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FIA to act on "bendy" wings

NEWS STORY
13/05/2021

Following a comment made by Lewis Hamilton at the weekend, the FIA has confirmed that it is to act on "bendy" wings.

Speaking to Sky Sports in the aftermath of Saturday's qualifying session, when he out-qualified Max Verstappen by just 0.036s, eventual race winner, Lewis Hamilton said that his rivals had a "bendy (rear) wing", which he believed could account for some of the RBR16B's speed.

"The Red Bulls are really fast on the straights," said the Briton. "They have this bendy wing on the back of their car which they put on today and they gained at least three tenths from this wing.

"So they will be quicker down the straights than us, and it will be hard to keep them behind. But that doesn't mean it will be impossible."

"I saw the comments," responded Christian Horner when asked about Hamilton's comment. "Of course the cars are scrutineered thoroughly and there's pull back tests, there's all kinds of different tests it has to pass.

"The FIA are completely happy with the car, that it has passed all of those tests that are pretty stringent," he insisted.

"So I was surprised to see his comments on that. But it's something that Toto has mentioned to me previously. I doubt it was Lewis' opinion, so probably came from elsewhere."

While on Friday the Austrian team had been running a high downforce wing with an eye on the forthcoming race in Monaco, for Saturday it switched back to the lower drag version used previously.

Article 3.8 of the sport's technical regulations states that those components that influence a car's aerodynamic performance must be "rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car" - where rigidly secured means not having any degree of freedom - and "remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car".

On Tuesday, the FIA's single seater technical head, Nikolas Tombazis wrote to all the teams advising that new load deflection tests will be introduced from 15 June.

"We have become aware of some cases whereby rear designs which comply with the requirements of articles 3.9.3 and 3.9.4 nonetheless exhibit excessive deflections while the cars are in motion," he wrote.

"We believe that such deformations can have a significant influence on a car's aerodynamic performance and hence could be deemed to contravene the provisions of article 3.8.

"We will be looking out for any anomalous behaviour of the deformation of the rear wing," he added. "In particular we will not tolerate any persistent out of plane deformation that may be contrived to circumvent the symmetrical loading applied in the load deflection tests.

"Should we observe any characteristics that indicate exploitation of this area, we will introduce further load deflection tests as necessary."

The 15 June deadline gives the teams - whoever they might be - until just ahead of the French Grand Prix to make the necessary changes.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by kenji, 15/05/2021 1:26

"@ Spindoctor...Why did Hamilton mention it at all if in fact RB weren't 3/10ths faster as he claimed and that Mercedes weren't slower through the speed traps as he claimed? As for smiling when making the comments, I can't comment because I've not seen the footage but if he did he was trying to cover off a 'whinge' and make it appear less obvious. I'm also curious as to how the test limits are fixed in the first instance. The FIA would have established a basic allowance for deflection at an abitrary top speed but how would they anticipate levels of downforce created by individual design teams? If the established deflection in in excess of that level then the FIA have messed up as at the mandated level of deflection was commensurate with the test levels. Is this 'cheating'? I would argue that there are errors on both sides and that there may well be an 'unintended consequence' that happened to go in favor of the RB cars. Mercedes claims of excess performance don't appear to be substantiated either. All good fun and very very F1."

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Spindoctor, 14/05/2021 16:05

"@ kenji - I didn't notice Hamilton "Whingeing" in fact I think his comments were made with a big grin (not customarily compatible with whingeing). Not only that, but video from the Red Bull clearly shows the Rear wing (or perhaps the mounting) flexing. This is against the Regulations, not the "Spirit" but the Regs. What RBR did was to pass the test, while flouting the Rule.
Just because the cops don't catch you robbing the bank, it doesn't mean you're innocent! "

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3. Posted by MossMan, 14/05/2021 11:31

"I should have added that part of the problem is that when rules become extremely convoluted and prescriptive - and when people are always looking for loopholes - you end up in exactly the situation where some people feel unfairly targeted for "innovating" around the rules while others view them as cheats.

And then even more convoluted and prescriptive fine print gets added and people spend even more time looking for tricks and loopholes, and so on. And meanwhile the designs become more and more homogenous and innovation becomes more and more difficult and development becomes more and more expensive.

It's hard to know how to break out of this cycle, since any major change to allow innovation will also decrease safety - I see exactly the same issue in the aircraft industry."

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4. Posted by MossMan, 14/05/2021 11:14

"@CL - I agree, the point is not whether it passes the test, it's whether it passes the rules.

There does seem to be a split in approaches from both insiders and commentators. There are those who work on the principal that the tests are the gold standard and if they can be passed then anything goes. In my opinion, the rules are the rules (duh!) and the tests are merely a tool helping the authorities see if rules are being applied.

Taken from that perspective, any time a test has been circumvented it highlights an inadequate test - not that the team have made some innovation. In that case the authorities are perfectly within their rights to give the offending team a slap on the wrist and update the tests. And of course tests need to be relatively quick and simple to perform, so they will never perfectly cover every single aspect of every single rule. It's just not practical."

