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. Am I the only one that’s fed up with people (no one in particular) moaning about this regulation?

    I wasn’t sure at first, but if you take time to read its use, it’s not as bad as you think.

    It’s more about mind-set, and practicality.

    My mind set is that F1 is meant to be, whether you like it or not, at the forefront of automobile technology (that’s atleast how it’s intended). We must, must, welcome new gadgets and ‘get with the times’, because F1 is about image. I also understand it’s about practicality. To expect all the teams to jump and make a car that uses barely any wing and ground effect for this season is ridiculous. These changes are coming in in 2013, so what’s everyone’s problem?

    Did it take too long to implement? Yes.
    Have they finally acted on it and tried to properly solve the issue? Yes.
    Should they have bought the rules forward for this season or 2012? No – How can you expect teams to develop this rear wing, put all this research in to it, and then only use it for one season?

    At the end of the day, the technology and rules are the same for everyone – it’s still business as usual. The team who can develop this new technology the best, and has the drivers who pick up on it the quickest, will be victorious.

    New challenges are healthy and keep the sport interesting.

    1. Interesting thoughts. I may do a comment piece on the wings soon, I’ve got a few ideas jotted down.

    2. At the end of the day, the technology and rules are the same for everyone – it’s still business as usual. The team who can develop this new technology the best, and has the drivers who pick up on it the quickest, will be victorious.

      Spot on Dan! Developing rear wings suited to each track is going to be a black art this year. While the slot gap may be be increased by up to 40mm when activated, the increase in gap could be less. This in conjuction with differently sized and angled rear wings for each circuit will lead to the teams with the most resources for in-season development gaining a sizable advantage. Another area to watch will be the shaping of the airflow over the engine cover to maximize the effectiveness of the adjusted rear wing.

  2. Fantastic!! i always wondered what would have happened if team had ARW last season. i think ARW would be the best thing that happened to F1 after ban on fuel stops!!

  3. A little off topic. Given how complex rear wings will have to be next season, does it mean that teams will find it more difficult to implement new rear wing designs? Will rear wings have to pass some kind of FIA approval a few weeks before they can be introduced?

  4. What will the rules be for FP and quali? Are they allowed to test it during FP?

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      25th January 2011, 13:42

      It would seem so.

      The adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver at any time prior to the start of the race

      It would be absurd and very dangerous to give drivers a performance advantage in the race without having allowed them to practice with it first.

      1. Oops oversaw that, so this small notice may also mean that there is a loophole for activating the wing prior to the start of the race, giving an advantage to the first corner? Or do the regulation specify an earlier starting point for the race than the green light?

        1. HounslowBusGarage
          25th January 2011, 13:57

          No. Only after two laps of the race.

          after the driver has completed a minimum of two laps after the race start or following a safety car period

          1. From my post on the previous page HBG

            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. After closely reading regulations about starting procedure and the adjustable bodywork I dont see why they could not activate it on the reconnaisance or formation lap. In my head that is prior to the start of the race. Which means he can use due to this rule:

            The adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver at any time prior to the start of the race

            Also it will give him an advantage until the braking for the first corner seeing as:

            The system will be disabled by
            the control electronics the first time the driver uses the brakes after he has activated the system.

            Somebody has to try this :P

          3. This of course can only be done if the start/finish straight is one of the areas where the wing can be activated.

          4. Doesn’t matter. The wing can be adjusted freely at any time before the race, the activation via the control electronics only comes into play during the race itself.

            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.

          5. Aha, if this is indeed possible I think we are the last persons to find out though and everybody will do it for the first race and then it will be banned.

          6. HounslowBusGarage
            25th January 2011, 16:53

            Ah, yes. I see what you mean.

    2. What I’m wondering is how many angles will they use. If they can freely use the wing for qualifying, why not set it to a different angles for different corners?

      The regulations don’t mention anything about this. Just that it’s upright and “activated”.

      1. I’ve wondered the same Patrick. Will the driver’s button be a simple on switch or will he be able to adjust the activated gap to anywhere within the allowed 40mm range?

  5. Could someone clarify for me what being within one second of someone means. For example if someone is being overtaken could they use the ARW the moment the person next to them has their nose in front?

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      25th January 2011, 13:48

      I posed a similar question on another thread and someone (can’t remember who) pointed out that ARW can only take affect as the cars pass an ‘activation point’.
      So if Car A passes Car B by using ARW, and Car B manages to hang on within one second of Car A until the next ‘activation point’, Car B will be able to use ARW and Car A won’t.

  6. Obviously, if this wing works, strategies might change. There might be more pitstops when drivers know they will be able to overtake once they are on fresh tyres.

  7. ‘The Ferrari drivers would have been able to us the adjustable rear wing’.

    Don’t you mean USE?

    Nice article.

  8. HounslowBusGarage
    25th January 2011, 13:40

    Fascinating analysis Keith, looking at the data makes me wonder if ARW would have made Canada more exciting and Bahrain even more dull!
    Reading DeadManWoking’s post made me wonder about lapped cars; I’m sure that the figures do not include lapping cars, but are you certain that ARW will not be available to allow a car to be lapped or unlapped?
    And what about this scenario; Car A is lapping Car B. And he does it just before an ‘activation point’. So according to the technology, Car B is within a second of Car A and is therefore allowed to stall the wing. Or can that not happen?
    Actually, it could genuinely happen in a battle for position. So it is not in a driver’s interest to nip passed under braking for the corner just before an ‘activation point’ because the car you’ve just passed will be able to stall the wing and you won’t! Less overtaking, not more?

  9. serious number crunching well presented

    excellent work, thank you

  10. Well, this’s is just great. Awesome stuff I must admit! But how’d you do it…look through each driver lap-by-lap on a race-per-race basis??

