Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monaco, 2021

McLaren and Mercedes keeping up pressure in flexi-wings row ahead of Azerbaijan GP

2021 F1 Season

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Mercedes and McLaren remain dissatisfied rival teams are able to continue using rear wing designs which they believe flout the regulations.

The Monaco Grand Prix passed without any teams falling under protest for their wing designs. But that may change at the next race at the Baku City Circuit, which features several long straights where the flexing wings seen on some cars could offer a significant performance benefit.

The FIA has told teams have been told a tougher test will be introduced next month to police the rear wings, but not until after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Mercedes technical director James Allison said the team is “keeping an open mind” about whether rival teams such as Red Bull may risk using the wings at the next race.

“We’ll look and see what we see and figure out what to do when we see that,” said Allison. “It certainly is a track where they are particularly effective,” he added.

Earlier in the weekend Lewis Hamilton claimed Red Bull’s wing could be worth up to six tenths of a second per lap at Baku.

McLaren, who hold third in the constructors championship behind Red Bull and Mercedes, have also indicated their concerns over the wings. They are two points ahead of Ferrari, whose team principal Mattia Binotto has also indicated they will have to modify their rear wings once the test has been toughened up.

“Obviously, we’re independent of what Mercedes is doing,” said McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl. “We have a dialogue on this matter with the FIA as well at the moment.

“We are absolutely not happy that cars that, from our point of view, are clearly not within the regulations, after it got detected that they are not within the regulations, that our competitors can keep running these cars.”

“That’s why we have this dialogue with the FIA at the moment and then we have to take it from there in the next week.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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100 comments on “McLaren and Mercedes keeping up pressure in flexi-wings row ahead of Azerbaijan GP”

  1. Some videos on youtube show just how much they are bending, it’s like a mini drs that probably gives them a couple tenths a lap, and very obviously engineered to do so.

    1. Going through rear wing cameras, nose cams and slow-mo sideshots one can easily see lots of deflection on f1 cars.

  2. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    28th May 2021, 7:55

    They are all so hypocritical (=all teams) – Mercedes/Mclaren would be silent if they had a bendy rear wing.
    They would have been perfectly fine and defended the introduction per France (or actually criticized FIA decision to change testing method mid season).
    Same that Mercedes would not object or make any noise if it only was Alfa Romeo.

    1. If it was only Alfa Romeo @jelle-van-der-meer, this would most likely have been stopped a few races ago, since the lobby to postpone stricter checks would be far less potent.

      Off course they wouldn’t be talking about it if they themselves were doing this (exactly why Red Bull, who have clearly designed a wing to do something that is not legal, but able to pass the current tests are opposed to the stricter test that will stop them from using them). If they were, it would be other teams protesting this though – the ones NOT having it.

      Just like it was Red Bull and Ferrari who were loudest against things like the Mercedes DAS system. Or the FRIC suspension that Mercedes and Renault were furthest in implementing.

    2. @jelle-van-der-meer “They are all so hypocritical (=all teams) – Mercedes/Mclaren would be silent if they had a bendy rear wing.”

      So complaining about other teams that appear to be flouting the rules is hypocritical?

      Should other teams have stayed quiet about Ferrari’s engine?

      1. @scbriml I’ll bet they would’ve if they were playing that game too. But as they weren’t doing it, they turned it to their advantage.
        If the FIA had said “It’s totally legal – no problem” you can bet the other big teams would have had it on their car within a couple of events too.
        Same would’ve happened here, had the FIA said the wings are fine. Merc would have one on the car next week.

  3. I don’t get it; the wings pass the tests as set out by the FIA, how does that make it illegal?

    Shouldn’t Mercedes and McLaren make their own version? Or is this about saving costs under a budget cap?
    Instead of spending their own money to develop a legal bendy wing; whinge, and then make your opposition spend their money and time to fix a wing that was perfectly legal in the first place. I thought F1 was all about interpretation of the rules and engineering the best solution within those constraints?? Fair play to RedBull for getting it to work.

    I hope if these scenario’s play out under the budget cap there is an allowance made to extend the budget cap where rules are changed mid season otherwise expect a lot of he said / she said as teams jostle to spend less but try and make other teams spend more.

