Motor racing-F1 governing body investigating Ferrari rear wing

BARCELONA Fri May 20, 2011 7:37pm BST

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BARCELONA May 20 (Reuters) - Ferrari's new rear wing may be illegal and is being closely looked at by Formula One's governing body, FIA race director Charlie Whiting said on Friday.

"We are aware of the development on the Ferrari rear wing and we are currently discussing it with Ferrari," he told reporters at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Asked whether Spaniard Fernando Alonso and Brazilian Felipe Massa would be able to use it for Saturday's final practice and qualifying, Whiting added: "That will depend on what we decide tonight.

"It's a very clever interpretation of the rules and we've got to decide whether we think it's a good interpretation of the rules."

Double world champion Alonso is the big crowd-puller at the Circuit de Catalunya and arrived fresh from his first podium of the season in Turkey.

Ferrari's assistant technical director Pat Fry said the Italian team had tried out a lot of new components in Friday practice including assessing "new aerodynamic concepts".

Whiting, who rarely talks to the media on the record, explained that the issue was a possible contravention of article 3.10.3 of the technical regulations which deals with the slot gap separators on the wing.

"They are devices which are normally just vertical, two of them typically on each wing, which keep the distance between the profiles constant," he said.

"These separators can't be more than 200mm apart...it's an alternative interpretation of that rule that we are currently discussing."

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Whiting also defended the FIA's decision to allow teams to use the moveable rear wing (DRS) at next week's Monaco Grand Prix, despite concern from some drivers that it could be dangerous on the tight and twisty street circuit.

"I have spoken to the drivers a few times about it and it was quite clear that the majority of them would prefer not to use it in Monaco," he said.

"We are not waiting for an accident to happen but there is simply no evidence to support the theory that it is going to be dangerous.

"As it was introduced as an overtaking aid, it would be somewhat perverse not to allow it in the place where you need overtaking the most," said Whiting.

The race director also warned teams that most of them could face protests in Spain from rivals about the use of engine mapping to blow a constant flow of exhaust gases across their cars' rear diffusers to gain an aerodynamic advantage.

The FIA had intended to clamp down on such systems in Spain but postponed a decision until after Monaco. Williams, Virgin and Hispania are not running such systems and could therefore complain.

"It (a protest) is always a possibility, I've made that clear to the teams," he said. "It could happen and then we'll just take it to the stewards in the normal way."

Asked whether that could mean the FIA disqualifying most of the field, he replied: "I'd like to think that probably wouldn't happen but one never knows. It's not beyond the realms of possibility."

(Editing by Mark Meadows; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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