Adjustable wings – a change too far?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

F1 wings will be movable in 2009
F1 wings will be movable in 2009

The 2009 F1 rules are a source of great interest with several radical changes aimed at improving overtaking.

Along with bring back slick tyres and reducing wing sizes, teams are expected to be allowed to use adjustable wings.

I’m not a fan of the idea. What do you think of it? Cast your vote below…

The planned rules for 2009 will allow teams to create elements in their front wings that can be adjusted by the drivers while the car is moving.

This was experimented with when wings were first used by F1 teams in the late 1960s and the benefits are clear: a flatter wing profile will give less drag and more speed down a straight, a deeper wing will give more downforce and better cornering speed in the bends. They were originally banned on safety grounds, but the thinking now is that F1 teams should be able to make them safe enough.

However the FIA has also stipulated a maximum number of times the wings can be changed: a driver may make no more than two adjustments per lap with a different of up to six degrees.

Why limit the number of changes per lap? It seems to be completley arbitrary. In fact the whole ‘adjustable wings’ idea seems to me to be a variation on the ‘push to pass button’ idea, where a driver gets a limited number of horsepower boosts to use per lap to aid overtaking.

And I expect it will have the same kind of effect: in series that have ‘push to pass’ (such as A1 Grand Prix and, formerly, Champ Car) the driver in front is just as likely to use their power boost as the driver behind, cancelling out any advantage the chasing driver will have.

So what will adjustable wings achieve except add yet more artificial complexity to F1? I’m not sure.

My concern is that, with so many changes planned for next year, it might be hard to tell which are having the desired effect and which aren’t. The FIA has, rightly, identified the difficulty experienced by one car when following another closely as being a problem.

Finally they have chosen to attack the problem by bringing back slick tyres and reducing wing sizes (which is exactly what the FIA Advisory Experts Group told them to do almost a decade ago). But with the added complexity of these adjustable wings, to say nothing of KERS and other changes, it might be hard to see which rules have the desired effect and which don’t.

Should F1 cars have adjustable wings in 2009?

  • Yes (30%)
  • No (59%)
  • Don't know (11%)

Total Voters: 274

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2009 F1 season

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107 comments on “Adjustable wings – a change too far?”

  1. I think the problem here is that you are saying faster and slower when you are talking about acceleration, not overall speed.

    A car with no downforce will eventually reach a higher straight line speed than a car with downforce (that’s common sense, as there is less drag). It could however take longer to get there as it may not be accelerate as fast due to the fact that it’s tyres may slip over rather than grip the track, whereas a car with downforce would be pushing the tyres into the road. It would also have to slow more for the corners.

    ogami musashi is right, it’s just the way the arguement was delivered.

  2. ogami musashi
    6th August 2008, 19:13

    No I am talking about overall speed.
    Where you’re right is that of course it is taken on a given distance, if you run a infinity of course the car with less drag (so if the car are identical the one with no downforce) will finish at a higher speed.

  3. Osami: to make it awfully clear: You are talking about the integral of the instant speed, (at each instant) overall the circuit.

    I donĀ“t want to put this like an argument. This is not the matter here. The matter here is to achieve understanding.

    For sure that a car with fixed wings angle will have better laps time. It is obvious, too, that if you have a variable wing you will make an even better lap time.

    The problem of a variable wing is that if you had a failure in rising the angle, then (you will have no reaction like the almost 5g in braking and cornering and this is the same effect of losing brakes or ground grip). Because of that they were banned.

    The central point of the topic here, you have already explained in (15). The device is not an (dangerous) adjustable wing, but, a variable flap that will recovers active security (down force) allowing the back car to aproach the front one in the corners.

    In the past years FIA was, lets say, going in the wrong way. The front wing was rised and the aero sensivite was so that the car in the turbulence looses grip and overtaking for that was pretty dificult.

  4. Here’s an idea that wouldn’t be difficult to implement on top of this crazy adjustable wing idea;

    Give each driver a random number of wing changes from 3 to 7 per lap. The drivers don’t know how many they have, the number changes each lap.

    They would have to attack / defend all of the time, and it’s garunteed to bring more overtaking ;)

    Of course it’s still completely arbitrary, and not based on skill.

  5. wait, I’ve got it! If we alter the camber of the adjustable, uhh, the adjustable… – ok, I guess I don’t have it.
    worst of all, I NEVER will.

  6. Martin #105:

    I don’t think anyone else actually has it either, Martin—even though they say they do. ;^)~

  7. nononononononononooooooooooooo…….. what happen to my beloved sport!!!

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