Date: 18th April 2011 at 4:51pm
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The eagle eyed watchers out there (or even the sleepy ones who caught the replay) will have noticed Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari’s rear wing opening when it shouldn’t have done on Sunday.

The driver enabled rear-wing was introduced for the start of the 2011 season in the hope of aiding overtaking, in Australia there were no notable advantages, while in Malaysia, the system appeared to add something to the race with drivers being able to overtake following its deployment.

So that the system is only used as an overtaking aid, rather than to make overtaking too easy, regulations have been put in place so that the system can only be activated in certain areas of the track and only when a driver is within one second of the car in front.

When a driver can use the rear-wing an FIA system sends an automatic signal to the car and a light will appear on the drivers steering wheel, indicating that the system can be used.

For China this was 750 metres before the hairpin at turn 14, giving drivers a chance to pull alongside a car to make an over taking manoeuvre at the end of the longest straight on the circuit.

On all other areas of the track the moveable rear wing, or drag reduction system was outlawed.

However Alonso’s DRS deployed heading into turn 16 at the end of lap 23.

The former two-time World champion wouldn’t have gained any advantage from the wing on that section of the track, however speculation mounted over whether or not Alonso would still receive a penalty due to the regulations being broken.

During pre-season it was clearly stated that unauthorised use would result in heavy penalties from race control, however on this occasion they have been lenient, as it was apparently caused by a technical error.

The BBC has reported that an error caused Alonso’s DRS to not enabled until 300 metres before turn 14 causing it to then still be available after turns 14 and 15.

Rather than Alonso gaining an advantage from the DRS deploying, race control concurred that the Ferrari driver was actually at a disadvantage as he was unable to use the wing down the straight while chasing Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher and so no penalty was issued.

FIA officials will continue to investigate why the error happened.

 

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