Diffuser row expected in Melbourne

The FIA is bracing itself for a protest over diffuser design during next week’s Australian Grand Prix.

The controversy over Toyota, Williams and Brawn GP s rear diffuser arrangements have been dragging on for several weeks now with their rivals accusing them of breaching the maximum height allowed for the structure.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore has been particularly outspoken in his criticism of the three teams arrangements, and has bemoaned the fact that the designs have not yet been declared illegal.

“It seems that there are two rules: one that allows some teams to mount a diffuser in a certain way while for the others it is considered illegal,” the Italian is quoted as saying by Reuters.

“It is not what we expected. We want black and white rules for everybody.”

The FIA have said that the designs are not breaking the rules but have yet to officially declare their legality.

Following a formal letter of protest from one of the teams however, FIA President Max Mosley has now indicated that the matter will have to be resolved in Australia by the race stewards.

“It’s a very clever device and you can make a very good case for saying that it’s legal and a very good case for saying that it’s illegal,” he said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

“It’s going to be difficult.What’s actually happened is that teams are saying ‘We think it’s illegal for this and this reason.’

“If there had been more time before the detailed objections to the system were sent in, I would probably have sent it to the FIA Court of Appeal before Australia. And actually I have given thought to that this week. But there isn’t time. It wouldn’t be fair. I think the thing will probably come to some sort of a head in Australia.”

Mosley expects the most likely scenario to be one of the teams lodging a protest to the race stewards during the race weekend.

“One possibility is that all the teams agree that it is illegal, and therefore all the teams shouldn’t have it from Barcelona,” he said. “But then those teams who say it is legal will say ‘Why should we do that?’ And those that say it’s illegal will say ‘Why should we lose an advantage for four races?’

“And so probably what will happen is it will end up going to the stewards, who will make a decision. That will almost certainly be appealed by whichever side is disadvantaged. And then that will go to our Court of Appeal and be hammered out.

“It’s not straightforward. I have an open mind on it at the moment – I can see it going either way. I really can. But somebody has to make their mind up and fortunately it’s not my job.”