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Pics show Red Bull still has the low down
Red Bull Racing
Pics show Red Bull still has the low down
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Oct 2010   |  1:12 pm GMT  |  201 comments

Images from today’s free practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix show that the Red Bull car is still managing to get its front wing low to the ground for extra downforce, despite the FIA making the flexi wing tests twice as stringent.

Click here to see photo – Red Bull picture

The load tests now are 100kg, rather than the 50kg which was used up to and including the Hungarian GP, which Red Bull dominated. The FIA also has much stricter tests on the floor stays, which all the teams have had to adapt their cars to pass.

But the Red Bull car has no problem passing the tests and is therefore legal. It is a very clever piece of engineering.

One has to be careful when drawing conclusions from picture like this as there can be other factors such as pitching of the car, yaw angles etc to take into account.

But the wing certainly seems to be lower on track at high speed than it is when it leaves the garage.

Engineers estimate around 50mm of movement.

In Friday practice the Red Bull car is 0.3 secs faster in the downforce dependent Sector 1 alone than the Ferrari and half a second quicker than the McLaren and Renault. This is on a Sector lasting just 32 seconds.

Webber's car at low speed during practice (Getty)

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How , in the light of obvious evidence of Red Bulls wing running low, the FIA haven't really come down on Red Bull. Lets ask Red Bull to demonstrate how their wing rides so low with out anything flexing in the scrutineers garage?

A FIA Conspiracy....?


"Right, that's it!", says an exasperated John, "There's only one solution to this - all F1 races to be held in a vacuum!"

Okay - the engines won't run, but such fundamental problems didn't stop the FIA's amazing solution to the similar 'illegal traction control' debate of the late 1990's/early 2000's - 'we have decided to ban pitlane speed limiters'


Can anybody tell whether the whole car sits lower in speed rather than just the front wing?The Red Bull chasis may start with a higher than the rest setting which will lower when there is enough downforce in racing. This will prevent the barge board from scraping the ground during racing while getting the front wing nearer to the ground. I suspect the clever use of multiple springs or torsion bars. The initial soft spring will allow the settling of the car to its racing height while the harder spring is engaged after the lowering to keep the car in that height while racing.


No, it's just the wing (and maybe the front floor area). That's what the onboard cameras show clearly. External still camera shots are another thing as the attitude of the whole car might cause wings to approach or touch the ground.


As long as the car passes the tests then it's legal, you can't call them cheats, they passed the tests, it's therefore legal, end of story.

There's no conspiracy here


Oh, really?

So in athletics they have a rule that says no competitor should take performance-enhancing drugs. To police this they do a test to see that there are no substances present in the blood that would enhance performance. Then those clever team doctors come up with a new drug that is not tested for. So the athlete takes this new performance-enhancing drug and, low and behold, passes the tests -- and wins races. Now tell me, is he complying with the rule and, more importantly, is he legal?

It's the exact equivalent in F1.


@JR , The answer is no. The rule in athletics is no performance enhancing drugs. If you take a PHD then you will be breaking the rule, whether the tests are stringent enough to reveal this drug or not. Same in F1, RBR front wing = clever engineering designed to pass a test that is clearly inadequate for the rule itself. Is RB honest enough to admit that they have done this, no and neither would any other team.

To give you a better analogy, passing your driving test doesn't mean you actually can drive on the road, legally you can however, it is widely accepted that the lessons and test have a less that 50% bearing on whether you are actually a good, safe driver. The test is not designed correctly or at the right time. If the FIA come up with a proper test then we'll probably see a few teams having to adjust their wings.


While I agree there is no conspiracy, the "passes the test, therefore its legal" argument is not accurate, as I and many others keep pointing out.

For example, the regulations say that a car must weight no less than 620kg, (for argument's sake, to the nearest 1 kg, but I suspect it is more accurate than that)

Now, suppose the scales used by the FIA scrutineers were accurate to the nearest 100kg. A 620kg car would show up as 600kg on those scales, however so would a 550kg car. A car designer therefore can design his car to be 550kg because he knows it will pass the scrutineering test.

Despite passing the test, the car is still illegal. It would pass the test and not be disqualified because the test would not adequate for checking the requirements of the regulation.

This is the case with the flexiwings. The test applied by the FIA can easily be circumvented by clever engineering - see the 'rulertest' link posted below as one possible method.


@Luke Osbourne - yes I know the scales are more accurate than that, I was just using it as an extreme over the top analogy to demonstrate the thinking of knowingly entering an illegal component with the knowledge it will pass a test.

I came up with a better example, which I detailed later on in another response. If a car designer could make a car generate 50kg of downforce whilst stationary then they could enter a 570kg car because it would weigh 620kg on the FIA scales. Everyone would know it was breaking the rules, but because it passed the test - under the philosophy that is being adopted regarding the flexible wings - it would not be disqualified. Despite all the teams, the FIA, the public and Martin Whitmarsh's dog knowing it was out and out illegal and they were cheating.

As I said in a later post the regulations state:

“Any device or construction that is designed to bridge the gap between the sprung part of the car and the ground is prohibited under all circumstances.”

The Red Bull wing is clearly designed to operate how it does. It is bridging the gap between the sprung part of the car and the ground. It is therefore illegal.

Mark - Anacortes

The FIA tests the wing. Do they test for the possibility of the nose cone flexing? I know that it has to pass crash tests, but what if the whole nose structure was able to flex downward under pressure? The nose that fell off of Seb's car at Silverstone may have been a manifestation of my theory, i.e. they found out how far they can go before it fell off. They then created a controversy by giving the good nose off Webber's car to Seb, and therein created a smoke screen, drawing scrutiny away from the nose failure. Just a thought.


Ben, your scales example is academic. The rules are far more stringent than that. There was a test for the front wing conceived by the FIA. There was noise so a new test was introduced, as well as a new test to catch RB out with their front floor.

The teams, and any supporter of teams other than RB, are sore. Plain and simple.

What you are seeing is the equivalent to a "hidden" double diffuser. Something the teams can't simply look under the car and see with their own eyes. They're stumped quite frankly and I beat it's causing some sore heads resulting from them hitting their head against a brick wall! And I bet Adrian Newey and the rest of the Composite Engineers have a smile they just can't wipe off! 🙂

As Kristian further down the comments list mentioned, it's their "Unfair Advantage". If you've ever read Mark Donohue's book (which I'm reading currently!) you'll know just what that means! And it's all within the rules 😉


Well said, Ben, it's a case of the testing proceedures not being adequate for the job. It also apears the wording of the rule may be inadequate in that the wing height only has to be correct in the pits. It seems to me that the so-called "spirit of the regulation", i.e. a certain distance from the ground at all times, is being disregarded by RB, while all the other teams honour the rule to the letter. RB are very clever, of course, but it does seem that they're getting an unfair advantage.

I suggest a camera situated at couple of locations beside the track to record all cars for the whole race, and if any wing or chassis is seen to be lower than a referance point/mark, then penalties should apply. It would negate the need for all the fancy weights and hydraulic jigs etc. currantly being used. (and transported around the world).



Ben, passing the test = compliance with the rules as they stand at this moment. That = legal. "Clever engineering" is not against the rules. It's what defines the difference between winning and losing in many instances.


Oh good god! Not this again.


Well, the same goes for McLaren and Ferrari if you happened to notice that they use the tracks as well. Wings are allowed to flex, it is in the rules. All teams use it for their advantage and no, there is no 50mm flex on the RB. Maybe it happened to do that once when Vettel left the curbs hard.

The downforce on the front wing is huge,much more than the 50kg so it should flex much more than 10mm.


James- Does the Red Bull have the rear facing camera this weekend that looks back from the front wing to the the bib.? That might shed some more light. I bet they have taken it off!!


The rear facing camera seems to have been moved from the nose of the car to the side of the engine cover:



Here we go again - does anyone actually KNOW how they're doing it ? I read an interesting article suggesting that the whole chassis was flexing through use of composites with different tolerances - ? ?


The 'flexing' of components on F1 cars is usually accomplished by varying the orientation of the carbon fibres. The properties of a carbon-fibre component vary according to the orientation of the carbon fibres (e.g. fibres aligned at 45 deg, fibres aligned at 90 deg, etc.). Presumably Red Bull and Ferrari have varied the fibre alignment across the span of the wing.


maybe that explains why they pass the point load tests - perhaps the force needs to be evenly applied for the wing to 'give' the 50mm ? Persoanlly I still think it's the whole chassis 'crouching' while under a specific loading. Pretty amazing stuff if it's true - I expect Mclaren are missing Adrian Newey now !


