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FIA race director charlie whiting spells out rear wing rulings
FIA race director charlie whiting spells out rear wing rulings
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Mar 2011   |  8:36 pm GMT  |  161 comments

FIA President Jean Todt and race director Charlie Whiting have written to F1 pass holders with some thoughts ahead of the new season, Whiting in particular going into some detail about how the FIA’s Race Control, which is under his direction, will manage the new adjustable rear wing, which he refers to as the DRS.

This is an interesting step for the FIA, who have not previously made a communication of this kind in this way and particularly with Whiting and Todt presented together as there have been some whispers during the second half of last season that factions within the FIA were looking to replace him, something the teams were very against.

Whiting (L) and Herbie Blash (Darren Heath)

The rear wing can be used at any time in practice and qualifying. But Whiting spells out how the system will work in the race to allow a following car to use his rear wing to attempt a pass,

“Proximity to the car in front will be detected before the straight on which the wing may be activated, ” he writes. “If the car behind is less than one second behind (as judged by the installed timing loops in the track) the driver will be told that his system is “armed”, however, he may only use it when he reaches the designated point on the following straight. This point is likely to be 600 metres before the braking point for the following corner, this may however be adjusted according to data gathered during testing and practice.

“There will be marks (lines) on the track to show the area where proximity is being detected and a line across the track at the point where the drivers whose system is armed may deploy it.

“Furthermore, the television broadcasters will be sent a signal each time a system is armed and this will be displayed to the viewers. ”

Race control is keen not to be seen as ‘interfering’ too much in the outcome of a battle or a race. This is sensitive ground and interestingly Whiting says that the idea was “a proposal the teams made to the FIA” – spelling out whose bright idea this was in the first place, perhaps in case it doesn’t work so well. Frankly it is unlikely to work all that well in Melbourne as the zone in question is the pits straight which isn’t very long and has a difficult corner to overtake into at the end of it. We will get a much better idea in Malaysia with its long straights, topped and tailed by slow corners.

From the simulation work done so far it appears that the difference between a car using the wing and one not using it is likely to be in the region of 10-12km/h at the end of the straight.

He adds that that “the distance over which the Drag Reduction System (DRS) may be used is going to be tuned with the intention of assisting the following driver, not guaranteeing him an overtaking manoeuvre.

Some software has been written to allow drivers to over ride the system in the event of a failure, but Whiting says the FIA will heavily punish a team if they do that when not authorised to do so. They may use part of a free practice session in Melbourne to evaluate the system.

He also adds a final note that scrutineers will be applying “more stringent load/deflection tests on the front wing and the front of the floor,” than last year. It will be very interesting to see how much chatter there is about that. McLaren was very publicly playing with a load sensing device in Barcelona, measuring the front wing flex. If you can make the wing flex, as Red Bull did last season, there are massive gains to be had.

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well the green light is given for all teams to use flexi wings, because according to fia whiting, there is nothing wrong in having flexi wings, even though the red bull mechanics were seen frantically repairing wing endplates in australia, where damage had occured, due to grating on the ground, the wings are supposed to stay rigid, and not bend to the track, but thats f1 for you, so all the other teams will have flexi wings soon, and this shows f1 for what it is.


What if more drivers to go behind each other, within 1-1 seconds? Who can activate the wings?


I’d love to see no DRS, unlimited KERS and tyre wars. Maybe even more than 2 tyre suppliers.


Tyre wars are incredibly expensive, as they require loads of testing


If the tyre companies are paying for them who cares?


It is a rather strange thing to tell the teams they can have some sort of a DRS but have banned the driver operated F-duct. As I stated in a previous post on this thread, I don’t think it will be an issue for the TV watchers to get DRS, any more than it was trouble to understand the moveable front wing. I guess I’m a true fan in that there’s always something to quibble about, yet I’m rather annoyed with these sort of ‘throw-it-against the wall and see if it sticks’ regulation changes that are allowed, tried, then dropped all the while FiA, FOM, and FOTA belly-ache about how much it costs to bring the circus to town. The teams can spend millions to develop DRS systems, but they’re limited in the wind-tunnel. You can spend millions on KERS, but not on engine development-until the next engine specification comes along.


FIA’s ‘top management’ could not control *when a driver chose to use the F-Duct.

But this gizmo is purpose-designed for ‘them’ to micromanage it’s use during the race.

