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Hungarian GP – New tech on the cars
Hungarian GP – New tech on the cars
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Aug 2010   |  10:35 am GMT  |  84 comments

With the Hungarian Grand Prix falling just one week after the German race, there wasn’t much time for the teams to add major updates to the car, however there were some scheduled updates, such as the blown diffuser on the Force India car, which was used only in the practice sessions and some interesting solutions for getting maximum downforce.

And as the weekend’s action revealed, downforce was everything at the Hungaroring.

The two main talking points were the Red Bull flexi front wing and the Renault rear wing, which gave the team a good performance boost and yielded a best ever F1 finish for Vitaly Petrov.

Red Bull front wing
The anaylsis of the Red Bull front wing is in two parts this week. There is a separate post on the FIA’s decision to apply a more stringent test to front wings at the next race and what this means for Red Bull. Here we will look at the wing itself.

The concept of applying aero elasticity to F1 wings is not new, in fact it goes back over 30 years. Wings which flex at speed have appeared at various times over that period, when new technology allows the rules to be circumvented and new rules the performance gain is attractive enough. This is such a time, due to the new wide front wing rules.

There are two points of view on front wing flex; one is that a rigid front wing will give you exactly the same results on the track as you get in the wind tunnel and in the Computational Fluid Dynamics programmes. The other is that the lower you can get the wing tips to the ground, the more downforce you will generate and this will be faster.

A flexi wing can bring gains of 2/10ths of a second or more in the wing tips alone, but there are risks to this approach.

It is easy to end up with a wing which makes the car loose in high speed corners, which spooks the driver. It can upset the balance of the car with some strange results. The reason for this is that it is not possible to do wind tunnel tests and CFD programmes with deformed shapes, which replicate the full flexing of the wing with the car at various angles in cornering. It’s just far too complex to model. So having a flexing front wing is a bit of an unknown.

Another problem is that by definition, if it is flexing and thus creating more downforce as you go fast down the straights, it is therefore also creating more drag. And then when the driver lifts off the throttle and the wing rises up it drops downforce and can make the car unstable in a slow corner.

However it is very good on medium and fast corners, such as are found in Sector 2 in Budapest, where the Red Bull was untouchable last weekend.

Renault rear wing
The aerodynamics department at Renault has been very busy with updates this season, particularly front wings, with countless iterations, which have made the car steadily faster. The car was competitive in Monaco and again at the high downforce circuit in Budapest, Renault was on the pace, vying with McLaren for third fastest car last weekend behind the Red Bull and Ferrari.

In Hungary Renault introduced a new rear wing especially designed for high downforce. The wing features a deep V shape in the middle, main profile and the flap is divided in two sections by means of a large hole.

As with the McLaren and the Mercedes, the elements of the wing work as if it was constructed of three separate elements.

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Great Article James.

A few here have asked about the validity of extra force in testing the Front Wings.

Surely they wont apply too much because it might …. uhm …. break off ?

Is this not the reason for the limit ?


Hmmm could the sorcery being demonstrated by the Wizard otherwise know as Adrian Newey be explained by the utilisation of a Non-Newtonian fluid ?

Does anybody watch Dragons Den ?

A while back there was product on there called d3o – it’s a newly invented material that has strange properties – when exposed to a gradual increase in surface pressure it is flexible & supple but when exposed to an instant increase in surface pressure it is instantly hardens.

Watching the Red Bulls’ Wings as they travel along a straight (gradual increase in surface pressure) they lower gradually and return to the normal position as the car slows.

Under the FIA’s Test of adding of 50 kgs to the wings (instant increase in surface pressure) they remain rigid.

It’s along shot but could it be that that somewhere in the construction of the wings a material similar to this is being used ?


One issue not addressed is on the subject on telemetry.

How much data is actually sent between pit wall and car?

You see all the monitors and laptops at the back of the team’s garage manned by lots of people – so i would imagine they are transmitting and receiving buckets of data.

Is it purely for monitoring purposes, or can data be sent back to the car during a race to alter settings – to take some of the load off the driver?

And a side point….how is it possible for data be sent accurately, yet the driver’s radio is almost impossible to hear first time?

