Aero elasticity – Red Bulls front wing

 

A very public exposure of the front wing flexing on the Red Bull was made during the German GP, the analysis by journalist Stephane Samson and photographer Darren Heath, showed the tips of the Red Bull front wing running far closer to the ground than their rivals. While some of these pictures can be explained partly by different ride heights, roll positions or attitude changes, some pictures show the Red Bull front wing in a drooped (anhedral) attitude. This has been backed up by on board footage, where by the roll hoop camera is fixed rigidly to the car and any movement of other sprung parts of the car should remain immobile in relation to the camera. Yet still the RB6 has routinely exhibited excessive movement through out the car speed range.

Aero Elasticity
Since the nineties F1 teams have been exploiting a phenomenon called “aero elasticity”, this is where the bodywork of the car, mainly the wings, flex to alter their aerodynamic characteristics. At first this was largely created by the entire rear wing assembly bending it backwards, then more specific parts of the rear wing and as exposed this season, the front wing of the Red Bull has been visibly flexing.

This flexibility can be for three different benefits, either reduced drag, improved balance or greater downforce. With a rear wing limiting top speed, most attention has been paid to reducing its drag. As mentioned this was first tackled by the top rear wing and endplates being angled backwards by the beam wing twisting. A few pre-season failures leading to big accidents saw the FIA introduce the first bodywork flexibility rules. In order to enforce the rules, the FIA designed the first deflection test, a rig pulls the wing backwards by the endplates and the deflection was measured. While this test stopped this practice, it also set a standard to which the cars had to meet in order to be deemed legal. Thus if the car passed the scrutineers deflection test, it was approved to race. However if the car could flex its wings and still meet the test, then they had an advantage that couldn’t be immediately penalised.
Soon teams sought to reduce the angle of attack of the rear wing via flexing the flap or main plane. Then as the FIA introduced additional deflection tests to circumvent these workarounds, the teams flexed the wings to reduce the slot gap and stall the rear wing (Much like a passive F-duct), again deflection tests and latterly the slot gap separator effectively stopped this practice.

Front wing flex

 
Exploiting aero-elasticity with the front wing has not been to reduce drag for greater straight-line speed, as the front wing produces very little drag. At the end of the nineties teams were using front wings that drooped into an anhedral shape (i.e the tips drooping downwards creating an inverted “V” shape). This placed the wing and its endplates closer to the ground, both of which gained more downforce. Firstly the wing was closer to the ground which increased the ground effect. Up to a point the lower a wing is to the ground the more downforce it generates. Then the endplates role in sealing the high pressure above the wing from the low pressure below it, is improved if the endplate can run closer to the ground. Effectively make it act like an Eighties wing-cars skirt. To prevent this the FIA produced another deflection test; a 50kg (500n) load is applied to the wings endplate, should not produce more than 10mm of movement. Again this had largely stopped the practice of excessive deflection for front wings.

However there were still benefits to be had from flexing the front wing flap that was not affected by this test. Instead the wing has been flexed to main a stable centre of pressures position, flexing the flap downward at speed to reduce the wings angle of attack reduced downforce and moves the centre of pressure backwards, reducing the cars tendency to be oversteery at high speed. There is now a deflection tests to prevent this practice.

Red Bulls RB6 front wing

At some races last year and evident through out this year is the front wing of the Red Bull RB6 flexing at speed. Visible from the on board camera above the drivers head, the front wing tips can be seen to slowly run closer to the ground as the car accelerates. As this is a low frequency movement, the effect can be seen in reverse as the cars brakes from high speed. The wings endplates springing up as the car rapidly loses speed and the aero load applied to the wing diminishes. This was clearly visible from the early season races and as early as the Chinese GP I emailed the FIA about this practice and whether it was deemed legal. They reiterated the standard 500n – 10mm deflection test and suggested the car was legal, not directly countering the point that the wing is seen flexing. While most teams wings will flex at high speed, whereby some movement is often seen as the car brakes from high speed. The amount of movement and the low speed at which it starts to occur are startling with the Red Bull wing. The point made by the FIA to me back in April and again after the German GP in late July was that the car met the deflection test, thus was legal to race.

