Zurich Gnome

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

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Flexing Muscles

I must confess I'm intrigued by the current fuss about the Ferrari wing. I really think it's impressive that someone can actually make a wing that changes its shape when a certain speed (load) is reached.

But as usual, the point is the regulations. First of all it's important to understand that even steel girders flex. There is no such thing as 100% rigid. So a regulation that specifies that a wing must be rigid is pointless unless it contains the constraints within which it is allowed to flex. For example, the crash test regulations specify that the car must not deform by more than a certain amount when a certain load is applied at a particular speed.

And as the idea of changing the shape of wings has been around for a while, there is no excuse for not having a reasonable test specified. They could insist that a car is taken to the MIRA wind tunnel (it's independent) and specify that the wing may not deform by more than a certain amount at wind speeds of 180mph (If the tunnel generates that). I'm not an expert, but it could be done. Or just say that a certain force will be applied, and it should not deflect by more than a predefined amount, say 2mm

Ferrari say that they have video evidence that all cars have wings that flex. Of course they do, because every car's wing will flex (see above). What someone is upset about is that Ferrari seem to be getting a benefit out of their deflection. But that's not explicitly banned, so fair play to them, and I would say that even if it were McLaren or Renault.

The FIA should make a clear statement on this and issue a revised regulation. It'd need all the teams to agree but I don't believe Ferrari would block it, as it would imply guilt. Nett result: no drama. Which is exactly what we need in the run up to the US GP. Can you imagine what will happen if teams get excluded at Indianapolis? Unthinkable.


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