Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Korea, 2010

Ferrari had most to gain from adjustable rear wing in 2010

F1 technologyPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Korea, 2010
Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Korea, 2010

The Ferrari drivers would have been able to us the adjustable rear wing more than any of their rivals had the device been allowed in 2010.

F1 Fanatic analysed how the new 2011 regulations would have worked last year to better understand the controversial rear wing rules.

Drivers will be able to adjust the angle of their rear wings to increase their straight-line speed in 2011. But, controversially, they will only be allowed to do so if they are within one second of another car.

The 2011 technical rules also prevent the drivers from adjusting their rear wings during the first two laps of the race, under safety car conditions and in the first two laps following a restart.

With all those caveats it’s hard to get an impression how often the wings might be used. The following data shows how many times each driver would have been able to activate their rear wing in 2010 had the new rules been in place.

Potential ARW activations in 2010 – drivers

This table shows how many times each driver could have activated their adjustable rear wing:

Driver Potential ARW activations
1 Felipe Massa 281
2 Fernando Alonso 263
3 Robert Kubica 225
4 Nico H???lkenberg 203
5 Michael Schumacher 201
5 Kamui Kobayashi 201
7 Jaime Alguersuari 200
8 Mark Webber 177
9 Adrian Sutil 173
10 Lewis Hamilton 172
10 Vitaly Petrov 172
12 Vitantonio Liuzzi 166
13 Sebastian Vettel 147
14 Sebastien Buemi 141
15 Rubens Barrichello 111
16 Jenson Button 105
17 Nico Rosberg 102
18 Timo Glock 95
19 Heikki Kovalainen 93
20 Jarno Trulli 68
21 Pedro de la Rosa 60
21 Nick Heidfeld 60
23 Lucas di Grassi 41
24 Bruno Senna 30
25 Karun Chandhok 15
26 Sakon Yamamoto 9
27 Christian Klien 0

There’s no reason to assume the adjustable rear wing rule was brought in specifically to help Ferrari, particularly as the plan was announced long before the end of the season.

However it’s clear the two Ferrari drivers found themselves stuck within one second of a rival more often than the others did last year.

It will come as no surprise to learn that the race where they would have used it most was Abu Dhabi. Fernando Alonso would have had 38 opportunities to use it, all of which coming while he was stuck behind Vitaly Petrov.

Felipe Massa would have had 47 chances to press the button, the most of any driver all season long. This was a 55-lap race, and the wing would have been unusable for five laps due to the safety car period at the start.

There are more interesting findings when you look at how the wing could have been used in particular races:

Potential ARW activations in 2010 – races

This table shows how many times adjustable rear wings could have been activated at each race in 2010:

Race Potential ARW activations
1 Brazil 339
2 Turkey 264
2 Canada 264
2 Europe 264
2 Britain 264
6 Abu Dhabi 252
7 Italy 220
8 Singapore 197
9 Hungary 183
10 Germany 170
11 Australia 167
12 Spain 164
13 Monaco 144
14 Malaysia 123
15 Belgium 122
16 Japan 119
17 Bahrain 110
18 China 92
19 Korea 53

The wing would have been used most often in Brazil, with 339 potential activations across all 24 drivers.

But in Korea it would only have been available 53 times, mainly because 24 of the 55 laps were run behind the safety car.

As the rule is designed to promote overtaking, you might expect last year’s infamously dull Bahrain Grand Prix to be one of the races where the wing could have been used the most. But that isn’t the case – with 110 potential activations it’s third from last on the list, the lowest of all the dry-weather races.

Another interesting case is the Singapore Grand Prix, where Sebastian Vettel spent the entire race trying to pass Alonso. Of the race’s 61 laps he was only close enough to use the ARW six times.

The ‘lap 3 cluster’

As the rules prevent use of the adjustable rear wing within the first two laps of the start of the race or following a safety car period, expect lots of drivers to be hitting the button after those lock-out periods pass.

