Red Bull’s flexible rear wing was a hot topic during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend and it is now set to be outlawed with the FIA set to issue a technical directive banning the innovation.
Multiple teams are thought to be exploiting a potential loophole in the rules that allows the rear wing to bend to generate less drag and a higher top speed.
Such a device is now set to be outlawed via the introduction of an FIA technical directive that specifically targets teams exploiting the wing design in question.
Article 3.9 of the 2021 FIA F1 technical regulations covers bodywork flexibility and detail the rules and allowances for bodywork flex under reasonable loads of pressure and FIA tests.
The FIA also has the right to re-examine parts that have passed prior deflection tests should suspicion arise that the parts in question are circumnavigating the rules:
3.9.9 – In order to ensure that the requirements of Article 3.8 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.
From the French Grand Prix (June 21), flexible rear wings will no longer be within the 2021 rules and teams will need to have new designs fitted from that race onward.
For the next three races though in Monaco, Azerbaijan and Turkey, Red Bull’s design can remain on the car while the Milton Keynes team develops a replacement part.
During rear-facing onboard clips during the race weekend, the rear wing of the Red Bull appeared to flex at high speed, and it didn’t go unnoticed by their closest rivals.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton remarked in a post-qualifying interview with Sky Sports F1 that he’d spotted the device during the Saturday in Barcelona.
“The Red Bulls are really fast on the straights,” he said. “They have this bendy wing on the back of their car which they put on today and they gained at least three tenths from this wing.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner insisted that the FIA was happy with the wing design and stressed that it had passed the necessary deflection tests that are supposed to prevent any excessive flex in bodywork.
“Of course the cars are scrutineered thoroughly and there’s pull back tests, there’s all kinds of different tests it has to pass,” Horner explained. “The FIA are completely happy with the car, that it has passed all of those tests that are pretty stringent.”
The team principal also suggested that Hamilton’s comments had been prompted by somebody else, pointing the finger in the direction of his rival counterpart.
“It’s something that Toto has mentioned to me previously. I doubt it was Lewis’s opinion, it probably came from elsewhere.”