Red Bull fly to victory but FIA set to clip their wings (Red Bull race review)

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2010

Red Bull’s performance advantage was visible from first practice at the Hungaroring. It reached a peak of 1.214 seconds per lap – the gap between pole-sitter Vettel and third placed Fernando Alonso in qualifying.

But the flexing front wing which helped them achieve such amazing speed is likely to be outlawed at the next race.

Sebastian Vettel Mark Webber
Qualifying position 1 2
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’18.773 (-0.411) 1’19.184
Race position 3 1
Average race lap 1’26.926 (+0.275) 1’26.651
Laps 70/70 70/70
Pit stops 2 1

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Sebastian Vettel

Vettel usually looked able to get better performance out of the super-soft tyre than his team mate. So it proved in qualifying, where Vettel claimed yet another pole position.

He kept his lead at the start and disappeared from the chasing Fernando Alonso at up to a second per lap.

But his cruise to victory was interrupted by the appearance of the safety car. Struggling with a radio that was only working intermittently, he failed to keep up with Webber and was handed a drive-through penalty.

That left him third behind Alonso and unable to get close enough to the Ferrari to pass. At one point he had the gap down to just 0.4 seconds but under-steered off at turn four, struggling in Alonso’s slipstream.

His facial expression on the podium said it all as he contemplated another opportunity to take the lead of the championship lost.

Compare Sebastian Vettel’s form against his team mate in 2010

Mark Webber

He was beaten to pole position by his team mate, then beaten to turn one by Alonso. But a smart strategic gamble by his team and a series of red-hot laps by Webber won him the race.

It’s a testament both to the capabilities of the car and its driver that Webber was able to pull out a 22-second lead over Alonso in 25 laps using tyres which covered more than half the race distance.

Webber’s fourth win of the year put him back in the lead of the drivers’ championship.

But the FIA have announced that as of the next race in Spa the teams’ front wings will be subject to new load tests. This may make it impossible for Red Bull to use their front wing which is clearly deflecting greatly at high speed and providing a significant performance benefit.

Compare Mark Webber’s form against his team mate in 2010

2010 Hungarian Grand Prix

Browse all 2010 Hungarian Grand Prix articles

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110 comments on Red Bull fly to victory but FIA set to clip their wings (Red Bull race review)

  1. Manu said on 2nd August 2010, 13:11

    I think that this story will end up like the mass dampers controversy. The teams won’t be allowed to use flexible wings anymore, but in my opinion there won’t be any punishment either.

    Also I like how some people think flexible wings are some kind of magic item that would finally explain why the Red Bull’s are so much faster than anyone. The wings are just one part of the car. The RB is a fantastic piece of engineering, and it most certainly doesn’t need special wings to go faster than anyone.

    • I agree the red bull is a great car design. However the flexible front wings are thought to be worth up to a second per lap so that would explain why they are so far ahead. Take that Second away and you are looking at a much much smaller performance gap.

    • That remains to be seen, doesn’t it!

      • Indeed, However even if they drop off by around a second in the next race I am not sure we will know if the wing, floor or nose or all 3 together was the component producing the performance as I am sure it is unlikely that we will be told if any of their components fail the tests.

  2. “At the moment if you look at the front wing endplates they have to be 85mm above the bottom of the plank” Whitmarsh.

    “Every millimeter is about a point of downforce at the front, and it also improves the rear…..So 25-30mm of vertical lowering of the endplates is worth a second per lap” Whitmarsh 1st August 2010.

    If he is correct that could explain where the extra second in the gap and Mclaren has come from (although there was always going to be a bigger gap in Hungary). Even if it half what he says its still worth half a second per lap, so if you believe Whitmarsh it is a ‘magic item’

    • whoops, that should of been ‘ extra second in the gap between RBR and Mclaren has come from’

    • The problem is, there wasn’t a second difference between Webber and Vettel’s qualifying laps at Silverstone.