Yes, but it may not have been Newey's idea. It could have been a composites expert, rather than an aerodynamics expert who said "we can get the wing lower by..."


this is a joke! the rules say you can't have any moving aero bits, so why don't the FIA load tests go all the way up to the 250kg you would experience on track?? Red Bull have dominated this season's lap times by cheating, and nobody seems to have the balls to point it out, what's going on?


The rules do NOT say "you can't have any moving aero' bits" at all.


er yes they do.


then why was the F duct allowed.... the driver moves a vent to open up.... the FIA decided to allow that.....


er, no they dont.

To poke a simple hole in your argument for instance, the front wing is permitted to move. You can have adjustable front wings. There goes your argument straight up.

And as Eric said, nothing is completely rigid. Take a look at any of the shots out the back of the cars, Ferrari in particular ive noticed, and the 'sharks fin' engine cover wobbles and flexes side to side going around corners. This bodywork that is moving under load, why arent you jumping up and down about that?


No they don't per se.

Important parts have allowed flex tolerances.

There is no material that is 100% rigid.


"What's going on?"

They're winning by racing within the rules. You could argue that it's not within the spirit of the rules, but every other team is doing the same thing. It's part of the sport, "The Unfair Advantage".


This is really going to get up Whitmarsh and Button's nose!


The Technical regulations state 3 specific lines that the car has to adhere to. The front wheel centre line (FWCL), The rear wheel centre line (RWCL), The Reference line. A car is measured on these by the stewards. Also they are measured to see the bodywork does not flex too much. The Red Bull passes all the tests. End of story!!


Button wouldn't be a WC if it were not for clever engineering concepts. i think he'll respect what Red Bull have done here.

As do the other teams.


Brawn pretty much outright told the FIA and all the teams what they were doing and that the rules needed to be clarified if they were not to end up with such an advantage before the season began. So it's not like they tried to sneak the diffuser through without anyone noticing.

The FIA and the teams basically laughed at him.


Yes, and then all the other teams copied it and were a lot faster... Thats what Martin and Co. want to do now and they are mad because they aren't being handed the information. If they knew how it was done they wouldn't be trying to get it banned.

What Brawn did last year was smart because it guaranteed his performance advantage for as long as the competitors could take to develop their own, which it turns out was enough. Declaring what is on your car however is not required or obliged. Otherwise Mclaren wouldnt have had to go spying on Ferrari. And regardless of the FIA ruling the BRawn diffuser was a classic case of contravention but still passing the test.

The real problem, and I may be biased as an RB fan, is that the competitors are not happy that this knowledge has been so guarded and only Ferrari has apparently been able to copy a somewhat similar system albeit not as effective. Given the majority of UK press and UK F1 fans back Mclaren and Lewis, this has become such a big deal and people are angry.

And please stop all this what if they just ban Redbull tech nonsense, the wing is legal because they FIA cant prove it illegal. If they dont know what makes it drop they cant ban the tech that makes it do it. They write regulations and then they figure out parameters that make the car conform to the parameters deemed legal. So far, the Redbull passes these tests and is legal. Until the FIA figures out the tech that makes the wing drop, if it actually is as pictures can be deceiving and onboard footage doesnt have a wide enough angle to get a real reference as to what actually is moving (ie suspension or wing or nose or car or floor). Stop whining everyone, Adrian Newey got the drop and he doesnt want to share, thats not illegal, go engineer your own car and run it.


And I very much doubt Mark Webber could ever be World Champion without a similar technical advantage. I'm sure Mark's a nice guy and is doing a great job of getting the most out of his talent, but I just don't see him being at the same level of Alonso and Hamilton in particular.


Hey, I agree, pretty much every World **Drivers** Champion has had the fastest car that year. So I'm not saying Webber winning the championship would be out of line with history.

But I do think that in equal equipment Webber wouldn't be able to keep up with Alonso or Hamilton, who I personally suspect are the truly fastest drivers in F1 at the moment. And I do like the notion - the notion - that the WDC is the quickest wheelman out there.

And as for the idea that Webber is a hero because he has the pressure of a fast team mate ... What do you think Button is doing every weekend? Picking daisies?


oh boo hoo @virtualmark. Webber is beating a highly rated driver that is not used to ever being beaten by a team mate. He's more than you are trying to make him out to be. Unlike Hamilton or Alonso, Webber has the pressure of a team mate who can challenge him on every weekend they race. We saw how Lewis bumbled his way to the finish in 07 and 08 is the fastest car on the grid. hardly faultless despite his technical advantages.


Every world championship winning car has some Unfair Advantage. They have interpreted the rules, designed this wing structure, been called on it and showed they are legal. Think back to the 90's where Williams had the active car. Christ, you think Mansell would have won in anything else in '92?

You won't hear the teams call the FIA again to go harder on the tests until they are sure they know how it's done!

They would look very foolish if they didn't know and it passed again!


Alonso and hamilton have had has much chance to win the world championship as Webber has. Hamilton's doing his best to blow it, and Alonso has the whole team behind him. If Webber beats them, he beats them fair and square. He's got a highly rated team mate, and he doesn't seem to be the favoured driver despite being 20 points ahead. Neither hamilton or alonso had to deal with that when they won their world championships.


Nup but then World Champ doesn't mean best driver.. It's a prize you fight for with the team you're in. And it matters more than anything


What can be done about this though? If the car is legal that's one thing, but the FIA can't be seen to do nothing, because somehow Red Bull have found a loophole and are gaining an unfair advantage....its a strange one. You have to salute them for doing this.....but kinda ruins the championship at the same time. It's completely different to the double diffuser row. There wasnt a rule that stated that couldn't happen. There is a rule that stipulates a minimum height for the front wing, specifically the end plates. So surely there are rules being bent or broken?


there is something in the rules about being 'within the spirit of the regulations' so that if something was specifically designed to contravene the intention of a regulation whilst still passing the actual test, its within the FIA's remit to pull it up.

but for such a grey area i can't see them doing it.


If there's a loophole in the rules, you either tighten it up for next year or else let everyone exploit it. What you don't do is mess about with this year's championship to cover an oversight by the ruling body.

It's not even a particularly embarrassing error - it's not like Red Bull have run away with the championship. If the difference between the rigid cars and the bendy cars was so great that there was no competition, then the FIA would probably have to find a solution mid-season. That isn't the case here.


It MAKES the championship - think williams active car, ground effect, renault's dampers & hundreds more innovations - the leading innovator beguiling some of the best minds each year & then being reset by new rules for the following season - I'm glad that it's still very much a part of F1 - It throws down the gauntlet to the other teams to work it out in time - It's not meant to be an equal sport ! ! part of the thrill is watching Lewis ring the neck of the 3rd fastest car & finish on the podium ! !


Some would call it technical innovation. It used to be part of F1- remember?.


I agree, surely the innovation and the desire of the other teams to try and emulate the same levels of downforce is what makes this sport so special?


I feel sorry for the McLaren team because I think they really convinced themselves the new tests had resulted in a reduction in Red Bull performance.

They were deluding themselves quite clearly! The last few races was all about how they had pegged back some of the gap because of more stringent tests. Hungary went very well for them. It started at Spa where there is very little downforce produced, therefore much lower loads on the wing. Monza was the same. Singapore was at night, nobody probably saw how long the wing was!

Back to the drawing board, old chaps!


Absolutely! Back to drawing boards!


None of the photos I've seen on the subject of the Red Bull wings appear to show the wing actually flexing. The wing does appear to be closer to the ground, but the pictures I've seen appear to show the wing uniformly closer to the ground. Why couldn't that simply be due to something (perfectly legal) in the suspension set-up? I mean, the suspension must surely compress under load anyway. Why couldn't there just be something clever about how that aspect of the car's handling is managed?


It seems to me that the front wing is not parrallel to the back wing. I think that as the car is cornering and the body rolls to the outside, somehow the front wing stays parrallel to the ground. It is straight. It is not flexing along it's length. So how does it get un-parrallel to the rear wing? Force from the suspension or steering is my guess. When the car corners there's lots of force on the outside suspension via the wheel and tyre, and if you could transmit a little of that to the bodywork - to twist it and push the other side down - you'll get the wing down on the inside. As the body rolls the outside is already there. The wing is down close to and parrallel to the ground.

