Exclusive: FIA set to clamp down on ‘flexible wings’ by Belgian GP

The FIA is to clamp down on so-called ‘flexible wings’ – or at least attempt to clear the air on their use – by introducing more stringent load tests by the next race in Belgium.

The teams are being informed tonight at the governing body is making use of a rule which allows it to change the load tests in the course of the season, should it be deemed necessary. In essence teams are being told ‘this is what the tests will be like at the next race, be prepared’…

The FIA is to use Article 3.17.8 of the F1 Technical Regulations, which reads as follows:

“In order to ensure that the requirements of Article 3.15 are respected, the FIA reserves the right to introduce further load/deflection tests on any part of the bodywork which appears to be (or is suspected of), moving whilst the car is in motion.”

Article 3.15 covers movable bodywork as follows:

“With the exception of the cover described in Article 6.5.2 (when used in the pit lane), the driver adjustable bodywork described in Article 3.18 and the ducts described in Article 11.4, any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance:

“Must comply with the rules relating to bodywork must be rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any degree of freedom):

“Must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car:

“Any device or construction that is designed to bridge the gap between the sprung part of the car and the ground is prohibited under all circumstances.

“No part having an aerodynamic influence and no part of the bodywork, with the exception of the skid block in 3.13 above, may under any circumstances be located below the reference plane.”


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27 responses to “Exclusive: FIA set to clamp down on ‘flexible wings’ by Belgian GP

  1. Alan

    It will be interesting to see if the new tests will be different from the current 50kg/10mm deflection in Article 3.17.1, in terms of whether they will be brand new tests or just using a heavier weight.

    The endplates on the RBR car are clearly not ‘immobile’ but it’s difficult to imagine what new tests they could introduce, particularly if the flexing is achieved through a clever floor design rather than the wing itself, as has been mentioned.

    Adrian Newey has out-done himself this time. Especially since he’s managed to perplex the brains that invented the ‘F-Duct’!

  2. Therefore, all the Teams can now investigate messing with the spring rate of their front suspension?

    Is there something in the rules that prohibits drivers adjusting on that front wheel suspension.

    Oh, the webs we will weave…

  3. russ mckennett

    better late than never..Charlie blew another call last race.They obviously flex down under load.The rules dont allow moveable aerodynamic devices.How on earth could he have misunderstood all of that?

  4. Albert

    So, even if changes are made to affect a cure… does that mean that the two teams who knowingly cheated do so without penalty?

    Sotra like, it’s OK till you get caught? What kind of governing is that?

    • Patrickl

      Well the cars have to pass scrutineering and these cars did. Would be a bit silly to then disqualify them anyway.

      Of course if the wing endplates touch the ground or come below the reference plane then that’s a violation of the rules in itself .

      Other than that the FIA can change the tests for a future race, but not disqualify the car.

      Maybe they should mandate that new aero parts get homologated and tested in a windtunnel to inspect them for flexing.

  5. tom baker

    Until the wings can’t pass the test, they are legal.

    That said, I’m happy that they are making the test more stringent. I predict it will have the opposite effect that certain team principals envision.

    According to what I have read the test will use double the weight and allow double the deflection.

  6. The test should show that the Redbull endplates flex under a certain amount of downforce, ie 200kg which is caused when the cars travel at such speeds ie 200kph, this has been proven by first photograph & lately video, so the FIA have to use tests that will show this & if found to be using a flexi-wing, those teams should be docked points!!

    If Ferrari as well as Redbull are in breach of said rules, they could well be in serious trouble along with the teams orders scandal thats being investigated 🙂

  7. tathan

    Redbull aren’t in breach of any rules – they passed the tests, end of.

    ALL aero parts move – the most rigid material in the world moves when any load is applied. The question is how much is permissible. Currently, there is a quantitative test used to deem how much is permissible and the Redbulls pass this.

    How you can say that they should be docked is beyond me… They’ve pushed the rules to the limit through innovation and engineering excellence so you want them punished? Good one…

  8. **Paul**

    Maybe they can clamp down on McLarens wobbly engine cover/rollbar area as well? Onboard shots at speed are useless on the McLaren cars as something is moving about, it doesn’t happen on other cars, so I have to start wondering of it’s a ‘design feature’ like the RBR wing and F-Duct…

  9. Mark

    I’m confused. If the rules are supposed to ban flexible wings then why is the current test 50kg/10mm? This implies that it’s OK for the wing to flex, as long as it doesn’t flex too much.

  10. Troopy

    It’ll be nice to see more stringent testing to make it more of a level playing field because atm the Red Bull’s are a long way ahead the pack including Ferrari.

    It’s also funny how Ferrari even use deformable winglets to reduce drag/increase downforce on their road cars!!

  11. teamworf1

    Unfortunately, nothing is gonna happen!!! The redBs has to win the titles this year.

    All this is just to keep us talking! as every year!!!

  12. S

    Ferrari will recieve no further punishment for the team orders affair (that particular meeting takes places on the Monza weekend – no coincidence there).

    As for RBR, they’ll have seen all this coming. Any brain that is smart enough to design this current wing they’ve got, is smart enough to see a few months down the line. I believe they’ve designed this wing good enough to withstand non-moving weights up to an extreme level. It’s only when the weight (i.e, air that passes over the car) is moving laterally that the wing flexes. This is to do with the winglets. Basically, they can hang the eiffel tower off it in a stand-still test and it’d still pass the test, but put it out on track and watch that wing flex baby!

