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Motor Racing

Lotus protest over controversial Mercedes design fails


The four-man panel of FIA stewards have dismissed Lotus' protest against Mercedes' innovative rear wing.

The protest related to the conformity of the Mercedes cars under article 3.15 of the FIA technical regulations, that 'any system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited'.

Mercedes' device is incorporated into the DRS, the drag reduction system that assists overtaking at given points on a circuit and is activated by a driver.

The design, which according to team principal Ross Brawn is independent of the DRS, stalls the front and rear wings, providing additional downforce and in turn extra straight-line speed.

Lotus claimed the system was illegal as it makes use of driver movement when the DRS is activated, however, following a lengthy stewards' meeting at the Shanghai International Circuit ahead of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, it has been declared legal.

Mercedes are now free to use the system this weekend, although all parties have been reminded of their right to appeal.

Lotus confirmed to Press Association Sport this afternoon, however, that they will not appeal.

Lotus technical director James Allison posed five questions to his FIA counterpart Charlie Whiting and the stewards he felt believed needed answering in relation to the Mercedes system.

In their conclusion, the stewards deemed not all the questions could "be answered in the affirmative and therefore do not form successful grounds for upholding of the protest".

The decision will serve as vindication to Brawn, who earlier today said he remained at a loss to understand why so much fuss was being made.

"It's disappointing that after three races we're still in this situation," said Brawn.

"The system hasn't changed, the FIA's position hasn't changed and, as far as I understand, their argument hasn't changed."

Asked as to why he felt teams were still disputing it, Brawn added: "I don't know. It's a bit of a puzzle.

"Obviously there are benefits in the system.

"Lotus have been quoted as saying they've a 0.2secs upgrade for here, well, I can promise you our system doesn't give us 0.2secs.

"In particular in the race because it can only be used when we overtake someone.

"So the amount of effort and time that has gone into it (in terms of the complaining) appears to be disproportionate. It does seem to be a strange situation."

Brawn maintains the DRS and the additional system are "quite independent", and was initially passed two years ago.

"In 2010 Charlie stated such a system was legal. It's in the minutes of the Technical Working Group meetings," said Brawn.

"He stated his opinion then that he considered it legal, so it has not just been going on for three races, but for two years."