I was looking at the film of Vettels car when he lost control and hit the Maclaren and it seemed to me that during his zigzagging the wing was moving a lot very quickly, but as a result of the steering. Very strange behaviour of the wing in the circumstances, close in the slipstream with very dirty air.

These recent photos confirm a little my thoughts.


But the amount of movement would mean that the 'bib' would be carving the road up.


I guess that if the bib is normally less than 50mm off the ground, I guess that would be true. I have no idea what the relative positions of the two components are—they'll obviously be covered by regulations, and maybe someone with that information could comment.

It seems, however, that most people are convinced that the wing is flexing. The ruler example provided by Elio is a good explanation of one possibility, but I still haven't seen a photo that I find convincing (and that may just be because I haven't seen enough photos...), and the one video that I have seen, that's supposed to be conclusive, to me looks like the whole front of the car is moving closer to the ground, not just the wing tips. For Elio's explanation to be valid, if I understand it correctly, you would also need to see some rotational and lateral movement. All of that is going to be incredibly difficult to pick up from individual photographs or even videos—you can get unusual visual effects when looking from particular angles, and can often convince yourself that something, that isn't really there, is...


Surely it would have to be active (illegal) otherwise it would drag on the ground when the car weighed an extra 200 kilos ?

You could be right though - I've no idea how they've done it though ! !


I'm not sure that it would have to be 'active', just clever use of damping or geometry, as someone else has suggested. It wouldn't surprise me one bit to find that there was more to a pull-rod suspension than meets the eye, even though that's at the rear of the car.


The 100 kg test is nowhere near representative of the force at race speed. It needs to be 300kg on each side to give an idea of the deflection at full chat.


So if you are saying the total downforce from the front wing is 600kg (300kg/side) and you want wing deflection tested at full possible load the tech inspectors would have to evenly spread the load across the wing surface. A point load on the wing will act very differenctly than an even load. Also (I know this has been beaten to death), where in the rules does it say the wing can't flex? The rule states that under specific technical inspection conditions the wing will flex NO MORE THAN a certain amount. Everything flexes. Steel beams deflect, concrete bridges deflect, etc. It is impossible to build a none flexing structure. Red Bull's wing meets the rules; that means it's legal.


Read the rules, passing the deflection test doesn't make it legal. The very fact they changed the test should tell you this.


Perhaps F1 should allow Abrams tanks to enter, I understand these flex very little.

Jeff in Melbourne

James, has there been any talk in the paddock re the red bull's wing instability when close to other cars, as identified in Seb's accident in spa? Surely this is a safety issue for both them and their competitors.


It's definitely flexing across the span; you can see that the centre of the wing is roughly the same height, but that the outer sections are much lower.

Maybe the FIA should alter the test for the rule to use a wind-tunnel to test the nose. Mandate that no more than 10 mm of deflection is allowed at 300 km/h, when the wing is at the minimum allowable ride-height. The winning car (or a suspect car) has the nose-cone confiscated after a session, and it goes for testing.

This would provide a test that is much closer to real racing conditions, and it isn't difficult at all.


And a 1:1 scale wind tunnel would be required. There are not many of those around. Furthermore the cost of such tests would be prohibitive, and the tests would have to be conducted in advance of the race weekend.


What says it would have to be tested in advance of a race weekend?

If Team X seems to have a wing that flexes at speed, the FIA can just take the wing off the car in Parc Ferme, and then take it wherever they want to test it, spend an hour in a wind-tunnel (almost all of the teams have them), and the test is done!

If they wing doesn't pass the test, they are then handed a penalty or DQ'd. Easy.


Why not just take the nose-cone back to the UK, where there are a few? (MIRA, or any of the teams, etc)

They could make it even easier and mandate that the teams have to make an adapter to mate up to the test jig. They could even mount it on a car and test it at 300 km/h at any of the circuits they visit (adjusting for wind-speed, etc), using the same adapter. With the front wing always being in free-stream, it would be a fair test.


The cars could be tested pre-season to make sure they complied with what the regulations intended, not just that they pass some static tests.

Then just having the option of randomly taking a car away and having it properly tested would stop alot of the chancers if the penalties were harsh enough.


Cars are constantly developed throughout the season, so testing them once pre-season would not serve much purpose.


The only difficulty will be transporting that darn gigantic wind tunnel to all the venues...


1) What happened in NASCAR was only a problem because they let cheaters keep their wins. Beyond that, he was penalized heavily, so I don't really even see where you are going with that statement. What's wrong with having a similar system to NASCAR where they test the cars (or parts) after the race? Even confiscating the entire car could be done, and have it flown back to the UK to an approved wind-tunnel for verification, at the team's expense. Sure, it's extreme, but it depends on whether you really want to deter people from cheating or not. Don't want your car confiscated for testing? Simple! Don't try to make your wings flex at high speeds.

2) Your argument about dampers, suspension and the flexible/hinged splitter doesn't add up, because as we've all seen in on-board videos and animated GIFs, the wing is flexing significantly in relation to the chassis. While that may have some effect, it is plain to see that the wing is flexing excessively:



Regardless of what they are doing, there needs to be stricter testing to ensure teams are building their parts to the same standard. I don't like that McLaren has built their wing with the ethos "wings are not allowed to flex, therefore lets make ours really stiff so it doesn't", whereas Red Bull has said "wings are not allowed to flex, but their only test is static, so let's cheat by designing a flexible wing that only flexes significantly when in a dynamic situation".


Agreed, there needs to be stricter testing. But I don't like the idea of the organizing body taking possession of parts or entire vehicles offsite, especially during a race weekend.

Most importantly, is the FIA trustworthy enough to use this type of enforcement with credibility? Can it be done timely enough so that the championship is not manipulated by spurious challenges to any team's legality? Like anything else in F1, once the door is opened, then teams figure out how to manipulate the system. Just because Red Bull can be accused doesn't prevent strategic challenges to other teams that could upend the championship.

The questions of Red Bull's legality go beyond just the front wings. Remember the ride height controversy from early in the season? The Red Bull could be illegal in more ways than just the front wing.


It would be easier to just confiscate a nose-cone from the team and take it to the MIRA wind-tunnel in the UK, where most teams are located anyway. There are also a few full-size ones in the US and in Australia, so if they are overseas and need to check one immediately, one isn't overly far away.


I'm not sure the teams would approve that. There will definitely be transparency issues. Also it seems a bit like NASCAR, and this type of process blew up following Clint Bowyer's win in New Hampshire.

Another factor is whether or not the Red Bull's "performance advantage" comes from the nose cone or from some other set up trick. We can examine photos of the front wings, but we don't know what is going on underneath the car (suspension, t-tray, mounts, dampers, etc.).


There are rules .. the rules have even been changed mid season to satisfy the anti RB crowd .. GIVE IT UP ALREADY! All cars are meeting the rules, the rules are the same for everyone.

BTW, it just could be that the RB wings are flexing more BECAUSE THEY ACTUALLY WORK!


The rules have not changed! the test loads have! rbr is passing the tests but are breaking the rules.It's that simple


Breaking the rules and passing the test are two totally different things.

Red bull have a car that passes the test but breaks the rules.


No, the rules - stipulating no wing flexing, and minimum ride hight for the front wing etc - have NOT changed.

The tests used to check complience with the rules have changed, but the rules DO allow the FIA to change the test if they suspect the rules are being broken.


I've found more pictures in the f1arab website :



Good pictures. I can see clearly that those wings are definitely flexing. Legal or not? I do not know.


They're legal as long as they pass the tests, 4 races to go . . tick tock !


The FIA clearly need to find a way of stopping this.

Personally i dont want another hungary bore fest, as alot of races have been this year.

No driver can make up for the gap Red Bull have, so get ready for another pole to lights race from a Red Bull driver.


Okay, Oliver why DOES the FIA clearly need to stop this? RBR have built a great machine that meets the rules and is winning races. Other teams complained, the test was modified and RBR still passes. What's wrong with technical innovation within the rules? All structures flex, so don't tell me the other team's wings don't. Good for them! This is what the top level of racing is all about; ingenuity and innovation.


A lot of races have been a bore fest? You must have been watching a different championship to the rest of the world. This season has been widely regarded as one of the best for many years!


Well, I'm not surprised ... they need points, they came back with the old implementation, which, as it seems, is still helping the downforce. It's either very clever invention, or omission in the technical rules. If it's the latter, it could be corrected, else the rest of the teams should head over there ...


'But the Red Bull car has no problem passing the tests and is therefore legal.'