Thanks for a great write up



I did a bit on Telemetry I think in the Turkish GP Tech Report


Do the teams use thermal imaging cameras to pry into the technology of competitors? The blown diffuser and retarded ignition would have probably been spotted with thermal imaging of the RBRs.


Williams had a new EBD that puts exhaust gas under the diffuser. Even more so than red-bull. Craig Scarborough covered it in


Nice article.

Hats off to Adrian Newey, what a brilliant engineer. The RBR 6’s balanced aerodynamics stand tribute to that ! Cant wait till F1 returns at the end of the month.


Read a report that the front wing load test will be increased from 50kg to 100kg. And the height must not be less than 85mm from ground level.

Wonder what the outcome will be James.


Red Bull will still be very fast..


Hi James.

Very insightful, thanks.

As we are now in the summer break all the factorys have to close down. My question is, how is this policed? Is it a gentlemens agreement or is there a permanent FIA steward posted at every factory for the next 2 weeks?


It’s a FOTA agreement, not FIA. It’s externally audited, strict controls agreed between teams


Is there any punihment for the infractors. I mean if it is a FOTA agreement, I don’t know how is it enforced.


Slightly off topic but tech related, with a few teams now announcing a move to pull their resources to 2011, how are teams find working with Perreli? Do they have any info on the tyre, this is a major change for the teams, and I get the feeling next season will bring up some surprises because of it.


Thank you James, an excellent article.

I’ve always wondered why the technological aspect of F1 is not given enough coverage (at least not in India TV or print).

If, as mentioned the working of the RB front wing is in conjunction with the rear wing, i suspect it won’t be mastered by the other teams very soon and maybe not at all this season.

Do they have a Hall of fame for designers in F1, James?? Adrian Newey is a true virtuoso. Perhaps, the best of his generation along with Rory Byrne? Also is there a huge difference in the brilliance of F1 car designers? Or is it the funds that make most of the difference? Looking at how Toyota with all its financial might never really built a great car, I would assume that ingenuity of the designer/engineer plays a pivotal point in constructing a great/ fast car.

I also have a feeling that English engineers are better when it comes to F1, no matter what we may say about German or Italian engineered road cars. No offence to anyone though (anyone working in F1 is anyways a genius), just a thought.


Thanks James – very informative!

If the point about not being able to accurately model the effects of the flexi-wing in all situations is correct, it makes the RB6 an even more impressive feat, since it is clearly a well balanced car. Makes me think RB must have been testing the wing in winter testing to get an understanding of how it affected the car at different speeds and attitudes.


As a McLaren man all the way I should be backing Martin “I like a good fixed wing, me” Whitmarsh, but I have to say good luck to Red Bull on their flexiwing.

It’s no different to the F-Duct and another advance which keeps F1 on the cutting edge.

Hopefully McL will be able to pull something out of the hat and make the championship race a three-team fight, but I’m not betting on it. Go Webber – if only because so many pundits would have to eat their hats (And I’m talking about you TopGear Aus mag – a couple of years ago they devoted a four page spread to why Webber was past it).

On that note, James, in the three week break it would be cool to get more insight into how the media works in the paddock. Especially after the Schumacher controversy and how many fans (OK Schumacher fans) accused it of being a British media beat-up.

I suspect that once many fans get an idea of the editorial decisions made, and the timing of those decisions to deadlines, they might have a better understanding of how it works rather than assuming the press corps are out to get their man. Just a case study of one recent story would be great.



I think the wing flex (ie curvature of the wing at high speed) is a bit overblown. From the pictures it seems even the mercedez has a similar curvature in the front wing. A negative side of the flexi-wing is that it vibrates under bumpy conditions. The fact that the RB6 is so good through the bumps also leads me to think it’s not a major part of their speed. (ie through bumps it is higher than other wings)

The significant thing is that the RB6 entire front wing is closer to the ground at high speed than the others.

Could this be due to their tricky suspension? Do they have more dive under braking? Are they running the whole car lower than the others? (As was suspected since the start of the season)


There’s a plank of wood on the underside of the car which is checked for excessive wear by scrutineers. I can’t see how RB could get away with running the whole car lower without it showing up.

But on another tack; maybe they need to put ‘mini planks’ under the ends of the front wings?


