Start, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Tougher load tests planned to prevent F1 teams using flexible rear wings

2020 Hungarian Grand Prix

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The FIA is planning tougher load tests for rear wings to prevent teams using designs which flex under high loads to gain an aerodynamic benefit.

Flexible wings can change shape or position as F1 cars reach top speed in order to reduce drag. However fears they could fail and cause crashes prompted the FIA to restrict their use by imposing load tests on the cars. The first tests were introduced decades ago and have been revised since.

The FIA’s head of single-seater matters Nikolas Tombazis said today the tests are in now need of another update.

“We are looking at the rear wing flexibility and we do hope to make some enhancements to the regulation, to the deflection test sometime in the not-so-distant future. We want to do it reasonably carefully and not to rush it and make it a wrong call.”

“Basically, traditionally the best deflection regulations for aeroelasticity are the ones that most closely mimic the real load cases that the component can see on the track,” Tombazis explained.

“The force [the wing] sees is normally downwards and backwards approximately 40 degrees or so, so it’s got more downforce and drag. Currently the loads we put there is a horizontal pull-back and there’s a vertical load and some other, smaller loads on the trailing entries and so on.”

Tombazis said the plans to change the test had not arisen out of suspicions over what any particular team was doing with its car.

“We feel that [test] is perhaps getting slightly outdated and the teams may be using the fact that the load test and the real case loads are a bit different to design the wings in a way that they are most resistant where the FIA loads are but maybe less resistant where the real aero loads are.

“We’re trying to address that matter. It’s not a five-minute job but it’s on our job list.”

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12 comments on “Tougher load tests planned to prevent F1 teams using flexible rear wings”

  1. More Proof….

    You are only as good as you can cheat. Cheaters are winners because they win by cheating. If you are a driver that has to cheat to become a success then you are a scum bag.
    Try building a better car and a better team with in a better organization first.
    If the only solution is to cheat or circumvent the rules of the FIA then there is a place for you in American politics after your racing days are over.
    Let Drivers figure it out if they can. If you still find yourself considering how to cheat better then get the Hell out of Formula One. Sorry that won’t happen because to cheat is to win. To get caught cheating says enough.
    Win by team strength
    Win by driver talent
    Or Win by cheating

    I think cheating is very popular today, just look around. My gawd there are a lot of cheaters. Here there and everywhere

    1. Bill Shorter
      17th July 2020, 22:42

      You sound like a miserable person. I’m sorry your life didn’t turn out the way you planned. Can you please tell me what you enjoy about F1? Why do you even watch if it makes you so angry? Please find some joy in your life, sometime soon you’ll be dying and full of nothing but anger, regret and loneliness.

    2. Surely someone or some team triggers you. Can you show on the doll where …?

    3. the most sucessful are always the ones that cheat the best. Cheat as much as you can and then more, the ones that are bad at cheating get stopped.

  2. Come to think of it, Max Verstappen’s rear wing looked like it was moving about a fair bit during the last race. If you look at his rearward onboard shot during his battle with Valtteri Bottas, you can see it flexing and hunkering down a bit as the top speed built up.

    1. When they say wing flex, it is tottaly about not one team particularly… Like reaaly who thinks drinks give people flexible wings :) pfft all totally innocent…

    2. His DRS was dancing.

    3. I think Mercedes owe Red Bull a protest

    4. @brickles to supplement your comment, there is a video here with a rearward facing camera showing how Verstappen’s rear wing was flexing on the straights (it looks like the entire rear wing and endplates are rotating as a single rigid body to enable the rear wing to flatten out at higher speeds).

  3. All loaded members, be they wings, floor panels or engine covers, they all flex in response to loads.
    If you stipulate what loads go where, in what direction and in conjunction with what deflection, remember flex is inherent in all loaded materials, the designers will, and have, built the cars to meet those regulations. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t even make it onto the track for P1.
    Taking advantage of flex outside of the range, location or load case that is required by the rules, is NOT cheating. It is just good design within the rules. If it was deemed cheating, there would be a TD to address it, as has been done in the past.

    1. @rekibsn the FIA has already issued one Technical Directive last year that concerned the flexibility of the rear wing.

  4. I was lucky to sit in a physics of F1 talk by Patrick Head in 1998, and asked exactly this question.
    He glowered at me and emphasize that this would be against the moveable aero rules so both against the rules and the sporting spirit. As I recall he also said of course, you make the wing as light as possible while still passing the stiffness regulations and everything deforms to some degree. But he was (at least in public!) quite strident about any intent to gain aero advantage being unethical.

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