This, I think, misstates the position. Obviously, a car can pass all the tests but be illegal - e.g. the BAR-Honda presumably did so until someone discovered the fuel/ballast cheat. Specifically on body work:

Regulation 3.15

any specific part of the car

influencing its aerodynamic performance :

- must comply with the rules relating to bodywork ;

- must be rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any

degree of freedom) ;

- must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car.

Is the overriding provision. Regulation 3.17 contains further detailed provisions prohibiting movement under specific loadings. If a car breaches these, it is not legal; if it does not breach these, it is not necessarily legal. Regulation 3.17(8) 'In order to ensure that the requirements of Article 3.15 are respected, the FIA reserves the right to introduce further load/deflection tests on any part of the bodywork which appears to be (or is suspected of),

moving whilst the car is in motion.' makes it clear that the rules contemplate that a car in breach of Article 3.15 but compliant with all of 3.17(1)-(7). It would be in breach, irrespective of whether additional tests are imposed, in order to detect such a breach - that is to say 3.17(8) simply provides a further mechanishm whereby a breach of article 3.15 can be established by proof.

A more accurate form of wording would be ''But the Red Bull car has no problem passing the tests and therefore has not been excluded from competing'


shouldn't the f-duct be illegal then since the driver has to move there knee/elbow to activate it which would make it a movable aero device?


that's why it's not classed a moveable aero device, that's the whole point! if it were a mechanical flap that opened and shut, then it would be illegal. but here, the only actual moving part is the driver, there's no part on the car that moves.


It is a mechanical flap isnt it. Its not part of the driver thats covering the hole, its a pad on the back of their glove or on their knee.


No physical part of the car moves when the F-Duct is activated. The driver places an appendage over a hole. By blocking the hole, the air that would have come out of the hole is forced through a duct to the rear wing where that air causes the airflow to break away from the rear wing elements, reducing drag and downforce.

It is technically legal because the driver is a naturally moving component within the car not covered by the regulations. It's a bit like a driver moving his head to one side to let more air in the airbox.

So whilst it it technically meets the letter of the law, it does break the spirit of the rules and does break the intention of the rules. If the rules were not intended to outlaw activated stalled wings then they would be permitted mechanically.

This is a case of lawyers being able to defend a loophole in the semantics of the law, rather than a technical innovation. It is not bringing any new science to the table, which something like the advanced Red Bull made to the concept of blown rear diffusers by making the exhaust pressure constant has done.


No, because the driver is not part of the car.


I think you're misinterpreting how the rules work.

3.15 is indeed clear that any parts capable of influencing aerodynamic performance must remain immobile. However, 3.17 then effectively asserts itself as the measure of compliance with 3.15 by setting out nature of the load tests. In other words, 3.17 determines compliance with 3.15.

A car that meets the requirements of 3.17 is therefore considered to have met 3.15 and is legal. The fact that Red Bull appears to have found a cunning way of passing the 3.17 tests while still flexing is neither here nor there. If the FIA is concerned the 3.17 tests aren't fit for purpose it can change them.

Another point to consider is that 3.15 is absolute - the parts covered by the regulation must "remain immobile". But in real life most of these parts flex under load to some degree, even if it isn't the least bit significant or intentional. It's impractical to demand complete rigidity from parts that are subject to high loads. Any degree of flex isn't the issue, it's excessive flexing - so there has to be a tolerance and 3.17 provide it.

By all means argue that the FIA should change its testing method, but until it does and a Red Bull fails the next test, the RB6 is entirely legal.


3.17 has the effect of defining the meaning of 'rigid' under 3.15. No wing on any F1 car could meet the strictest dictionary definition of 'rigid'.

I commend RB for what they have done. It is this type of thinking that moves technology and this sport forward.


this is also interesting to look at in the context of the f duct. the ducting is fine but doesn't the concentrated air flow result in the rear wing moving?


No, the air flow is tiny. What the F-Duct does is to add a small air flow to the underside of the rear wing causing it to break away from the wing. This significantly reduces the drag of the wing and reduces downforce.


I'm pretty sure the rear wing doesn't move (at least in relation to the rest of the car). It just interrupts the airflow over it.


Thanks, I knew someone could point to the regulations, you are pretty much arguing what I have been saying. I am certain there is a regulation to do with bodywork 'not being designed to flex' - I don't suppose you have that one to hand?


I have found the regulation:

"Any device or construction that is designed to bridge the gap between the sprung part of the car and the ground is prohibited under all circumstances."

The Red Bull wing is clearly designed to behave in the way that it does. A part does not pass FIA scrutineering tests regarding flex tests and then touch the ground in race conditions by accident.

The wing is designed to 'bridge the gap' under race conditions and therefore is illegal, regardless of whether it passes the flexitests or not.


That's interesting, people suspected they had lost performance at the races post Hungary. Looks like Webber may have spoken too soon at the press conference the other day


If there's 50mm of movement then it's breaking the spirit of the rule which says there should be no flexing. The spirit of the rules is that the plank should be the lowest point on the car (other than, of course, the tyres) at any speed on a level surface.

And before anyone gets in first and says "it meets the test requirements"; meeting the requirements of the test is not the same as meeting either the spirit or the requirement of the rule.


This 'spirit of the rule' that everyone keeps talking about is interesting. I agree that when the FIA sets out rules, there is intent, and thus, the intent can be seen as 'spirit of the rule'. However, Adrian Newey was quoted as saying before the season started that in his opinion there is no such 'spirit of the rule'.

This makes one wonder. At the beginning of the season when people were arguing whether or not McLaren's F-duct was legal, people were saying that there was a gentleman's agreement not to stall the wing and indicating that McLaren had therefore broken an un-written rule. Now this 'spirit of the rule' issue with Red Bull's wings flexing.

What we all must remember is that we, as fans, don't have a clue what is discussed behind closed doors.

Ferrari were spitting mad last year with the double-decker diffuser, but, once the FIA deemed it legal, the gloves, essentially, were off. I can see a situation where after Brawn's diffuser was deemed legal, the other teams said, "okay, if that is the way we're going to play, let's play it that way. all gentleman's agreements are out the window. Spirit of the rules? Screw it. If it passes scrutineering, let's put it on the car.

Just me thinking out loud.

Paul from Green Bay

This makes no sense. How does extra downforce at speed on a straight help you? You lose much of it in the corners when you need it. The pictures that I have seen of the Red Bull in the corners have the wing nearly touching the ground on the outside wheel >which is lower due to the suspension taking the loads<.

Am I missing something? Is the Red Bull just better integrated overall since the beginning of the season? Maybe everyone else just can't quite hit the sweet spot by throwing the kitchen sink at their cars. It strikes me that the wing bending is worth much less than people are making out, especially the other engineers. I suspect they might be using it for cover...


Yep - from the series of photos at the link above, it doesn't look like the wing is at a different angle from the rest of the bodywork. Could RBR simply be allowing more body roll in their suspension?


A car with more downforce does not automatically have more drag than a car with less downforce. Moving the end wing endplates down makes the car more aerodynamically efficient, and generates more downforce. It helps with the airflow around the wheels as well as increases the front wing's effectiveness.

Even if it did increase drag, it allows them to corner at a much higher speed giving them a much higher average speed over the course of a lap. The speed at which the Red Bull can take Sector 1 at Silverstone, Sector 1 at Susuka and all of Hungary demonstrates how sticky the car is at medium and high speed corners. It does not matter that it is not as fast flat out, because it has a much higher exit speed coming on to the straights.

Paul from Green Bay

Good points from Ben and JR. On the formula1.com official website I checked the onboard videos of qualifying from different cars at the different tracks so far. There in hi-def is irrefutable proof of how much the wings flex and at what speed. Using a straight sheet of paper I could hold it steady against the screen and see nearly to about 70-80% of the wing length.

Hamilton's qualy from G.B. show hardly any flexion (although his wing ends were somewhat obscured by the brake air intake. Barrichello's, Petrov's, and Alonso's wings all flexed, maybe half of what Weber's and Vettel's did, which flexed quite a bit. They flexed a lot at the end of straights and it seemed to vary proportionaly to speed, so not very much in any corners. I don't see that they are getting too much help in the twisty bits, except for the hi-speed corners as JR points out.

It should be trivial to use photogrammetry from those reference camera views to determine exactly how much flexion occurs. If too much, they should be illegal. Period.


It doesn't help on the straights -- but it does help on fast sweeping corners, such as there are here at Suzuka.

There are plenty of pictures around of the RBs on fast corners with both front wingtips almost scraping the ground, and generating significant ground effect in the process.