Hi James, first of all, apologies for my recent rant about some of the contributions in the comments – I wasn’t blaming you.

Secondly, there are a few areas that seem to have been overshadowed by events of the season that I’d love a mid-year round-up on if you ever get the time or think they’re worthy;

1. FOTA – how is it holding together with the new teams at the table? Has it been tested this year yet? If not, when is the first big test?

2. Virgin’s CFD design – how do the experts think it’s performed so far? (tank size apart!)

3. Physio’s being allowed on the grid! Bit tabloid I know, but I’d love to know if and how Bernie backed down.

4. Silly season. Normally we’d be in the run up to it, but am I right in thinking most teams and drivers have multi-year deals in the bank already? Which seats are actually left open this year?

5. Resource restriction. Are we still heading for a reduction over winter that could see Ferrari, McLaren & Red Bull ‘dragged’ closer to Mercedes in terms of size/capability?

6. Tyres. What’s the deal for next year? Tyres built to last or built to entertain?

7. Another tabloid question – what was Ferrari’s reaction to Rob Smedley’s radio transmissions? Has he been slapped for it?

All fairly minor points I know, but I’d be grateful for any insights you have on any of them.


I will try to answer couple of your questions.

2: Virgin’s idea is maybe something will have an impact in F1 in future. However, Sir Richard’s comment about having a competitive low budget F1 team hasn’t been very successful as we all know. So based on the results and developments this season, its advantage ‘wind tunnel’ over ‘CFD’. I’m personally starting to think that ‘CFD’ may never work in F1. Too much of a low budget isn’t going to work out in F1 based on the performances of all the new teams.

6: Pirelli has no data so far. Therefore, the teams will be seriously puzzled by the introduction of the new tyre. The races are seriously boring not because of Bridgestone tyres. It’s because of ‘no refuelling’. As a result of this new rule, there’s really not much left for the teams to do with strategies which have been the most entertaining part of F1 for many years. Now we always pray for rains/crashes/safety car etc to be entertained from F1 races.

So, next year it should be more entertaining because Pirelli are unlikely to last more than 100kms according to Bernie.



Do you know how many teams use simulators and do you have any thoughts on their usefulness and limitations as a proxy for testing?


They all do. They are increasingly useful, but there’s nothing like the real thing!


Would be interesting if the FIA got there hands on the code for the simulators :).


hi james can u please tell us what will hapen if a team sneak into the factory to do some work during the 2wks holiday, how will the fia know and what will hapen to them. thanks


It’s not the FIA, it’s up to FOTA to police it. Lots of protocols in place, outside auditors can come in and check if anyone suspects anything.


Adrian Newey we’re told does it all on an old fashioned drawing board. Bet he’s got one at home!


Good point… what’s to stop some mechanics from working with their own tools, machines and computers at home? 😉


Hi James

Its always fascinated me the little tricks that Engineers will come up with to skirt along the edge of the regulations to eek out the extra 10th here and there.

A few year ago a motorcycle magazine (RIDE i think) ran a feature where they approached some of the Motogp engineers and asked them to give n idea of what a motogp bike would look like if the only regulations were that it have 2 wheels and carry a person and some of the designs were amazing, and no 2 designs were the same.

Give you access would it be possible at some point in the future to ask some of the F1 Engineers to speculate on what an F1 car might look like if the only regulations were that it have 4 wheels, and carry a driver? i imagine it would look unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

as ever love the Blog



Nice idea. A French mag a few years ago asked the leading F1 engineers to design a paper plane with no rules. That was fairly amazing.


James,is it on the internet somewhere?i would love to see how their designs differ from mine.. 🙂



Slightly off topic. But during the break time would you be able to do an article on Vigrin’s all CFD approach to their car and how they go about it?

As someone who has worked with these simulation systems briefly, the idea that an F1 car can be entirely designed in CFD without correlating it with empirical results intrigues me a lot. I think it is possible but needs painstaking attention to detail in their CFD approach.

A lot of commentators have said that Virgin’s all CFD approach has failed, but i think their judgment is colored by the car’s lousy reliability. So far i have been very impressed with Virgin’s progress specifically with aero. If nothing they are at least keeping up with Lotus who are using a traditional wind tunnel based approach and in fact seem to have overtaken them recently in terms of speed.

