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F1's Flexible Wings Innovation or Infraction

Flexible Wings: F1 Teams Test Legal Limits

23/06/2024

As F1 teams delve into flexible wings, the line between innovation and legal boundaries blurs.

Fins and their flexibility are once again at the centre of discussions in F1. Questions about flexible fins are notably raised by Red Bull, which has approached the FIA. Jock Clear, a senior engineer at Ferrari, explains that working on the flexibility of fins is inevitable as it can help exploit the regulations.

“There is no doubt that you have to do it to be fast, if you see what I mean,” Clear stated. “Everything that is possible within the rules is what we are exploring. So, there is no difference between a front wing, a rear wing, a floor, or anything else. It is simply a matter of development.”

Toto Wolff agrees that teams must approach the limits, but also sees solutions elsewhere: “Front wings play an important role today, that’s clear. Aero elasticity plays an important role, but so do floors. I think it’s always a combination of these elements.”

“You can have a front wing that flexes like a banana and passes the test, but the rest of the car does not function correctly in the interaction. I think everyone is trying to push the limits and adhere to the regulations.”

“I think what we have managed to do in the last three races is to make a big step forward with all the aerodynamic elements that have come since then. Perhaps we just ended up at the other end of what we should have been in terms of wings, floors, and everything that follows.”

Helmut Marko spoke to Kleine Zeitung about this, explaining that deformation is undeniable on rival cars. According to him, doubts persist especially at high speeds: “Mercedes has undoubtedly made progress, particularly in terms of top speed, as has McLaren.”

“This top speed can only be achieved if the wings are aerodynamically deformed. It seems that Mercedes and McLaren have a front wing that complies with the regulations, as it has passed the technical inspection. But at race speed, it deforms much more than the regulations demand.”

Despite the questions raised by Red Bull, Marko does not think his competitors are doing anything illegal: “It is certainly not illegal, it’s simply about pushing the boundaries. It’s an eternal competition between the teams and the FIA. We have not contacted the FIA for clarification.”

F1’s Flexible Wings: Innovation or Infraction? F1’s Flexible Wings: Innovation or Infraction?

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