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Ferrari modify wings for Melbourne

Ferrari have made modifications to their wings in time for this weekend's Australian Grand Prix that should quell rival teams' concerns about flexing parts, has learned.

However, the Maranello team insist that the changes are purely for performance reasons and not because of the recent flexi-wing controversy that has engulfed the sport.

Eight of Ferrari's rivals planned to protest Michael Schumacher's car at the Malaysian Grand Prix after television pictures indicated that the front and rear wings of the car were flexing.

The intervention of FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting, who promised a clarification of the situation before this weekend's Melbourne race, ensured that the protest never materialized.

After McLaren and BMW announced that they were making changes to their rear wings before the Australian race after a verbal request from the FIA, it had been expected that Ferrari would also confirm they too had been requested to make changes.

However, Ferrari continued to insist that there was no problem with their car and that it was fully in compliance with the FIA technical regulations.

When asked by at a pre-event press conference about what the team had told him regarding the flexi-wing situation, former champion Michael Schumacher said on Wednesday: "Not very much.

"The car was checked by the FIA and the FIA is the body who decides that the car is okay and is not okay. So if people think that it is not okay that is maybe their opinion, but it does not mean that is the case."

Team sources have revealed, however, that modifications have indeed been made to the wings of the 248 F1 ahead of the Australian Grand Prix - but only to enhance the team's performance.

A source close to Ferrari told "We have made some changes to the wings to improve the performance of our car. We always comply with the requests of the FIA."

Although the claims that changes have been made on purely performance grounds may be viewed cynically by some as a face-saving exercise for Ferrari, it does at least mean that there will probably be no further controversy over the issue.

The FIA has always preferred to ask teams privately to make changes to their cars if there are concerns about issues, rather than allow situations escalate into official post-race protests.

Honda had vowed to introduce their own flexi-wings for this weekend's Australian Grand Prix if the FIA had not acted in getting Ferrari's wings changed for this weekend.

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