      I think the advantage may be exagerated a little by Martin here.

  3. Obbo said on 2nd August 2010, 15:20

    Is it possible to get some clarity on this here without team bias?

    Apologies to others who may have made similar points but here goes:

    Having read the pertinent regulations it seems absolutely clear to me that the legal requirement, and therefore the ‘legality’ of the wing, is determined by whether the wing deviates it’s height from the ground respective to the ‘sprung part of the car’. In other words the wing height is fixed by that relationship and must not move independently (although some defined, minimal distortion is permissable).

    Therefore, to be legal, any design must have compliance with this regulation as it’s objective.

    The test applied to determine if the wing meets this criterion is defined separately and it is clearly stated that the test may be changed if proved inadequate to prevent violation of the main regulation.

    Therefore passing the test does not automatically mean that the part is legal. If subsequent evidence shows that, in use, the part violates the primary regulation then it is, ipso facto, not legal.

    The argument that “It passed the test so how were we to know it was not legal?” fails on the question of design objective, on which the question of penalties or otherwise may also depend.

    If the objective was to pass the test while circumventing the primary regulation then, no matter how ingenious, this could well be construed as cheating since it would be a case of a deliberate attempt to mask the contravention of a regulation.

    This differs from the case of the MacLaren F-Duct and the Brawn Double Diffuser which were judged to be the exploitation of a loophole in the primary regulations rather than a deliberate, masked contravention.

    Having said that, I think it unlikely that the FIA would take the controversial step of retro-actively applying any penalty to RedBull should the wing be declared illegal.

    • I completely agree.

      Unfortunatly F1 is so competetive that to gain an advantage over the rest of the field rules need to be exploited to their limit.

      As a result it often comes down to different interpretations of the rules and leads to a legal dispute to clarify the intention of them. Once a ruling is made then the issue is clear.

      If teams were penalised for running components that are subsequntly banned, we would be in a situation where championships are decided in the court room not the race track.

      If a breach of the rules is clear, then stewards will impose a penalty at the race weekend prior to a race, not after it.

    • You are correct in your thinking and as I pointed out in a previous reply, I do think this sort of thing should be punished, but only if it can be proved that the team did it to purposefully circumvent the tests. It would be very hard to prove it as the team could easily say that they tested it to the same standards as the FIA and found it to pass and therefore were not to know any different prior to submitting it to the FIA. Also other teams have done this in the past and not been punished so it would be hard on Red Bull if they were to be. (Although as some have pointed out, BAR were punished for trying a similar tactic although you could argue that it was easier to prove that they did that on purpose).

      You really have to blame the FIA though as it the test should have been improved earlier.

      I personally think that there are far too many regulations regarding car design leading to clone cars. But if there are rules then they need to be enforced. I am not a massive fan of big punishments though as I love to see new ideas on cars and I do not want the engineers to be put off trying new things.

    • Daffid said on 3rd August 2010, 0:45

      Firstly, there’s no such thing as a wing that doesn’t move. I made this point higher up, that Ferrari have twice made the point to the FIA in the past that there are no absolutes and the FIA have agreed and decided in their favour. Therefore all wings move to some degree, even if a microscopic amount, and therefore the primary regulation that there must be no ‘movement’ cannot be separated from the testing criterion used to define said ‘movement.’ The required testing criterion only measures the degree of distortion on the wing’s extremities, and the Red Bull passes.

      Also, is the definition of ‘wing’ clear? Forgetting the ‘absolutes’ argument, not all of the wing moves. Do the rules say the wing, the whole wing and nothing but the wing? No. So Red Bull can rightly argue that as the only tests are testing the extremities, and the centre of the wing does not move, therefore the wing is not technically moving only flexing at the extremities within acceptable limits.

