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Aug 29th
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Merc wing again passed as legal to race

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The controversial new 'passive F-duct' rear wing on the new Mercedes W03 car has again been deemed legal by the FIA, according to reports from the Malaysian GP paddock on Thursday, though the possibility of a protest from teams remains.

The legality of the new rear wing has been disputed by both Red Bull and Lotus, who have seen the device as being outside the rules.

Driver-operated F-ducts were banned at the end of the 2010 season, but the Mercedes wing-stalling system is described as being completely passive.

However, the fact that it works when the driver operates the DRS wing, which then covers holes in the rear wing endplates, has led the two leading teams to claim the wing constitutes a driver-operated device.

However, despite the teams requesting a new clarification on the Mercedes system in Malaysia, reports from the Sepang paddock have confirmed that the W03 has been passed as legal.

"This car passed scrutineering and got the green light," Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug was quoted as saying by the Autosport website.

The FIA remain convinced that the rules do not outlaw the use of extra passive systems triggered by the operation of the DRS wing.

However, the technical whining over the wing may not be over, with Red Bull and Lotus still able to lodge an official protest against the car with Malaysia's race stewards.

There was a suggestion in Melbourne that Lotus would officially protest the two Mercedes cars before qualifying, but the team opted to wait for further clarification from the FIA on the matter.

Opinion over the legality of the wing remains mixed, though earlier this week, McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale said that his team were happy to go along with the FIA's view.

"I think we have to rely on the FIA [to make the correct ruling]," he said during the team's pre-race phone-in.

"All the teams are going to be trying to extract the maximum within the permitted regulations, and innovation - particularly if a car is quick - certainly comes under challenge.

"We understand that well. But I don't understand well enough what Mercedes are actually doing, and we have to rely on our colleagues at the FIA."

He added: "If we have anything that we think is innovative or pushing the interpretations of the regulations, we are all obliged to disclose that to Charlie Whiting and his colleagues.

"I'm very confident that Mercedes will have done that and got a ruling that's OK."

The new Mercedes wing had little impact on the team's fortunes in Australia, though with Malaysia representing a higher speed track, the new device is expected to have more of an effect this weekend.

Earlier this week, Mercedes boss Ross Brawn slammed the current witch-hunt being directed at his team, saying that the whole exercise was designed to distract attention from some dubious exhaust systems on other cars.

"We thought we were not going to have [exhaust blown diffusers]. But several cars have got them," he grouched.

"Our wing system has probably taken the spotlight off something that was clearly never intended."