The FOTA alliance insists unity remains, but formula one teams were locked in disputes as the paddock disbanded after midnight on Saturday.

The FOTA alliance insists unity remains, but formula one teams were locked in disputes as the paddock disbanded after midnight on Saturday.

Melbourne qualifying over, stewards - who had already sent Toyota to the back of the grid for using "extremely flexible" rear wings - were poring over the legality of a bodywork detail on the Ferrari and Red Bull cars, following a protest by Williams.

The Oxfordshire based team is one of the 'diffuser 3' gang, accused by Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault and BMW of using aerodynamic treatments that contravene the spirit of the rules.

Williams ultimately dropped its protest very late on Saturday night, but the feeling was strong that it is all part of a growing sense of competitive animosity.

"Williams recognises the possibility that in this area there could be more than one interpretation of the rules and therefore does not feel it appropriate to continue with the protests," the Grove team said in a statement issued in the dead of the Australian night.

Another rumour on Saturday night was that McLaren is set to join those teams who are stridently pushing for the outlawing of the Williams, Toyota and Brawn diffusers.

According to the whisper, the Mercedes-powered team has told the FIA it intends to give backing to the plaintiffs at the Court of Appeal's April 14 hearing.

It seems the dissenting teams intend to argue that while the diffuser concept slips through a rule loophole, it strikes at the heart of the intention of the aerodynamic regulations.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore on Saturday likened FIA delegate Charlie Whiting's pre-season approval of the diffusers, paving the way for the Melbourne stewards' agreement, to "one policeman surrounded by lots of bandits".

It is believed part of their Court of Appeal argument will be based on safety, given the faster laptimes in Melbourne this year compared with one year ago, and also that the 'double-decker diffusers' create more air wake, contrary to the intention to make overtaking easier.

 

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