FIA suspicious flexi-wings are being used in F1


Charlie and Jo Baur are clearly flexing their muscles with the team at present. The deluge of requests by the engine manufacturers to alter their power units under dubious the relief exemptions of ‘reliability and cost’ were tightened up this week following a technical directive from the FIA.

The FIA are now turning their attention to the age old problem of moveable aerodynamic parts. Ever since Colin Chapman devised the flimsy high mounted wings, on thin struts which frequently snapped, there have been F1 regulations to ensure any aerodynamic device is securely fitted to the car.

Another culprit falling foul of the flexible components controlling aerodynamic performance were the Renault mass damper system introduced in 2005. Though it took the FIA 18 months to ban this.

The Fric suspension systems were banned last year under the same premise and arguments were presented that the pistons as part of the blown diffuser configurations were moveable and affecting the aerodynamics of the car.

Article 3.15 of the technical regulations states:

“With the exception of the driver adjustable bodywork described in Article 3.18 (in addition to minimal parts solely associated with its actuation) 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. 

With the exception of the parts necessary for the adjustment described in Article 3.18 [drag reduction system], any car system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited”.

The most recent and fairly dramatic breach of this regulation which was punished, was following qualifying at the 2014 Abu Dhabi GP. Both Red Bull cars were excluded from the session having been found to have “front wing flaps were designed to flex under aerodynamic load.”

Red Bull responded: “We have been singled out for a front wing deflection test when it is clear that other teams are interpreting the rules in similar fashion.”

However, no appeal was made and the cars were instructed to start from the back of the grid. Though Red Bull then was forced to break the parc ferme regulations, to fit legal wings for the race – so Riciardo and Vettel started from the pit lane.

Today Autosport reports the FIA have issued a new technical directive which states: “The FIA intends to introduce a further load/deflection test on parts of the bodywork forward of the front wheels.

“A 60N point load will be applied to any part of the trailing edge of any front wing flap, the load will be applied normal to the flap at the relevant point.

“Under the load, the deflection may not exceed 3mm when measured vertically at the trailing edge.”

Often there is a lead time given for compliance with new technical directives, including a race weekend where grace will be given. This will no doubt spark speculation that a particular team is in the frame – for doing something the FIA believe to be beyond the limits allowed.

16 responses to “FIA suspicious flexi-wings are being used in F1

  1. So,
    a) the team(s) who are breaking the rules will be able to make the necessary fixes and we will never know who they were.
    b) it’s all nonsense and Charlie Whiting is chasing headlines, as he does every year.

  2. This directive is aimed at williams, which are the most obvious example of fw flexing atm.

  3. So the fundamental question is….

    Which team went to Charlie and Jo to complain?

    I mean we all know Charlie doesn’t just act on his own accord.

    • Red Bull likely. Can’t afford to finish behind Williams. Possibly Ferrari. Real issue is static load tests though. Don’t properly test for compliance.

  4. Yet another reason to mandate simpler and significantly less effective front wings. Make it so their flexing becomes finally inefficient in gaining time. Then the engineers will look at something else.

  5. F1 needs to get over its aversion to moveable aero. Seriously. It was never a safety problem for Jim Hall’s Chapparal, and aeroplanes have been managing quite nicely with it for near abouts 110 years. Chapman built his cars from papier mâché, then drilled them for added lightness, …hardly a paragon of durability.

    And the ruling against Lotus’ anti-squat front suspension probably is the most tortured interpretation of any regulation I can recall in my five decades of following F1. Once could make the same argument against the use of the accelerator pedal, because depressing it increases downforce, which reduces ground clearance.

    For one thing, adjustable aero could restore some of the potential for overtaking that was lost when F1 grew massively powerful (and turbluence-sensitive) multi-element front wings. Because drivers would reduce the angle of attack of their wings when entering straightaways to shed drag for optimal top speed. Leaving clean(er) air behind them, better suited to slingshot overtaking.

    And speaking of ground effects, at the risk of being branded an apostate, it has been more than 20 years since the death of Ayrton Senna. It is past time to turn his picture to the wall and investigate an updated version of ground effects that would be less vulnerable to the sort of failure that killed him.

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