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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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?


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 🙂


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!!


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 😉


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?


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.


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.


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)


Nicely put


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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


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

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