Honda F1 website

JUNE 20, 2006

When is a flexi-wing not a flexi-wing?

Flexibility is one of the attributes of a modern Formula 1 technical director - and, apparently, a talent also for the rule-makers who seem to be happy to change interpretations of the rules at will in their never-ending quest to keeps the racing teams under control. The latest twist in the regulations is the introduction from Canada of separators between the planes of the rear wings in order to stop these gaps from closing up when the wings are under loading. That reduces the drag and makes the cars move faster through the air and thus gives cars with flexible wings an advantage on race tracks where the straights are sufficiently long to create the downforce necessary to make the wings flex. With the downforce measured in tons, it is impossible for the FIA to test such things in the pitlane and so another solution had to be found.

But there are still ways that wings can be made to flex, even with the separators between the planes of the wings. The new rule does not stop, for example, stop teams from making the wings sink backwards at high speed and thus achieve the same decrease in drag at high speeds.

All things considered, the line-up in Canada will be interesting as we will see who is where on the new playing field that is being created. In particular the efforts of Ferrari and BMW will be watched closely as both were well advanced in the science of the flexi-wings, having interpreted the rules in the same way as the FIA in the early part of the season.