Thats it. Both endplates touching the ground. so the body of the car is rolling out but the front wing is parallel to the ground! Does the car have no body-roll on a high speed corner? of course it does. So how does the front wing twist itself against that movement? Explain that and you'll get close to what Redbull are doing, I suspect.


How does it work? the carbon fibres in the wing are aligned to bend when a force is applied at a certain angle and not at other angles. With the FIA load test, the load is applied vertically, the wing resists this test. However in real life the wing is subject to an angled load, both vertical and longitudinally, the resulting compound load twists the wing backwards such that the carbon fibre is aligned in its weaker direction, thus the vertical load can easily bend the wing downwards.

Its a bit like this...

Take a 30cm plastic ruler, hold width ways in front of you holding it tightly in one hand. now with your other hand press the far end with your finger. If you press in line with the ruler (i.e the thin edge) it wont flex. if you press that same edge at angle the ruler flexes.


Exactly my thoughts too, Elio, and I said as such a couple of months back here on JA's excellent site. I suspect -- though of course I can't be sure -- it's created by the layup of the carbon fibre in specific parts of the wing.

At speed the front wing is likely to be creating as much drag (rearward force) as it is downforce. The current test being applied only creates one component of the resultant load. The scrutineers need to test for deflection when the wing is subjected to a load at 45 degrees from the horizontal in a rearwards direction (ie in both horizontal and vertical planes at the same time). I can't understand why they don't do this. Please ask them, James.


It simple the the fia must apply the load in a full 360 degree from various points on the wing. Job done discussion over.

James so when can you tell mr J Todt


but going back to the ruler analogy, hold the ruler at 45 deg to the horizontal and push down vertically. it still moves down, but at 45 degrees.

similarly, if the wing deflects down as it is pushed backwards, then it will still move down if you apply vertical load, it will just move backwards too (which is irrelevant).

the only way to prevent it would be by somehow limiting the backward movement of the wing under the test conditions and i don't think that's possible.


Again, just because failing test = illegal does not mean passing test = legal.

The flexing of the wing can be caused illegally by methods the current FIA tests do not pick up. For a start, the FIA test does not simulate the race track conditions where there is an airflow passing over the wing, drag pushing back on the wing, vibrations - all these forces are not simulated by a simple load test.

Formula 1 is at the bleeding edge of technical development , however the testing and regulating of the sport often seems to lag behind.

There is no doubt, Red Bull have been exceedingly clever with the design of their wing, and it is a testament to all those involved at what they have managed to engineer. However, the regulations clearly state that bodywork which is designed to flex is illegal.

The regulations concede that all materials flex to a degree as part of their natural properties and that tolerance is what the tests are checking for.

What Red Bull have done is engineer a material that flexes to the FIA tolerances under the test conditions but flexes far more under race conditions. What they have banked on is the fact that it is impossible to police.

And if they were pulled up on it, they can just argue "it is not designed to do that, it happens, and yes, it gives us a huge aero advantage"

Of the three major innovations this season, the F-Duct, the controlled exhaust pressure blown diffuser system, and the flexi-wings I feel only the diffuser is an actual innovation.

The F-Duct cheats the semantics and the spirit of the rule; the flexi-wing is designed to cheat a test so it cannot be proven illegal.

Only the diffuser has looked at a problem (which was 'blown diffusers are inherently unstable because the exhaust pressure is constantly changing with engine speed) and come up with a solution to that technical problem.

The trouble is, I feel F1 designers are forced in to doing this. When true innovation is introduced, it is quickly banned.

See: Renault Mass Dampers, BARs torque transfer system, McLaren's third brake pedal system. There are rumours that that part of the blown diffuser system will be outlawed next year too.

And the sad thing is, while F-Ducts and Flexi-wings have little real world relevance, whilst the stuff that gets banned does.


A 'real-world' test on the wing would be a complex process involving expensive machinery, and measurements of the actual loads experienced by the wing.


can we call the other two innovative cheats then


I am not being anti-Red Bull. I called the F-Duct a cheat of the intention of the rules on a basis of semantics. The rules were designed to prevent stalled wings, they were poorly constructed to allow the loophole.

The blown rear diffuser is NOT cheating however. Blown diffusers have always been permitted, however until the Red Bull innovation of keeping the exhaust pressure constant they were too unstable. Red Bull have engineered a problem to this situation and it does not break the rules, the intention of the rules or the spirit of the rules. This is the sort of thing that Formula 1 is about.

The flexible wing is against the spirit of the rules. How the wing behaves in race conditions is against the rules. However the wing has been engineered to pass the scrutineering test. That is getting an illegal component to cheat the test.

If it was possible to make a car generate 50kg of downforce passively, whilst stationary with no airflow over it, you could get a 570kg car to weigh 620kg when scrutineered at the end of the race. It would pass the test and the car would not be disqualified, but it would still have a mass of 570kg and would still be illegal and the team would be cheating.

It would be a genius truimph of engineering, but it would still be illegal and would still be cheating.


As AdrianP says, there's a difference between passing a test and being legal.

I think some of the airbox camera views we've had this season show the flexing very clearly indeed, and you can watch the wing flexing relative to fixed reference points, from a fixed camera position.

You can also compare like-for-like with other cars very clearly this way.


So it's not the genius of Adrian Newey... although I didn't realise Helix was a Red Bull sponsor...

That is neat, and demonstrates the inadequacies of the FIA scrutineering tests.

vodka and orange

Im waiting for Qualy to get a better look at this bullsh!t!!! If this wing is clearly seen to flex at speed MORE than the stipulated measurement allowed, then there must be something suspicious going on. Whats with the FIA and this 1 team getting a secret advantage year after year?? First they banned Renaults mass damper, then they give Brawn, Wallys and Toyota a jump start with double diffusers, then this year they let McJalopies get away with a drainpipe on their wing, and now RB allowed to get away with this tripe!!! If any team can be accused of cheating it just rubbishes the whole championship battle!! #:)


This has just gotten ridiculous..

The rules are clear, and the FIA test is inadequate to enforce them.

A governing body shouldn't be so unprofessional.


Good for them. Short of the scruts jumping up and down on it, it follows the regs, it works, and it's damn fast. Let's go racin'.


Read all the comments above, Tim. It doesn't follow the regs -- it just passes what is clearly an inadequate test.

You can't be allowed to go racin' with an illegal car!


It will never cease to amaze me how the minds behind the cars in F1 always seem to find a way around the rules and regulations. Brilliant stuff.


The most brilliant part is how they get the "brilliant part" to pass tech.


This is awful. Nearly as bad as the Germany switch. It is certainly just as blatent and just if not even more patronising of RB to the public and a 2 fingers up to the rest of the grid and the FIA. As Adrian P clearly explained no aero part is allowed to move and this is clearly the case and is giving a massive advantage as it has done most of the season. Unfortunatly Adrian, your namesake is pushing the rules too far for my stomach. I hope the stewards to have the balls to say that the wing is clearly in breach of the rules even if it can pass the pathetic 100kg test! Shameful!


I can't believe that even though Red Bull are clearly breaking the rules and therefore cheating which everybody can clearly see they are not being punished or forced to change their car just because of an arbitrary test which does not do what it should be doing ie. making sure all cars are within the rules and regulation which Red Bull are not.


anybody remembers 1981's Brabham? Same old, same old ...

... "the team further developed the BT49C for the 1981 season, incorporating a hydropneumatic suspension system to avoid ride height limitations intended to reduce downforce."


Not 'same old' at all.

Brabham weren't cheating, just finding a loophole -- which is a completely different thing. It was only a rule change -- or rather an additional clause in the rules -- that subsequently made their car illegal.


That 4th photo is unbelievable, how much more evidence do they need?


Hmmmm, innocent until proven guilty. Its like "We know your cheating, you know your cheating, until we can prove your cheating then everything is ok".

James, why cant the FIA just impound the redbull and take it to pieces but only done with one or two engineers to insure there is no tech disclosure to other teams.


Those who complain loudest are the ones that aren't sharp enough yet to figure out how to do it themselves.


Yeah but they're not wanting to figure it out, they're not wanting to cheat by having their wings/body flex, because the rules say they must NOT FLEX !



Surely teams cheat - if Alonso wins the WDC by only a few points, surely Ferrari cheated by telling Massa to move over for Alonso during the race a few months back.


If you measure practically any aero part on any of the cars, it flexes to some degree.

