Red Bull and Ferrari “flexi-wings” deemed legal by FIA tests


World © Octane Photographic Ltd. Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H rear wing. Thursday 9th June 2016, F1 Canadian GP Pitlane, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada. Digital Ref :1581LB1D9042

As is always the case in F1, designers look to stretch the bounds of the rules set out for them when it comes to developing their cars, and more often than not any intriguing innovations included by one team, will be questioned by the others, especially if they feel it is where the competition is gaining an advantage.

One such item of contention currently doing the rounds of the F1 paddock is the flexibility of the Scuderia Ferrari rear wing and the front wing of Red Bull Racing’s RB12. It has been pointed out, and seen on video footage that has recently emerged, that both these wings bend under high speed in an attempt to reduce drag. How they have been able to do this is unknown, whether it is against the spirit of sportsmanship is a contentious area, but as it stands both fall within the current regulations having completed and successfully passed FIA tests.

Article 3.15 of the F1 Technical Regulations states: “any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance must be rigidly secured – not having any degree of freedom – to the entirely sprung part of the car”.

The FIA have recently carried out more detailed tests on the rear wings of the top five constructors, in a bid to catch out anyone exploiting the regulations, but so far every team has been found to be compliant.

Rob Smedley, Head of Vehicle Performance at Williams Martini Racing, believes in light of this fact, it leaves the rest of the paddock without any cause to question the tactics of Ferrari or Red Bull, as he explained to motorsport.com recently.

“There is a very clear test known as the pull-back test.

“The pull-back test applies to the whole rear wing assembly, so you pull it back at the rear wing end plates.

“There is a very clear technical regulation that disallows any kind of moveable aerodynamic device – you all know that article because it gets cited on many occasions.

“It is not really for me to comment on what they are doing: I am assuming they haven’t contravened the technical regulations and I assume that they have passed everything that has been thrown at them in terms of static testing.”

Speaking after the Canadian Grand Prix, Red Bull Boss Christian Horner, disputed claims that the RB12 had a wing that flexed.

“The car has passed all the tests, they’ve looked at all these things in great scrutiny and there are no issues.”

Red Bull are well known for being able to get around rules, with Designer Adrian Newey a master at finding a loophole to extract as much performance as possible out of his machines.

Somewhere down the line Red Bull and Ferrari may eventually be pulled up for their bit of technical wizardry, but as things stand they are legally allowed to continue with their current line of development.