F1 FLEXIBLE DEBATE – Automatic action
While their drivers will fight in qualifying and the race at the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend, some of their F1 bosses are fighting themselves off the track.
At the center of the debate is how, when and why the FIA will apply the rules to diminish the aerodynamic benefits of rear fender flexion, and also what it will cost teams to comply with the changes.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton pointed out during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend that the Red Bull’s rear wing would bend backwards to create less drag on the straights and then it would move upwards. to produce more downforce when cornering.
The FIA, which had previously investigated the matter, issued a technical directive saying it would impose more stringent tests from June 15. It relates to article 3.8 of the Formula 1 technical regulations which stipulate that components influencing the aerodynamic performance of a car must be securely attached to the fully suspended part of the car.
This means that the current wings can still be used in the Grand Prix of Monaco and Azerbaijan in Baku.
Mercedes team manager Toto Wolff insisted the changes shouldn’t take four weeks.
“We have seen in the past that complicated team shuffles have a delay,” he said. “Clearly if you have a back-to-back race, or maybe even two weeks (between races), it’s too short for everyone to adjust. But we have four weeks in Baku, and it is incomprehensible that in four weeks you cannot stiffen a rear spoiler for the track (Baku) which is probably the most affected by the flexible rear fenders.
Wolff warned that suspicious cars could be challenged in Baku. But Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the current cars would be legal until June 15… after the race in Baku.
In addition, Horner said there must be a deadline for significant changes to technical regulations.
“You can’t expect coins to just be magic overnight with the costs that come with it,” he said. “The car has complied with the regulations that have been in place for about 18 months with these load tests, then the test or the regulations have been changed or the test has been changed and there has to be a notice period for that.”
The budget cap of US $ 145 million was introduced this year.
“For a team like us that are obviously hitting the cap, then of course strategically you have to make choices,” said Horner. “The impact of something like this is probably around half a million dollars, which will prevent anything else from happening. So this is the act of juggling that we now have to do with the budget cap and financial regulations.
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto has acknowledged that Ferrari is currently exploiting the flexibility of its rear fenders.
“I think all the teams are somehow exploiting what’s possible and what we think is right,” he said. “The technical directive further clarifies this. We’ll have to adapt slightly, but I don’t think that has much of an impact on Ferrari – and certainly on lap times from what we’ve seen, very, very little. But there are a few redesigns that need to be postponed somehow to fully comply with the tech directive. It doesn’t affect us much, but an overhaul is still needed. “
Ironically, while most teams will have to stiffen their rear fenders, Mercedes will be able to go the other way.
“We’ve been left in limbo for a long time,” Wolff said. “We reported on the flex rear fender situation last summer without receiving any comment.
“I understand the frustration of some teams when developing the concept for this year’s car, that this was an area that should have been addressed much earlier. Yes, we will have to modify our wing. We have to soften it. Our wing is extremely rigid, respecting the famous article 3.8 according to which it must remain stationary.
“The new test that has been introduced is a half-baked solution that gives us an opportunity, and the whole thing may soften and bend more in the future.”
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