Adjustable rear wings confirmed for 2011 – but only for overtaking

Debates and pollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Drivers will be allowed to adjust their rear wings to overtake in 2011
Drivers will be allowed to adjust their rear wings to overtake in 2011

F1 cars will get adjustable rear wings in 2011 – but drivers will only be allowed to use them to overtake the car in front.

Should adjustable rear wings be allowed in 2011?

  • Yes - drivers should be allowed to use them at any time in the race (48%)
  • Yes - but drivers should only be allowed to use them to overtake in races (21%)
  • No - adjustable rear wings should not be allowed at all in races in 2011 (32%)

Total Voters: 2,015

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Speaking during the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Phone-In the team’s engineering director Paddy Lowe confirmed the adjustable rear wings would be allowed as F-ducts had been banned for 2011.

Lowe said drivers will be allowed to use them at any time during qualifying.

But in the races drivers will not be allowed to use them in the first two laps. After that they will only be allowed to use them if they are within one second of a rival car as Lowe explained:

[It’s] been agreed to ban the ‘F-flap’, or ‘F-duct’, system. But in their place we will have an adjustable rear wing. The flap will be adjustable by the driver.

You can run it however you likes in qualifying which will allow you to get a better lap time using it wherever you can. In the race you can’t use it for the first two laps at all.

But after that if you’re within a second of the car in front then you will be able to deploy it. That will be very interesting. It’s a FOTA initiative to help improve the show and I think it’s very exciting.
Paddy Lowe

Lowe also confirmed FOTA had agreed to let teams use Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems in 2011 having suspended their use this year.

Read more: F1 2011 Season

194 comments on “Adjustable rear wings confirmed for 2011 – but only for overtaking”

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  1. Very stupid idea, this will make artificial racing. I would like to see overtaking in F1 but from driver skill, not one driver lucking out because of a adjustment to there rear wing when there rival cant.

    1. First of all, they don’t have unlimited access to it. The drivers have to be in a certain zone before being able to use it – within a second of the guy in front, which is generally accepted to be the place where the wake off the car in front makes it hard to pass. The drivers has to be skilled enough to get to the point where he can use it first, and it goes without saying that the system doesn’t guarnatee an overtake.

      Secondly, there are problems with the rules as a whole. Big problems. FOTA want to sort them all out, to produce a racing series that encourages driver skill and generates more overtaking. While they’ve taken big steps towards that this year, these are not problem that can be solved overnight. I would rather they generate “artificial” overtaking and produce an exciting race from it than to stick to the “natural racing only” party line and give us a few season of processional races.

      1. but now we’ll never again see the exciting laps when a faster car is trying to get passed a slower car lap after lap. the faster one can just breeze by with no probs and never be caught back.

        1. for me, watching a guy that has front running pace,stuck behind someone in,say 10th-13th,is NOT what i call exciting.frustrating maybe.and just highlights the problem`s that modern f1 aero brings.only imo.

    2. Applying restrictions to its use is a terrible idea – personally i would love to see drivers utilising all their skills to maximise the wings potential without restriction… Imagine lewis and fernando for example, charging as far as they dare into a braking zone, trying to outdrag each other, seeing how late they can bring the grip back in. It would reward the brave and the skillful… much better than kers if you ask me.

      1. That’s not going to happen. If you make the system available to both drivers, all it will take is for the both of them to activate it at the same time, and neither will get closer to the other.

    3. you right fordsrule i voted no but i wouldnt mind if they only could use to overtake but that is too complex the worst choice is probably yes at any time cause it will turn redundant

    4. This rule is absolutely absurd, and if implemented, F1 will lose me as a viewer. You might as well put in Mario Kart style bananas and blue shells – it’s a complete and utter farce.

      I mean… god, the whole thing is so horrifying. It’s an insult to motorsport, and it’s incredibly depressing to me to see that such a large percentage of readers here think it’s a good idea to alter car performance to create artificial overtaking. Hell, if you’re going to do this, why not have a guy up in the control room with little dials for each car that adjust the horsepower? It’d be as respectful to the sport and more honest to boot…

      1. it’s incredibly depressing to me to see that such a large percentage of readers here think it’s a good idea to alter car performance to create artificial overtaking.

        I don’t agree. I think the “artificial” part of the rule is the stipulation that it can only be used by the attacking driver, not the defending driver. The majority of voters – almost 80% at the time of writing – don’t want that.

        1. Well, the idea that 20% do want to see it is depressing.

          Yes, the artificial part is specifically giving an advantage to cars behind.

          The obsession with overtaking is itself destructive, though. Has anyone ever done a study on how much overtaking there IS, and how much there used to be, or is everyone just reminiscing about the good old days? I recall seeing some old recap movies about the ’60s races, and there’d be parts like, “The order remained unchanged for the next 20 laps, with blah blah two minutes ahead of blah blah” – huge time gaps, lots of mech failures causing 5-car races…

          I think that rose colored glasses are causing people to turn the sport into a farce in the name of fixing something that was never broken.

