This is a JA on F1 exclusive in collaboration with F1 photographer Darren Heath – it is the photograph of the controversial Red Bull front wing, which was seen by a couple of teams over the weekend. Rival engineers believe that the wing is flexing more than the rules allow and giving Red Bull a downforce advantage.
Engineers estimate from this photo that the deflection on the Red Bull wing is 24mm, which is pretty impressive. The tests the FIA carry out in scrutineering allow a maximum of 10mm deflection at the endplates when a force of 500 Newtons is applied, which is around 50kg of downforce.
So what is the advantage of having this flexing characteristic? Well running the end plates closer to the ground gives extra downforce and this is particularly useful in high speed corners to balance out the extra downforce you get from the blown diffuser when the throttle is on and exhaust gases are passing through the diffuser. With this device the Red Bull car has well balanced downforce front to rear and so is a stable car through high speed corners.
It seems to help more when the car is on the edge in qualifying than when it is loaded up with 160kg of fuel for the race and this is one of the reasons why Red Bull has enjoyed the speed advantage on Saturdays. However Ferrari has a similar thing going on with its front wing and this along with the optimisation of the blown diffuser they first introduced three races ago, is the reason why Ferrari are right on Red Bull’s pace. The cars are now performing in quite a similar way.
The wing has passed all the deflection tests and has been declared legal by the FIA scrutineers, but there were grumblings from other teams and even suggestions that the car might be protested after the race, but this did not happen.
So it looks like the legal “flexi wing” is the latest innovation from this highly creative team, which others will set out to copy.
For more on Darren Heath’s work go to Darren\'s Website