"must not flex" is a misnomer. It is virtually impossible no to have some deflection under force. The rules are there to keep the amount of flex in check.

Red bull wing passes the test for flexure allowable under rated load. Anything more would be over-design. Why is that cheating?


Another manipulated championship. The sad this is the watching destruction of what was a 'sport' for at least 2hrs every other Sunday - now it's pure business.


coul it possibly be in the springs and shocks where shock valving might be allowing more droop after certain a certian preordained aerodynamic load is achieved. combined with spring rates or suspension arm flexing after a certain load is reached. This might also show why they aren't as upset over the curbs. Just a cabinmaker letting my mind drift. I 'm probably all wet. but one last thought.Couldn't geometry be designed to not bump while sitting still, as the tread width change, Minute as it is could be limited. They use pull rod if I'm not mistaken, and this might be one of it's advantages. Does anyone hear actually know enough to tell me if I'm right or wrong or just go back to bed?


It's got nothing to do with the suspension, Barry. It's not the car that's lowering at speed -- it's just the ends of the wings, and maybe the front of the floor. But that's all that's needed to give a significant speed advantage in fast corners.


Mclaren's complaint is disingenuous. They say they want video evidence to be used in determining bodywork flex, but in the following video they have front wings flexing like Vettel's did at Spa.

France 2007

Alonso: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZcXVhreKoU

Hamilton: Watch his wing flop around behind Kubica at :50. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOJkrQebtNQ

And 2008: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4zq4s_onboard-mclaren_sport


Paul from Green Bay

Better to look at the formula1.com onboard videos from the reference camera POV which is stable relative to the wing tips. They move and you can clearly see how much and at what speed. Red Bull's move a lot. McLaren not so much. Ferrari, Renault, and Williams somewhat.


I didn't say that they were doing 'exactly' what Red Bull are doing this year. I said that the wings were moving like Vettel's did behind Button at Spa. Vettel's wing was rocking like the two Mclarens above.

The point isn't how they move, it is that they move at all. Mclaren are in a huff because they say 3.15 is over-riding. Bodywork is supposed to be rigidly mounted. Those wings in the video are not rigid at speed.


When I watch these clips I see the wing (2007) rocking back and forth when in turbulent air, but dead solid when in clear air, nothing to indicate that the wing is flexing downward at the tips. If you watch the 2008 footage all you'll see is the connecting section torque under breaking and acceleration, but again the wing itself is rock solid. So, maybe you're just looking for some way to slap Mc Laren?


Of course its bending at the tips. You say you can see its rocking back and forth when in turbulent air. (ie: 1 side is in the wake of the other car and the other isnt.) But you say its dead solid in when in clear air. So when it pulls out completely from behind the turbulent air that same force is applied to both wing tips, so they would both flex down. They arent dead solid, it just looks like it because the same force is applied to both sides of the wing, it still dips down when the aero load is applied to it.


Yes, but the wing is moving (rotating) along an axis, when one end is up the other one is down and this cant be beneficial. On the RedBull it droops on the ends.


Look again, JJ. The wings are wobbling in turbulent air but they're not dropping down towards the track surface.

If you don't believe me take a piece of paper and hold it against your computer screen just above the image of the wings; then watch. The camera is mounted solidly to the car (otherwise vibration would make the picture unwatchable), so the nose stays still and the wheels move up and down as the loadings change in the corners and over bumps. There is clearly no bending of the front wings -- just a side-to-side wobble in turbulent air when following other cars.

Now compare with in camera footage of the 2010 Red Bull cars.


What's interesting about the picture is that the wing is riding low at low speed. One would assume therefore that as the car accelerates, the wing would be pushed even lower by the air flow over the top surface unless the wing was very rigidly mounted to the nosecone, or the aerofoil section of the wing was either non lifting or even an inverted lifting section that would ride higher as the speed increases.

Maybe they have a speed induced inverted droop-snoop - a la Concorde...


It's hardly ruined the championship. They've not exactly run away with it have they? And besides, Brawn had several races last season where they used the double diffuser in a rules "grey area" and nobody (except Red Bull) begrudged them their success. And let's not forget the other "illegal" innovation that everyone was gasping about at the start of the season, the F-Duct. If the other teams hadn't figured out how to make their own, which they had to do, then McLaren would have gained a rule-dodgey advantage for this season.

It's up to the FIA top set the rules clearly, and in the absence of clarity, set the tests and benchmarks accordingly. Teams will always innovate around the rules. In cases where other teams can copy (double diffuser, F-Duct, blown-wing, shark fin), they will. In the case of the flexing wings, I promise you if all the other teams could copy it, then there wouldn't be any complaints.


Except that they wouldn't be complying with the wing height rules ! Let's face it, ultimately the rule will say "At no time during a race or practice/test session will the clearence between the wing/floor be closer than xyz". It will happen, it's gotta happen!



The other things you mention were innovations which were clever interpretations of the rules. The other teams kicked themselves for not coming up with them -- then copied them. So now all's fair.

RB's flexing wing breaks the rule that says the wings should be fixed -- but no one seems to have figured out how they're doing it. But it will be figured out and then the other teams have a choice -- do they copy it and also break the rule in the process, or do they report it and force RB to revert to wings which do not flex at speed?

What's sad is that the officials cannot create a test that uncovers what clearly appears to be an infringement. Perhaps they should ask a panel of designers from all the teams to come up with an agreed test and then make passing the test the rule? At least that would create a level playing field.


JR, it's sad that we have so MANY rules. The engines are identical in layout and weight, everyone runs the same tires and wheel sizes (remember the Tyrell six wheeler?), fuel is regulated, body dimensions controlled, etc. Remember when Renault got brave and took a dicey technical chance and built a 1500 cc turbo? The rules allowed innovation and invention. It seems to me that a lot of the posters here are begging for a single car formula like IndyCar. I think the rules are already too tight and stifling. The cars are all starting to look the same and go as quickly as each other (well, there are exception); the design choices are narrowing with each new rule and forcing all the teams to copy very minor innovations of the others. Everyone is going down the same path. There is talk of a single transmission; transmission development was a huge area of speed gain with less time off power during shifts but now everyone has essentially an equal gearbox in terms of shift speed. There are enough rules already, please don't ask for more.


I agree with James, it's clever engineering, end of story.

The other teams have to figure it out and catch up, like the F-duct with McLaren, they exploited the rules, Red Bull are obviously doing the same.

This has been going on in F1 for time immemorial, and it is why I love the sport, innovation where there seemingly can be none!


We all agree with James -- it's clever engineering. But it's certainly not the end of the story while ever the rule says the wings should not flex.


Perfectly correct, JR!!!!!



That's not a case, "..the rule says the wings should not flex". There aren't any absolute rigid materials, and the FIA will not require to use titan or some like materials for wings, therefore there are regulations. perhaps FIA's test method and rules are not perfect in this regard but that is what is. and tribute to the RB's engineers


I really don't believe that picture shows anything untoward.


When you do some finall exam in school , and yuu hind some illegal note to the exam and teacher check it but couldn't find it.

So, couldn't find that illegal note doesn't mean you are clean, you pass the detecting but you are still cheating even though the teacher can't find it.

pass vs legal is not the same. pass doesn't meam legal.


F1 is and always was about finding loops in the regulations. What are the F-Duct and the Double Diffuser all about ?

They will be banned next year, but they ARE used this year.

The RB6 car is legal, it has been tested positively. Rules were changed and the car is still legal and it is pretty obvious RBR are not cheating... they are not that stupid.

A little bit of fair-play will be welcomed here...

All the bright minds do not live and work in Woking guys...


If McLaren had managed to create a front wing that flexed at speed but passed the test, it would still be illegal.

As many people have now said, passing a test does not make a car legal. And a redesigned test will show that to be the case.



The wings flex during the FIA tests by 20 mm. That is allowable under the rule. Ago is correct,

"By definition passing the test makes the car legal."

How it can be any other way to someones is a demonstration of not fully understanding the rule parameters.


JR arguing is pointless. The rules are there to be applied and verified. By definition passing the test makes the car legal.

If the rule is weak then change the rule.

If you don't know how to change the rule in order to stop something happening then it means you don't understand what is happening... If you don't understand then how do you know it's illegal ?

The F-Duct was accepted because there is nothing in the rules saying it should not... Pretty sure a lot of people would have hated the F1 Tech Reg. to be changed to make the F-duct illegal.... and that's what was done with the flexy wings and the floor too without any success it seems...