Next year they will introduce a variable turbo pressure gimmick so they can slow a driver down if he gets too far ahead.

Its all about control.


Can someone aid my understanding here – Driver B is less than 1 second behind Driver A so at certain points on track he can “engage” the rear wing and try to pass? Ok, think I got that. But can Driver A still try to block (the one move across)?

If yes, I’m thinking the speed differential could be easily misjudged by Driver A and create a Webber/Valencia incident.



[Mod] Read the rules, please.

The stewarding standards in F1, are almost as bad as the poorly designed aero on the F1 car that have handicapped the drivers from overtaking.

The real problem is aero – the size needs reducing, and all the problems will reduce.

The key to overtaking is ensuring there is a huge differential in top speeds on straights and slow speed on corners. The difference is where overtaking opportunities and excitement occur. Whiting has failed to address this basic problem for years.

Whiting may infact be one of the underlying problems in allowing F1 to change for the better.


It sounds horrendously complicated and has no place in real motor racing. OK, its motive of improving overtaking is good, but to deliberately disadvantage a leading car over a (slower) chasing car cannot be right. The real answer to overtaking must be to change the aerodynamics so that there is not so much turbulent air behind cars. It also flies in the face of driving down costs of F1.


Many ppl have tried to figure this out and failed. Apparently at 200mph it is not possible to eliminate wake turbulence.


If the following car overtakes the car in front before he uses his DRS will he be able to us it to pull away?


SHEESH! I’m getting a headache just thinking about this. There’s got to be a simpler, more elegant way to make a pass than this. It reminds me of an old Rube Goldberg cartoon.


If this device is being introduced for the purposes of aiding overtaking then why is it allowed to be used throughout practise and qualifying? Rubens Barrichello has already voiced concerns in relation to safety on this matter but they seem to have fallen on deaf ears.


more goofy rulemaking.We will see how alonso reacts to having a penalty take a win away from him.Hes going to snap!,run over and punch Massa and then go kick a competitors car.

Wait a minute this is a “better show”

More wacky racer rules for me please.


K, how about *this: at a pitstop the driver must leap out and run around the car, assisting the tire guys as he goes.

Now *that would be entertainment!


Hi James,

How likely do you think it will be that either or both of the Hispania cars fail to set a Q1 time within 107% in Melbourne? I gather from another post of yours that they haven’t done ANY testing??!

If I can quote you in my F1 season preview for my university student newspaper that would be great!



They seem to be pretty confident, but without testing who knows? They will need to be within less than six seconds of the fastest car in Q1. It’s not a position most engineers and drivers would want to be in


Wait until a driver loses a race over an “offside” penality for depolying a wing too early – or with an improper gap ahead. The whole thing is comically flawed. It’s Monty Python goes racing.

Bring on the sprinklers.


Now I’ll have even harder times trying to convince my sister that F1 is simple and the Best sport in the world


Mr. Allen,

I thought of the following and please provide your input on the rules effects to team driving.

The potential complication is team driving. Assuming using the DRS provides a significant time advantage we may see team mates or even friendlies from other teams deliberately passing to mutually allow the boost on each lap. Could this even evolve into a peloton group?


It’ll be more like those huge NASCAR “drafting trains” wherein a dozen or so cars pull out and just sail right past the hapless leader.


Can you imagine, if that “hapless leader” was Alonso? He will blow a fuse, moaning about people ganging up on him! 🙂


I don’t agree with DRS. Bloody ridiculous. Even if the system works, the element of surprise has been factored out, there being designated times and areas in which it can be employed. So what is the point?

In my opinion, what’s being done is being done at the wrong end. By that, I mean all manner of bolt-on’s are being tacked onto a set of rules and regs that are already overbloated. What is needed, is a redesign of the aforementioned. Before that, the matter of F1 and greeness should be fully discussed.

F1, is not about being ‘Green’ and never has been. Rather, it is about maximum speed, thrills and excitement. It is about sensorial overload. When I go to a race, I want my senses assaulted. I want to be amazed by the sight of it. I want to be able to smell it and have my ears assaulted. I need to come away from a race with happy memories, not regrets and/or complaints. I want to be passionate about F1, not half-hearted, but the more dilute if becomes, the less enthusiastic I am.

In my opinion, F1 at its best is equivalent to a full English breakfast, whereas, being green is akin to having a leaf salad. I drool at the prospect of the former, but cannot begin to enthuse about the latter. Remember the old saying, a little of what you fancy does you good? I do, and green F1 is not what I fancy!

