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Wing protest rejected

NEWS STORY
12/04/2012

Race stewards in Shanghai have unanimously dismissed Lotus protest against Mercedes controversial rear wing - which had already been declared legal for the first two races.

Earlier, Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn expressed his disappointment at the protest: "It's disappointing after three races we're still in this situation," he told reporters. "The system hasn't changed, the FIA's position hasn't changed, and as far as I understand their argument hasn't changed."

The stewards decision in full:

The Stewards convened at 17:15 hrs on April 12, 2012 to consider a protest lodged by Lotus F1 Team concerning the Technical Delegate's scrutineering report of April 12, 2012.

The protest was against the eligibility of Cars 7 and 8 entered by Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team wherein it was alleged the cars did not comply with Article 3.15 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations.

The protest was lodged in accordance with Article 171 of the International Sporting Code and was lodged within the time prescribed under Article 174 (c).

Appearances at the Hearing;

Representing Lotus F1 Team: Messrs Alan Permane and James Allison

Representing Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team: Messrs Ross Brawn and Geoff Willis

FIA Technical Delegate: Mr Jo Bauer

Argument

Mr Allison, in his case on behalf of Lotus, proposed 5 questions that he believed needed to be answered;

1. Does Article 3.15 apply to the device being employed by Mercedes?

2. Does the system comprise any parts that are not "necessary for the adjustment described in Art 3.18"?

3. Can what Mercedes is running be described accurately as a "car system", a "device" or "procedure"?

4. Does the Mercedes device depend upon "driver movement"?

5. Does the Mercedes device "alter the aerodynamic characteristics of the car"?

Mr Allison then asserted that if the answers to all these questions is "yes" then it must be concluded the Mercedes system is prohibited.

Mr Allison also asserted there needed to be a distinction between the "prime" purpose of a "device" and a secondary purpose or consequential outcome.

He argued that the Mercedes device has a prime purpose of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car.

Mr Allison later provided the Stewards with written grounds for the protest (Exhibit B). Mr Brawn, for the Respondent Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, provided the Stewards with a detailed paper outlining its response (Exhibit A). This paper contains certain confidential Intellectual Property and could not be provided to Lotus however Mr Brawn presented the key points of his response verbally, which were;

1. The "device" or "design" contains no moving parts.

2. There are no upper limitations provided in the regulations on what can be achieved using DRS apart from what is written in the current regulations. He provided examples of teams making modifications to other parts of cars to take advantage of the different airflow resulting when DRS is activated.

3. The "device" or "system" being protested against (commonly referred to within the team as "DDRS" or "Double DRS") was simply an enhancement to the existing DRS but made after DRS was originally introduced. Therefore is was wrong to discriminate against any enhancement simply because it has been introduced after the original introduction of DRS

4. There is nothing in the regulations preventing a hole in the inner side of the rear end plate and a duct running to the front of the car to take account of a change in the aero characteristics when DRS was operated and that this was an evolution to improve the performance of the DRS.

Mr Allison argued that the Mercedes device being protested was not a part of DRS and indeed that "DRS" was not a term defined in the regulations. He also argued that there was a substantial difference between other modifications made to the car which had aero impacts compared to the modifications made to the Mercedes.

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