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Red Bull plans protest over diffusers

RED Bull says it will lodge a protest at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix if the cars from rival teams Toyota, Brawn and Williams pass scrutineering today, as debate rages over the legality of their bodywork.

The three teams are at the center of a dispute over their rear diffusers, the part of the bodywork that comes up from the undertray to disperse air from under the car.

Strict new regulations limit the size of the diffusers. The three teams have found a potential loophole in the law by designing their rear bodywork to effectively act as part of the diffuser, increasing its size.

Red Bull team adviser Helmut Marko said a protest will be lodged if those teams are passed to compete following today's scrutineering, performed by officials from the sport's governing body FIA.

"We'll make a protest on Thursday if the component isn't modified to conform to the regulations, because that diffuser guarantees a five-tenths (of a second) advantage per lap," Marko told Sky Sports on Tuesday. "Seven teams are certain it's illegal."

Renault team principal Flavio Briatore had previously remarked that he would consider a protest if the Williams, Toyota and Brawn bodywork get the thumbs up.

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali believes the bodywork breaks the rules, but wants a pre-race resolution, hoping to prevent the dispute blemishing the opening race of the season on Sunday.

"We are convinced that certain interpretations that have been applied do not correspond to the nature of the rules," Domenicali said earlier this week.

"If that extractor is illegal then it must not be used, while if it is legal it's up to the other teams, including us, to try to adapt as soon as possible, because performance is found in that area of the car," he said. "There needs to be a great sense of responsibility on everyone's part. I hope this issue can be resolved beforehand."

On standby

Meanwhile, retired British driver David Coulthard is on standby for a comeback if either of Red Bull's drivers are unable to race in the first two grands prix of the season.

A Red Bull spokeswoman said the 37-year-old Scot was their official reserve driver for Sunday's Australian season-opener and the following race in Malaysia.

New Zealander Brendon Hartley, a Red Bull junior driver, had been lined up for the role but the 19-year-old was unable to obtain the mandatory super-licence.

Coulthard retired at the end of last season after a 246-race career that brought him 13 wins for Williams and McLaren over 15 seasons in the sport.


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