All well and good trying to bring more excitement to the sport, but there is a huge difference between boosting viewing figures and attracting fans. Actually, real fans will be abhored by, turned-off by the gimmicks, of which this is another example. As for the suggestion of sprinklers: my derriere! As usual, the sport will be tailored to suit the wishes of those who do or hope to make money from it. At some point, that will eventually kill it.

Enough already. If getting back to proper racing, in bleeding edge, out-and-out racing cars, by real enthusiasts, for true fans, means the formation of a breakaway group, then I am for it.


Wonder where the zone will be in Monaco?

Also, where exactly is the “detection zone” in Melbourne? Before the last corner, or on the exit? The reason I ask is that the back of the grid in Melbourne is very close to the exit of the last corner – is it possible that cars toward the back of the field will be able to use it on the run down to turn 1 at the start?


The regulations state you can’t use it on the first two laps of the race, or the first two laps after a safety car.


Teams are working on the belief the overtake zone is on pit straight


Personally I think the “zone” should be into turn 3 as its preceeded by a longer straight than the start finish straight and is where *most* overtaking is done in melbourne


I think its telling that I haven’t seen a single positive comment on a single web site about the moveable rear wing and associated artificial rules.

For me, being a purist, I hate the whole idea, however, it is symptomatic of where we’ve got to with the current aero rules that this is required to stop Fernando getting stuck in the mid field.

Just a thought. Would Button have been able to hold off Alonso for 2/3 of the race at Monza last year if they’d had the DRS or would we have been robbed of that dramatic race with Alonso driving off into the sunset?


I’m still to be convinvced that the DRS device is the way to go – but will wait to see how this will work over the first few races.

With the designated area being decided/marked out on the track the lead driver is going to go super defensive into this ‘zone’ keeping inside line etc and possibly even trying to slow following driver before entering the straight (brake testing/going slower through previous corners to try to get q


No wonder Alonso has stated he wants to go back to driving karts after F1. 🙂 It’s all getting rather too complex.

The purist in me thinks this is complete and utter nonsense. F1 is becoming a farcical fairground ride! It’s rather embarrassing at times explaining F1 to people.

BUT…. it’s going to be a great laugh. F1 is entertainment, pure and simple, and if you suspend any hang-ups you have it will be a fun year.


I like a few others have been watching for years. This moveable wing is not a bad idea. But the controversy will start when the leader perhaps Schumacher or Alonso won’t let the second place car by at the end of the straight at the corner turn in. A wreck will happen and then everyone will complain that Alonso or Schumacher didn’t let them in. All they were doing was defending their position. The passing is going to look artificial with the lead car only able to defend once.

I say everyone qualify in their proper cars. Then draw lots and swap cars for the race.


I think we should take a chill pill on this and give it a chance over a few races. Bahrain was the most boring race of last season followed by one of the most exciting seasons. This device brings an added burden to the drivers and an unpredictability to the race. Not good for the driver, good for the spectator. Drivers generally hate the rain, spectators (at home at least!!)like it for its unpredictability and ability to level the field out from their machinery. Everyone can have DRS, everyone operates to the same set of rules. Cost wise, I would have thought it reasonable in F1 terms so cost effective. How much money has been thrown at KERS over the last few years?? Ultimately we all want to see overtaking not a car holding others up but cannot be overtaken (Abu Dhabi).

Intersting times, cannot wait for the season to start.


This whole discussion will be academic if the off line is full of marbles. There will be no overtaking on the track regardless of any artificial aids. This season is going to be about tactics, who has the best software and the best brain off track, that is why I might give Schumacher a fighting chance this year, assuming Ross is still calling the shots.

Red bull on the other hand may prove susceptible to their internal insurgent. (known as Herr Marko)

McLaren need to pull their socks up and get on with it, “Time to get that sandbag out of the boot!”

Donald, Edinburgh.

Will this make F1 even harder for rookies to broach?

It’s not curvilinear from GP2 any more as F1 now involves more than just a step-up in grip (which was evidently very significant to begin with, judging by Grosjean etc).


There is some logic in the idea altogether, but they should have allowed them [drivers] to use it everywhere on the track at their disposal, otherwise I think it will simply be useless most of the time. But fair judgment shall come after a few races.

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