    1. The wings are legal as they pass all tests but the problem is that Mercedes don’t want to spend the money to make those wings (which is strange as their front wings are the same)
      Just lets them protest if the rules are clear those Wings are allowed. The problem is the new tests are breaking the wings and just make them stronger cost money and time just for new tests ….

      Maybe they should use memory ‘plastic’ when the pressure gets to heavy the material revert to original state (straight) nothing moves so they can’t complain anymore.

      1. They are not legal. The tests always evolve when they understand how the teams are getting around regulations. The wings must remain rigid and not flex. The tests are there to enforce the regulation, they are not the regulation itself.

        1. That’s really well put Carl!

          1. No, He Man, Carl is not right (sorry Carl…). First, there is no such thing as “wings must remain rigid and not flex”. No material/device is 100% rigid and that is why tolerances and tests are used in Engineering when you want define specifications. The visual conformance to the specifications, based on Hamiltons eyesight or cameras or whatever is nonsense. If the wings appear to flex “too much” (whatever that means), change the test criteria. At the moment, those wings are legal because they meet the requirements of the rule makers. Finally, the tests are not designed to enforce the regulations, they are, in this case, the regulation. But if they were to enforce and the cars were ok, well, they are legal, right?

        2. Steven Van Langendonck
          28th May 2021, 10:50

          I largely agree. Unfortunately this is F1.
          If you say that the wing should not flex I’m sure the answer from the offending teams will be: define ‘not flex’.
          Does the Mercedes wing flex not flex at all (even a few millimetres)?
          We know that their front wings flex.
          So if you make the rule absolute no one is completely compliant.
          If you don’t, then the question is: how much flexibility is allowed.

          And then the FIA tests will be pointed at…

          1. Exactly that. If the wings are not allowed to flex, then Mercedes better design a new front wing. I doubt there is a single aero part on the cars that doesn’t flex at all under load.

            If we’re going to allow a small amount of flex then how much is allowed and how will it be measured. The teams will then design parts to try and get as close to that limit as possible.

          2. I doubt there is a single aero part on the cars that doesn’t flex at all under load.

            No doubt needed. No material is perfectly rigid. Everything flexes under pressure. It is a matter of tolerance, If the teams believe flexible wings are beneficial, they’ll go to the maximum flexibility they can get away with. In real life, the tests ARE the regulation, or at least the only part of the regulation that matters.

        3. They are legal, because they have passed all FIA tests to this point. Nothing can be done until the FIA creates either new “standards” or new tests to show compliance.

          For those crying “The wings must remain rigid and not flex” then you really don’t understand physics or engineering. There is no such thing as “rigid” in real life. Everything thing flexes, it always about how much it “flexes”.

          1. Alex Raymond Limpkin
            28th May 2021, 21:28

            Something is not legal just because a team has found a way to cheat a test.

        4. The Problem is that you can only fullfill the wording of the rule if you defy physics. Every Material and design will flex under load, you can only control by how much. Thats why there are predefined tests to check the rigidity.
          So a lawyer will maybe say they are illegal and an engineer will tell you if that is the case every wing is illegal.

        5. @mysticarl “They are not legal. The tests always evolve when they understand how the teams are getting around regulations. The wings must remain rigid and not flex. The tests are there to enforce the regulation, they are not the regulation itself.”

          Just because you have decided they are not legal does not make them illegal. Do you know how much flex is allowed? If the wings must remain rigid and not flex then the video of Mercedes’ rear wing also flexing, just less so than RBR’s, therefore makes Mercedes’ rear wing legal, by your scientific analysis then?

          Sure tests evolve, and under the current ones RBR passes. And who is to say with the new tests it won’t also pass, or that Mercedes will not have to make a new wing themselves in order to pass the evolved tests? All we’ve seen is a video showing RBR’s rear wing flexing a little more than Mercedes’ does. I think I’ll wait until FIA officially declares anybody’s wing illegal.

          1. @robbie Red Bull’s rear wing at Spain wasn’t just “flexing” a little more than the Mercedes one, it was moving up and down by several centimeters.

            Clearly the FIA is concerned about it enough to implement new tests and require teams to apply markings to the rear wing so that deflection can be measured in racing conditions.