          1. thing is, with the performance drop off,of an f1 car following another,the following car actually has LESS performance,a movable rear wing might even things up,lets wait and see…. hell ,with KERS as well,i cant wait,ROLL ON 2011 SEASON!!

        2. maestrointhesky
          24th June 2010, 12:35

          I thought that whole the reason movable rear wings were banned in the past was that the the potential failure of the device and the subsequent failure to re-engage downforce when arriving at high speed corners would result in a catastophic accidents – something that cannot be attributed to the ‘F-Duct’ as this has no moving parts. Permanantly legalising the ‘F Duct’ would have been my preferred solution.

      2. Overtaking is to motor sports, what goals are to football. Everyone loves seeing overtaking. Most races drivers cant overtake due to the dirty air of the car in front or track characteristics. I’m up for all devices such as KERS and adjustable rear wings, or any device that helps the car behind overtake. However, the one second rule and option of using the wing adjustments on certain parts of the track are unnecessarily complex and ‘videogamish’.
        Another solution for the rear wing scenario would be better.

  2. I don’t get the point of what advantage will they get if they use it anytime other then when they are overtaking?

    1. In qualifying, you mean? Greater straight-line speed. Basically it’s just an electronically-operated version of the current F-ducts, except in races drivers can only use it when they’re within a second of another car.

      1. Sorry I wasn’t clear with my question.
        What I really wanted to know is that why will the rule state that they can use it when they’re within a second of another car, why not anytime they like.Cause it will be very confusing as when to use or not.

        1. This throws up more questions the more I think about it:

          Will the drivers have to monitor their positions relative to other drivers in real time using a radar on the car?

          How are they supposed to know when they go from 0.999 seconds to 1.001 seconds behind?

          If a car is overtaken then at what point can they drop their wing, because they are now the car behind, and when does the overtaking car have to move the wing back up again, because they are officially in front?

          There needs to be hard and fast rules because there will be infinite interpretations of this and potentially massive arguments.

          1. Pablepete80
            23rd June 2010, 11:51

            my thoughts exactly. Stupid rule thats going to bring up loads of issues on correct / incorrect application of the wing. I can see this rule being amended a few times.

            Either have it or not. Simple??

          2. All the cars have trackers so teams can see there positions on the track. Surely these will be used as a rolling tally of how far behind they are from the car in front. And then there would be a programme only allowing the wing to be used when time < 1 second. I think it's a bit unfair, as the idea is to remove the effects of dirty air, but to do that effectively the drivers would have to increase the angle at every corner, but then reduce it again between every corner so the drag doesn't prevent him overtaking into the following corner. Plus, dirty air is bad in corners, but on a long straight the following driver could reduce their wing angle enough to replace the effect of an F-duct- which is an unfair advantage over the car in front. Seems far too complicated.

          3. I can’t see how the rule would allow a car to revert their wing angle once level with another car. So the driver has to change back to the most appropriate wing angle for the track, before they’re level. So it could introduce a lot of artificial passes and repasses in the midfield, letting the faster cars infront drive away…

          4. Agreed, and also if it is controlled by computers, then surely:
            – Car overtakes with boost, looses boost.
            – Car overtaken now behind so gets boost.
            – Car overtakes with boost. rinse and repeat.

            Have I missed something out of the rules here or do I suspect that we will get cars changing position like this three or four times on the big straights? (Malaysia, China etc)

          5. @Chippe, I think you’re right. In general now when an overtake move happens, it sticks. I think next year we could start seeing drivers swap position only to swap back immediately…

          6. Here’s another question Rob,

            If Hamilton and Button find themselves back in 4th and 5th place, can they ‘as a team’ swap positions back and forth on the straights so that they gain a lap time advantage by using their adjustable wings 2-3 times per lap?

            Would this even work? In theory it might, no?

        2. Drivers will see a blink or warning if you like on their panel through ECU when they are allowed to use that hole. It will be electronically monitored and managed so confusion will only be valid for us. I hope they would put another graphic just they did with KERS in 2009 so that we can understand whether and who would use it.

          1. By the way, it’s strange that McLaren guy said it was “confirmed” when WMSC, the regulatory body, will meet today to duscuss so called rule change. I wonder if WMSC would automatically approve any changes that are done by teams or FOTA or TWG.

          2. I would assume that with all the teams using a standard ECU it would be set up so that if a driver tries to use it when they are outside of the permissible usage zone then it simply won’t activate…

        3. Rob: “If a car is overtaken then at what point can they drop their wing, because they are now the car behind, and when does the overtaking car have to move the wing back up again, because they are officially in front?”