This flex was seen back in China 2010, not simply Germany

Front wing Load cases
An F1 car makes its own weight in downforce at just 70mph, that’s ~600kg of load on the car, half of this load is from the wings and half from the diffuser, thus the wings create some 300Kg of load at this speed. With the cars centre of pressure being some where near 45% forward biased, this means the front wing is creating something like 140Kg of load, split between the left and right wing each wing is producing 70Kg of load at just 70Mph. this is the speed of the slowest turn at the Hungaroring this weekend and only slightly faster than the hairpin at Monaco! Thus the FIA limit of 50kg is vastly under specified for the actual load an F1 car sees at even the slowest circuits. Its not surprising a team can created a wing to beat the 50Kg-10mm deflection test and yet achieve far greater deflections, suggested to be as much as 25mm, at much faster corners.

How’s this done – is it legal?
An F1 front wing is a complex moulding of carbon fibre bonded to metal sections. Although the flaps and endplate are detachable, from a structural point of view a front wing is a single piece. Mounted at its centre section by pylons affixed under the nose cone, itself stoutly fastened to the front of the chassis. In the eyes of the rules and with the exception of the driver adjustable front flap, the front wing should meet the regulation 3.16 regarding aerodynamic influence:

-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.

Therefore the entire assembly can not be allowed to move in relation to the rest of the car. However no car can be 100% rigid and F1 cars are subjected to huge aerodynamic loads, hence the reason for the FIA to set the deflection test. If the wing can meet the test and still deflect above the test load, then the FIA deem it legal and the car can race. This could be achieved by accident or by design. Its possible that the carbon fibre lay up creating the wing will continue to deflect in a linear way all the way from zero load to 50kg and then for loads of 50kg upwards. It’s reasonable to assume most teams wing respond this way. However it’s possible to alter the layup of the carbon fibre or add some from of mechanical system (i.e. hinges or springs) to allow a non-linear repsonse to create the 10mm of movement at a 50Kg load, then create greater deflections above 50Kg. Thus the engineers could create wing that meets the deflection test, but would then deflect down to a desired ride height at a specified maximum speed.

While this is against the “spirit of the rules” which prohibit flexible bodywork they meet the test as defined by the FIA for flexible bodywork, thus the Red Bull and the Ferrari front wings are free to race in the eyes of the FIA.

I have again emailed the FIA to ask about additional deflection tests and have yet to receive a response.

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82 thoughts on “Aero elasticity – Red Bulls front wing

  1. Thanks for the very detailed analysis. Maybe the FIA should provide a spec front wing to prevent this practice. At the same time it could be designed to promote overtaking, and reduce development expenses so you could kill the whole flock of birds with one stone…

      • I agree it is yuk. But what about the current engine regs? Is not spec but what is the difference when they’re all rev limited and hp equalized?

        Besides, is there really value to be added to develop 30-odd front wings like Renault when it is not transferable anywhere else and discarded every other week? or is it better to regulate this so that funds can be better spent elsewhere?

  2. Excellent article. I probably spent half an hour replaying snippets of the last race on the DVR, with the occasional, “Well I’ll be…”

    Modern cars have “movable” aero devices, right? If F1 is the pinnacle of automobile design, then why not just remove the regulations and let the designers have at it? I assume design costs and safety are the primary factors here, but if they really want to reduce cost then why not follow IndyCar’s lead and start building “aero-kits” which any team can purchase? F1 claims to be a manufacturer’s series, but we know that they threw this out when they started allowing engine suppliers. So why stop at engines?

    • Balancing the need for technical innovation and keeping F1 at the pinnacle of motorsport against the need to keep costs and cornering speed under control, aswell as keeping the “show” (overtaking etc) exciting is a very, very difficult balancing act. Aero-kits and spec wings etc are a step way, way too far in the wrong direction. As scarbsf1 said above: “Yuk”!
      Not quite sure what your point is about engine suppliers. F1 has had engine suppliers distinct from the teams who build the cars for at least 50 years. Ferrari has been the only long term exception to this.