          2. @scbriml That’s fair comment but the sentiment of my meaning is that I don’t think the difference in the amount RBR’s wing flexes vs the amount Mercedes and others does will amount to much difference in performance between the cars. They all flex somewhat, some more than others, but they will all have to meet a new test, and I don’t think any of that is going to change where the teams and drivers stand amongst each other. It has been only very briefly and only at the highest of speeds that the wing flexes downward anyway, and certainly Mercedes claim that it is .6 of a second seems highly unlikely, although they do claim “up to” that amount. That is likely because they know that their wing flexes some too.

          3. @robbie I haven’t decided they are illegal, the FIA have already, and they’ve given the teams affected special dispensation to race with these wings that break the rules until after Baku. I’m not acting as some sort of know-all here! I believe they are allowed to rotate up to 1 degree of rotation from their mounting point as clarified by the FIA, and the FIA are clear that the wings from a number of teams fail to meet this at the moment.

            I’m aware that things have to flex. However, these wings flex in a non-linear way which has been engineered by the teams to do so to get around the tests enforcing the regulation. It’s the same as the flexi wings back 10 years ago or so really, and the FIA had to adjust things to make sure the tests enforced the regulation back then too.

            The FIA are clear that they will use video footage as well as the updated tests to enforce the regulation in future so I don’t expect this to be a long-running issue.

            Hopefully Baku will just give us a decent race and we can forget about this stuff in future races!

          4. @mysticarl But again though, they have not said the wings are illegal. You are implying that. Unless of course you have quotes from them? For me the facts are simple. All wings currently pass the FIA’s own tests. Therefore they can hardly call anyone’s wings illegal, for they have no team failing their own tests. that we’re aware of anyway. If RBR and others have taken license with this and have found a way to both pass the FIA’s own tests, and still have it flex more than it should, then it is up to FIA to then make more stringent tests, which is seems is what they are going to do, but as it stands, all teams wings pass current tests as far as we officially know. As I say, unless you have quotes from FIA saying otherwise.

            Taking it to an extreme, lets say they were in a court of law and FIA was asked, do RBR’s rear wings pass your tests or not? FIA would have no choice but to say yes they do. Does it fall on RBR (and the other teams with flex wings) that FIA’s own tests need to be more stringent? Once a team passes their tests, why would they feel the need to make them even stiffer? By what measure would a team have to go by when they have already passed the test? How much beefier should they make their wing unnecessarily when they know their competition is likely making their wings to the limits of the regs too?

            As I bottom lined my above comment to you, I’ll wait for FIA to officially declare RBR’s and any other team’s rear wing illegal, and I’ll not take your assumption as the truth. This is why they are investigating, and making changes, but haven’t jumped to the conclusion that you have that RBR or anyone else’s wings are illegal. Illegal, to me, would mean they scutinized RBR’s wing and it did not pass FIA’s tests. That is not the case.

        6. The wings are allowed to flex and need to be able flex in order to carry out their job properly. If they are not able to flex then they would break, simple as.

          What they are not meant to do is have more than a predefined amount of flex under a given load. Currently the RBR wing does not show too much flex when under the given load and as such potentially legal. As has been pointed out the front wing on the Mercedes also flexes to a high degree.

      2. @macleod There’s a difference between passing the test and breaking the rules.

        I’m driving 20mph over the speed limit, but slow down for the speed camera, then immediately speed up again. The speed limit is the rule and the speed camera is the test. I’m breaking the rules even though I passed the test.

        1. But it can’t be proven – so it remains acceptable until a different test is devised to provide that proof.

          1. If the FIA didn’t think the rules are being broken, why are they making the tests harder and making teams put markings on their rear wings so that the movement can be measured at racing speeds?

          2. Because Mercedes complained about it, perhaps? ;)
            Didn’t hear a peep from the FIA until Merc took it to the media.

        2. It’s a bit harder then that if the rule would say it can’t move 1 cm or more during load that would be easy to check then if that and wrong tests.

          Funny part the Red Bull wings doesn’t move that much it’s the part where the wings are fixed on that moves. I wonder if that is also in the rules.

    2. Dan Rooke (@geekzilla9000)
      28th May 2021, 8:53

      @Mooa42 – I though thought the same thing. It seemed to me like Red Bull and others had engineered a clever solution that works within the rules.

