Formula 1 teams will face tougher rear wing load tests in light of suspicions some teams are bending the rules when it comes to flexible wings, after Lewis Hamilton drew attention to the Red Bull last weekend in Spain.
Hamilton commented on the rear wing of Max Verstappen’s car, after he followed it closely for the first half of the Spanish Grand Prix, in which he suggested it was flexing at high-speed.
Whilst Red Bull’s Christian Horner rubbished such suggestions, the FIA confirmed via a new technical directive (TD 18/21) that it would be submitting rear wings to increased testing from the French GP.
The new tests will involve doubling the load applied to the rear wing as part of a ‘pull-back’ and ‘push-down’ test, which measures how wing deformity when high pressure is applied, mimicking a car running at high speed.
“We will be looking out for any anomalous behaviour of the deformation of the rear wing,” said FIA single-seater technical head Nikolas Tombazis.
“In particular, we will not tolerate any persistent out-of-plane deformation that may be contrived to circumvent the symmetrical loading applied in the load deflection tests.
“Should we observe any characteristics that indicate exploitation of this area, we will introduce further load deflection tests as necessary.”
With the TD not taking effect until June 21, it means teams can continue to use their current designs at the upcoming Monaco, Azerbaijan and Turkish GP’s – this is to give teams enough time to redesign their wings if required.
Flexible wings are considered a ‘moveable aerodynamic device’, which are banned under the technical regulations, however some margin is allowed as it’s often unavoidable. The tolerances however are strict and teams often design their wings to meet the allowed margin, as it can provide a major aerodynamic benefit by reducing drag.
Hamilton’s comments were backed up by video footage which appeared to show Verstappen’s wing visibly flexing. Horner however suggested Toto Wolff was behind the comments.
“It’s something that Toto has mentioned to me previously. I doubt it was Lewis’s opinion, it probably came from elsewhere,” said Horner.