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
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Plus

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Plus

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022