      • I was trying to be sarcastic. I do not want to see spec cars. And regarding engine suppliers, maybe I’m wrong, but remind me what was the big a due a few years ago about manufacturers vs suppliers, and the argument that some teams were basically not manufacturers and shouldn’t be allowed in F1. Was that about tubs, or what? Just asking because my memory is not that great.

  3. I have no issue with what Ferrari and Red Bull are doing… They are exploring the limits of the rules and that is what F1 engineers have always done…. Other teams only moan because they didn’t decide to do it or even think of it first! I wouldn’t like a new deftection test mid season because Red Bull and Ferrari have biult cars to the rulebook and don’t deserve to be penalised for it…, Great article though Scarbs!

    • I take your point, but I don’t agree. The rules on bodywork flexibility are clear. In recent years when teams have been flexing elements of rear wing or the front splitter (Remember during Stepney\Coughlan gate?) the FIA have taken immediate action, being fair and not punishing teams, but producing new deflection tests or clarifications by the next race.
      I can’t see why this situation is being treated differently by the media and the FIA.

      • The FIA seem much more amenable to the teams than ever before. Having set static tests and letting the teams get on with it, is a departure from previous years. I don’t believe that to be a bad thing, more something far more practical and workable, but open to these “variations”.

        The one thing that did surprise me was allowing teams the use of a fluidic switch for the operation of the f-duct. I don’t believe that McLaren require a fluidic switch because their cockpit is designed to channel sufficient volume. Whereas the competition could never do this without a new cockpit / chassis, but is possible with a fluidic switch. I feel if the fluidic switch had been presented initially, it would have been rejected by the FIA. Only once the concept of McLarens became known, did the fluidic switch become an acceptable alternative.

  4. I am really surprised at McLaren not being up to speed with this. It is obviously designed around a weakness in the FIA static tests for the regulation of the front wing flex. Why more of the top teams never considered this originally, is the big surprise. Engineering wise this is relatively straight forward. Anyone who saw the RBR set up for measuring the front wing flex in pre season should have twigged immediately. Even if you thought that was a hot wire anemometer, the parallel wires were a give away.

  5. Great read as usual…

    Say a team is able to make a frontwing that flexes as much as the RBR (and pass the FIA tests), would they then have to redesign all the winglets & endplates to accommodate them running lower to the ground? Or does making the endplates lower make them more efficient to the overall aero of the car?

    • Interesting point. I guess the original wing would work better being closer to ground. But as with all things aero, it would be even better if optimised to that attitude.

  6. Since an F1 wing (as opposed to a wing on a plane) generates negative lift (rather than lift), surely that wing’s dihedral rather than anhedral. No?

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  8. OK.. we all agree it helps, but let’s work on the difficult question. How do we make a wing the has a non-linear flex rate? One that bends at a faster rate the more weight that is added?

    • A mechanical mechanism (don’t even know if that’s legal) within the ‘skeletal’ structure of the wing? Or a different way they bond the carbonfibre together perhaps?
      I have no technical knowledge, so I’m just randomly throwing out possibilities… lol.

      Fascinating stuff, no doubt.

      • For anyone who’s tried one, think of a compound bow in archery, compared to a regular bow. Very stiff in initial deflection, then it gets lighter. Takes a load of cams and pulleys to do it but shows one way of designing such a device.

      • Another example: think of a pen-knife – when the blade is open it’s initially hard to move against the backspring, but once you pass a certain angle it folds more easily.
        Or an over-centre catch of the sort used on flight cases or preserving jars.
        There’s a variety of ways to design a mechanism that will jump from one stable state to another when a certain load is applied. I’m sure people as clever as F1 engineers can come up with something similar based purely on the material properties, without any moving mechanical part.

    • Have you ever seen those clickers used for animal training? You have a piece of pre stresses steel with a slightly biased geometry. The force required to deflect it to the neutral position is quite high, but the subsequent force for further deflection is very low, along with the force now required to hold it in it’s new position. Something very common and well understood in engineering.

  9. It would seem everyone but the FIA recognise that the current test is inadequate.

    Why are the FIA so reluctant to investigate and remove this loophole?