On several occasions last year more than half of the field would have been able to use their ARWs at the start of lap three: 14 drivers at Interlagos and 13 at Silverstone, Hungaroring, Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.

Data for every race

This table shows how many times each driver could have activated their ARW at every race:

Race 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Jenson Button 4 2 6 0 27 0 3 5 6 20 1 3 0 3 0 1 6 16 2
Lewis Hamilton 14 27 27 7 5 6 37 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 13 20
Michael Schumacher 2 34 1 11 1 8 0 15 13 18 20 6 7 1 5 24 1 34 0
Nico Rosberg 0 8 0 1 16 5 3 8 6 8 10 0 6 1 1 6 0 8 15
Sebastian Vettel 1 0 0 17 1 0 24 14 0 17 4 27 15 20 6 1 0 0 0
Mark Webber 20 20 1 12 0 0 0 3 4 0 21 6 14 37 13 1 0 0 25
Felipe Massa 2 10 23 11 10 5 20 17 37 12 1 2 1 7 40 0 0 36 47
Fernando Alonso 0 29 19 6 0 12 26 26 29 28 13 0 9 23 0 0 1 4 38
Rubens Barrichello 2 7 1 5 10 1 11 9 4 1 2 10 0 13 0 6 1 27 1
Nico H???lkenberg 4 0 0 1 11 0 12 13 9 27 18 8 5 14 37 0 5 24 15
Robert Kubica 10 2 1 2 23 9 38 4 38 1 1 12 6 8 11 0 3 45 11
Vitaly Petrov 3 0 5 6 10 8 11 13 22 4 16 6 8 13 17 0 3 18 9
Adrian Sutil 4 2 1 9 1 10 11 26 22 15 4 12 4 7 7 10 10 9 9
Vitantonio Liuzzi 1 7 9 0 0 6 2 20 32 12 1 46 3 23 0 0 3 1 0
Sebastien Buemi 16 0 10 0 5 17 3 11 5 16 0 8 3 3 20 10 4 6 4
Jaime Alguersuari 10 11 6 2 5 23 17 24 3 14 13 0 5 4 15 10 6 29 3
Jarno Trulli 0 0 1 0 1 18 4 7 0 0 0 4 3 1 0 6 0 23 0
Heikki Kovalainen 1 0 7 1 0 2 13 5 1 22 2 4 2 30 0 0 2 1 0
Karun Chandhok 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 11 0 1
Bruno Senna 0 0 0 1 0 1 5 3 5 0 0 0 5 0 4 0 3 3
Pedro de la Rosa 7 6 0 0 0 2 4 8 13 4 6 2 5 3
Kamui Kobayashi 0 0 3 0 32 3 8 0 4 34 24 20 5 0 12 12 3 17 24
Timo Glock 9 0 0 0 4 0 6 8 11 2 13 4 5 2 1 22 0 2 6
Lucas di Grassi 0 2 1 0 1 8 5 4 0 2 0 3 13 1 0 0 0 1 0
Christian Klien 0 0 0
Sakon Yamamoto 5 0 0 3 1 0 0
Nick Heidfeld 12 1 5 22 20

Notes on the analysis

Article 3.18.2 of the 2011 Technical Regulations explains how the adjustable element of the rear wing may be used:

The 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 a minimum of two laps after the race start or following a safety car period.

The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race when he has been notified via the control electronics (see Article 8.2) 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 by the control electronics the first time the driver uses the brakes after he has activated the system.

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

Note that the measurement of how far one driver is behind another may be taken “at any of the pre-determined positions around each circuit”. For the purposes of this analysis the start/finish line has been used as that point.

The full data from the analysis is available here: Download the Adjustable Rear Wing 2010 analysis (Excel .xls format)

How do you think the adjustable rear wings will change races in 2011? Have your say in the comments.

Update: What if drivers could activate the rear wing when two seconds behind instead of one? Find the answer in the comments.