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5. Posted by CL, 14/05/2021 8:25

"@Stitch431 - the rule has not changed / been adapted. No one is picking on anyone. Red Bull tried to avoid the rule but were spotted."

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6. Posted by Stitch431, 14/05/2021 5:50

"Okay, but they did make it through the tests. Now if the FIA is adapting the weights in-season, they are adapting the rules in-season. That is not fair and is, after the track limit saga the second (3rd, 4th) time they rule in favor of Mercedes. Now everybody talks about the rear wing of Red Bull, but looking at the same video you can see the vertical shark fins of the Mercedes moving even more. I wonder if the FIA is going to control those wings too?"

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7. Posted by kenji, 13/05/2021 23:58

"Looked at by the 'devil's advocate... just say that a team builds a rear wing to the testing standards demanded by FIA rule book.Apparently it just so happens that the wing does deflect under certain load applications and therefore appears to flout the 'spirit' of the original rule. According to Newey there is no such thing as the 'spirit'of F1 and it's simply a matter of finding ways and means of extracting the max within the set guidelines. What should RB have done? Automatically change the construction/mounting of the wing voluntarily or looked upon their good luck until someone protests it. If the deflection is so obvious then why did they put it out there knowing that it would be seen and subsequently protested? Hamilton whined about the RB being faster than them on the straights but the speed trap figures I saw showed both Mercedes and RB with almost equal figures and across the start/finish line in fact I seem to recall that Mercedes were marginally faster! Why didn't Wolff protest it himself rather than have Hamilton do his bidding?.. more to this I think."

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8. Posted by Spindoctor, 13/05/2021 16:17

"Very clever of RBR to spot & exploit a potential "loophole". Article 3.8 explicitly forbids the kind of flexing & movement that has been highlighted (as seen for example on YouTube) on the Red Bull car.
I think FIA giving teams 4 weeks to sort it (I suspect it's mainly RBR...) is quite generous. Let's hope nobody gets hot-headed & protests what is clearly illegal - even if it does pass the test.


This is the bread & butter of F1 where Team X finds a tweak that passes the various tests designed to detect it, but is possibly\probably\actually illegal or maybe just "dodgy". When this is pointed-out, FIA has to take action, either by ruling it's OK, changing the tests or changing the Regulations. For example, Ferrari's PU was clearly unacceptable last season & has had to be changed, despite passing the tests then in force. In this instance of the "wiggling" wing the Regulation is unchanged, but the test will be stricter."

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9. Posted by CL, 13/05/2021 8:19

"@stackvideo. Mercedes were not breaking any rules that existed at the time. DAS has been outlawed for cost reasons (stifling innovation).

Bendy wings are breaking the current rules which were put in place for safety reasons, I seem to remember."

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10. Posted by stackvideo, 12/05/2021 23:50

"Strange how MB was allowed to keep the DAS until the end of the 2020 season which gave them a clear advantage with warming up the front tires and cornering, but now teams have 4 weeks to rectify their "bendy" wings????"

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11. Posted by Batman, 12/05/2021 18:09

"@ Jockey

I mean, in general obviously if the component integrated in the car does not comply with the regulations, it is illegal. We know that this is clear to everyone but there are always those who try to cross the border line which apparently (emphasizing apparently ) this is not the case. If a component does not break any rules, again apparently, and does not pose a security risk, does it make any sense to create a new rule just to ban it? Why not let everyone use it as happened with BAR and the double diffuser? After all creativity has to pay off. This is my point. The Mercedes DAS system was clever and legal but quite expensive.
"

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12. Posted by Mad Matt, 12/05/2021 13:33

"To go further the regulations don't allow flexible wings at all. The tests they've introduced are there to assess if the teams are meeting that rule or not. We've seen in the past that the teams found ways to get round the tests so the FIA has had to react to improve the tests and this is just another example of that.

"

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13. Posted by Jet Jockey, 12/05/2021 13:07

"@ Batman... The FIA implemented those rules many years ago because of "flexing" wings. Now if someone designed a new wing that can meet the present day standard but yet "bend" while on the car while it is racing, then I believe no matter how creative the design is, it was meant to circumnavigate the "spirit" of the rules and should be "outlawed". Mercedes lost the right to use their "DAS" system yet it was perfectly legal and had the blessing of the FIA so why would a team be allowed to use a "flexible wing" which goes against rules that are already on the books? "

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14. Posted by Jet Jockey, 12/05/2021 13:00

" @ F1nerd... Maybe Lewis is the one that brought out the subject in public but Horner already admitted that Lewis got the idea from Toto who had already talked to Horner about it... So perhaps there is something true about the Red Bull car and "bendy wings"."

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15. Posted by Batman, 12/05/2021 11:55

"Really? This is getting absolutely unacceptable. Criativity is in the human's genes how dare they constantly try to kill every single attempt of geniality. Each and every material have is degree or a certain amout of bendig delta (it must be and it come from the strength of molecular structure) otherwise is a rock and thats why rock get fractured. We are near to have an article with some mandatory colours and others not allowed. We whant to see criativity in F1. Don't kill is genes."

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