Minnows plan protest over 'illegal' cars

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The Independent Online

The smallest team on the grid may be set to influence the outcome of next week's Monaco Grand Prix, if HRT team boss Colin Kolles decides to protest the result because of what he believes are illegalities in the cars driven by favourites Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, among others.

For more than a year the top teams have used exhaust gases flowing over the diffusers at the back of their cars to enhance aerodynamic airflow and thus all-important downforce, but the governing body, the FIA, recently announced plans to render illegal systems which artificially alter engine performance. The FIA had planned to ban such systems for last week's Spanish GP but changed their mind pending further technical team meetings on 16 June.

Kolles, a Romanian former dentist and one of the more colourful mavericks in F1, was angry because he had abandoned plans for HRT's own version of a "blown diffuser" in light of the imminent ban. His team is the only one to have broken away from the unity of the Formula One Teams' Association so he does not have to be bound by their agreements, and is prepared to rock the boat if its helps to push his team forwards. He made it clear after the Spanish race, in which only one of his drivers finished, Narain Karthikeyan in 21st and last place, that he will consider protesting.

"The only reason why we are not considering here is because we were not really involved in any sporting decision today," he said. "But it is clear that the other cars are illegal.

"I think that if this is not going to be stopped before Monaco then we have no other choice. This is illegal and it brings the other teams a huge advantage."

FIA race director Whiting said: "A protest is always a possibility, and I've made that clear to the teams that it could happen. We always maintain that this is merely the opinion of a technical department, and anyone is free to challenge it in front of the stewards. A protest is open to anybody."