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. Does anyone know how the time gap between the cars will be measured?

    Is it from last sector split, so the driver will have one sector to adjust the rear wing even if he dropped back slightly after the time split, or is it possible to have a constant measurement of the gap to the car in front?

    1. I think at the sector times, yes..and since there’s nothing to gain for the chaser if he falls back, he’ll be wanting to be as close as possible anyway

    2. Maybe they want to take the gizmos from luxury cars (Mercedes, Volvo) that react to being close the the car in front (so instead of helping develop road tech, they will start to use road tech.), so they can add automatic braking if getting to close to the car in front and maybe even a avoid car automatic and parking device.
      All without the driver having to interfere, and look how long the drivers will take this being fooled around.

  2. While I generally disapprove of the adoption of artificial overtaking aids such as this over the making of more fundamental changes to the aerodynamic/mechanical grip ratio, this change is not as “videogamy” as some are speculating.

    According to the FIA statement:
    “The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race when he has been notified via the control electronics that it is enabled. It will only be enabled if the driver is less than one second behind another at any of the pre-determined positions around each circuit. The system will be disabled the first time the driver uses the brakes after the system has been activated.”

    Once the system is activated, the driver is free to adjust the rear wing until he next hits the brake. The system is then deactivated until he passes the next pre-determined point on the track within 1 second of a car in front. If a pass is completed, the car that was passed cannot adjust it’s rear wing until it passes the next pre-determined point within 1 second of the car it’s now following.

  3. How about No wings !!!

    1. sure, maybe some handlebars, a lawnmower engine and trolley-wheels

    2. HounslowBusGarage
      23rd June 2010, 19:25

      It would be a lot easier to police than this proposal. “No aerodynamic surfaces independent of the main bodywork forward of the centre line of the front wheels, behind the centre line of the rear wheels or above the centreline of the front to back wheels in excess of 200 sq mm in plan view.”

      1. yes… love to see this…the aero guys would still have lots to work with.

  4. Unreal!!! For me and some Purists….. This is when you start to dislike the organizations which run the sport.

    1. This is a FOTA proposition that the FIA have accepted. The Teams have thought this stuff up themselves.

  5. HounslowBusGarage
    23rd June 2010, 19:21

    I wonder if this will be available in qualifying?
    Will we see Car A slipstreaming teammate Car B around to a “pre-determined location” in order to feather downforce Car B on the long straight and gain a few precious tenths?
    This could be another example of the law of unintended consequences where qulaifying becomes a complex game of leapfrog as team cars pull each other round a highspeed track like Monza.
    It’s not going to be a ‘spec’ wing, is it? So I wonder which team will be able to construct a wing that deforms just that bit more and allows just a bit more ‘feather’ than the others, and how on earth will the FIA prevent it?

    1. The rest of the FIA statement:
      “From 2011, adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver at any time prior to the start of the race and, for the sole purpose of improving overtaking opportunities during the race, after the driver has completed two laps.


      The FIA may, after consulting all the competitors, adjust the time proximity in order to ensure the purpose of the adjustable bodywork is met. ”

      The driver’s are completely free to adjust the wing at anytime in Qualy and Practice.

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        23rd June 2010, 20:07

        So the reality is that all the cars have adjustable rear wings throughout the race weekend. But they are restricted from using them in the race until the start of the third lap and onlt when they are within 1 second of the car in front – whether that’s a teammate or lcar about to be lapped.
        What happens with Safety Car re-starts?

        1. It says available after the first two laps so it would depend on where the “pre-determined positions” at the particular track are located.

          1. HounslowBusGarage
            23rd June 2010, 20:53

            It’s bureaucratic crap rather than racing, isn’t it Jagged?

          2. I’m afraid I have to agree with you there HBG :-(

  6. So the FOTA learnt from the LG-questionaire, that fans like technology. So instead of using something perfectly low tech (1950s ideas) as the F-switch/F-duct, they introduce something complicated with electronics operated by a button the driver can use when sensors indicate through a display that it can be used. Probably supported by RFID chips or GPS in the cars. WOW.
    Why not make it completely automatic adjusting of the wings to “anti-wake” mode done by the ECU to make it even better? AND add a parking mode for the pits.

    I am pretty sure they made it complicated enough, so only the biggest teams will have a go at this next year, or even have the teams decide it’t not worth the effort for next year and only go for KERS. So we will have KERS+ASW cars passing KERS or ASW cars and all of those lapping the cars without any of it. A great prospect.

    1. On the contrary, I’m sure all the teams will use it. It would be built in to the standard FIA supplied ECU (built under contract by McLaren) and would only require wing actuators which may very well be another standardized part.

  7. so, the leader of the race won’t be able to use it…

    and is it when you’re within 1 second of a car a position ahead of you, or any car (backmarker)

    and now, you’re within 1 second, but then, you’re 1.1 seconds behind, the driver thinks he can adjust it, but he cant…. how will a driver know if it is or isn’t on??

    this is stupid

    1. It’s only activated at several pre-determined positions around the track when within 1 second of another driver (any Driver)and the driver is notified electronically that it is activated. The driver can then adjust the wing until he hits the brake for the first time after activation. One must assume a light on the dash or other notification showing that the system is active and available.