Thanks to BBT for the idea for this article

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122 comments on “Ferrari had most to gain from adjustable rear wing in 2010”

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  1. I’m actually really looking forward to this… although whoever came up with these stats has a bit too much time on their hands – it is really interesting to know. Schumacher could’ve used it a lot more than Rosberg and Button could’ve used it surprisingly little!

    1. whoever came up with these stats has a bit too much time on their hands

      I did and thanks…

      1. Brilliant feature Keith – don’t take it the wrong way! It’s very impressive, thank you, genuinely, hope my first comment didn’t seem a bit sarcastic, it wasn’t! :)

        1. That’s OK :-)

          1. Wow. I would think compiling that kind of information would take days of hard work. Great work Keith

          2. Awesome and a bit unexpected statistics.. Didn’t even think of this..

            But this probably says more about qualifying pace contra race pace than nothing else I’d say?!

          3. Great job Keith, I really wanted to see these numbers, and they seem to make sense, I would expect Ferrari to have made more use of it.
            Overall more use than I would of thought.
            No surprised the Macca’s would not of used it so much

          4. I’d just like to say Great Job Keith.

            It is this sort of stuff done personally by you that keeps F1Fanatic unique and different from a lot of the other good F1 sites.

          5. So we could have had more than 300 artificial passes in Brazil? madness

      2. I thought that it isn’t the wing angle that changes but a slot that opens in the rear wing, similar to the F Duct?

        1. It is the wing angle that changes.

          1. Just been reading up on it and you are correct. I just took the Autosport article that mentions the increase in slot gap. Thanks.

        2. It is both, sort of:
          The wing angle changes, i.e. the lower edge of the upper profile moves up – and flattens out (change of angle) thereby opening up the space between the lower and upper profile.

        3. The slot opens up by virtue of the angle of attack of the rear wing flap being reduced.

          If you look at an F1 car from straight ahead you will see the rear wing flap looks like it’s stood upright, especially on high downforce circuits.

          In this position the leading edge of the flap is much closer to the Rear Wing Main element which produces lots of downforce.

          When the driver hits the button the leading edge will move to widen the gap between the main element and the flap to around 5cm. This has the affect of turning the rear wing off thus reducing drag and increasing acceleration potential.

          It could cause some head scratching when choosing top gear ratios as a higher ratio chosen to maximise top speed under the low drag conditions might hinder acceleration when the wing adjustment is disabled.

          Imagine riding your push bike on the highest gear setting with a tail wind, it’s somewhat easier right? Then imagine doing the same thing into a head wind, not so easy is it?

          There will have to be a compromise in this area so it won’t be the mega boost we’re all imagining.

          It will certainly be interesting! Teams that aren’t bothering with KERS but do have the trick wing will be able to defend from none wing KERS cars. Non wing cars will have a more optimum top gear for high drag conditions which could make wing cars struggle to get within a second before activation of the wing is permitted. Wing + KERS cars (Mclaren, Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes) could all be out at the front in a stalemate as usual.

      3. Very cool Keith. Hours of hard work and imagination as to how to analyse the raw data. Well worth the effort. It’s this kind of stuff that makes your site unique.

      4. Rhys (lightmasf1)
        25th January 2011, 11:07

        Yes, way to much time!! Must have taken ages.

        or, they just made then figures up knowing no one will ever check :)

      5. Well, that’s an amazing piece of work done, great analysis. It shows some important things : Ferrari had inabilities to pass opponents, for whatever reason, and they could have done better if the car was better. Then, we have Kubica, Michael and Koba, who were, as it seems, also very pushy, but were unable to pass, again due to different reasons. On the other hand, the Red Bull due have had quite a comfortable lead most of the time, so they didn’t exactly have the need to overtake. Let’s hope that this system will bring even more excitement to 2011.

