Stewards declare Mercedes legal

By on Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mercedes W03

FIA - Following an appeal from Lotus, stewards at the Chinese Grand Prix have ruled the blown wing system operated by Mercedes does not contravene F1’s technical regulations.

The Mercedes system has been a subject of much speculation during the opening rounds of the Championship with race director and head of the FIA technical department Charlie Whiting called on several times to offer an opinion as to its validity. Whiting has repeatedly stated a view that he regards the system to be legal.

Today in Shanghai Lotus submitted a formal protest. Represented by technical director James Allison and trackside operations director Alan Permane they met with stewards, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer and Mercedes management, represented by team principal Ross Brawn and technology director Geoff Willis. The stewards unanimously decided to dismiss the protest.

Central to the argument are articles 3.15 and 3.18 of the technical regulations. 3.15 prohibits the use of systems, device and procedures which use driver movement to alter the aerodynamic characteristics of the car. An exception is, however, made in article 3.18, which allows for the operation of the DRS – essentially the driver pressing a button, pedal or switch to activate the DRS. When Mercedes DRS wing is opened it uncovers ducts in the endplates which feed high-pressure around the W03 to stall both front and rear wings. In a detailed decision the stewards pointed out that “the sole purpose of the ‘DRS (or the ‘system’ as referred to in the regulations) as stated in Article 3.18.3, is to improve overtaking. The Mercedes design is completely consistent with this objective.”

They also pointed out that the Mercedes, in accordance with Article 2.4 and/or 2.5 sought clarification from the FIA F1 technical department on this matter before the seasons began, and the technical department confirmed the Mercedes design was, in their opinion, legal. Lotus have the right to appeal the decision but have indicated they will not do so.

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