  10. Wouldn’t it be possible that the actuator for the wing adjustment could be used to “strengthen” the wing for the flex test, byway of the actuator rod inside the winglet and in another setting allow the wing to flex in that section of the wing.
    The car would be put through tech in one setting, and run in another with the flex adding DF….

  11. I remember spotting tid wing doing this very early on and assumed they must be running with very red line composite / design now very interesting to see its the focus of so much attention. Test should be to 80 kg. great article . STill not sure I see what benefit it gives flexing on the straight , guess high speed corners . GReat job redbull. IS it a record , their qualifying? Clear that Car doesn’t do as well in the race.

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  13. hi scarbs, i read your blog regularly, great work!!! i am an engineering idiot, may i ask in your opinion, was 10mm movement when 50kg is applied already very huge movement? and that should have prevented teams from running the front wings too low if they had not found a way to make it move non-linearly? i heard it’s like 24/25mm at 200kg at club silverstone?

  14. I was watching practice yesterday and wing failures at the start of the season were mentioned, also that Red Bull had had no problems since then.

    Incorrect, Vettel’s new front wing failed at Silverstone and he was given Webber’s.

    We were ao treated, thanks to Davidson’s peistance, slow motion shots of very considerable flexing in all but the slowest corners. This, like Ferari team orders must be illegal.

    At the very least last week’s one two should be reversed and the fine increased to $1,000,000 at least, but possibly J Todd’s Ferari pension would be at risk if he did not block such moves.

  15. CORRECTION after changing faulty keyboard!

    I was watching practice yesterday and wing failures at the start of the season were mentioned, also that Red Bull had had no problems since then.

    Incorrect, Vettel’s new front wing failed at Silverstone and he was given Webber’s.

    We were also treated, thanks to Davidson’s persistence, slow motion shots of very considerable flexing in all but the slowest corners. This, like Ferrari team orders must be illegal.

    At the very least last week’s one two should be reversed and the fine increased to $1,000,000 at least, but possibly J Todd’s Ferrari pension would be at risk if he did not block such moves.

  16. I wonder if the moveable flap linkage could be the answer as well as layup, the wing pass the load test with the flap in one position but flexes more when released.

  17. Barry, a good thought, but watching the wing yesterday it was moving down smartly but with no trace of a jerk (that was Alonso). I would suggest that it is done with very clever aerodynamics and a very special laminate.
    It would be interesting to know what the down force on the tip is at 50 mph and at 150 mph, also if the wing is designed so that at over 50 mph there a slight twisting moment at the tip which doubles or triples the down force on the tip. Any twist would be disguised by the curved shape of the end plate as shown above. Also where do the FIA inspectors hang the 50 Kg weight, in the centre?
    We must all look at any side shots of the car this afternoon and check the end plate profile.

  18. Scarbs:
    any clue whether the FIA are testing with 50kg on both sides at the same time?

    If not, then surely with the pylons acting as pivots & a soft(ish) central plane, you could pass the test & even with a wing that deflects over beyond tolerance at or below 50kg load at both ends of the wing in normal running?

    For non-linear deflection, (given this is a Newey car), could this not be achieved purely through the increase in D/F due to increasing ground-effect as the wing “droops”?

    It does seem the clearzone in the centre of the wing has pretty much inspired this development. Previous front wing twisting/flexing has been more focused on elements above the main plane given there were gains to be made across the length of the wing. With that removed, development at the extreme edges & endplates was predictable & creating skirt through flex is a logical progression…

  19. I guess intuitively ground effect might be one benefit? BUT I’m no aero expert , would you not need it to be in line with the ground , similar to under tray etc? I wonder if this diheadral mentioned above might be the key. CReating a cone shaped pressure wave . So its not just trying for mech grip from the tyres, there is a lateral portion assisting. BEtter front grip less degredation. BUt this would get slewed in dirty air and that’s the reason for disparity in the races

  20. I suspect the FIA will remain silent on the deflection test issue until a revised alternative can be used. They obviously aren’t going to admit that their test rigs are inadequate

    Great piece Scarbs

  21. If you follow that link you can see from 40s onwards how the wing rises!

    Kudos to RBR! Its a shame it took till midseason for the other teams to realise.