That's not logical, Ago. Passing a test does not make the car legal -- unless the rule just says that the car must pass a certain test. In this case the rule says the wings must not flex during racing (I simplify) and the test is just a simple means by which the scrutineers check this.

But passing this test does not mean automatically that the mean the wing is legal because the wing clearly does flex in race conditions -- as all the photos show!

When everyone understands how RB are achieving this we'll know just how legal, or not, it is. Some interviewer needs to pin down Mr C Horner and do a Jeremy Paxton on him: "the photos show your wing tips flexing at speed, is not this illegal?" ...then don't let him get away with just saying his normal line of, "the wing passes the test." How about it, James?


In F1 racing magazine it says the RB6 can do 0-100-0mph in 3.6seconds. Does anyone if that's true because I don't believe it?


That sounds slow to me.


FIA has methods for controlling the legality of cars, same for everyone. Every engineer should be able to understand those methods and take it into consideration.

Red Bull passed technical inspection. It does not count, when some fans think that they saw how the wing was flexing more than allowed. It is not measuring, but something like estimating with tonnes of emotions involved.

If the cars would be inspected by feel instead of taking measurements, we would end up having endless arguements(times ten), over the legality of cars. The rules were written long before the season started, the methods are very clear. So far, everything is correctly handled.

Probably only thing FIA should do, is to avoid changing rules with that short notification(increasing the testing weight from 50 to 100 kg), although they had right to do so.

If FIA sets a goal to limit downforce, they should do their homework and really think what to write in the rulebook. Red Bull did their homework and this is not a crime.


I think its very hard to judge Red Bull but on Sunday It will be interesting as Ferrari and Michael Schumacher mark 10 years since they ended that 20 year drought of Ferrari not winning any championships, they came so close under many occasions. I think whoever owns the Ferrari F1 2000 cars will forever have the best car that made history. So the race on sunday will be full of memories for Me. Its only a fair game that I dont regret the way i see Formula 1, Ferrari has worked so hard to be where they are so as many other teams.

To mark the 10 year Suzuka event, it will be lots of time reflecting for Me for good and sad memories.

Some Japanese said after Ferrari took the title that "We would rather be the Italians from now on" Formula 1 has shown that its a universal sport, not for Europe only but all continents. If you look from engineers to top people, they are all multi nationals coming from all corners of the globe.


F1 without engineering innovation is indycar. Not interested.


You must remember, Matt, that IRL cars are at the top of the ladder of the "same car/same engine" classes, and the world seems to be encouraging these "controled" forms of racing, from karting through Formular Ford and the many saloon and single-seater classes including Porsche Cup etc., and they are well accepted for cost control and close competition reasons. I personally prefer variety, myself. Incidently, IRL are changing the 2012 rules to encourage different engines suppliers and body/aero packages to create interest and variety!



Exactly, but don't you find it fascinating that despite often quite radically different design concepts and detail work, not to mention five different engines, we've got RB, McLaren, Ferrari and often Renault within half a second a lap? Amazing.

If F1WAS just about close racing, you'd standardise chassis, tyre and engine spec; but we don't, and it's an all the more authentic team sport for it.

It's the pinnacle of car design, teamwork, strategy and driver skill.

I'm also fascinated that each time Dallara and Lola have a crack at F1, they get nowhere. Oh, and Coloni. Who could forget them?


Yes, I do agree with you, Matt, and I prefer F1 over any other form of single-seater racing for the reasons you mention. And it sure is remarkable how close the different cars are to each other lap-timewise. I'm not actually a single-seater fan but I love technical inovation, that's why I follow F1. (And of course, to follow the progress of Mark Weber).

PK. (NZ)


One point is on my mind since this flexi wings tests started is bothering me : If a team has read the rules that stated the wings should withstand 50kg or whatever it is , they designed thier wings according to the rules , then suudenly after some protests the FIA changes the rules to 100 kg ?

This sounds really unfair to me , and I'm a ferrari fan btw


They didn't change any rules (I'm not even sure they can without special sittings of committees and such) they just changed the way they test the rule -- which they can do at the drop of a hat. They can bring in any new way to test any rule they like. There's a big difference.


They doubled test load but allowed twice the flex.


Come on guy's, I would just say Red Bull has amassed, arguably the best Drivers, the best engineers and the best designers.

They passed the tests, what else do you want?

Overall they have a great team of people who are experts in there field.


I have to admit, I find the attitude of some towards this innovation disappointing, and I only hope its not because "their" teams are suffering because of it.

You can argue until you're blue in the face about the difference between "legal" and "passing the test but illegal" but at the end of the day, that has no practical application. If it passes scrutineering, its allowed out on the race track, end of. Fairness does not come into it, and if any other team could be doing what the Red Bull does, they would.

Its hardly some secret that the wing is flexing, we can all see it and they are passing a test specifically geared towards that. Its not like the BAR fuel tank at all, that was a deliberately concealed advantage, and it was not something there was specific test for. Red Bull are passing the designated test and hats off to them, its extremely clever engineering.


The wing flex test is done at 50kg and 100kg. It is allowed to flex 10mm and 20mm.

Now if the wing is flexing 50mm at full speed then the whole front wing is generating a 500kg load (250kg per half)

What's the point of testing the wing at such ridiculously low loads?

Paul from Green Bay

I think what is frustrating is that the scrutineering seems lame in the instance of the wing flexing. I would think it would be trivial to estimate the actual loads on the wing at speed, and apply those. I've read here somewhere that 300kg is more typical of what the wings see? We can also measure the wing flexion from the top reference camera.

But wasn't Charlie Whiting asked to rule on the legality of the wing? Steve Matchett of Speed TV (here in the US) implied that Whiting can have access to all the engineering data, including construction techniques, from each team (in confidence of course) and made the judgement from RB's data that the wing was legal.

I agree it is extremely clever engineering though, especially the whole RB6 package. It is remarkable that they haven't walked away with both championships already.


Except that there is FLEX somewere, and the rules says there must NOT be !!



Nothing can be infinitely rigid. Everything from aircraft wings, roads, concrete bridges and buildings flex to varying degrees.

The deflection test is there so as to specify the level of rigidity that is permitted.

The car passes the test specifically imposed to stop flexing, so it satisfies that level of rigidity.

I wonder though, did rbr change their wing after hungary, and have now modified their design for the new test?


alonso won 2 championships with illegal parts on the car.

i dont see the alonso fans complaining about that though.

i will put my helmet on now, hehe.


¿You mean the mass dumper? FIA declared it legal, but when they saw that he was going to beat Schumy in the middle of 2006 season they suddenly said it was illegal, but FIA knew that renault had the mass dumper from the start of 2005 season.

Lewis won 2008 championship with parts of the car that had been copied from Ferrari the year before, and Jenson is world champion thanks to a piece called double diffuser... But I don't see you complaining about that though.

And you should know that is only McLaren who's complaining about Red Bull's front flexi wing...


It was a protest from McLaren that lead to the banning of the mass dampers.


And illegal team tactics with people throwing themselves into the wall 😉


There have been so many coments on whether or not passing test= legal or not. Most people are only applying the rule to red bull though. Has everyone forgotten that ALL teams had to change thier floors to pass the new test in that area???

All the teams design there cars to pass the tests and will take any advantage they can.. The only difference here is that the f-duct could be coppied and the wing so far cannot!!

The red bull wing is a shining example of inovation and everything that makes f1 so great! So was the f-duct, stop pretending other teams don't try to beat the tests and bend the rules, they ALL do it EVERY year!! This year reb bull did it better than the rest and I can't wait to see who does it best next year!!


it does look an entirely different car on high speed then while standing still. Anyone disputing the fact that there is no movement is being rather foolish.

My point is... while the world is concentrating on its front wing.. I feel there are other parts that have been built and is on RB using the same flexing technology vide carbon fiber build.

But one thing is ascertained that front wing moves... now Well Spotted Mr. Whitmarsh 🙂


One more thing I'd like to add... despite of Adrian Newey, despite Flexing wings and components... RB drivers have so far failed to wrap up the Championship.

My Question is: (Given all these advantages) how long it would've taken Schumacher or Kimi Rakkionen or Alonso to wrap up the Championship?

I feel they would've done so by Spa, Monza or latest by Singapore.

Well, it says a lot about RB drivers now doesn't it?


Not really. There's too many variables to say a particular driver would've wrapped up the WDC by now in the RB6.

The advantage has been more in quali than the races and we all know there's no points awarded on Saturday.


