Flexible wings row set to hit Formula 1

A row over flexible front wings looks set to overshadow the German Grand Prix with a number of teams expressing concerns to the FIA about the designs on the Red Bull Racing and Ferrari cars

Flexible wings row set to hit Formula 1

AUTOSPORT has learned that several outfits are unhappy with the fact that photographs of the RB6 and F10 at speed appear to show the front wings running much lower to the ground than rival outfits.

The pictures, a number of which were first published in French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche on Sunday, indicate that the FIA-prescribed central section of the front wing could be tipping forward to help lower the entire wing - and especially the endplates - much closer to the ground.

The FIA regulations stipulate that the central section should be 75mm above the reference plane - so 85mm from the ground taking into account the under-car plank. Rival teams suggest from their analysis of trackside photographs that the wings under question are running much lower than that.

If the wing is flexing, rather than it doing so to help improve straightline speed, such an action could in theory help produce a better 'ground effect' situation - which will boost downforce in high speed corners.

One leading engineer suggested that the benefits of having a wing operate in such a manner to seal off the air around it could be worth up to three tenths of a second per lap.

AUTOSPORT understands that discussions have taken place between a number of teams and the FIA at this weekend's German Grand Prix, and that the governing body has been handed photographic evidence to indicate the height differences of the front wings between the Red Bull Racing and Ferrari machines, and other cars on the grid.

The teams at the centre of the controversy both insist that they are doing nothing wrong - although it is possible that the FIA may look into the designs of both cars after the German Grand Prix has finished in its normal post-race scrutineering checks.

Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner said before the Hockenheim race that he had no doubts his car complied with the regulations, and that if rivals were unhappy about the situation they should speak to him - or even go ahead and protest his outfit.

"Obviously the car has to comply with all the tests that the FIA prescribe, which are fairly comprehensive," Horner told AUTOSPORT. "We are happy that our car complies in every area."

"Using photographs is always dangerous. If the teams feel that there is a problem with it, normally the gentlemanly thing to do is to raise it with the team or, if they feel that there is a dramatic problem, obviously they have a right to protest. But we are happy that our car complies with the regulations.

"Using photographic evidence is only ever subjective because, has the camera moved? What is the fuel weight in the car? Has the driver braked heavier? Are the tyres pressures lower? There are so many variables that can influence what a picture looks like."

Article 3.15 of the F1 technical regulations states that bodywork that affects the aerodynamic performance of the car: "must be rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any degree of freedom)" and "must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car."

Such flexibility in the front wing is tested with a deflection test on the wing endplates, but there is currently no test for the flexibility of the central section.

Should the FIA find anything wrong with the designs of the car there are a number of options open to it.

If there is a blatant breach of the regulations it could choose to disqualify such cars from the race, or it could introduce a fresh wing deflection test for the next event in a bid to deter teams from trying to get the front wing to flex in such a way.

Another possibility is for one of the teams that is upset about the matter to take the issue as far as a protest.

Should the FIA give the designs the all clear, then it will be up to other outfits to work out ways to copy the wing designs in a bid to boost their own performance.

shares
comments
Bridgestone expecting dramatic race
Previous article

Bridgestone expecting dramatic race

Next article

Alonso leads Ferrari 1-2 in Germany

Alonso leads Ferrari 1-2 in Germany
The potential-laden F1 car that Ferrari neglected Plus

The potential-laden F1 car that Ferrari neglected

The late Mauro Forghieri played a key role in Ferrari’s mid-1960s turnaround, says STUART CODLING, and his pretty, intricate 1512 was among the most evocative cars of the 1.5-litre era. But a victim of priorities as Formula 1 was deemed less lucrative than success in sportscars, its true potential was never seen in period

Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss Plus

Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss

OPINION: Fred Vasseur has spent only a few weeks as team principal for the Ferrari Formula 1 team, but is already intent on taking the Scuderia back to the very top. And despite it being arguably the most demanding job in motorsport, the Frenchman is relishing the challenge

Formula 1
Jan 27, 2023
The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023 Plus

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023

Changes to the regulations for season two of Formula 1's ground-effects era aim to smooth out last year’s troubles and shut down loopholes. But what areas have been targeted, and what impact will this have?

Formula 1
Jan 26, 2023
Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history? Plus

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history?

Who are the quickest drivers in Formula 1 history? LUKE SMITH asked a jury of experienced and international panel of experts and F1 insiders. Some of them have worked closely with F1’s fastest-ever drivers – so who better to vote on our all-time top 50? We’re talking all-out speed here rather than size of trophy cabinet, so the results may surprise you…

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2023
One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1 Plus

One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1

OPINION: During what is traditionally a very quiet time of year in the Formula 1 news cycle, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been generating headlines. He’s been commenting on massive topics in a championship that loves them, but also addressing necessary smaller changes too. Here we suggest a further refinement that would be a big boon to fans

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
How can McLaren keep hold of Norris? Plus

How can McLaren keep hold of Norris?

Lando Norris is no longer the young cheeky-chappy at McLaren; he’s now the established ace. And F1's big guns will come calling if the team can’t give him a competitive car. Here's what the team needs to do to retain its prize asset

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make? Plus

What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make?

While a quick pitstop can make all the difference to the outcome of a Formula 1 race, most team managers say consistency is more important than pure speed. MATT KEW analyses the fastest pitstops from last season to see which ones – if any – made a genuine impact

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2023
When F1 ‘holiday’ races kept drivers busy through the winter Plus

When F1 ‘holiday’ races kept drivers busy through the winter

Modern Formula 1 fans have grown accustomed to a lull in racing during winter in the northern hemisphere. But, as MAURICE HAMILTON explains, there was a time when teams headed south of the equator rather than bunkering down in the factory. And why not? There was fun to be had, money to be made and reputations to forge…

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2023