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    • I think the splitter movement has been controlled since the 2007 clarification, where the previous test pushing the splitter up was revised to pull it down as well and the sprung mounts many teams were running were banned. There was no doubt splitters moved, I recall seeing a BMW Saubers bargeboards slowly disappear from view along the straight from the onboard camera…

    • McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh:
      Every millimetre is about one point of downforce at the front, although it also improves the rear. So 25-30mm of vertical lowering of the endplates is one second [per lap], so it is fairly substantial.”

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  24. Having watched the video, it sure stands out that the wing rises under breaking. The opposite of what would be considered normal? If they were using a soft setup and depending on the floor moving up, this video would not seem to support that theory. I assume they need the floor to move upward so as not to drag and wear down if a settling type suspension is being used.

  25. After the Race in Hungary its been reported that the FIA will introduce a new additional flex test to the front wing. As well as the 50Kg-10mm test, they will also be able to apply a 100Kg-20mm test. With linear progression in the deflection from 50kg to 100kg, so that any non-linearity built into the stiffness of the structure. This should a positive step towards a resolution, lets see what the wings do at the end of the start-finish straight as they brake into la source at Spa.
    Also the frotn splitter mountings are under review. its thought the Red Bull can run a lower frotn ride height as the splitter is able to hinge upwards. The FIA have had a deflection test for many years to test this, again the noise in 2007 around Ferraris sprung mounting and McLarens pre-buckled stay (from the coughlan stepney furore) suggests team still biuld preload into this device, in order to meet the upwards deflection test and still deflect while out on track.

  26. Assuming Newey and his team figure a way to pass the test and still get their wings to flex in Spa, then what? Is the FIA test flawed, cuz clearly the wings are flexing quite a bit on TV… they just can’t prove it in a static, scrutineering environment.

    I know I’m getting way ahead of this, but I just have a sneaky suspicion that RBR’s thought this through and prepared for this day…

  27. Would Vettel’s finish in Hungary be the result of this front wing design?

    I know that everyone has aero-understeer when following a car, but it seems that this especially effects RBR. As soon as Vettel got within three car lengths of Alonso he lost all front grip, even going off coarse at one point. In fact, didn’t Webber have a hard time getting around a Lotus?

    So, RBR is beatable; if you can qualify on the first two rows (because the RBRs haven’t had the best launches), if you have a car that is within 1 – 2 seconds of their pace, if you can match their pit strategy, and if you can get in front of them going into turn one.

    It will be interesting to see what happens at Spa. You have RBR and Ferrari who seem to do well on the high speed turns, and McLaren who seems to do well on the straights. Spa has both.

  28. Hi Scarbs,

    I have just looked at your blog for the first time as I was directed here from another forum. Your article was facinating and I will be sure to bookmark your blog.

    Could you give me your own personal opinion on whether you think the new revised tests will actually catch Red Bull our with their front wing and/or floor and if so, how much do you think it will hurt them as surely it would harm the airflow throughout their car.

    • I’m glad you’ve found us…

      From my further research this week into the wing loadings and previous uses of wing deflections, I’d say upping the load to 100Kg may cause some inconvenience to Red Bull, they may have to find a new lay up for the wing to meet the test, but the effect will be negligible. 100Kg is still low speed corner loadings and not likely to make an impact on their pace.

      But lets be clear other teams are (or have been) flexing their wings for aero benefit. I am told when Charlie Whiting tests them, in the past he has asked teams for changes to their wings stiffneses, even though they’ve passed the 50kg-10mm test.

      • Ah right, so it looks like they’ll get away with it. Seems silly really that they don’t set the test at a weight of that which would represent the force round high speed corners, as this would also account for lower speed corners too, yet ensure they are not breaking the regulation at all. I assume other teams such as McLaren will have to develop something similar then now, seeming as even the new test is unlikely to stop Red Bull flexing their wing?

        Do you have any idea on whether the investigation into the Red Bull floor will highlight anything that they will be required to remove from their car?