      However, I’ve changed my mind – the actual rule is that the wing should not flex (beyond a permitted threshold). The teams have then designed the wing in such a way that it doesn’t fail the test but still clearly breaks the rule (or rather – works to the very limit of the rule, to use engineer-speak!). If the rule was that the wing shouldn’t flex under the pressures of the test then I would say the wings were legal and pretty clever, and therefore the other teams should develop to get one themselves. But the test isn’t mentioned in the rule and rule is simply that the wings shouldn’t change shape, which they are doing. Because the teams know how this is tested, they know how to get around the test and ensure their car passes the test and gets the “legal” rubber stamp.

      It’s a shame, I do like nifty little innovations and I was absolutely all for them keeping the flexi-wings to start with, but when you see the actual rule, it’s clear that they are a bit *too* naughty. Especially when Mercedes had to ditch their DAS. At least they get to keep them for the straights of Baku! :-D

      1. They could use the DAS for a complete season.

        1. But then DAS was not illegal

          1. Yes it was according to fia.
            But the loophole in the rules was only closed for this year.

        2. Which, if it had been fitted to a Red Bull car last year, everyone knows you would be defending it as being legal as if your life depended on it. Indeed, if Max ever does drive for Mercedes, we know how easily you’ll switch from claiming that was wrong to it being right.

          It’s the same depressing hyper partisanship – you can’t accept the possibility that your team could be in the wrong, nor do you seem to be able to accept the possibility that your rivals could be in the right.

          1. anon Isn’t that just the way it goes with some fans though? Of course I am obviously known around here as one that leans towards RBR and Max currently, but I certainly do not consider anything whatsoever untoward regarding DAS for Mercedes last year. So some fans take their leanings and their comments as such towards one team or driver to more of an extreme than others.

            So regarding the flexy wing issue, of which video shows Mercedes’ rear wing also flexing, just not as much, what if it were the reverse and it was Mercedes’ rear wing that was flexing that little bit more? I’m sure LH fans would be here applauding their innovation and ability to find a loophole, and it wouldn’t be their fault that FIA’s tests weren’t stringent enough until some whiners on other teams complained. It wouldn’t be making that much of a difference anyway.

            For now none of us know exactly how much flex is allowed by whatever scientific measure they will use, and for all we know RBR might pass the new test as it is, or Mercedes might fail it along with RBR, for their rear wing flexes too. I reject anyone saying RBR is cheating, just as I am not going to say Mercedes is also cheating with their flexy rear wing either. But it is not like Mercedes is innocent here of bending the rules, pardon the pun. It is not like any of the teams are fully innocent here, and that includes looking at the front wings too. I’m assuming they all also meet the current FIA testing, but let’s not kid ourselves that they are not taking advantage of elements of the fronts wings laying down under speed as well. Perfectly legal? Fine. It just shows they’re all interested in some flex to the limit of the testing, if we want to talk about the spirit of the rules, and for now nothing has indicated RBR nor anyone is officially running anything illegal as per current standards, until FIA officially announces something.

          2. @anon ..and you would have complained it was illegal by the same ‘depressing hyper partisanship’.

            Doubly ironic. Mostly sad.

          3. @balue why are you trying to threaten and intimidate me in this way? I am not going to put up with a campaign of harassment from you.

          4. Where’s the chill pills gone?

          5. Why need a own opinion if there is anon.
            Saves a lot of typing.

        3. The FIA ruled that DAS was legal for 2020. DAS did not break any rules. You know that, so pretty pointless keep bringing it up.

          Red Bull’s flappy wing seems to be clearly in breach of 3.8 of the technical regulations, despite passing the tests specified in 3.9. If the FIA thought everything was OK, one has to ask why they’ve decided to tighten up the testing and have asked all teams to apply marking to the rear wings so that movement can be measured at racing speeds.

          1. Are you sure the wing flexes? i rather think something else is moving.

      2. Steven Van Langendonck
        28th May 2021, 11:00

        That’s interesting. I didn’t know that.
        If I remember correctly the wing itself does not flex but rather the whole wing assembly rotates backwards. Is that the loophole?
        If the wing would be in clear violation of the rules it would not be allowed to continue being used, I would think.

      3. I wonder if people are missing an important point. Its not that the wings flex, but that they are being designed to flex to gain an aerodynamic advantage. That i believe is illegal. Moveable aerodynamic devices are illegal as in the driver does something to cause the device to move. This is clever way to get around it my using aerodynamics to cause a wing to move to specifucally gain an advantage. Thats very different from a wing randomly wabbling due to aerodynamic loads. If i am not mistaken there were rear wings banned previously that were designed to lean back at high speeds.

