2011 F1 season
Red Bull designer Adrian Newey says he expects the new adjustable rear wings introduced this year to increase overtaking.
But he warned they could make passing too easy and creating an “overly manufactured” spectacle.
Speaking at the annual Sid Watkins lecture for the Motorsport Safety Fund at Autosport International Newey said:
It will help, sure. It reduces the drag of the car on the straights so that you’ve got extra straight-line speed.
I think the key thing is going to be adjusting it, juggling it, so that it makes overtaking possible but not too easy. If it makes overtaking too easy, so that you get into the position where you want to be second going into the last lap, it then becomes overly manufactured.
There is that danger and certainly at the moment the boost that’s provided, to me, looks too big.
Personally, I know I’m in a minority in this view, the difficulty of overtaking is vastly over-egged. Because what difficult overtaking does mean is that when someone does overtake it’s really memorable.
We all remember [Nigel] Mansell going around the outside of [Gerhard] Berger in Mexico or Nigel and Ayrton [Senna] having it out along the length of the Barcelona straight.
Those stand out because overtaking isn’t that easy and if it becomes like a NASCAR slipstreamer it’s going to lose something.
Newey also said he is concerned that high straight line speeds could contribute to accidents in 2011.
Increased closing speeds could create greater risk of an accident similar to the one suffered by Mark Webber in Valencia last year.
The very high end-of-straight speeds are probably the most dangerous area. That’s something that worries me slightly this year with the moveable rear wing and KERS.
We could potentially have some very high end-of-straight speeds. It’s not so much the speed itself as when you get that sudden difference between them.
That, of course, was what happened with Mark – Heikki braked earlier than Mark expected and it’s the huge difference in speed that causes the accident.
Newey explained the difficulties of preventing this kind of accident through car design:
There are ways being thought of. The fundamental problem is as long as we have an exposed rear wheel then when a nose hits a rear wheel the rotation is going to lift the car.
You could look at regulating very now front noses but that brings other things. At the moment the great thing about high noses is there’s little danger, if a car T-bones another one. If you T-bone a car with a low nose the car could end up on top of you.
So it’s like all these things. It’s almost like the original debate over safety belts: 99% of the time they’re good for you but occasionally there’s going to be an accident where you’d be better not to have a safety belt.
Asked what else could be done to stop cars flying into the air Newey added: “Probably get the drivers to brake a bit earlier!”
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