FIA presses ahead with flexi wing idea

The FIA is pressing ahead with plans for radical electronically-controlled moveable wings on Formula One cars from 2011, as autosport.com revealed, as part of a major shake-up of the sport's rules.   

FIA presses ahead with flexi wing idea

The World Motor Sport Council met in Paris on Wednesday to evaluate the latest set of proposals that have been put together following discussions between the FIA, teams and car makers.

The ideas are due to be discussed between the various parties who are hoping to finalise the rules before the end of this year.

With an initial idea for a standard chassis having now been abandoned, with only an FIA-supplied floor now being considered, earlier plans to allow moveable aerodynamic devices are now being put in place. This was first reported by autosport.com after the United States Grand Prix.

An FIA document, detailing the progress of the work on framing chassis rules, said: "Front and rear wing settings maybe electronically controlled, but within set limits defined from time to time by the FIA.

"This is to allow much reduced drag along the straights to improve fuel efficiency and yet retain the downforce required around corners, under braking and under acceleration so as to retain overall lap times. Failsafe design, as used on aircraft, will be mandated."

But more radical than that proposal is one to make it mandatory for the ride height of the car to be adjusted during races to ensure that cars can easily overtake their rivals.

The document added: "A turbulence sensor complete with an aircraft type back up system (for robustness) will be supplied by the FIA.

"When travelling in high turbulence levels such as those generated by the close presence of a leading car, the ride height of the car, both front and rear, must be altered in response to the output of this sensor (within a set range, at a set rate, and with appropriate hysteresis, determined from time to time by the FIA) to compensate for the degradation in performance.

"In free stream the car is to return to a baseline ride height. The purpose is to allow for full compensation for downforce losses due to being in the wake of another car."

As well as the chassis shake-up, the FIA confirmed that work is ongoing in putting together energy efficient engine regulations - which will include energy recovery systems.

The FIA said it believed the most likely future engine will be a 1.3-1.5 litre 4-cylinder, with no rev or energy boost limit.

Engine efficiency

To limit engine power by imposing a maximum energy flow rate. However, there will be few restrictions on the engine cycle, which can include turbo-charging and energy recovery. It is believed that this will lead to a gain of at least 20% in thermal efficiency.

Drag

To allow moving aerodynamic devices, which will reduce drag by over 50% and allow a 40% reduction in the power required to maintain current speeds.

Energy recovery

Energy will be recovered during braking and returned to both front and rear axles when accelerating. The amount of energy returned on each straight will be limited in order to prevent top speeds exceeding the safety criteria for the circuits.

Fuel

The total amount of fuel energy to be consumed during a race will be regulated, encouraging further overall efficiency. The CO2 emitted will be further reduced by the introduction of gasoline which is partly derived from sustainable, non-food bio sources but complies fully with pump fuel legislation.

Overtaking

Formula One cars currently find it very difficult to overtake because of the influence of the car in front. New aerodynamic rules will halve the downforce, and de-sensitise the car to the influence of the wake of the car ahead. It is also proposed to eliminate automatically the downforce deficit of the following car.

Regulations

The best estimates of what these measures will mean in terms of regulations are currently as follows:
• 1.3-1.5 litre, 4-cylinder engine;
• no RPM or boost limit;
• energy flow rate to generate 300kW, including energy recovery from the exhaust;
• 200kW brake energy recovery, front and rear axle;
• 400-600kJ energy return per straight;
• pump-legal bio-fuel;
• FIA specified and supplied undertray and possibly other aerodynamic components;
• 50% 2007 downforce;
• adjustable, regulated wings and cooling;
• automatic downforce adjustment when following another car;
• lap times and top speeds maintained at 2009 levels;
• over 50% reduction in fuel consumed.

Costs

A number of measures to constrain costs are proposed, including:
• standardisation of components;
• homologation of components and assemblies;
• material restrictions;
• extended life of assemblies;
• restrictions on personnel and work at races;
• restrictions on the use of certain facilities (eg wind tunnels).

All these measures will be developed into detailed regulations in close collaboration with the teams and manufacturers.

The full documents with the proposals can be found here.

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