      • I dont know the detail of Red Bulls front splitter mounting, so I can;t be sure that it will need changing, but the FIA are wise enough to recognise some one pushing their luck on that component

  29. “I dont know the detail of Red Bulls front splitter mounting, so I can;t be sure that it will need changing, but the FIA are wise enough to recognise some one pushing their luck on that component”

    yea it needs to be changed

  30. HI scarbs, if this wing thing is as you say simply about getting lower to the ground and one mm is a second a lap / forgive me if I mis quoted/ then surely this would be common to all wings . AFter all you have to design out the flexing and from memory the Williams looked super stiff . Aircraft wings are deemed more efficient when flexing there could be something in its ability to smooth out the bumps aero speaking , to help settle the car? If getting your wing low as poss was so fruitfull and the test is massively out , I’m surprised its not widely accepted as the way to design an F1 wing.

    • Its a benefit, but there’s a risk. I’ve since heard the gaisn are less than those claimed by Whitmarsh, but I’ve also heard other teams have been bending their wings in recent years. Its just that Red Bulls has been obvious and someones pointed it out.
      BTW look again at the Williams flap from the hungary on board footage, wheres the flap going at high speed?

  31. How does the splitter effect this situation? Is it being proposed that the splitter rises providing more ground clearance so the chassis/wing can move closer to the ground?

    What could cause the splitter to rise?

    • The splitter and plank beneath it, effectively cap front wing ride height. As the front suspension compresses, the splitter touches the ground and is not allowed to move (as it needs to meet a 200kg-5mm stiffness test). equally the titanium skid blocks are not allowed undue wear, so you cannot simply push the splitter into the ground. Then due to the geometry of the car the only way to lower the front wing is the raise the rear end, which is undesirable from an aero and balance point of view.
      So teams have been through a couple of loops with the FIA in creating splitters that bend upwards as they touch the ground. At first it was a simple bending, that the FIA then reacted with the scrutineers 200kg-5mm upward deflection test. Ferrari and other teams countered this with a mounting that was preloaded to meet the test and deflect at higher loads (Ferrari had a spring mount and McLaren their pre-buckled stay), this was banned in 2007. So if teams are able to still make their splitter bend upward without any untoward bracketry, they can run a lower front ride height and not wear the plank. To gain the alleged 0.1s gain per 1mm of ride height.

      • Scarbs, you wouldn’t already have an article out there about this, or could point us to one? This stuff is so cool.

        I’m a mech. engineer, who actually went to school with aspirations of working for F1, but I didn’t have the grades. We did have a Formula SAE car we developed which was mechanically flawed (clutch plate broke), but it was fun to drive. Anyway, you don’t want to know about me, but I do really enjoy your insight. Thanks.

      • An article about what stuff? flexing wings?

        Most of what I know is already written here, I also have my columns in Automoto365.com or Racecar-engineering.com.
        Previous tech stuff can be found on autosport.com, but most of it I think is on subscription only site.

      • My question, “you wouldn’t already have an article out there about this,” is in reference to your statement about splitters and planks, “The splitter and plank beneath it, effectively cap front wing ride height. As the front suspension compresses, the splitter touches the ground and is not allowed to move (as it needs to meet a 200kg-5mm stiffness test). equally the titanium skid blocks are not allowed undue wear, so you cannot simply push the splitter into the ground. Then due to the geometry of the car the only way to lower the front wing is the raise the rear end, which is undesirable from an aero and balance point of view.
        So teams have been through a couple of loops with the FIA in creating splitters that bend upwards as they touch the ground. At first it was a simple bending, that the FIA then reacted with the scrutineers 200kg-5mm upward deflection test. Ferrari and other teams countered this with a mounting that was preloaded to meet the test and deflect at higher loads (Ferrari had a spring mount and McLaren their pre-buckled stay), this was banned in 2007. So if teams are able to still make their splitter bend upward without any untoward bracketry, they can run a lower front ride height and not wear the plank. To gain the alleged 0.1s gain per 1mm of ride height.”

        Sorry for my apparent stupidity.

      • mea culpa, not yours…!

        I might have something from the stepney-gate days off the Autosport.com site, I’ll have a look and post anything I find.

