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|
|21||Pedro de la Rosa||60|
|23||Lucas di Grassi||41|
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|
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:
|Pedro de la Rosa||7||6||0||0||0||2||4||8||13||4||6||2||5||3|
|Lucas di Grassi||0||2||1||0||1||8||5||4||0||2||0||3||13||1||0||0||0||1||0|
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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