  13. Jonny

    I wonder whether its a torsion thing. If weights are placed on both sides of the wing at the same time then the deflection might be acceptable. If the weights are placed first on the left then the right, rather than both togther then any clever torison induced deflection might be uncovered.

  14. Kayleigh

    “If Ferrari as well as Redbull are in breach of said rules, they could well be in serious trouble”

    No that’s not how it works. Currently the front wing is in breach of the spirit of the rule, but is deemed legal because it passes the tests.
    Since the FIA testing method is changing, they will almost certainly have to modify the front wing for future races, in order for it to continue being legal.

  15. Looks like the flexi wings have always been illegal! I’m surprised, not having read the rules I assumed the load test was the only test. But the actual rule makes it clear that no flexing was intended to be allowed. In theory this could mean RBR’s results for the season and Ferrari’s last 2 race results could be annulled, although that is obviously unlikely given the furore that would arise.

    • Rob Rosin

      Sure the rule might make it clear no flexing is allowed but this is not actually achievable. All the teams wings are flexing to some degree. Just because you can see the flexing of the RBR and Ferrari it doesn’t mean the other teams aren’t flexing as well (albeit to a much less extent). So how could you only exclude RBR/Ferrari ?

      Hence the load test. Perhaps the load test was just not formulated correctly – if the loading for the test was closer to the max downforce that is achieved on the road then that would ensure that the wings comply with the spirit of the regs.

      In any case this season has really shown up some of the creativity of the designers. The lack of in-season testing has really helped the teams that developed f-ducts, flexi wings, etc prior to the season commencing preserve some of their advantage over the teams that didn’t have them at the beginning.

      I follow Mark but its great to see 5 guys in there with a chance.

  16. Graham Webb

    I believe the sensible answer would be to ban Adrian Newey. It is so unfair that he plies his magical talents to only one manufacturer at a time. History shows what a talented man he is, you only have to look back at the inovation he has created and the benefits he give to his employers. Nigel Mansel, when at Wiliams, said you were the most important man in any Grand prix team.
    Sorry Adrian your just too good. Please leave and let everybody race on the same level.

    • Nice idea, I bet the others would club together and pay him to stay away!

    • pete

      he knew it was illegal , yet he and red bull, said so what, go for it, we will get the wins, then face the rap from fia, for breaking the rules, who cares.
      so yes they should be penalised because they are cheating, and if fia dont do something about it, they lose credibility, in their ability to run f1.
      adrian newey is very clever, but he knew this innovation was against f1 rules.

  17. Sukuma Twende

    Obviously FIA’s static test does not take into account dynamic conditions at speed on the track. But why cannot FIA use the photographic and video evidence to prove (or not) the infraction? After all, Michelin had to modify their tyres when Ferrari used photographic evidence against Williams that at speed their tyres widened despite those tyres at rest meeting size specifications?

  18. Fred Harman

    I think each car should be subjected to our leading shot-putter jumping on the front wing from a height of 4 feet, using a pair of steps. Imagine the fun on the starting grid – 10 mins from the off !!!

  19. andrew

    what more can they do below is taken from http://www.formula1.com/news/technical/2010/835/780.html

    Although TV footage has shown the Red Bull front wing appear to almost touch the track surface at speed, the rules demand that when static it has to stay 75mm above the ground. Even so the car has passed all the necessary scrutineering checks, including a rigorous one on Saturday in Hungary with 200 kilogrammes applied to the RB6’s underbody and the plank.

  20. pete

    adrian newey has proved he is the best technology innovator wherever he goes, and his talent is wasted on f1, red bull are getting all their glory because of him, hes too good for them, and too clever for f1.

  21. Adrian Newey should start designing street legal cars immediately – for the sake of those with no hearts – the same guys that have fuel pump instead of it, the same persons that drink motor oil instead of coffee in the morning 🙂
    Kidding aside, the big improvement has been introduced in the last few races, right ? In terms of the big Red Bull’s domination of over 1 second more in the qualification ? Hence, my modest opinion draws a picture of modified front wing (only), not a clever suspension or moving floor parts, joints of smart fittings. I’ve read a lot of speculations and technical articles, all suggesting different things, most of them, however, illegal. Please, correct me if I’m wrong with the numbers and facts, but FIA is making tests on a static car, applying forces to the middle of the wing, right around the nose cone ? Certainly, the cars are moving around with ~300 km/h, thus generating a lot more forces to the wings, around 300 kg, AFAIK. So, even if the tests change to 100 kg, that would still be pretty easy for the Red Bull’s and Ferrari’s wings. My humble bet is on a clever material used (in terms of composite carbon layers), along with modified internal structure of the front wing – I’ve heard (again rumors) that some of the Red Bull’s mechanics have been spotted to scratch the bottom of the front wing’s surface with some abrasive material right before the qualification, thus loosing the material’s strength and subsequently allowing more elasticity.
    Whatever the case is, I’m extremely eager to find out what’s really happening, as this invention can easily win Red Bull’s both titles.

  22. jim cryan

    ok here is a idea let Adrian Newey start is own
    f1 team

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