      6. kenneth Ntulume
        25th January 2011, 14:10

        Indeed F1fanatic…..Jesus Christ…those statistics, similar to the loads of data, coming through a typical f1 team paddock during a race…shows u how much analysis has to be done before a decision on strategy or team tactics is implemented

      7. Your point of reference makes your theory almost useless.

        Unlikely choice by those involved to invoke use in a time and place where it would allow passing to be a given. Start again!

      8. It’s a lot of work Keith, and a useful guide, but how do you know which spot on the track would be designated as the allowed AWR section?

        I read another article recently that suggested that the main straight shouldn’t be used because the cars would bounce off the rev limiter. So, that makes it much less obvious as to where to put the designated AWR section.

        1. It’s a lot of work Keith, and a useful guide, but how do you know which spot on the track would be designated as the allowed AWR section?

          At the moment it’s not known – I expect the FIA will release details ahead of the first race.

    2. I think that’s deceptive though as I have noticed that Button will try to get past a car, but then when it become clear that he can’t he’ll drop back a little to et out of the dirty air and preserve his tyres to try again later.

      1. Or he is just pitiful at overtaking ala Catalunya.

        Yes blah blah Interlagos 2009 blah blah far superior car.

        1. Yes, a lot of drivers will have been doing that.

        2. …blah blah Vettel blah blah Silverstone this year blah blah even more humoungously ridiculously superior car blah blah over entire season blah blah…

          1. Starting from 14th sunshine, what would you expect?

      2. So true, and in case the AWR works, then the car that passed using it will probably widen the gap, so if it is successfull there will be less and less opportunities to use it.

    3. I think Schumacher was stuck behind slower cars more often than Rosberg, which is also why Massa had more opportunities than Alonso. In fact if you remove Abu Dhabi from those results, Massa would’ve had substantially more opportunities than Alonso. Vettel’s also relatively low compared to Webber for probably the same reason… he was out front with no one ahead of him more often than Webber was over the course of the season.

  2. Interesting to see how few chance Yamamoto would have had! Is this because of the number of races he was involved in, or because he couldn’t ever get within a second of another driver? :P

  3. Very nice analysis Keith, top work as always. I’m amazed at the commitment you show, this must have taken hours upon hours to do.

    To add something, had we had the ARW and KERS last year, the whole Hockenheim thing would never have happened, because Alonso would have passed Massa the first time, just after the pit stops. And though he would have been able to pass petrov in Abu Dhabi, gaining points, he would probably have eventually lost out to Hamilton and Webber in Australia; it would be fascinating to do a “what if” points calculation over the season for the drivers.

    I’m still very awkward about the whole thing, but anything that rewards making one extra stop and overtaking people has to be commended.

  4. Funny to see Hamilton – who could only have used it 6 times in 9 races after being able to use it 133 times in the races before that! Unbelievable!

    Sutil could’ve used it every race!

  5. Remember that those are only stats. If Alonso could use it in Abu Zabi he would use it, passed Petrov and didnt use it more (or Petrov could catch him on next lap) so the number would not be 38 but much less

    1. Exactly. There’s a few other cases like that – Hamilton on Rosberg in Bahrain, for example.

  6. In my opinion this is absolutely crazy. And too complicated, as a regulations.

    Statistic is great, thanks Keith.

    1. Yes, although it’s not hard to memorize that you can’t use it for the first 2 laps after a start/re-start. If all these rules are needed F1 must need it desperately, and it is true, but they could start by reducing aerodynamic downforce of the cars instead.

  7. Wow, hats off to you for crunching the numbers!

  8. Wow, how long did this take you?! 24 drivers in 19 races averaging something like 65 laps in each… that’s 30,000 laps you had to study, right??!

    1. i think that Keith already had those stats just needed to find laps when difference between one driver and another was less than 1s.

      I dont say that it was easy but in his case duable ;D

      1. But presumably he had to look through all 30,000 laps to see the distances between the cars. Or is there an easier way of doing it that I have missed?

