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New F1 adjustable rear wing rule meets with increasing resistance
New F1 adjustable rear wing rule meets with increasing resistance
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Jun 2010   |  11:23 pm GMT  |  136 comments

The new rules regarding driver adjustable bodywork have not been well received by fans or by the F1 drivers, it seems.

After the FIA World Motor Sport Council announced a new package of aerodynamic rules which will see drivers adjusting their rear wing, in a tightly controlled set of circumstances while close racing, the reaction from many fans and drivers has been negative.

You can use the moveable wing when you're this close (Darren Heath)

To reiterate, the rule is as follows, “The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race when he has been notified via the control electronics that it is enabled. It will only be enabled if the driver is less than one second behind another at any of the pre-determined positions around each circuit. The system will be disabled the first time the driver uses the brakes after the system has been activated.”

Many fans feel that the device will be a gimmick, which adds an artificial element to the racing and today several drivers articulated similar fears. Mark Webber said that the devices would be at home on a Sony Playstation, but not in the real world of F1 racing.

“Overtaking moves should be about pressurising, being skillful, and tactical,” said Webber in his press briefing today. “Yes we want to see more overtaking, of course we do, we know that, but we also need to keep the element of skill involved in overtaking and not just hitting buttons, like KERS, like adjustable rear wings.”

One of the concerns the drivers have is that the art of defensive driving will potentially disappear. However well a driver defends his position, if the car behind can drop the wing angle and shoot past with a 10km/h speed advantage, then that skill will be redundant. As it will be the same for everybody, there are likely to be a lot more overtakes on straights, particularly at tracks with long straights like Shanghai, Bahrain, Monza and Abu Dhabi.

Jarno Trulli voiced safety concerns having been the victim of some high speed wing failures in the past, “We have to make sure we can run it in a way that it is safe,” he said.

“I have the lost the rear wing a couple of times and it is one of the most dangerous things you can have happen to you because you are no longer in control of your car. Normally it fails at very high speed and you’re going to end up hitting the wall. I do not want to have the worry of my rear wing failing. The front wing is slightly different even though it is still a problem, the rear wing is worse.”

Here on the JA on F1 site we’ve had hundreds of comments. This one from Curro sums up the mood, “Reminds me of those arcade games where the car behind was always much faster than the car in front. Overtaking is an art, not a right. Some people need to understand F1 can sometimes be boring. It’s just like any other love relationship.”

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i like the idea of a adjustable rear wing, mainly because i am designing an adjustable rear wing myself. But i also feel it will take away the skill from the drivers when it comes to overtaking. it will be difficult for the drivers who are in front of another driver and want to maintain that lead when the driver behind will always have a possible 10km/h advantage over him.

however maybe in the late future this idea can be put into practise.


I suggested a very similar idea, but a more ‘natural’ one to the FIA last year. My idea was to simulate an exaggerated slipstream, so the effect increased the closer the car was to any car in front of it, and also, only in it’s ‘digital’ wake, ie. in line with the car in front. Then this models a low downforce, high drag race series with a pronounced slipstreaming effect, and we all know how exciting they are!

It can be achieved simply using a higher accuracy version of the GPS they already use, our company has been working with such systems for years, and you can get 100 updates a second and <1m accuracy, on any circuit. We have a working simulator already.


oh the irony that an innovation designed to temporarily and sporadically reduce drag should meet with increasing resistance…


I wish the powers that be would stop dumbing down the sport to meet the requirements of the LCD audience.


We keep heraring about dirty air stopping overtaking. Does anyone know if this is still true? Does anyone know if the diffuser is the biggest cause of this? If so ban the diffuser and to make up for it bring back ground effect (if it does not create dirty air). I don’t know enough about these things!


Why don’t they just do the right thing, and balance out the excessive aero vs grip ratio?

Let the teams select tire compounds, and we will get overtaking and geniune racing.

Artifical KERS and Adjustable rear wings are far more boring, as they are contrived, and the driver is made irrelevant.

Does anyone watch any sport where the equipment alone decides the outcome? The driver is the show, the technology is the accent… keep things balanced, and the show will be good… just get the god damn aero reduced!!!! And widen up the tires…


So let me get this straight:

We’re not going to allow the F-duct, which has no moving parts but makes a certain car faster.

BUT we will have computer-controlled movable ‘bodywork’ probably with little servos to move it around. Just so cars behind can do majikal passes?

So we’ll have a chain – the 1st guy will be in “normal” config, and *everybody behind him will be in ‘bodywork” mode. Nice. Stupid.

What about when lapping someone- then too?

BTW its interesting that everyone thinks this means “rear wing” when it says “bodywork”.


it would be a lot simpler to have drivers able to control the ECU of the car in fronts .

That way when you get close you could cut the cars ignition.

Another cheaper method of allowing overtaking could be attaching electric probes to drivers nether regions, and allowing any one within 1 second to zap them.

it would really shake up the order and give plenty of passing and crashing as Todt requires.

On a serious note, putting a Frenchmen in charge of anything , other than hightailing in reverse at the first sign of trouble, is to be avoided


However poltically incorrect your last para is, I laughed for 30 seconds at least before being able to breathe 🙂


I have no issue except that if implemented should not be restricted. It’s fine with me if the usage is limited. Allowing the car behind to use it is akin to blue flag, the car in front has limited or no right to defend.


