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F-shaft dispute: Lotus and Red Bull threaten to protest

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F-shaft dispute continues
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T he season was just two days old there Red Bull and Lotus threatened with the first protest. Both consider the Mercedes F-shaft to be illegal. The protest front first argued that the engineers had agreed at a meeting ten months ago not to continue using this technology. But that was only half the story. This promise only related to a team's request whether the up and down movement of the suspensions could be used as a switch for an F-slot. The FIA ​​refused for security reasons. So, according to FIA race director Charlie Whiting, it had to be clear to everyone that the F-shaft idea was generally still allowed.

On the morning of race day in Melbourne, the FIA, Red Bull and Lotus agreed in good faith not to protest after the race. Lotus really worked hard. In Enstone they are still angry that the FIA ​​banned the ground clearance control on the front axle, which is dependent on the braking torque, after they had initially given the green light. For Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, the topic is not over: 'We are still of the opinion that this system is illegal. It is activated by the driver. By operating the rear wing flap, he opens a hole through which ours Understanding that air is transported to the front wing. The primary purpose of this is to break the flow on the wing. This allows the driver to influence the aerodynamics. But that is exactly what was banned two years ago. ' The FIA ​​law enforcement officials are not yet able to accept this interpretation. 'Doesn't it always have a secondary influence on the aerodynamics when the flap is raised?' Whiting asks back. The rear wing end plates are equipped with a number of gills behind the flap, which are flown against when the flap is folded up than when it is in the normal position. This also has an effect on the way the wing works.

Mercedes remains calm

The association initially declared the system legal. Red Bull and Lotus pouted back, but announced further complaints. 'The whole thing is a gray area,' summarizes Horner, 'and I would say it is deep gray. We will have to hold further discussions in the next few days.' In other words: The opponents of the F-shaft are looking for a clarification before the GP Malaysia. One reserves the possibility before the startof the first training to protest. That would give Mercedes the opportunity to react and expand the system until the case is legally clarified.

Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn remains calm. 'For us, only the opinion of the FIA ​​counts. As long as they find the system compliant with the regulations, we will use it.' Brawn read from the complaint: 'They're poking around in the fog and just want to find out what we're doing.' His colleague Martin Whitmarsh from McLaren gave his backing: 'We think we know how it works. Mercedes has not done anything forbidden.' You don't have to wait long for McLaren to show up with it too. Like the Mercedes, the car is designed for this. All others would have to upgrade. And this is exactly where Christian Horner sees a problem: 'We can afford it. But it will be really expensive for the small teams.'

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