        1. Since he used the start/finish line as his reference point, he could load race lap charts into a spreadsheet and then crunch the numbers. The really hard part would have been designing the spreadsheet and getting it to work properly.

          1. 2 lines in MATLAB tbf

          2. What’s MATLAB?

  9. Interesting analysis, and I guess tremendous amount of work to collect all the data!!! However, I think there are many more variables to consider to get a clear picture. If someone is stuck in the midfield, for any reason, he has more opportunities to use adjustable wings. On the other hand if you have a supreme car like a Red Bull in front of you, that is moving away at the fast rate, and you are driving on the second or third position you won’t be able to use it at all. All in all I see this as just another of those artificial rules that have to address issues that FIA is unwilling to address in a proper way.

    1. “All in all I see this as just another of those artificial rules that have to address issues that FIA is unwilling to address in a proper way”. Exactly my opinion.

  10. I think it gives a good measure of which drivers generally had better race pace than qualifying pace.

    This is particularly true for the Ferraris, Schumacher, Kobayashi and Hulkenberg.

  11. Rhys (lightmasf1)
    25th January 2011, 11:15

    Pretty cool though!!

  12. It would be interesting to have some equalized figures. Monaco race is 78 laps and Spa only 44, so basically Monaco should have 1,8 times more possibilities to use ARW.

    Silverstone, 52-lap race being so high is impressive. Not sure but I think that race would top equalized figures.

    1. but monaco dosent have so much straights like Spa

      1. It doesn’t matter – the adjustable rear wing can only be used on one part of any track.

        1. HounslowBusGarage
          25th January 2011, 13:22

          That’s what we have all assumed, but it’s not what’s in the regulations.

          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.

          “Any” indicates there may be more than one.

          1. Nice spot.

            This “any pre-determined position” as Keith has taken to calculate these numbers are the start finish line and/or the sector lines, I think. So, there are 3 points per circuit.

          2. Yes, but there will only be 1 pre-determined position, so that’s a moot point for now. They’ve worded it that way to leave room for adjustments as the season goes on, because they want this to work and work well in a clear and transparent way for rabid fans and occasional viewers alike.

  13. Some really positive feedback here, thanks very much everyone.

    1. Great analysis Keith but there may be a major problem with your basic premise. Are you basing this on one driver at a designated point being 1 second behind a driver who is ahead of him in the race? The regulation states

      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.

      To me this implies that activation will occur if any driver passes the activation point within 1 second of any other whether they are fighting for a position, lapping a backmarker or being lapped; regardless of their overall positions in the race. If this is the case there would be many more times the number of activations than your stats indicate. The regulations also refer to “pre-determined positions (plural) around each circuit” which means that, depending on the circuit, there may be more than one activation point.

      1. I don’t think they’d interpret “behind” so broadly as to include “behind lapped cars”.

        And I did note the point about the gap measurement being taken at multiple positions around the track.

        1. It will be interesting to see just how this will be implemented. With the first race still almost 7 weeks away, I think the framers may be waiting the first use of the systems in testing before deciding on exactly how this will work and even then it subject to fine-tuning as the season progresses.
          Another thought is that as “The adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver at any time prior to the start of the race” they may be able to take the actual start with the wing flatted and then not be able to use it again during the first 2 laps.

    2. Strategy-wise, the numbers are just the tip of the iceberg:

      1) On the one hand, if using the ARW in Abu Dhabi, Alonso had passed Petrov at his first opportunity, he would only have needed to use it two more times to pass Kubica and Rosberg. He may have caught Button and used it one more time. This would tend to reduce the number of total opportunities.

      2) On the other hand, drivers in like cars or drivers caught in packs would pass each other every other opportunity. This could increase the number of total opportunities geometrically.

      Coupled with KERS, computer modeling of race strategy becomes even more complex.

  14. That is brilliant analysis, particularly the potential ARW activations per race.

    It does highlight a potential flaw in the thinking. For example there were loads of ARW opportunities in Canada because there was already lots of close racing and overtaking. Canada last year was one of the races we really didn’t need ARW overtaking help. But Bahrain, where we really did need help, had the third fewest possibilities for ARW overtaking.