      So by that understanding it is legal. But of course… a better lawyer would ‘prove’ what I’ve said to be wrong, ferrari only used to win because their lawyer is better than McLaren’s… (Better: more effective, more snake-like, more evil… ;p)

      I don’t think it’s a masked anything, because it’s patently obvious, it’s just another loophole due to lack of definition of what constitutes the wing, what constitutes movement, and under what circumstances distortion is allowed. Seems very similar to the f-duct issue to me.

  4. Greyflash said on 2nd August 2010, 16:18

    MSC up to his old tricks. Can’t help wondering: German driver, German team – was he just following (team?) orders?

  5. sumedh said on 2nd August 2010, 18:44

    I think it is a bad decision by FIA to change their own testing regulations midway through the season. I can foresee Ferrari and Red Bull asking for one extra “testing day” since they want to test new front wings which comply with the now stricter rules, and FIA cannot obviously say no, since they are the one changing their own rules and inconveniencing the teams. Who knows what all kind of parts they might test on that 1 day!!

    For that matter, I am not even sure if the stricter test are going to find the Ferrari and Red Bull wings to be illegal in the first place. Remember, the tests are done by applying static load on the front wings and test their deflection. This static load, FIA believes, mimics the downforce the front wing is subjected to. For all you know, Ferrari and RedBull might have a system by which the front wing lowers only in case of a dynamic load (such as in case of a fast-moving F1 car). This will still keep the wings within regulations leaving other teams no choice but to copy them.

    As a fan of Formula One and its cutting-edge technology, I hope this is what happens, that everyone is forced to copy them and not ban a smart invention.

    • DaveW said on 2nd August 2010, 20:25

      Yes, the new test should not be just straight down. This does not account for a twisting or shifting effect from the total vector of aerodynamic loading. Also the wing endplate could be perfectly rigid and still bow and the leading edge to create a diffuser effect. The FIA is not smarter than Newey and I hope for their sake that the Mercedes teams get to work on their own drooping-twisting wings as soon as possible. RBR will not be standing still and will ensure that the new test is mooted as well. You cannot build up a brand new CF part in a couple days and they need to get cracking.

  6. How is this any different from the Double diffuser controversy?
    If that was exploiting the loop hole than so is this.

    All this conjecture even without waiting for the new tests to be applied…

  7. Dianna said on 2nd August 2010, 22:55

    Well it seems we shall have to wait the outcome.If RBR’s speed dramatically drops in the next races and becomes more in line with the other cars,then the FIA will act.McLaren and other teams are forcing the FIA into this,and after the chicanery that cost Maclaren an arm and a leg,then RBR may be in for some wallet dropping fines.

  8. curedcat said on 3rd August 2010, 0:02

    The surprising thing here is that a lot of f1 fans think redbull started using this flexi-wing in silverstone . The reality is that redbull had this flexi-wing in spain . Having watched some onboard footage it will be safe to assume that rebull did not use the flexi-wing on tracks like bahrain , and monaco .

    I say the advantage for redbull in quali is this flexi-wing , i have not seen a race where they have qualified by a 1 second margin and were not flexing . Even at melbourne , vettel’s car was flexing .

    If other cars like mclaren set up their car to about 90milli from the ground to compensate for when 150kg of fuel is added but redull run thier cars at about 85milli and then flex their wings as well can any one not see the devastating speed they will have . the ground effect is immmense .

    I say take off the flexi-wing and lets have a level playing ground

    • Daffid said on 3rd August 2010, 14:11

      Yes, let’s have a level playing field. So let’s take off the f-ducts as well. And equalise engine power, since some teams exploited loopholes on engine reliability modifications during the freeze better than others. McLaren’s pace is founded on questionable loophole exploitations just as is Red Bull’s

      • curedcat said on 3rd August 2010, 23:13

        how many times does it have to be banged on your head that the f-duct does not break the rules . the rule states that no movable aerodynamic device is permitted , no component of the f-duct “moves”, .The f-duct is an exploitation of a loop-hole , the flex-wing on the other hand is deliberate attempt to make a fool out of the FIA .

