F1 teams to protest illegal defuses on Thursday UPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Four teams have now lodged protests against the legality of the rear diffusers fitted to the Brawn, Toyota and Williams cars.
The news emerged in the Albert Park paddock on Thursday after the controversial aerodynamic components were declared legal by FIA scrutineers ahead of the 2009 season opener.
"There are different interpretations of the rules, and we need clarity as quickly as possible," BMW-Sauber team boss Mario Theissen said.
Ferrari, Renault and Red Bull also protested, and it is understood they are protesting against all three teams.
The stewards are due to consider the protest on Thursday, but depending on the outcome either the protesting teams, or the three diffuser teams, are expected to send the matter to the Court of Appeal.
If the stewards side with the protesting teams, Brawn, Toyota and Williams will be permitted to race under appeal.
FIA president Max Mosley has already revealed that the appeal would not be able to be heard until after next Sunday's Malaysian grand prix.03/26/09 (GMM) Toyota on Thursday declared it is ready to defend the legality of its rear diffuser design.
The Cologne based squad is among three teams, including Brawn and Williams, likely to be formally protested against by multiple formula one rivals this weekend in Melbourne.
It is rumored that Toyota has brought several diffuser designs to Australia, in anticipation that the stewards declare their controversial preferred component illegal.
But team president John Howett told the Cologne newspaper Express that he is not worried.
"No, we enquired with Charlie Whiting and got the green light," he is quoted as saying. "If it comes to a protest, we will be able to defend ourselves."
One point to note is that the FIA's Jo Bauer, not race director and safety delegate Whiting, is in charge of technical scrutineering at grands prix.03/26/09 (GMM) The latest word from the Albert Park paddock on Thursday is that more teams are ready to join Red Bull in protesting against the controversial diffuser designs of three formula one cars.
"A number of teams have told me that they will definitely protest today," McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh told reporters in Melbourne.
He clarified that McLaren is not one of them, but it is understood that most teams will be among the protest against Brawn, Toyota and Williams.
With the 10 competing teams all previously tightly united in the FOTA alliance, the diffuser saga will be a tough test for their cooperation.
"If they want to make a point on something, like this diffuser business ... as they're all united, there won't be any protest in Melbourne, obviously," a mischievous F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone told the AP news agency.
Whitmarsh confessed that the situation could "easily become acrimonious".
But he insisted: "In defense 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."
Whitmarsh, whose Woking based team is expected to struggle to keep up with the pace this weekend, suggested that the best outcome would be for the stewards to declare the three cars' diffusers contrary to the rules.
"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 said.03/25/09 Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota have apparently taken the stance that their interpretation of the rulebook is different, and therefore their designs are legal.
However, Brawn GP and Toyota in particular were noticeably quick in pre-season testing, raising eyebrows and leading to questions about their diffusers.
With the season-opening Australian Grand Prix just four days away, there is the prospect of a protest looming on Wednesday once the cars have been put through scrutineering.
Renault boss Flavio Briatore recently voiced his concerns, with his sentiments echoed earlier this week by Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali.
"We are convinced that certain interpretations that have been applied do not correspond to the nature of the rules," said Domenicali.
"If that extractor is illegal then it must not be used, while if it is legal it's up to the other teams, including us, to try to adapt as soon as possible, because performance is found in that area of the car."
Domenicali is hoping the situation does not come down to a protest, adding: "There needs to be a great sense of responsibility on everyone's part.
"I hope this issue can be resolved beforehand."
But there is every likelihood a protest will be launched, as has been confirmed by Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko.
"It's illegal," insisted Marko.
"We'll make a protest on Thursday if the component isn't modified to conform to the regulations, because that diffuser guarantees a five-tenths (of a second) advantage per lap.
"Seven teams are certain it's illegal."