Zurich Gnome

The journal of a Swiss-based motor-racing enthusiast.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bending Wings

Are you following the saga of the deflecting wings? It would be quite fascinating if it wasn't so pathetic. In short, the problem appears to be that one (Ferrari) or more (Mclaren?) teams are using wings that do not conform to the regulations.

The rules are fairly clear, wings must not deform, well, not by much. Any engineer will tell you that if you hang a weight on a wing supported only at the other end, it will deflect downwards. But we're not talking about weight, we're talking about air pressure at high speed. The theory is that a wing will generate lots of downforce to help the car go round corners, but this in turn generates drag and slows the car on the straights. Ideally you'd have a system of flaps like you do on planes, you've all seen them change the section of the wing at low speeds to increase upforce (Is that a word? It must be if downforce is) for take off or landing. On a car you'd raise the flaps for the corners and put them flat for the straights. You may have seen pictures of the Mercedes Le Mans car in 1955 which used airbrakes in a similar manner.

But moveable aerodynamic devices (eg flaps) are not allowed. So an option is to make a bendy wing that generates lots of downforce until so much air is hitting it that it bends out of shape, typically making it flatter and thus generating less drag. So the car suddenly goes faster. I think that's quite clever, and given the number of pointless twiddly bits on the side of an F1 car these days, doesn't seem to present much of a problem. It might make it entertaining for the driver if halfway through a fast corner (accelerating out of 130R for example) downforce suddenly decreases, but entertainment is what we're after, isn't it?

But the FIA doesn't like that idea and so have the rule about deflection. And as it's difficult to measure deflection at high speed (difficult note, not impossible) we have a situation where we're not sure whether cars are legal.

So, congratulations to the FIA for yet another set of clear, enforceable rules.


At 2:38 PM, Blogger Qwerty said...

increase upforce

I believe the correct term is lift. I think the correct scientific term for downforce is negative lift.

But yeah, the FIA revels in these things. What can you expect when a lawyer is at its head?

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Aashirwad said...

Imagine if Ferrari got a two race ban like B.A.R. did last year...

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Aashirwad said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Aashirwad said...

Umm, in reference to your post of the 20th of March, I'd say schuey wouldn't have finished ahead of Felipe with the same fuel load because of tyre wear - a one stop strategy being harder on the tyres than a two-stopper...but how did Felipe finish ahead of Michael on a one-stop? because he did one qualifying session, lesser than michael, and although michael DID get to change tyres in the last qualifying session, he still would have to use his last set of tyres to attack for a lap or two more in the malaysian heat than felipe. Maybe it has something to do with driving styles, too...because michael tends to turn into corners a little earlier than felipe does, and then decides to handle the exit speed midway into the corner. I guess that has some impact on the tyres, though i know not what.
Anyhow, this is just my explaination...you're the Zurichgnome who knoweth all after all!

ps - the pitpass feature on qualifying for dummies was brilliant!!

At 6:06 PM, Blogger ZurichGnome said...

Lift! I can't believe I didn't think of that - my aerodynmaics lecturer would have a fit.

And a two race ban? Ferrari are cleverer than that. BAR's problem was how they recated when they were told to remove all fuel, and they removed the fuel apart from the bit they used as ballast! And I liked the explanation of the tyre wear for Felipe finishing above Michael. I still think it's strange Ferrari let him...


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