        If you have a way of boozing and passing the sobriety tests conducted by the police and despite you been way over the limit you are not caught , does that mean you do not break the rules ? . just because you can get round the testing process does not make it legal . the video evidence shows that the redbull wing breaks the law and thats why the FIA will clip that wing .

        talking about engine equality , i am sure that was not a problem for redbull last season , they were still comfortably the fastest car in the field .

  9. antonyob said on 3rd August 2010, 12:57

    From James Allens site:

    “…But this also matters because the linear flexing might only be a part of what the Red Bull nose is doing. There is a theory among engineers, based on looking at the whole front wing when its loaded up, that there is some kind of spring loaded device in the crash structure to deflect the whole wing down, over and above what the wing tips do”

  10. xtophe said on 3rd August 2010, 15:47

    Surely, if this is considered a moveable areo-part, then the idea of an F-duct is just as much a moveable areo-part aswell? Air is redirected to the rear wing to make it flex in a certain way to reduce drag. Same thing with the RB6 and F10 front wings: air makes the wing flex in a certain manner. The direction of the discussion is correct, the reasons and rules that people are using to start the discussion are, in my opinion, bogus.

    Even if the wing is deemed illegal under the new test, and say RBR loses dominance in Spa and Monza, no one will be able to tell if it is due to the wing or due to the nature of the circuits. In the event of an illegal wingdesign, we’ll have to wait until Singapore or maybe even Suzuka to evaluate the advantage RBR had.

    p.s.: I don’t really support for any team, I’m in it for awesome driving.

    • rpaco said on 3rd August 2010, 16:07

      No, with the F Duct the rear wing does not flex, instead it creates a condition that has a similar result in reducing drag. This is achieved by introducing an extra stream of air (via the F duct) at a critical point on the underside of the wing, this changes the point at which the air “breaks away” from the rear face of the wing, effectively reducing the vacuum effect behind the wing.
      When the F duct is not open the wing works normally and the air “sticks” to the back of the wing for longer increasing both downforce and drag. McLaren used an “air switch” technique which I first saw on Tomorrows World about 30 years ago. (Bit like an air transistor, uses a small airflow to flip the path of a large one from one route to another)
      (Apologies for my simplifications)

  11. Rapu said on 3rd August 2010, 23:42

    As soon as a team get a technical advantage within the rules, they want to changes the testing (for rule compliance)! Why? Why don’t they get rid of all wings! If a faster car cannot pass a slower car something is wrong.

  12. Davetherave said on 5th August 2010, 4:49

    Think it would be an idea for all ‘posters’ to indicate at the top of post just which team they support !
    Then we would probably get a true idea why they either agree with the wing or not ?

  13. Eric said on 5th August 2010, 9:13

    quote from James Allen website.
    after reading this i was totally hacked off about F1.

    it is manipulated by those in power to bring closer racing which has cheating behind close doors outa sight outa mind.

    an excuse to give some a couple of race wins to brighten up F1, until the media or others pick it up then complain.

    read this and tell me, your thoughts?

    “Whiting tends to like to keep things out of the public domain and so when he and Bauer pick something up, he marks a team’s cards that he doesn’t want to see it again at the next race. In this way Newey’s cars can have a few wins under their belt before something is spotted and has to come off”.

    i know a lot of you like the development and ingenuous way F1 gets ahead in motor sport, but this is outrageous, putting illegal updates on a car then waiting till your told to remove it without a hint of being penalized plus maybe even taking race wins in the meantime.
    that is just as bad as manipulating who wins a race.

    Whiting an Co are the worst example to be scrutinizing F1 cars i could thing of,
    just to think we also back these guys to give us a fair and just race, no wounder we are each other throats.

  14. Eric said on 7th August 2010, 9:02

    after watching the restart of the Hungarian GP,
    from onboard of Webbers car, you couldn’t help notice what happens to the wing when he looses down force as Alonso’s car tracks across.
    how much movement have they got?
    unbelievable amount of movement.

    what it here.

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