The next intriguing challenge would be to see if they can sustain this rate of development and lift themselves to midfield later this year or early next year?

BMW Sauber tried a partial CFD approach and could not keep pace in the last couple of years with top teams of each year. That is not to say this approach wont work completely.

Any insights you can provide on this topic will be greatly appreciated.


There are a few problems with a CFD only approach: One is that a mistake in one of a few key steps will give you utter lies in the results. Another important one is that, currently, it’s very cumbersome to mix CFD with Structure work, they both affect each other significantly. The forces that one calculates using CFD will affect the actual shape of your wing, and that deformation will affect your actual performance, so what you need is a very expensive feedback loop which isn’t easy to automate.

I hear there’s research on unified models that mix CFD and finite-element structure analysis, allowing for a faster iterative approach to this kinds of problems, but it’s all academical research still. If the problem was solved, then designing a front wing using only a computer would be a far more reasonable approach than it is now.


“a mistake in one of a few key steps will give you utter lies in the results”

Isnt that true for wind tunnel too? I remember how awful Honda’s 2007 car was because of a miscalibrated Wind tunnel. There are many other such instances with Williams in 2004, Renault post 2006, etc.

My point is what you say is the error in execution and not the limitation of the tool used.

Regarding the coupling of structural analysis with CFD, isnt Carbon fibre composites structurally rigid such that deformation effects can be considered neglible in a CFD simulation?

Atleast being structurally rigid is what FIA rules insists and that is why we have the whole flexible wing controversy wioth Redbull and Ferrari now.


I feel pretty certain that both RBR and Ferrari understand exactly what they’re doing with their front wings. I even expect a little cynicism on their part: Surely it’s not that difficult for the FIA to establish what the average loads would be and test accordingly??

From a number of articles and comments it seems quite clear that 50kg is way too light. Now, is the proposed additional weight sufficient?

And as suggested above, why not add a photographic element to the test, as was done with the tyres?

Another suggestion made here and elsewhere is that RBR would not loose too much advantage if they were forced to provide non flexing front wings. I don’t see the logic. Granted they have been the bench mark all season so far but but the Hungary advantage was more the exception than the rule and the other front cars are not that far behind. This is not an introduction of a new concept in the recent races: It’s been there all year and I would expect that if the wings were made to comply with the rules (as opposed to merely passing a questionable test), then the front bunch would be a lot more evenly balanced – especially when McLaren sort out their blown floor.


Good to see Petrov making the most of recent updates.

I’d like to think that with Kubica on board, Renault will soon be back in the hunt for either championship.


Agree with you about Petrov. Interesting what a difference it seems to have made that this was a track he’d raced on before.

Even if he can’t be consitently as fast on new tracks for the rest of the season that potential must bode well for his seat next year.

Poor James does a really informative article on tech but we still end up talking about drivers!


A lot of that depend on Perelli as well. And we are yet to see if there’s any more new rules to be introduced for next season. However, having Renault & Merc in the mix will only make things more interesting.

I hope everyone realizes that the Hungarian grand prix would’ve been a very boring race if there was no drama about Vettel’s penalty, safety car & of course famous Schumacher move on Rubens; keeping in mind Rubens actions (throwing stuff on the trak during the race) in Monaco put every single driver on the grid in danger.


Hello James, and again, thanks for a great blog.

Regarding the new wing load tests, do you really think the new test is enough? I was under the impression that an F1 car running @ 200 km/h is generating substantially more than 200kg of downforce.

I understand the variance in performance between different front wings / angles etc… However, isn’t it reasonable to believe that an F1 car running in 4th gear or higher is generating a great deal more downforce than what the FIA will be testing for?

James, I’m sure you remember the Michelin tire width controversy a years ago. I thought the substance of the FIA’s ruling on that matter had more to do with maintaining compliance in dynamic situations as well as in static testing. As such I can’t understand why the FIA has created another static test?

The FIA has already stated how high above the ground the wing has to be. The FIA has set precedence with regards to using photographic evidence to make measurements as was the case with photos of the tire marks left by Michelin tires etc…

With regards to wing flex and speed changes, a slight lift of the throttle increase the load on the front tires. There have been many instances when a driver lifts mid corner and the resulting imbalance causes the car to spin off the track. The increase in front tire load would more than likely counteract the wing straightening out.