        1. Indeed, so i wonder what the rules says about that. If it’s moving the rear part of the chassis that would be ‘legal’

    3. It is because there seems to be a misconception that the test is the regulation, when it is just a means of checking if the teams are obeying the regulation.

      A team can pass the test and still have an illegal wing if the mechanism by which they pass the test, but then achieve different performance on the track is illegal.

      Red Bull has set a precedent in that area – they were disqualified from one qualifying session because, whilst their front wing technically did pass the deflection tests, it did so by using an illegal component.

      As others note, the wing is illegal by the definition of the rules – what Red Bull are doing is taking advantage of the way that they test the wing to make it look as if it is legal.

      1. anon As I say above, RBR’s “illegality” of their rear wing is merely a matter of opinion at this point. Mercedes’ rear wing flexes too, just not as much, so this becomes a matter for the FIA to investigate, which they are doing, and I’m sure they will somehow determine how much flex is too much via their new testing. For now, just from the informal viewing of the camera shots we have seen, where Mercedes’ rear wing also flexes, then who is to say their wing is legal then, based on that unscientific observation?

        “As others note” is not the FIA officially claiming anything for now. It is just as likely that based on the new more stringent tests it will be as Vasseur has claimed which is that they will all have to redesign their wings as they all design them to the limits of the regs. Mercedes certainly seem to have taken some license in this regard too, including potentially with their front wings, so let’s not paint them as entirely innocent of looking at this area of flex for gain.

    4. The phenomenon seems to be linked with higher rake aerodynamics. I think this is their eay of getting back at the fia.

      1. @peartree McLaren has a high rake design.

        1. And where do McLaren get their engines from?
          F1 politics are getting stronger every day.

        2. @f1osaurus no they don’t and they have less and less since 2019.

          1. @peartree They do have a high rake design. They actually contemplated switching to low rake for 2021, but didn’t

          2. @f1osaurus yes and mercedes is really on the back foot red bull is much quicker, Honda has loads more power, mercedes does not have enough budget after Bottas’ crash and to make matters worse his wheel got stuck at monaco because he parked the car wrong…. All blabbe.
            Look at the picture on that article, the mclaren is a low rake car.

          3. @peartree Well Verstappen had the car for pole every race this season yes. That he fails to put a proper lap together or to keep the car on track doesn’t negate that fact. You can stick your head in the sand, but it remains true.

            McLaren considers itself a high rake car. But of course you know better than they do. Man o man are you delusional to no end or what.

          4. @f1osaurus If you read only what Keys said you realise that he does not consider the mclaren anything, he talks about both philosophies and about making any changes before the end of the regs. I’m delusional because I see what is there to be seen, just look at that nose look at that picturr compare the merc with the mclaren. you are not delusional because like modern journalism you imply and read what you want to see and thus make your own reality

          5. @peartree If you actually read what he’s talking about then you see they are contemplating changing the car from the current “high” rake design to a low “rake” one. He LITERALLY says so.

            It might not be as extreme as Red Bull’s rake, but if you look at a side photo it’s clearly high rake.

            And seriously, how dumb can you be looking at a top down picture of a car in the corner and thinking it shows anything of a rake? Look at photo from the side and there clearly is a rake. Much more than the low rake cars have.

            Yeah talk about “own reality”. You are clearly the sole one in that little brain fart of yours. At least I live in the same reality as Key.

    5. Well, the test is to demonstrate that the stiffness of the structure meets the requirements set out by the FIA; meeting the requirements for this test and assuming that a “normal” linear deflection occurs with increasing loads will let you know how much total deflection to expect on the wing at speed, this can be seen and measured from the rear view camera.
      The problem is that there is much more deflection existing in the RB wing, this means that the layup for the structure is such that there is a non linear deflection-load curve, which is not a normal material characteristic, but is one that is designed to get around the rules.
      This is something RB has previous with, they engineered this into the front wing a few years ago to increase the droop and hence downforce produced by running the ends of the wings closer to the track for better grip in high speed corners.

  4. FIA have basically admitted the rotation is illegal, by raising the test loads to prevent it, and the limbo dance teams have admitted they break the rule. Slam dunk, you’d think.