          That is a very good point, how do they decide when an overtake is “done” – if they have to wait until the next corner (like with giving back position), on most races that might mean at least half a lap of non-overtaking as there are only a few overtaking spots. Will be crucial to get this clear, or it will cause a lot of trouble.

          1. Presumably it will use the sector times to judge how close they are so at each sector point it will reset whether they are allowed to use it or not.

    2. There wont be any point to it at all, thats why it should only be used to overtake or else scraped.

      Im in favour of anything that encourages overtaking and think it should be introduced.

  3. Everyone prepare for an onslaught of penalties after next year’s races have finished due to drivers using them at the wrong time.

    1. Here Here Neil – I can also foresee an onslaught of penalties for deploying at the wrong time, If your going to have it, just let it be used whenever, Its all getting a bit “Only on a Tuesday if you’re wearing green socks and humming a Robbie Williams song on the team radio with more than 3 dead flies on your visor” Can visualise the after race fly autopsy already!!!

  4. total loss in bringing out the aggression in drivers

  5. Why not have a push to pass? They seem to be trying to hard to not make overtaking like a gimmick that they’ll try something radical that probably won’t even work at all.

  6. I don’t like this. Either everyone should be able to use it all the time or no-one should. Hopefully the teamsw ill all run KERS next year so that the defending driver will actually have a chance.

    Also I sense a bit of trouble with the ruling that it can only be used when you’re within one second. How will that be policed? Based on the previous split time? Or do teams/race stewards have access to a real time, constant gap? Because if someone is half a second behind the guy in front, messes up the next corner and drops to 1.5 seconds back they could use it to get back in touch. A bit ambiguous for me…

  7. Apart form Bahrain most if the races have been relatively exciting. F1 doesn’t need to change the cars. They need to improve the tracks. And maybe the tyres but others than that don’t make racing artificial

  8. That just feels so artificial it’s ridiculous. Why do we need adjustable rear wings in the first place? And am I being stupid in asking why they’ve scrapped the F-Duct?

  9. GeordiePorker
    23rd June 2010, 11:29

    How is this bad news? It means that drivers will have to demonstrate an additional piece of skill in order to overtake. Sounds like good news to me. However, I do share Neil’s view that there may be some post-race penalties owing to slight mis-judgments in the timing of theirs use…

    1. Oh, it’d good because it requires more skill? Why not require them to drive with one hand and juggle an apple with the other? Maybe they should have to sing for a panel of judges in mid-corner… that would require a LOT of skill.

      Do you even know what racing IS?

  10. Awful, out of all the possible ways to improve F1, this is the best for more overtaking????

  11. im considering not watching f1 if this is true, its soooo artificial. BOO

  12. i wasn’t aware that drivers lost a significant amount of rear downforce when following another car – although they must surely lose some. but the complaint has always been the loss of front downforce and massive understeer, surely?

    these measures are ridiculous baby steps, either way. just go all out and reduce the size of the wings by 2/3, and up the size of the tyres and stop tinkering with a system that doesn’t work.

    1. kers, adjustable front wings, adjustable rear wings, f-ducts.

      technical gimmicks.

    2. theRoswellite
      23rd June 2010, 19:23

      …with mattclinch…in total agreement.

      …and just as the 3 podium drivers begin to take their positions amid the roars of the crowd…

      …a race steward walks out to announce, and switch, the positions 1 and 2, after a computer check shows he had a rear-wing activation of 1.4 seconds on lap 46…the crowd is hushed, but then breaks into cheers…then..

      …a second steward rushes out with the fourth place finisher and hustling the second place finisher, the former winner, off stage, he places the fourth place finisher into the third position and the third place driver on to the second place stand…

      ..but then a third steward runs out…..

      It should be hilarious….so why won’t I be laughing?

  13. I fear F1 will become like arcade car-racing video games, where you press ‘boost’ buttons and get perks to take advantages over other drivers, reducing its credibility.

    I’m all for overtaking, but I say change the tracks and not the cars. Valencia, Budapest and the sort are just not good for overtaking, whereas old-school tracks like montreal and monza, with long straights and tight braking zones lend themselves to better races.

  14. How exactly will the driver behind know he is within a second of a rival? Must he use the old “one hippopotamus” rule against an outside reference point?!!?

    1. Tom Chiverton
      23rd June 2010, 11:36

      Yeah, that’s the problem innit ! And the slew of complaints, late penalty applications etc. etc.

    2. He’ll probably get a notification in the car, they have the small screen with speed and gear and everything, there will maybe be a light or something, that will tell the driver he may use it.

      But I think it’s pointless – the driver in 2nd place will wait until the last lap and then try to overtake for the win (I guess).

