Ferrari and McLaren may have stolen an early march on their F1 rivals after the sport's governing body gave them permission to run with exhaust exits that others thought may contravene the new-for-2012 regulations.

The two giants, both of whom will be looking to topple Red Bull and return to the top of the tree in F1 this season, arrived at the opening test of the winter with their own interpretation of the new exhaust rules, which insist that the exit must be higher on the body in order to prevent a repeat of the 'blown diffuser' controversy of 2011. Both have designed their new cars with 'aggressively channelled' outlets in the hope of regaining some of the downforce lost to the regulations, whil rivals have taken a more literal understanding.

Anyone hoping to see McLaren and Ferrari forced to change their interpretation, however, were in for disappointment at Jerez, where a visiting Charlie Whiting confirmed, after inspection, that the FIA would deem the designs 'legal'.

"I understand from sources in the pit-lane that FIA race director Charlie Whiting has told the teams that he considers Ferrari and McLaren exhaust designs as legal," Sky Sports' Ted Kravitz reported, "Even though the way those two teams have packaged their exhaust outlets, with channels leading exhaust gases out to specific areas of the car - and therefore appearing to have a beneficial aero effect, which is against new exhaust regulations - it seems Whiting believes that they comply sufficiently with both the letter and the intention of the law.

"This has been accepted by the other teams, who launched with less aggressive exhaust concepts and it means that they will now effectively green light their own, shall we say more exotic, exhaust designs. We can expect to see these in time for the third test in Barcelona, if not before."

The other ten teams are now expected to revise their own designs, if possible, before the winter testing period closes in Barcelona next month.

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