    1. Oh, I think there is no word of that from the FIA.

      But i think Red Bull needs the time to adjust the wings to pass the new test (and they will still bend…)

      1. This, Red Bull have invested so much in aeroelasticity, it would surprise me if they find a way to have it both pass the test and still bend a bit

        1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
          28th May 2021, 9:03

          Going forward once the new test is in place the wings will have markers on them and a camera on the car to look at them. In effect each team will police itself. If it bends too much then it will incur a penalty.

          Some flexing will be allowed and I think a limit has been set.

      2. No word in public @macleod, and yes the limbo teams need time to make them bend exactly the right amount but do they need time to stop the pylons rotating at all? I think not: it’s just a carbon fibre beam, nuts and bolts after all. And Rule 3.8 is quite clear, just not numeric, and if an aero surface is deliberately engineered to be ‘mobile’ then it doesn’t need any further rules like tests to be a breach.

        1. Well usually in law there is such a thing as a general provision and a special one and more often than not special one takes precedent over the general one. Seems to me Article 3.9 is the specific one that is the one that governs the flexibility so yeah, some flex is indeed allowed if it were not for that Merc wing would be just as “illegal”.

  5. Two rather than several, and the longer one is where the impact will be greater. Anyway, this whole matter can get messy.

  6. Isn’t the precedent that the FIA will do a secret, behind the scenes deal with Ferrari and Red Bull, fail to produce any documentation on the matter and then both teams will drop to the midfield?

    1. all the while allowing the points scored by team and driver to be retained.

  7. F1 – the money game.
    Either some teams are compelled to spend more money to design new parts, or their competitors are compelled to spend more money to design new parts.
    Round and round we go. Where it stops, nobody knows.

    1. This! Budget wars are the new power play in F1. Wolff knows Ineos already have no more flexibility in their budget for this year so the game is to now pressure your oppositions budget by forcing redesigns on them.

  8. Looking forward to noise from Wolf crier and Lewhine Hamilton at Baku next weekend
    Can’t wait

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      28th May 2021, 10:42

      McLaren are very close to Ferrari. They feel the same as MB.

      With only two points in it they don’t want Ferrari to gain anything.

      1. @andyfromsandy Surely you’re not suggesting Ferrari are playing loose with the rules? I’m shocked.

  9. After years of clever innovations from Mercedes, it’s quite something to see the sour grapes now they’ve got a real fight for the championship.

    1. @cduk_mugello Cheating needs to be stopped. Besides it’s not just Mercedes, but McLaren obviously are also quite vocal against these cheats.

      1. @F10clown

        Wait, Mercedes’ slave team is also against these cheats…..what a surprise.

        But since they are against cheating, can we expect them challenging Mercedes’ very bendy, and thus very cheaty, front wing?

        Oh wait, let me guess: According to you the Mercedes front wing is very legal cause it passed the test, right?
        (Just like Mercedes never broke the fuel regulations because burning 6 gallons of oil didn’t count as fuel, and they therefor didn’t cheat, right?)

        BTW: Between Red Bull and Mercedes there is only one brand who had no qualms cheating and scamming millions of their customers…..and it isn’t Red Bull.

        What was it again: Oh yes, Daimler Benz scammed millions of their customers for a bit of cash!

        1. So true. It is amazing how conveniently people forget about Mercedes oil brining engines dominating the sport for three years until Ferrari learned to do it better and Merc had to effectively snitch on themselves to regulate the avenue from which they were no longer benefitting from.

        2. Niki101, you really should reign in the name calling and deliberate provocation there – that sort of behaviour isn’t welcome here.

          1. It’s an completely impossible task.

        3. Then if Red Bull think Mercedes front wing is illegal, it’s up to them to put their money where their mouth is and put in a protest about it. I don’t think they will.

        4. Oh snap here we go again.

  10. There’s a difference between passing a test and complying with the rules

    The rules state maximum levels of deflection, and the tests are intended to catch that, but if you see something clearly deforming more on track than in a test then it means the test is inadequate, not that the solution is rule compliant

    If it were left unchecked then every team would need to invest in developing a solution, which makes having limited levels of deflection pointless, they may as well just scrap the rule rather than force teams to engineer unnecessarily complex solutions to pass a test while still achieving the same result

    1. I think you’re right with the difference between the rules and the test. DAS complied with the rules, which were then changed for the following year, the flexible wings have been designed to pass the test not necessarily comply with the rules.