Hmm....not quite mo kahn. Because, McLaren had their own clever engineering in F-Duct. If they didn't i guess they wouldn't have won the races they did, and Red Bull would wrap up the championship by Monza....


When Shumi, Alonso and Kimi won their championships were there 6 cars (2xMc, 2xSF, 2xRB) capable to be fighting for wins, 7 if you count Kubica's Renault?

I think its just a sign of the closeness of the series, i dont belive the Red Bull is that dominant. Nowhere near as dominant as the Brawn of last year. Yes they have good aero but they are hindered by the engine freeze as the Renault engine is down on HP compared to Mercedes and Ferrari.


Good question.

It's been that way for a while, havent it? Hamiltion crashed his way out of his 07 championship, handing it to Kimi. Then Lewis won an error-ridden 08 campaign while Ferrari did a great job of losing the same championship for Massa. It can be argued that Button wrapped up the 09 crown early and solidly, but Red Bull probably lost themselves that one with poor reliability as well.

We haven't really seen a solid campaign since Alonso's double crowns. Of course Michael and Ferrari was so dominating that they won in solid fashion in the first half of the decade.

However, the last 4 championships have all been won by virgins. Lewis can be forgiven for his faults in his rookie season, and also to an extent his mistakes in 08. Ferrari's mistakes in the same season are a little harder to overlook, and Button lost his car advantage very quickly in 09.

The same goes for this year - Webber has been solid as expected of a seasoned veteran, but he has never really been here before. It can be argued that Vettel has more experience at the top of the game than Webber, with the german being fully fit for the entire 09 campaign.


"Well, it says a lot about RB drivers now doesn’t it?"

No it doesn't. You say Alonso, Schumi and Kimi would have wrapped up the championship by Spa, Monza or Singapore. How long did Kimi take to wrap up the championship in 2007? With Alonso and Shumacher how many times were their team mates allowed to race equally alongside them?

As for all the people complaining about the legality of the Red Bulls, as JA would tell you, rules bend before they break. Every single championship winning team has bent the rules in some way to win their championships and this is no different. The dominant McLaren Hondas of 1988 come to mind.


Here's another analogy about how this can deemed acceptable. Rule or test, cheating or innovation?

In other sport there is a "rule" that performance enhancing drugs are banned, The "test" is that specimen passes a lab examination for drugs.

If an athlete found a performance enhancing drug, that wasn't detected by the doping tests. They then win gold at the world championships.

Is that innovation or cheating...?


Just to say, Elio, I came up with exactly the same analogy independently (see your comment at 1, above). But, I acknowledge, you posted this one first.

Everyone arguing that Red Bull has passed the test needs to think long and hard about this analogy.


Just because it passes the tests does not make it legal. The rules state that the wings are not meant to flex. The rules are the rules and just because those that police the sport have not got the evidence to prosecute does not mean that it's legal.


The FIA introduced "the plank" to stop the cars from running too low so, make it mandatory that small planks are attached to the lowest points of the wings/endplates. Planks are then measured at end of race and, presto, disqualification if the result shows degradation of over Xpercent. Problem solved ? A bonus side-effect would be that drivers would also be more careful about jumping kerbs meaning that the racing-line opens up.


If they can pass the test and still make it work then I say great for them....

Funny how Macca complains when they themselves came up with the F-duct. and Mercedes whines and they cheated with a double diffuser that should have been banned except for Bernie and Max wanting to split FOTA at the time and cause trouble


There seems to be a majority of Mclaren & Hamilton fans at this forum recently. As humans there is something natural about mixing emotions with the real picture or reality.

Though it is understandable to have an opinion about the RBR wings legality or tests, I feel people should have some respect for the FIA and others involved in making sure the cars of various teams are legal. They are choosen to perform the task and making sure cars are within the rules at all times.

So far, no other team have a clue as to how RBR are getting the wing "down low", though some surgestions on this forum are interesting and mabe even closer to the truth than that of the rival top teams.

Since no one knows how they are doing it, and FIA dont need help to read the rules or how to test parts for flexing or other things, one should asume that they are not doing anything worse than any other team. Calling Red Bull Racing cheaters is way out of line(read: flexing outside of accepted boundaries)!

Do I have to remind some of you that Mclaren lost their constructors points a few years back - what was that for by the way, cant remember..

The truth is that the top teams are quite evenly matched when it comes to budgets, drivers,lead times, race teams, tactics and so on.. The main differensiator today is innovation, but also making innovating breaktroughs that are harder or impossible for the opposition to copy. This is what will create a competitive- or sustainable competitive advantage now and in the future, and why I personally think that RBR will be the team to beat for many years to come.

Some of you have pointed out that Mclaren develop more than others during the season. What is another way of looking at it is how they are behind every march and spend a lot of resources copying rival teams during the season to catch up. In that department they are experts! Cant see anything Mclaren have made apart from F-duct in recent time. That is why Hamilton will be slower than RBR`s in Japan - they are allways 2 steps behind.

They are not innovative compared to RBR or Ferrari and havent really had the best car since 1999/2000. They had a good car compared to competing teams in 07-08 but one must remember that Ferrari was in the middle of big changes and Renault was lost in correlation - the opposition was mabe a little weaker than one would expect. They also had the benefit of Ferrari designs. I hope Mclaren will be stronger next year as it will be good for the WDC.

May the best man win, be it Louis Hamilton, but calling RBR cheats or M. Webber a driver not worthy of this years title, well that is the voice of a primitive mind speaking in defence of his hero and favorite team.


They didn't make the tests "twice as stringent" at all. They only scaled them up to test for linear flex (twice the load for twice the allowed flex).

It's really odd how lenient these flex tests are. Why don't they test them at a weight more comparable the actual loads that the wings are under at 300km/h?

BTW it's illegal to "bridge the gap between the sprung part of the car and the ground" and bodywork can not "under any circumstances be located below the reference plane". They must be getting close to breaking that too.


Re: RBR wing flex - has the FIA tested the wing with the car running? Perhaps it only drops somehow when the electronics are on.They have to be using some form of electronic or manual device to either droop the entire nose or where the wing attaches to the front end.Whatever it is - they have been cheating all year long.Their car isn't good enough when following the rules.Can't wait till they discover the cheat.


I feel that there are two points worth making.

Flexible wings: Why do the FIA tests require a load equivalent to the maximum aerodynamic force that is exerted. It is reported that it is still well below that value.

Car Ride Height: I noticed a few weeks ago a Red Bull job advert for a "Control Systems Engineer". On reading the text it was clear that it was to work on the chassis not the engine/gearbox. Could some complex (illegal) system be used to manipulate ride height?


I agree with most here. Passes the tests, therefore it is legal, that's the way it is!

It only gets blown up big because RB is much faster than the others, which likely has many reasons, other than the front wing alone.

How come nobody talks about the McLaren, clever, F-Duct, aerodynamic control system. Clearly and outstanding piece of finding loop holes and using it to their advantage, now they are not leading the crowd, nor have the fastest car this year and there is no more discussion, shouting and big fuzz about it. However, this should fall into the same discussion forum.

How about Ross Brawns double diffusor, that had been declared legal? Another piece of unique loop hole identification and engineering.

These things keep repeating themselves, over and over and every team will use it if they can.

But not all teams get treated the same way in the press or public, I think. When some teams do it they are seen as being violating the codex of the sport, unfair, cheaters. While other teams doing it they get praised for there clever designs and ideas.

In fact, if there was such a thing as Codex and fairness than none of the above listed should have been allowed at any time. So, either the FIA (reducing / controlling costs, right) is consequent in executing that line or they leave it.

Funny enough, for once they claim they want to reduce downforce, save costs and spending and at the other hand they allow features that cleary work around their goals, further to that their decisions to make these features legal and inconsistent rule changes year by year make the teams spend more and more money.


Somthing must be wrong with the RB car though as fp1 in japan shown vettels front wing was still attached to the nose of his car by cables and or wires when he crashed. ive not noticed this with other drivers front wings when they coming off their cars usually they get picked up seperatly by the stewards.Vettle also seemed very concerned and edgy when the crane lifted his car in the air as if there was someting illegal he didnt want the media to see as he dived over the barriers. its not as if none of the other team have seen the underside of the car as mark webbers car was lifed on a crane earlier in the season and photos weree taken then so nothing much new for the other teams.Also Vettel has technically won the championship this season so what have RB got to hide from the other teams. Adrian newey has already mentioned that other rival teams will be shocked by next years car design. so why the response from vettel in FP1?

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