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Date set for diffuser appeal hearing

The FIA's International Court of Appeal hearing into Formula 1's diffuser row is to be heard in the week before the Chinese Grand Prix.

Motor racing's governing body confirmed on Saturday morning that the hearing will be held in Paris on the morning of April 14 - the Tuesday before Shanghai.

"The FIA's International Court of Appeal (ICA) has received appeals from National Sporting Authorities in Austria, France and Italy on behalf of Red Bull Racing, ING Renault F1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro against the Stewards' decision at the Grand Prix of Australia to reject the protests lodged regarding the diffusers used by some competitors," an FIA statement said.

"A hearing will be held in Paris on 14th April 2009 at 10:00am CET."

It comes after Ferrari, Renault and Red Bull Racing lodged a protest against the diffuser design of the Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams cars on the eve of the Australian Grand Prix.

Those protests were rejected by the FIA race stewards in Melbourne, who stated that they believed the diffuser designs were within the regulations. The three teams appealed against that decision, meaning the matter will now be decided in court.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore told the official Formula 1 website that he believed the three teams, who were at the top of the timesheets in practice on Friday, were gaining an advantage that went against the FIA's mantra of controlling speeds.

"The interpretation of the regulations was very clear in the past - the cars need less downforce for safety reasons. Correct?" said Briatore.

"Every time we build a new car it was to be two to three seconds slower than the previous car. Correct? That was always the intention of the Federation (International d'Automobile).

"What happened here is that the three teams are going pretty clearly in the direction of downforce. And as we all knew that we will run on slick tyres from '09 on, it was the intention of FIA president Max Mosley and the Federation to impose new rules to reduce downforce.

"But somebody was going in the downforce direction that was forbidden by the FIA, and that is not following the principles of the rules.

"At the moment we have two different interpretations, but we will all have similar cars in Barcelona. We will see tomorrow in qualifying that we will have faster lap times than we had last year - at least for six drivers. My opinion is that the interpretation of the three teams in question is not the right interpretation. This is how we feel."

The date of the hearing means that Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota would only have a few days to change their designs if the appeal court decision went against them.

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