    So on that basis the ARW is the wrong way round – doesn’t help the races you need it in and probably overdoes the races you don’t.

    Of course that’s only part of the story – Valencia and Abu Dhabi are quite high for ARW opportunities, where overtaking is always tricky, and some of the races where overtaking is a bit easier were quite low.

    And Bahrain next year ought to be easier to get close to another car, with the removal of the endurance track loop bit.

    But really it becomes clear to me is that what you have to do is look at the races where it’s difficult to get close to another car and make the ARW more effective. It might well be that the “standard” ARW set-up has to be modified a bit more than you might think each race. For example on those stats maybe you want it twice as effective at Bahrain as it might normally be, and half as effective at Canada as it might normally be – if you see what I mean.

    Although as you more or less note Keith the FIA have licence to change anything regarding the rear wing, more or less – either in where and when it can be used or how close in time you have to be to use it.

    So all that analysis might retrospectively become completely different if the rule gets tweaked from race to race a lot.

    Having said that, it’s still massively useful to see.

    1. Although as you more or less note Keith the FIA have licence to change anything regarding the rear wing, more or less – either in where and when it can be used or how close in time you have to be to use it.

      So all that analysis might retrospectively become completely different if the rule gets tweaked from race to race a lot.

      Good point, so let’s take the analysis a little further. We already know that assuming a one-second gap there would have been 3,511 activations.

      A quick crunch of the numbers suggests if they doubled the gap to two seconds there would have been more than twice as many opportunities to use the rear wing: 7,217.

      1. Nice!

        Think I’ll be downloading that Excel spreadsheet for a play later on.

      2. Am I missing the bit in the rules where it says how many times per lap this can be done?
        “pre-determined positions” is plural, and would lead me to think the sectors so they don’t need a whole bunch of extra timing beams…

        1. The cars carry a GPS responder to provide their positions on the track… this might be used to calculate those track positions.

          … unless I’m very much mistaken!

    2. People want the fastest car to start in front + people want more overtaking = People are naive.

      But I think this will be a great addition to the races :D

  15. Excellent work Keith, it will be interesting to compare these figures at the end of the season after the wings do come into effect!
    In regards to the rules, if this a driver operated aid, under what grounds is it governed, how can a drive tell that he is 1sec behind another driver and not 1.1sec? Is it enabled via official timing? If not, will it be abused and if so what are the penalties.
    Thanks again, your dedication to the sport is reflected in your site and second to none.

    1. The FIA will monitor the gap to the pursuing car and when the gap is 1 sec or less the FIA will notify the puruing driver driver by sending a signal to the car which will probably display as a flashing light or message on the steering wheel.

      A similar system is employed with the prescribed lap time under safety car conditions.

  16. Also, the lap 3 cluster will be a TV director’s nightmare :-D

  17. I can see this regulation being a complete and utter nightmare. Thankfully we have people like Keith to make sense of it all :)

  18. Hahaha, Keith you do need to get out more. But that’s really fascinating data. :D

  19. A decent analysis, however surely the figures are misleading due to the simple fact that if they were allowed to use the wings to perform an overtaking move then they would then be in front of the other driver/car & have less opportunities to use it as a result.

    Not meaning to sound negative towards the study. Merely pointing out my opinion.

    This new rule is going to cause plenty of confusion this year.

  20. I believe there will be an automatic system to decide if the car is less than 1 second behind. I expect the first 2 laps to be kind of weird, all the front drivers pushing hard to get more than 1 second of advantage and getting clear of any attack after the first 2 laps.

    In the other and, I believe no one will risk an overtaking in the first 2 laps.
    And even the starting of the race will be strange, drivers will risk much less, but in the other and we can see some driver taking advantage of this and pass some drivers in the first moments of the race.

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