      The test is a practical expression of the rules which has been discovered, in this case, to be insufficient to enforce the rule as written. Therefore it’s reasonable that the test be changed to one that is closer to the rule. It’s not a rule change.

      I think Merc and McL are as entitle to protest and complain as RedBull did over DAS, Renault did over the Pink Merc and so on. Anyone that fails to see that is far to blinkered and partisan to be sporting as far as I’m concerned.

      This sport is fought on the race track, in the factory and in the “court room” and that’s what makes it fascinating. In my opinion anyway!

    2. Agreed – it was the same for the fuel flow issue – the sensor was there to enforce the regulation, not be the regulation. When they knew people were cheating the regulation, they changed the testing to make it much harder to do. I’m still not convinced power monitoring both sensors to detect when measurements are happening and allow that small period to have higher fuel flow isn’t possible, but teams are at least aware that doing such things is against the regulation.

      If the teams aren’t careful we’ll end up with spec parts for things like this and I don’t think we want that.

      Some deflection is inevitable yes, but that deflection should basically be linear in nature, and not designed to be exaggerated past a certain load point. Clearly in this case the load-to-deflection profile is deliberately non-linear.

      1. The Ferrari fuel flow cheat is not comparable.
        They tricked the sensor to give it false readings.
        The current limbo wings are conform the regulations but fia agrees the tests they used are not up to the problem.
        So until there is a new set of tests these wings are completely legal.
        Not to the intention of the rule, but nevertheless legal for now.

  11. What about Mercedes’ flexible front wings? Front wings are a lot more important than the rear wing.

  12. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    28th May 2021, 11:01

    So Mercedes’ defense for their own front-wing flexing is ‘yes but Red Bull does it too’, even though there it’s also illegal to have a flexing wing, but for the rear wing (where Mercedes missed the boat) it’s: ‘Wait that’s illegal!’ Pretty sore losers imo…

    Not to mention there’s no clear definition in the rules (take a look for yourself if you don’t believe it, they’re on the FIA website) as for what acounts to ‘being too flexy’. Mercedes’ rear wing also flexes on straights, just not as much as Red Bulls. Going by the definition of ‘if it flexes, it’s illegal’, Mercedes is also in the wrong. Who decides what is too much or what isn’t? I’d say the tests, even if they are outdated and smart people found a way around them.

    Mercedes just can’t stand not having a certain toy everyone else has, so therefor they want everyone else to hand in theirs. But when they have something that is also illegal, it’s all fine because ‘everyone is doing it’.

    1. If Merc’s rear wings were an issue do you think RedBull would have failed to point that out? Do you think that Merc would risk their advantage by attempting to point out someone else’s saying “Theirs is worse, don’t look at ours”?

      Rules is rules for sure, and the tests should be rigorous enough to enforce the law as written with the FIA given freedom to change those tests whenever they deem it necessary. If the Merc’s front wings were really an advantage then another team would have mentioned it by now. If front wings are flexing too much then the FIA need to change the tests. But this issue is about rear wings, not front wings. Lets focus on one, then stamp out rule violations on the other as quickly as possible.

      1. @tallen

        “Do you think that Merc would risk their advantage by attempting to point out someone else’s saying “Theirs is worse, don’t look at ours”?”
        Given that Toto is just a guy who bought himself in at the right time at the right moment, and therefor lacks the required knowledge when it comes to F1 (opposed to people like Horner who actually build a team from scratch), and Lewis is as clueless as you can get them, yes, we think they would.

        “If the Merc’s front wings were really an advantage then another team would have mentioned it by now.”

        Which is exactly what just happened.
        The only reason why it hasn’t happened before is because the other teams are not run by a bunch of hypocrites who had it to easy for a long time.

        “But this issue is about rear wings, not front wings.”
        No, it’s not. The issue is about flexi wings, and therefor also about front wings.
        Mercedes opened a can of worms they can’t wriggle themself out of, lol.

    2. @barryfromdownunder It’s really simple. If teams design their wing to flex on purpose then that’s simply cheating and they run the risk of getting caught.

      It’s ridiculous already that there is no actual penalty on this type of cheating.

      1. @F10clown

        “If teams design their wing to flex on purpose then that’s simply cheating and they run the risk of getting caught.”

        So Mercedes, who designed their front wings to flex on purpose (just like the designed cars that cheated with emisions on purpose), are simply cheating (which is apparently in the company’s DNA) and should be penalized?