It always looked to me like F1 pilots are overdeveloped nintendo/playstation gamers.


I’ve said it once before and I’ll say it again: if we want to see more overtaking a simple rule change will have the desired effect. The rule should be that once a following driver has managed to get alongside the car in front of him, any collision between the two cars will be deemed to be the fault of the car being overtaken. This simple rule will make it very attractive for any driver to have a go — say by lunging down the inside on a corner. Once the manoeuvre is completed it’s then the following driver who now has advantage of the rule and is therefore encouraged to retake the position. This should make things exciting without any stupid gimmicks.


It’s a bad idea. We’ve had one boring race this year, the rest have ranged from decent to thrilling. Why do we need this rule change again..?

I want overtaking to be easier, not easy. So that the car behind doesn’t need to have a 2 sec/lap advantage to pass. If that is so impossible for the self-proclaimed best brains in motor racing to come up with, then having next year’s cars battle away using the exact same rules as this year would be fine with me.


“Do you like the idea of driver adjustable rear wings in F1?




What an excellent example of why referendums are dangerous! Black or white, left or right are also examples of extremes. Why should we be so restricted when the correct colour is grey or the correct direction to go is straight on?

Yes I do want driver adjustable rear wings – but what idiot thought up the idea of a one second gap and complicated permission software? The driver should have complete freedom to do whatever he likes with his wing between very safe fixed points. Failure to add downforce back for cornering is exactly what we need! Let them forget and drift wide or reduce their tyre life – we need driver errors for better racing.

What could be better than a driver reducing downforce to keep another car behind … only to forget to put it back and allowing the follwing car through as he drifts wide at the next corner?


This is a terrible idea, and only devalues the essence of F1. More time by the FIA needs to be spent, to see how some testing can be brought back during the season.


I guess as long as they are safe my only question would be how much of an advantage would the following car get? I think a lot of people on here are expecting some sort of rediculous speed advantage when it might just be that couple of mph more needed to get into the sweet spot? Until the detail understood I think a few people are jumping to conclusions a bit too quickly.


I don’t like the idea of a driver not being allowed to defend their position when under attack.


Pushing a button to go faster isn’t technology suitable for “the pinnacle of motor sport.” It’s a gimmick to produce artificially-induced passing and thus artificially-induced excitement. Gimmicks are used to sell cheap, low quality merchandise. Is that the image we want F1 to have? This sort of thing gives me the impression that the FIA has become desperately fickle in its attempts to make money.

I agree with Mark Webber’s comments. As a fan, I want to see passing accomplished by superior engineering and driver skill. That’s what F1 is about in my mind. Please leave the gimmicks (like this and KERS) in video games where they belong.



Would football be more interesting if the goalkeeper had both hands tied behind his back and the average score was 50 goals for each team?

I think a tight 0-0 match would be more exciting than watching a game with 100 easy goals, and I think F1 races are the same. Anyone else remember Gilles defending four cars for the latter part of a GP? No-one got by him, yet it was still exciting… why was it exciting? Because he was using his skill to defend. If you remove the skill from the equation, the excitement will drop dramatically.


Is it really safe to do that? 300kmh+ and less than 1 sec behind the car in front trying to adjust your rear wing and prob the front wing and brake bias as well. Doesn’t sound too safe to me.


Adjustable wings could be a great idea but not like this. I agree with the comment James pulled out; that it mnakes an artiface similar to a video game.

Importantly, it will only increase overtaking in a straight line which is boring anyway! It’s the dicing into the braking zones and through the corners that makes overtaking exciting!


I think its an ok idea in principal but the idea of only being able to use it within one second and not being able to use it to defend ruins it. It can’t be called overtaking if you just drive past a car that can’t defend on the straights.


There is already adjustable front wings and we have heard no mention of them this season with no failures.

So I see no reason that the rear wings will be any different. The FIA will ensure they are safe and that the margins do not advantage the car behind too much.

The one thing that I don’t understand is that this season the drivers have been complaning that they loose front end grip when behind a car, so how will adjustible rear wings change this?


At least with a “push to pass” type solution which has a limited amount of times that it can be used per race there would still be a degree of strategy and racecraft retained.

It would require critical decisions as to when and how you used them, whether it was to pass someone, defend against someone or perhaps just use them all very quickly to help build up an early lead at the start of the race.

Do you keep some up your sleeve in case you need it to attack/defend later in the race? I think it would actually add to the spectacle in the same way that it is interesting to see some drivers drive flat-out (and trash their tyres relatively quickly) and some drivers taking care to look after their tyres so that they can attack later in the race/stint.

Watching the way that those decisions would affect a driver’s overall race would be captivating, and seeing their individuality come through in the way that they choose to use that resource would potentially still allow us to see the racecraft of an Schumacher/Alonso Vs the swashbuckling nature of a Raikkonen shine through…


for everyone blaming the fia, i understand that the proposal was handed to the fia by fota so its not an fia idea.

in fact a lot of the regulations that have come in the past 12 montsh (fueling ban, narrower tyres, double diffuser ban, f-duct ban, ajustable wings, pirelli tyres) have all been fota proposals the fia have accepted.


It is an expensive gimmick that can and will cause accidents when it fails. And there will be failures.

We had exciting racing with proper looking cars before the aero arms race began. I would be ecstatic if F1 lost some speed in exchange for radical restrictions on aero and the return of mechanical grip domination.

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