FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting has attempted to quell the possibility of protests at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix by declaring that the rear wing being run by the Mercedes AMG Petronas team is legal.
The wing is thought to use the car's existing DRS system, specifically the movable section of the rear wing, to uncover a hole on the inside of the endplate, which then channels air to the front
wing in search of extra performance. Rival teams, notably Red Bull and Lotus, have claimed that, with the driver dictating when the DRS system is employed, the system contravenes rules concerning movable aerodynamic devices, but Whiting has now reiterated his belief that there is nothing wrong with the concept, based on the fact that the hole remains partially uncovered when the wing is in its standard position. As such, he argues, it is difficult to determine that it is fully operated by the driver.
The threat of protests at the Australian Grand Prix failed to materialise, particularly after Mercedes endured a tough opening round, but remained ahead of the Sepang event as the Three Pointed Star's rivals attempted to either have the system outlawed or revealed in greater detail. While Whiting's ruling that the concept is merely 'an extension of current DRS technology' - an area in which driver intervention is allowed to influence the car's aero performance - attempts to head off such opposition, however, the announcement is more likely to remove the insinuation of illegality and force an official protest.
The other alternative, however, is that rival teams will now be forced to design their own version of the Mercedes wing, without the benefit of having its inner workings disclosed to all.
Whiting, meanwhile, has also ruled on an objection made in the opposite direction, after Mercedes questioned the way in which the Renault engine used by Red Bull and Lotus was operating. According to BBC Sport
, the Brackley-based team had presented audio evidence claiming that the engine was cutting more than the four cylinders allowed by the regulations, possibly to gain benefit in either traction, fuel efficiency or aerodynamics, but Whiting has declared that, based on review of data from the engine, there is nothing untoward.