Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Losail International Circuit, 2021

F1 teams not at risk of exclusion over new rear wing tests in Qatar

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Formula 1 teams are being subjected to new tests of the flexibility of their rear wings following today’s qualifying session for the Qatar Grand Prix.

However, RaceFans understands any teams found not to meet the standards of the test will not be at risk of exclusion from any of the remaining rounds of this season.

The test has been introduced following accusations made by Red Bull about the rear wing used by rival constructor Mercedes. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner yesterday alleged Mercedes’ rear wing exhibited “score marks,” which he suggested indicates they have been flexing at speed. This would allow the team to reduce drag and improve its top speed.

Teams were advised of the new rear wing test ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix weekend. However, they have been told a ‘stay of execution’ will be given should any wing fail to comply with the test between now and the end of the championship in three weeks’ time.

The FIA introduced another new test on rear wing flexibility earlier in the season. Teams were advised of the test prior to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but it was not introduced until a month later. The delayed introduction of the test was to allow time for teams to modify their designs if needed. Red Bull were among the teams who did so.

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36 comments on “F1 teams not at risk of exclusion over new rear wing tests in Qatar”

  1. So they have introduced a new test in record time but won’t penalise anyone. Surely though if anyone fails it opens them up to a protest with proof of nonconformity? Something other teams were not able to avail themselves of earlier in the year when the new test was announced but a delay was put in place to comply.

  2. How kind of the FIA to make no less than three mid-season changes that directly affected one team more than the other, only to make an allowance for a fourth change that would affect the other team more.

    From now on, the FIA should not make mid-season rule changes point blank, if a car is legal according to tests and rules established at the first race of the season, that same standard should be applied to the rest of the races. Any changes can then be made ahead of the next season.

    1. Indeed, no changes to rules during a season.
      New rules, new season.
      We now know Mercedes at least once used an illegal wing configuration.
      If a wing does not comply with current regulations or tests its illegal.
      All other checks can only be used for a better stewarding for next year’s rules.

      1. Please explain how we now know Merc has used an illegal wing?

      2. Are you talking about the Brazil wing that had a fault?
        Redbull also used an illegal wing configuration (their flexi wing) and the one they are using at the moment which does not flex it flaps and clearly breaches the tolerance.
        Then we have the automated pit stop rules redbull was breaching. With no punishment I should add.
        The fia has be disgraceful this season and will cost f1 fans.

        1. Red bulls Wing passed all tests.
          Mercede wing did not.

          1. Passed the Flemish international assistance tests. Ok👍
            Was that before the tape and repairs or after?
            Was it the same wing who knows but after what we have seen from the Flemish international assistance non of us would be surprised

          2. Mercedes rear wing failed to pass the test at mid-section by 0.2mm (out of 85mm which is 0.24%) while passed the test at both ends of rear wing. FIA allowed RB to change/fix the rear wing repeatedly in Brazil and even in Qatar. To all fairness FIA should also have allowed Mercedes to correct that miniscule 0.2mm the same way they are allowing RB to fix their rear wings.

          3. @binsayeed

            Mercedes rear wing failed to pass the test […] by 0.2mm

            That is nonsense. This is the truth:

            The maximum gap is measured, in accordance with TD/011-19, by pushing an 85mm gauge against the gap with a maximum load of 10N (ten newtons.) If the gauge goes through then the car has failed the test. In this case, the gauge would not pass through at the inner section of the wing, but did at the outer section of the wing.


      3. IIRC the new test they brought in for the wing wasn’t a new regulation, just a new test to check the cars were meeting existing regulations. That’s very different to changing the regulations.

      4. Don’t forget Mercedes got their Quali-mode taken away mid season last year, something that was not in violation of any written rule.

        1. Oh… And of course only minor teams get DSQ’d over such a breach (McLaren Suzuki). Top 2 are untouchable.

      5. We now know Mercedes at least once used an illegal wing configuration.

        Now this is news. When? Are you talking about Brazil where they were excluded from the session?

    2. RandomMallard (@)
      20th November 2021, 17:19

      @sjaakfoo I really don’t see what’s wrong here. There’s always a period before implementation, it just so happens that there are only 3 weeks left of the season. To introduce it immediately would be to break that precedent. They were informed of the new rear wing tests, as the article notes, about a month before they were introduced. They informed the teams of the pit stop changes in the mid-summer (Silverstone or Austria I think), before they were set to be implemented in Hungary (later changed to Spa). Similar with the party mode ban last season

    3. Calm down. The rules haven’t changed, only the tests used to see if teams comply, and even if they don’t comply to the rules as defined by the new tests then there’s no punishment.