I’m left scratching my head, I must be missing something because it sure seems that the FIA can nip this wing flex problem in the bud with a simple 300kg load test with no more than 5mm of flex. I just don’t understand the point of increasing the flex tolerance in the latest FIA test.

Again, thanks for a great blog James,




All materials are elastic, but as James reiterated in the blog about the new test, a static test assumes linear elasticity. The cars have rising rate suspension, which might allow 5mm compression per 100kg loading at one point, but only 2mm compression for the next 100kg. It might be that a clever engineer had composed a nose that allowed 10mm flex for 50kg, but 30mm for 100kg, in other words a falling-rate elasticity. The new static test compared with the old one will reveal that – unless there’s been a mad scramble to reinforce those noses that take advantage of such things….


Are you refering to a damping type effect due to the rate of loading or a simpler non-linear spring effect? James, is the current static test applied and maintained for a specific period to ensure no rate effects or applied in a relatively quick manner to reflect race loading conditions?


No damping, just a falling-rate spring. Or even a constant rate, if the aero effect is compounding beyond the test loading deformation.


McLaren have a straight line speed advantage. So why cant they add more wing at a slow circuit, so in effect their speed on the straights will be the same as the Red Bulls. Surely this will help their slow corner speed.

A light weight question i know, but its been niggling me for the last month 🙂

Also from a superstitious point of view. Is Vettel always in garage 13? He was a Hungary He seems quite sensitive to certain things, like growing a beard last year (!!)

Anyone stick their middle finger at the screen when he sticks his index finger at the screen after qualy?


That finger is sooo fake and it’s getting sooo annoying. Someone should tell him to stop acting and just get on with it.


Idiosyncratic intolerance is a really interesting part of human nature. I agree with you completely yet it is so unimportant but still so annoying.

These posts show its a common feeling which actually clouds people’s perception of a fantastically gifted and very brave and personable young racer.

Nowt so queer as folk! (and that means all of us).

You’re right though, someone should tell him. What about nominating Uncle Mark? He’d be kind and diplomatic!


It’s a bit arrogant, that’s the problem.

He’s saying “I’m No.1!”, right?

But sportsman usually are arrogant.


Because wings get to a certain point when every small gain in downforce gives huge amounts of extra drag. So you loose lots of time on the straight for a little cornering performance.

Creating pure downforce via the underfloor is the only way.


The answer is they do do that but I guess because their wings are not as efficient they cannot get the same downforce as an RB6, even when they crank on wing to the point where their respective top speeds are the same.


if he is so superstitious then i sugest he stops waving that bloody index finger of his. It has only brought him bad luck


I think it’s bad luck to keep changing helmets. Choose a design and stick to it!


As far as I know, Mclaren have done exactly that in previous races.


Oh I stick 2 fingers up at him I really should do 3 as his one finger generally indicates he won’t finish first.


All teams change or adjust the wings and other aerodynamic components between virtually every race. Compare photos of the same teams cars at, say, Silverstone and Monaco (high speed versus low speed circuits).


Do you think that the new wing was worth more than the tenth Webber lost to Vettel in Q3 at Silverstone?


Or maybe Vettel was given Webber’s wings without Webber knowing.


Maybe, both wings were Flexi-wings, just Vettel had the latest revision.


Was the flex in that version more pronounced? Was there were speculation about red bull having a flexi-wing before silverstone?


I don’t know if they designed specifically for more travel, but you would think that the new one was intended to be faster.

Here is a link from Vettel’s qualifying lap in China.

To me it looks like they have had a decent flex since at least then.

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Might be looking too far behind, but do Renault have the same engineers on staff as when they were dominant during the Alonso timeframe?

Alonso is without doubt a gifted competitor, but the Renault also seemed to have a technical edge, perhaps until the movable dampers (was it?) thing surfaced and was resolved. I’d love to hear more about that.


Yes mostly, mass dampers were important but so was the Michelin tyre. Team went backwards when it had to go to Bridgestone


Any updates about FIA changing the rules on test ban? I recall from one of your pre season articles along with most fans that you agreed on having some in season testing as well. Any chance that some in season testing will be back in 2011?

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