IFCS (Brawn’s flexi wing technology) will be tested at the latest in the upcoming 2018 F1 season. It will be interesting to see how successful the flexi wing will be, since the drivers will be able to see more of the track by using the design.
While the concept of flexi-wings (or, more accurately, beryllium wings) has been around for decades, the recent spate of flexi-wing news has seen the concept being discussed at length in the media for the first time.
Formula One director Ross Brawn said he would be surprised if the protest against Red Bull’s anti-rear wings at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was upheld, as the FIA has been consistent in applying the flex-body rules.
The legitimacy of Red Bull’s rear wing was questioned by Mercedes’ rivals at the Spanish Grand Prix, as video footage showed the entire wing design collapsing on the straights, giving it an aerodynamic advantage.
In accordance with Article 3.8 of the Technical Regulation Formula 1, all components which affect the aerodynamic performance of the vehicle must be rigidly connected to the fully suspended part of the vehicle and remain motionless in relation to the suspended part of the vehicle.
Red Bull’s rear wing passed the necessary static load tests during scrubbing according to Article 3.9.3 and 3.9.4, but competitors argued that the video from Spain proved that the wing violated Article 3.8.
In response, the FIA issued a technical directive after the Spanish Grand Prix stating that such deformations … could be considered a breach of the provisions of Article 3.8, and also informed the teams that they would not be allowed to use their cars for this purpose from race 15 onwards. New load deflection tests will be introduced in June.
However, the timing of the new tests, which have been delayed to give the smaller teams time to adapt their designs, means that Red Bull’s original design has been thoroughly tested in Monaco and will be repeated at next weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
In the run-up to the Monaco Grand Prix, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff described the technical directive as timid and said the delay in introducing the new tests created a legal vacuum and opened the door to protests.
He further warned that a rejected protest could end up before the International Court of Appeals, creating a difficult situation that could put the outcome of the race in doubt for several weeks.
According to ESPN, Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin think their wings already meet the new tests, while at least six teams, if not seven, will have to make changes.
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is a likely target for protests, as the flexible rear wing design could provide a big advantage on the circuit’s long straights.
Red Bull’s rear wing collapsed under load at high speed. Lars Baron/Getty Images
Asked if he was concerned that the protests would leave the outcome of the race in Baku in limbo, Brown said: No, I don’t think so.
I think the FIA has been very consistent in its approach, he added. I’d be surprised if the stewards went against the FIA’s advice.
Brown, who worked at Benetton, Ferrari, Honda and Mercedes before joining F1, said the FIA had faced similar problems in the past.
I think this is probably the 27th version of the flexible rear wing [in the history of Formula 1], he added.
I’ve seen it happen many times in my 40 years as a racer.
I remember Patrick Head [Williams’ technical director] targeting our front wing at Park Farm because he thought it wasn’t stiff enough.
He wanted to show Charlie [Whiting, FIA race director] that he wasn’t stiff enough, so he stood on it and bounced up and down to show how flexible he was.
There are a number of FIA tests, and that’s the only way we could set the limits of what you can do.
If you test and some of the [competing] teams don’t like it, the FIA can look at it and say it’s fair and tighten up the testing, do more testing, so it’s a continuous process.
Honestly, I don’t think there’s any other way to solve this problem, because I don’t know how to quantify it.
Some think it’s too soft, others think it’s normal, which is why we do the tests.
If you put a mechanism or hinge on it, I agree that it’s a mistake.
But I see no problem with following the normal structure.
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