    4. Rule changes to affect just one team?
      You do realise the flexi rear wing fiasco wasn’t a change in rules? All they did was increase the tests so Horner could no longer smugly say “well, it passes the tests…” when specifically asked if it’s legal. It is possible to make something that passes tests and yet is still illegal according to the rules.
      It’s like when you’re out driving at 90mph on the motorway and slam on your brakes for the speed camera…you’ve passed the test but what you’re doing is still illegal.
      Which is why they then bring in the average speed check cameras.

      1. Just like Mercedes does now. The first rule change was specifically targeted to Red Bull Racing by Mercedes and this time it is the other way around. Although conveniently the grace period extends to the end of season.

  3. It seems like RedBull is controlling the FIA at the moment. Whatever they say goes. Example is “ let them race” call to Masi in Brazil.

    1. Funny. Until Brasil I thought it was the ohher way around

  4. The comical thing about all these red bull complaints is they act as though no one has seen the videos of their wings flexing/fluttering, haven’t seen them repairing wings with tape during sessions or read the FIA notes on parts changed after qualifying.

    1. They always complied with the rules. Whereas Mercedes wing the previous race didn’t.

  5. It seems Redbull are allowed to use a flexible wing in qualifying then allowed to fix it before the race.

    1. +1 tape a faster, weaker wing up in qualifying to gain lap time then change to a slower more reliable one for the race. The car should have to remain the same throughout the weekend. All this changing and they have the audacity to moan about other teams…

      1. Making things up is not the same as using arguments.
        You are a bit to susceptible for toto nonsense.

    2. The wing was compliant with the rules, as all cars are checked by the FIA after qualifying. This race also, as you can read in the scrutineering document.

  6. However, they have been told a ‘stay of execution’ will be given should any wing fail to comply with the test between now and the end of the championship in three weeks’ time.

    Damn boys, break out the bendy wings. What are they thinking?

    Really, a masterstroke from Mercedes though. First complaining about bendy wings to get the rules changed. Then the precedent was set with allowing teams time earlier in the season to fix their wing after new rules were introduced.

    Then Mercedes spends on developing their own bendy wings that exploit the new tests. Then they introduce it with just a few races left knowing that even if they are caught and the tests changed again they can ask for the same leniency provided to other teams earlier in the year…

    Seriously it’s fascinating. F1 is like 5D chess, it’s hard to believe Merc weren’t setting up this play when they started to complain about bendy wings back in May. They probably had this bendy wing tech sitting on a shelf.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      20th November 2021, 18:41


      Then the precedent was set with allowing teams time earlier in the season to fix their wing after new rules were introduced.

      That’s been the precedent for a while. The teams were given a few weeks notice of the party mode ban last season, for example.

    2. I love this comment, cause I agree but I also think the teams are just winging it from race to race, as directionless as the FIA.

  7. Remarkable that RedBull (after how many years of DRS?) suddenly has a wing that can’t cope with the stress.

    1. Except of course that the DRS actuator, which appears to be the culprit of the behaviour, is a 2020 design that never raced on the tracks this issue was found and is homologated.

      1. Fair point. Still odd though…

  8. I suppose Red Bull finally did hone in on exactly what Mercedes are doing.

    Let’s see what they can come up with for the final two races.

  9. Is there any other sport like F1 regarding the flaky vague rules by the governing body and teams having far too much say on how they are imposed?

  10. Red Bull is projecting. Max’s wing has party mode as it flutters some times but not others. The commentators mentioned how it was fluttering during P3 but then not in Q1.

    1. If the FIA have implemented a new set of tests, Red Bull did hit on something. (and the person not putting PTFE or equivalent on the bendy main plane trailing edge of the Mercedes will find themselves with a smaller bonus package, one supposes)

  11. As a side-effect of this discussion, I would raise the question whether the rules should be defined by the tests in the first place. As in, I think most of the rules could be made to only state what tests a car must comply with, not both a set of rules and a set of tests to see if the first set is complied with. It would make things a lot more straight forward, since the tests seem to be necessary anyway.

    Best example I have had in mind for a while are front nose design. As I understand it they introduced lower noses mainly for safety reasons, to prevent them hitting drivers heads in T-bone crashes and minimize launching into the air in nose-to-tire contact from behind. By the current rules they define things like minimum cross section areas and maximum height in different predetermined positions, instead they could just change the front crash test so that a higher nose would fail (for example by going over the obstacle they are supposed to crash into). The ethos should be let the teams solve the problems presented to them, don’t define the solution for them.

    Also, I’m not really in favor of changing rules (and procedures) during a season. Exceptions can be made for urgent safety reasons, but otherwise it will always feel like a change will be unfairly biased for or against some competitors whether intentional or not. Before a season they all know what they are signing up for, but changing it halfway through is a bit like changing the rules of a poker game after the players had a chance to replace cards in their hand.

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