Flexible wings take centre stage


This season has seen controversy at nearly every race and Hungary was no different. While the world’s press focused on Ferrari’s tactics during the German Grand Prix, the teams focused on their front wings. Ferrari and Red Bull were at the centre of a flexible front wing storm in the days after the German race and in Hungary it was clear to see why.

From on board it was easily visible that the Red Bull front wing was rising and lowering under heavy braking and acceleration. The front wing is the most important aerodynamic device on the car as it dictates how the air passes over the rest of the car. By flexing their wings closer to the ground, Red Bull’s were almost scrapping the tarmac; both teams gave themselves a huge advantage. With a front wing every millimetre lower the wing goes gives one percentage point more downforce. By lowering the wing by 30mm Red Bull would gain over one second per lap, the margin to Hamilton in qualifying.

There are only two states in Formula1: being behind and applying pressure, or being in front and receiving that pressure. The teams behind know that in this case there are only two ways to apply pressure on faster cars. They can develop a new wing or lodge a protest against the faster cars.

The teams choose to protest because it might force the pace setters to remove their advantageous wings before the next race at Spa, and at the very least it may force Red Bull and Ferrari to divert attention from some element of their preparation but don’t be fooled, every team is now trying to develop a flexible front wing.

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