    2. And yes, the leader can use it when overtaking backmarkers.

      1. I doubt that will be the case.

  8. Interesting thoughts here. The driver is free to adjust the wing until he hits the brakes. That means that if a driver wants to overtake and is close enough, he has to:
    – Lower the wing once he gets on a straight
    – Negotiate the overtake
    – While finishing the overtake, simultaneously reset the wing back to its normal position
    – BEFORE Braking in time for the next corner

    If it gets tight, he has the choice between
    – Braking in time but leaving the wing, leaving himself with heaps of overstear until the next time he comes near another car
    – Readjusting the wing back and missing the corner

    This might be a big more interesting / silly / chaotic than we might originally expect.

    1. That’s interesting as the statement only says that the system is deactivated. Whether or not the wing is returned to normal position on deactivation I don’t know, but if not it would be a simple matter to make the wing switch a “Dead Man Switch” on the wheel that only flattens the wing while pressed and returns it when released.

  9. It seems too artificial for me.

    I’d rather had no limit on KERS, but with the obligation to make it part of an engine deal. So if Ferrari makes a beast of a KERS, Toro Rosso and Sauber will profit as well.

  10. They might as well allow flexi-wings if they are gonna add more movable parts to the car. we have seen how some manufacturers (like ferrari have used them in their new 458italia) to allow the car dynamics to change according to speed & handling needs. Also Ferrari used such elements in the past in their nose bridge which was outlawed by the FIA (it was clearly illegal). but wouldnt allowing such elements be more road relevant if the sport wants to recover such a tag.

  11. HounslowBusGarage
    23rd June 2010, 21:14

    Y’know it depends so much on where these “pre-determined positions” are – and how many there are on each lap.
    And it depends so much on who makes the decision for their location.
    This year we have Macs with a straight line speed advantage, but Red Bull with a high speed corner advantage. Now imagine where each team would want the “pre-determined positions” to be located. Not the same places, are they?

    1. Right again HBG, but next year it’s “all change” with no F-duct, no double diffusers and the return of KERS thrown into the mix.

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        23rd June 2010, 21:47

        Yes, but I was thinking of the influence that teams would have on the ‘determining body’ who decides where these”pre-determined positions” are.
        Can you imagine a season where a team with a fast corner advantage is miles ahead by two-thirds of the way through the season, only to find that the next six races or so do not have “pre-determined positions” that suit their car’s characteristics, and in fact suit the team in third place to a ‘T’?
        Third place team suddenly does well and catches up on second place team, while leading team is positively dis-advantaged by these “pre-determined positions” and falls into the clutches of team 2 and team 3.
        And all because of the FIA or Race Officials who decide the location and number of these “pre-determined locations”.
        Sounds like excreta to me.

        1. I can see it happening Hounslow! Also announced today under General Safety:

          “With immediate effect, any car being driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically, or which is deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers, will be reported to the stewards. This will apply whether any such car is being driven on the track, the pit entry or the pit lane.”

          I can see whole truckloads of canned worm being opened over this one!

        2. Thas seems to be just the thing F1 would make of the situation. Add in the “erratic” driving rule and we might be back to not having a clue who won, why and how in the days following any session and race.

          1. HounslowBusGarage
            23rd June 2010, 22:33

            Yes. Each race decided by judge in session, four or five weeks after the event!
            That’ll keep the casual fan engaged and interested (not).

  12. Can it be used on backmarkers?

  13. What, no vote to extend the front wings a few feet further past the front wheels?

    They’ve missed a trick there, that would have made it more exciting, everyone having to pit for a new nose every 10 seconds!

    Why don’t we just have NASCAR style safety cars as well, where they always bring it out 3 laps before the end to ensure a close finish?

  14. Also why keep Charlie Whiting as race director? I find that to be awfully old-school.

    Why not get one of the choreographers from the Pineapple Dance Studios instead?

  15. So, what if three cars are in a row – car 1 cannot use the wing, car 2 is allowed to use it to pass but supposedly not allowed to use it to defend from car 3. How is that going to work?

    And who will want to lead the last lap of a GP now knowing you can’t defend the guy right behind you? Stupid.

    Just let them use it 10 times a race. Same for KERS. Much simpler to monitor and enforce, and much more strategic.

  16. Once again we all sit and ponder… how is it that the teams and the FIA are so utterly removed from the reality of what people want. And indeed what works, this will be another potential rule disaster – just another reg that will be abandoned in a year, just another reg that hurts rules continuity and makes it harder for F1 to build and sustain an audience. Pathetic

  17. I think I now have a clearer idea on what the FIA does with those fuel samples after practice. They SNIFF them. Tell me these guys have really got a handle on reality. This Rear Wing Reg is total Bulls**t.
    The drivers must be shaking their heads at this inane perversion of what has now become loosley known as F1 racing.

  18. too complicated.

    fans need to kick up about this.


    how do these people get it so wrong year after year?

  19. Just bring back refuelling. I want to see car racing and overtaking by mix of strategy and ability of the driver. Ability to defend in the heavier car, and agressive lighter car (plus the fresher/no fresher or variable tyre factor). Not this “push to overtake” rule. Silly…

    1. That sounds good in theory but it never happened when we had refuelling – every car worked out the optimum strategy and all stopped within a lap or two of each other. And, with the aero problems, a light car had trouble passing a heavy car in most cases anyway.

  20. This was a good year because of the Mc Front-duct and Redbull exhaust-difuser duct.

    Different focus and different performances result in unexpected overtaking.

    That is what everybody wants to see. Nobody wants to see easy things like “programed overtaking” .

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