        You’re absolutely right: It’s ridiculous already that there is no actual penalty on this type of cheating.

        1. Chill out!

    3. @barryfromdownunder Mercedes didn’t miss the boat with their rear wing. During the SKY coverage during the Monaco GP, of footage from Imola I believe, it was clear Mercedes’ rear wing flexes too, just not as much.

  13. Wow, Mercedes is really on the way down, aren’t they? Life is not that easy if you dont have the best car on a particular circuit, now is it? Just ask ‘won it all from pole’ Vettel

  14. Anyone else feel like we’ve gone back 10 years? Pretty sure we had this flexiwing discussion back then with Red Bull and Ferrari, albeit it was the front wing.

    1. @jamiefranklinf1 Debates over flexing bodywork be it wings, floors or other bits has been a constant discussion since the FIA introduced the regulation outlawing/restricting bodywork deflection.

      It’s a tricky thing to police as the deflection test’s are never going to be able to fully replicate the same forces applied in the same way as when cars are on track. You can attach a rig to the rear wing & pull it back/push it down to try & replicate the same sort of loads but when you have the vibrations & loads been applied in different ways on track it will always react differently.

      1. And combine that with the fact that it is physically impossible to not have some flex built in or the wings would shatter under the loads and the vibrations. No different with airplanes, supertankers, bridges, and skyscrapers.

    2. @jamiefranklinf1 with regards to questions being raised about flexing bodywork on Red Bull’s cars, asides from the debates that went on from 2010 to 2012, questions were raised about excessively flexible components in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2020.

      Ferrari has faced questions over the flexibility of bodywork in more recent years – 2016 saw similar issues (and it does seem that the amount of flexing seen in Ferrari’s rear wing did subsequently reduce after the FIA began paying closer attention to the rear wing they were using).

      It’s a topic that hasn’t ever really fully gone away – it’s just that, over the past 6-7 years, those complaints have tended to be overshadowed by other complaints instead.

  15. An interesting take i’ve heard over the past week is that one of the primary reasons Mercedes are been as vocal as they are isn’t simply because they think the wing is flexing more than it should (Although they do firmly believe that) but more because they can’t afford to develop something similar themselves due to the budget cap.

    The belief been that the car issues that were causing the lack of pace in pre-season testing required more development work than is know which forced them to have to spend more to fix them leaving them with less to spend over the remainder of the season. This is also why they suddenly found themselves unable to do the Pirelli 18″ tire test they recently pulled out of.

    Red Bull on the other hand are said to have quite a bit left they can spend before they start having to really worry about the budget cap.

    If this is indeed the case we could actually end up in a scenario where the championship is close early on but ends up with Red Bull pulling out an advantage later on as they have more to spend on development. However having to spend on altering the rear wing to pass new deflection test’s will obviously dig into that which may also be playing into Mercedes pushing the issue as hard as they are.

    1. @gt-racer That’s interesting. So, someone here in recent weeks suggested Mercedes had developed a similar flexy rear wing last year, and that perhaps they would use it for Baku. I suggested that they wouldn’t be able to literally use that wing as the cars are different now, and surely they’d have to build a special 2021 Baku more-flex wing if they wanted to do that, i.e. spend money. That in itself would also be them admitting then that indeed RBR’s wing is legal under current FIA tests, if they were to think they could run a similar one themselves just for Baku.

      I then suggested that they themselves might not even pass the new stringent tests FIA is coming up with, with their current wing, for all they know, and that they might already have to spend on a new wing this year as it is, let alone do a special Baku wing. Having seen that their rear wing was flexing too at Imola, albeit less than RBR’s, is Mercedes so sure that they themselves will pass the new FIA tests? They only know for now that they pass the current tests just as RBR does.

      Perhaps Mercedes thinks they are distracting RBR from working on their 2022 effort as well.

  16. The issue about the budget cap in the comments is an interesting one.

    What if a team actually can’t afford to redesign a part to comply with the regulations without breaking the budget cap?

    I feel that’s a good question and scenario to analyse for a future article. I wonder if the FIA would be liable for changing the rules mid season.

    1. That is about the issue alfa/vasseur pointed out. They need time and money.

  17. Why on earth is nobody talking about the flexi frontwing of Mercedes .. they have a huge advantage with the corners. Media should look into this more i think

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