The FIA has no intention of backing down in the battle over flexi wings. Teams will have to contend with a second tightening of the control over the freedom of movement of the flaps. Motorsport.com is able to anticipate a new regulatory intervention that will further specify the limits to counter solutions that technical commissioners deem illegal.
As we noted at the beginning of summer, there had been interventions to limit the proliferation of flexi wings, particularly Aston Martin faced material rejections after the Azerbaijan GP. The FIA is pushing forward, convinced that the engineers are once again exceeding the limits of the spirit of the regulations, given that all wings subjected to static tests are deemed perfectly legal.
To put an end to interpretations of what is permitted or not, the FIA has decided to issue a new technical directive, TD018, which Motorsport.com is able to preview. This is an attempt to better regulate everything related to flexible wings and bodywork.
The TD018 was distributed to teams before the Dutch GP weekend because “specially designed areas of localised weakness” were observed, as well as “relative movements between adjacent components” to enhance aerodynamic performance.
The FIA clarifies what constitutes a violation of Article 3.2.2 of the F1 Technical Regulations, which stipulates that all components affecting the aerodynamic performance of a car must be “rigidly fixed and immobile in relation to their reference framework defined in Article 3.3. Moreover, these components must at all times produce a uniform, solid, hard, continuous, and impermeable surface.”
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The FIA intervenes because teams are allegedly using sophisticated systems that rotate or flex the elements of the front and rear wings while remaining compliant with static checks.
The International Federation has defined four points on solutions that are considered illegal if:
1.The wing elements can move vertically, longitudinally, or laterally relative to the body to which they are attached.
2.Wing elements can rotate relative to the body to which they are attached, such as rotating around a mounting point.
3.Designs that use elastomeric joints, flexible sections of the wing profile, or thin and flexible laminates at a junction that can distort, deviate from the plane, or twist to allow localised deflection relative to the body to which the component is attached.
4.Designs that use “soft” trailing edges on wing elements to prevent “localised cracks” as a result of the deflection of the component assembly.
The only exceptions allowed will concern the assembly of the floor and the opening of a small lateral slot to allow joining the flaps to the front wing endplate.
The FIA has decided to change the verification approach, no longer considering static load checks sufficient. Teams must submit the assembly and fastening drawings of the front wing elements to the nose, as well as the rear wing elements to the side pods and the rear impact structure and pylons. Moreover, teams must demonstrate how the pylons of the rear wing are attached to the rear deformable structure to identify any deflections that could provide an aerodynamic advantage.
The FIA’s new technical directive will come into effect at the Singapore GP to allow teams to adapt their cars to the new regulations, but the designs must be submitted by September 8th. Therefore, Monza will witness flexible wings, and then the hammer will fall. We will see if there will be changes in the pecking order and which teams will lose performance and which can potentially recover. This is another regulatory change in the season, similar to what happened last year with TD39, which caused much controversy. Who will be affected by this measure?