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  33. I’m also reading this Blog for the first time and most of the aerodynamic advantages were already clear to me.
    However I fail to find a hypothesis about the flexing of the front-wing can act as a mass damper. If you set the weight distribution right (inside the wing) together with the flex allowed by composte layer build-up the front wing should be adjustable to meet the favourable natural frequentie to cancel out oscilations in the suspension.

  34. thanks very much,Maybe the FIA should provide a spec front wing to prevent this practice. At the same time it could be designed to promote overtaking.

    • I don’t think a spec front wing would be very well received by teams or fans. Overtaking is largely down to the wake created at the rear of the car, so design restrictions at that end I think woudl be more relevant.

      As far as the flexi frotn wing, the FIA simply need to amend their tests in order solve this issue.

  35. I’ve been thinking about how Red Bull could have incorporated a flexing splitter with the RB6.

    The connecting stay between the splitter and chassis is also connected to the front suspension internally. As the front suspension is deflected upwards under aero load of the chassis deflecting downwards, it pulls the stay and front tray up via some sort of internal mechanism, thereby acting a little like an active ride system.
    Considering how Red bull have developed a front wing that has been designed to flex, it may not be so far fetched that they’ve done the same with the splitter and some internal mounts.
    So perhaps the connecting stay and part of the front suspension is connected to an internal support that flexes.

    Obi

    • I think that’s not the case, as the movable suspension is against the rules, plus it will be too complex and far less reliable. I’d rather stick with the theory that the front wing itself is designed to be on the rules’ limit – the weight test is applied to the center of the wing, rather than the endplates, so I thing it’s the density of the materials is what matters here – that’s why Ferrari has a partial implementation of that design. Any other movable component is likely to be deemed illegal, and I don’t think the team would risk a ban or major refactor of the car. So, once again, my bet – smart design of the endplates based on internal layering of carbon and its density.

      • Hi mayon :)

        There is a picture taken of the RB6 just about to turn into the corner where Massa had the accident last year. The picture clearly shows the centre wing section significantly lower to the ground than in comparison to the MP4-25. The only possible way this cab occur is if the splitter is bending upwards, so I think both the wing endplates and splitter are working together.

        The flexing suspension mount I mentioned need only apply to the rear most lower A-arm support (closest to the splitter) on each side. Of course the legality of such a system is questionable, but if it involves flexing supports etc it may be pretty difficult to detect.

  36. Hi Craig, just found your site, hence this comment is rather late… so nice to find one that has such thoughtful content and feedback and not all about mud-slinging.

    Regarding the front wing, the F1 website has some detail of the new load test but is a little ambiguous. The old test I understood to apply load to points each side of the front wing that in effect were in line with the leading edge of the wing space-claim box as defined in the regs. The new test talks about measuring in the middle of the wings side section, what exactly does this mean? The old test simply assessed the wings resistance to pure bending of the main support beam, ignoring the fact that the aero load would be some distance back from the leading edge and would therefore exert a torque on the support structure tending to depress the rear of the winglet, something your article spoke of in the paragraph directly before the RB6 section. Obviously a composite structure can be made stiff in one sense, bending and weak in another, torsion, allowing the rear of the winglet to run considerably lower than the front. Various sites show on-board of this, I thought this one from Hungary showed it rather well

    http://alistairmilne.com/2010/08/02/new-f1-wing-tests/

    The movement of the rear of the wing seems greater than the China clip in your article, also the tip of nose cone seems visibly drop under the load!

    By contrast the McLaren wing seems to go up and down in a much more ‘parallel’ manner if you understand.

    In case my question got lost in the asking, do you now have the full detail of the tests carried out and what do you judge as the effect of these on RBR and Ferrari wings?

  37. There is actually a reference plane rule that states that no part of the body or aero surfaces can move below it “under any circumstances” – if you imagine that the wing is made to sit just above that plane under parc fermé conditions (so anybody with a ruler and too much spare time can deem it legal – you’d want it to start as low as you could get away with) chances are if you stuck it in a wind tunnel at 200mph (and thus out on track) it would actually drop below that plane – explicitly breaking rules not just morally but literally.

    There are other parts of the F1 rule book that it obviously explicitly breaks without needing to do deflection tests.

    Does the FIA even have a wind tunnel for testing cars?

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