaining teams will support its stance.

While he has yet to confirm whether McLaren will lodge a formal protest, Whitmarsh told reporters: "A number of teams have told me that they will definitely protest today. Sadly a lot of the column inches this weekend are going to be about controversy and it can easily become acrimonious.

"That's the way of Formula One," he continued, "to sometimes stumble across into a very acrimonious environment. In defence of everyone, I don't think anyone has set out deliberately to cheat here. It's a shame that this sporting occasion is going to have that controversy thrust upon it over the course of the weekend."

However, Whitmarsh admits, like Mario Theissen at BMW, that he is waiting on clarification from the sport's governing body, because if it ruled that the diffusers are legal his team is likely to design a new diffuser much like those seen on the three cars at the centre of the row.

"We have an underdeveloped car, we do not have sufficient aerodynamic downforce and we'd like to focus on rectifying that situation as quick as we can," he admitted. "In order to do so it would be very handy if I could tell our aerodynamics team that these are the rules that prevail. And I can't actually do that today, which means that you've got a foot on the bank and a foot on the boat.

"Either the majority of the teams are going to have to change the design of their car or the minority are going to have to change theirs," he added.

Putting aside the legality of the diffusers, the fact is that in the midst of a global financial crisis that has seen one manufacturer leave the sport and at least two others giving serious consideration to their involvement, does F1 really need this kind of publicity.

While the FIA appears to be washing its hands of the affair, allowing the row to build, one cannot help that certain parties will make the most of the situation, making full use of what might cause a rift between the teams at a time when they have never been so united.

This situation should not have been allowed to come this far, it certainly shouldn't be allowed to continue.

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