    3. Brilliant!
      The rule should actually state “when the car is one hippopotaus away from the car in front”

      Here’s my fear: if this system turns out to make it much easier to make a pass, then won’t the driver behind towards the end of a race just sit there in position until the final long straight so that the other car doesn’t have time to use their own adjustable wing and re-pass?

  15. This is just faffing around in the absence of anyone taking on the aerodynamics issue properly – how is this going to aid overtaking? This will surely only allow cars with an equal or better engine that the car in front to overtake because it is solely about eliminating downforce to gain top speed, which is useless in cornering. Rather than seeing exciting and risky moves under braking overtaking will be limited to long straights where one car moves past another with minimal fuss, and surely a cunning driver in 2nd place will just sit behind the leader until the final lap, drop the wing and overtake leaving the opponent defenceless and with no time to try and counter-attack.

    In a train of cars everybody except the lead car can use it and nullify any advantage, and if they could be used at any time then there is no difference between them and an f-duct!

    1. here here. well said.

  16. I still think that the fluidic switch of the f-duct is saver than a mechanical solution. Or is the electronic switch effectively replacing the drivers direct control, but using a fluidic switch to do the job, because of somewhat misplaced fear that drivers have to move to much to activate the thing otherwise?

    It is silly to ban the f-duct but then mandate something similar, but seemingly inferior. The “only use for overtaking” is artificial, and should not be needed. I am glad that at least they would be able to use it in qualifying though.

    1. I still worry about drivers letting their competitors past before the final corner so they can then retake on the straight, to avoid losing the position on that straight themselves. … Sort of the question of how easy it should be to pass: I want it to be a battle, if every one can always pass, then strategy and timing becomes the overriding factor, not speed or driving ability.

  17. So the driver in front (defending) will also be allowed to use it, right?

    I mean I don’t really see the point, it just adds unnecessary work load to the racing which doesn’t really have anything at all to do with driving. They want to bring F1’s relevance to the road back but they so silly things like this to “spice up the show”

    KERS is good enough, and it is also relevant to road car technology. This wing idea is dumb. Especially the whole “not in the first two laps, only when you’re a second within a rival” it’s just too artificial.

    1. So the driver in front (defending) will also be allowed to use it, right?


      1. HounslowBusGarage
        23rd June 2010, 12:51

        So if he is not allowed to use it and I am, then my braking distance for the hairpin ahead will be considerably longer than his as I have less downforce. So I will have to brake earlier, which means I will not be able to vertake by outbraking into a corner. I will only be able to overtake while going along the straight and getting my overtaking down way before the braking zone.
        Not good.

        1. No, the computer system allows to activate the SRW system if the last intermediate is less than 1 sec (or whatever they will agree on if that wont be enough), and when the driver have used it it will be automatically electronically disallowed or disabled when the driver deploys the brakes, but he does not need to wait till that point, he can turn the system on or off when these rules mentioned above applies.

  18. Anyone who says they can use it at any time would be missing the point of the system. It’s to improve overtaking, if every one could do it all the time, the field would be evened out and there would be no point in it. It’s like everyone having the F-Duct, it ruins it’s purpose, to give the driver using it an edge on the driver he’s trying to pass.

    1. Except for differences in implementation making one better than the others system (see KERS last year for examples of that). Which for me are part of the engineering of F1, but I do understand that this might end up costing a lot of money developing then.

      By making it a standard, presumably in the ECU, it does indeed become nothing but an “push to pass” equivalent, but by a different name.

      1. Exactly, it’s just push to pass with a different name. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for improving ways to overtake, but not by gimmicky temporary solutions. Address the problem properly and devise a complete solution which improves the racing, not ‘the show’.

  19. Does this apply only for the following car to prevent defensive use of the adjustable wing? Otherwise it’s pointless as proven with two cars with KERS.

    If it’s the other way round, we might as well save the money and get the drivers to sit in Sega’s Virtua Racing where the last car gets a speed boost over the leading car to provide closer racing and more overtakes.

    Either let then have and use it when they want or don’t let them have it. It’s F1 and not a computer game.

    1. They can only use it if they’re within one second of another car so they can’t really use it ‘defensively’. Though if you imagine three cars together, each within a second of the other, the second car can use it to overtake the first car which will also help it defend against the third car.

      1. But the 3rd car would maybe have the benefit of a double hole punched in the air by the 2 cars in front AND be able to deploy it’s own rear wing adjustment.

        Let’s just hope one of these rear wing adjustmters doesn’t malfunction and not re-set at the end of a straight like the the straight in Canada the cars will end up sideways into the pitlane at a pretty fast rate of knots

  20. Sounds like,
    Wing on
    wing of

    1. “Where did all these cars come from?”

      Seriously, this sounds like a wank, adding more complicated rules (and loopholes to exploit). Just keep the f-duct and forget the adjustable wings

      1. I agree with this.

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