    1. Yeah, pretty much.

      1. ****, that’s super good!

  11. Wow Keith!! You never cease to amaze the readers.

    Apart from the painstaking efforts of converting the results of all previous champions to the 2010 points system, you were also doing this!!!

    I am sure that the race charts FIA makes publicly available on their website supplies all the data for this. But converting it into a SAS or excel database so that such things can be calculated is no child’s play. Apart from that, having the foresight to use that to calculate these exact numbers is simply incredible.

    However, I do notice an inconsistency. I will take the simplest grand prix, the Bahrain 2010. Fernando Alonso has a number of 0 for this race, while Vettel has a number of 1 for this race.

    But Fernando made 1 overtaking manoeuvre at Bahrain in non safety car non first lap conditions. So by this data, Fernando somehow jumped from being more than one second behind to front of Vettel. He obviously had an opportunity to use the wing once.
    Similarly, Vettel was overtaken thrice in this race in non safety car non first lap conditions but the number for him is 1. This number should be atleast 3 for him as once he was overtaken, he did have chance to re-overtake.
    I think you have taken the time gaps between drivers at the end of every lap or at the end of every sector. While this effort itself is painstaking it is not complete.
    I hope you understand that I am only being nitpicky and not degrading your work.

    1. Thanks Sumedh. Regarding Alonso and Vettel at Bahrain, remember Vettel had a car problem in that race so although Alonso went past him on the track this was a healthy car going past an ailing one.

      I’ve just looked it up and Alonso’s gaps to Vettel in the five laps before he went past were as follows:


  12. The fact that Hamilton, of all people, couldn’t use the ARW if it were there baffles me. Look at his mid-season, 5 races with 0 chance of using it!

  13. Only a man who calls himself an f1 fanatic can come up with these sort of painstalking but impressive stuff..proud to be a part of your site keith..keep it up!

  14. But i think these stats underlines the fact that having kers helped mclaren a lot.also the mistakes ferrari and their drivers made meant they couldnt maximise their potential..btw keith does the stat include the times a car can be overtaken during the 1st two laps or after the safety car period?

    1. But i think these stats underlines the fact that having kers helped mclaren a lot.

      Not sure what you mean – no-one used KERS in 2010.

      1. Oops!!..meant to say f-duct. I have some questions. How much speed advantage can we expect from this wing stalling?.can it differ from team to team or is there a specific number mentioned in the rules? Another question is if say three to four cars are within a sec of one another, will that mean that the last one will to use the device all along a straight till he overtakes the 1st guy??i cant help but think that it might get a bit messy as the 3rd and 2nd guy will also be using it.The third is quite a stupid one actually. What if the wing jams in the stalled position? Will he be penalized for having unfair advantage on a straight??a team can exploit it by itentionally design to jam it and use a more downforce setting knowing that they’l be having a great advantage on the straight.. Fourthly will this device be allowed to use in monaco? I think its too dangerous.

  15. Good work Keith. I have to say I find the rules concerning the usage of the adjustable rear wings abit confusing. Its going to be interesting to see how they are applied in the real world during grands prix, and I can see penalties being handed out alot due to these rules. Fanatics like ourselves maybe into all these rules and regulations, but I pity the casual observer and new F1 fans who may all find this rather baffling.
    It all seems rather amateurish to me.

    1. I don’t forsee any problems with penalties in the race as the system activation is all done electronically. When a driver is within the proscribed time gap behind another at an activation point, a computerized signal is sent to his car’s ECU activating the wing adjustment system and he is notified of it by a light on his dash and he then presses a button to adjust the wing. If he presses the button when the system is not active nothing at all happens and therefore no penalty need be applied.

  16. I’m not keen on this rule. I have two main problems with it. First, allowing a performance advantage to help overtaking is artificial, but if you have to do it why not use KERS for this. KERS won’t help the racing if everyone can use it all the time, so using it this way might actually make KERS worthwhile (Teams that cannot afford KERS would have to be helped out). Second, team-mates are judged by their respective performances because they have the same car, but not anymore if they are allowed to keep up or overtake because of the adjustable wing. Vettel can’t pull away from Webber at 0.3 seconds per lap if Webber can close that gap by pushing a button on the straight every lap.
    Good site, btw!

  17. I have to wonder if this may lead to more collisions. Drivers trying to force a pass while they have the marginal advantage of the ARW. And, drivers defending to keep someone from diving under them. Seems like a recipe for more Vettel/Webber, Vettel/Button, etc. type incidents.

    Just how much of a relative boost (mph) will it provide?

    Great analysis Keith!

  18. The Ferrari line is that this could make for artificial racing, but they won’t stand in the way of its introduction.

    In my opinion the system is unnecessarily complicated. Relying on GPS while driving through a tunnel, and then too many ifs and other clauses attached.

    The cheapest option to enhancing overtaking, is taking off the wings. Installing movable, load bearing, rear wings will only bring more costs to the development of the cars that the new teams will cherish. Likewise will it provide an additional failure mode to the already complicated setups of the modern F1 car.

    What next, lasers to zap the tyres of the leading car.

  19. Why for some reason does this seem like another dig at Ferrari???

    1. Its not, it just shows that many times they got caught out by being held up by people. Not at all surprising. Remember Alonsos mid session races getting ruined by bad luck, well these stats clearly show that he didn’t get the results due to being held back.

  20. Keith,
    almost speechless, I wanted to put this kind of thing together myself but didn’t have the raw data, I do a lot of data analysis in my work but this is amazing effort.
    Thanks for the acknowledgeable for the idea, I had a feeling you might be crazy enough (a fanatic enough) to put such data together, great job.
    This site is still my first port of call for F1 information. :-)

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