Ferrari had most to gain from adjustable rear wing in 2010

F1 technology

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?â??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?â??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

F1 technology

Browse all F1 technology articles

Advert | Go Ad-free

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

  1. Jaymz said on 26th January 2011, 3:42

    Once again a pretty pointless topic with lots of disregarded and/or forgotten information.

    The stats on how many passes would have been possible by driver at track is completely inacurate, because we don’t yet know which corners at each track, the activations for use of the rear wing will take place.

    Also, there is no way of determining how many times the rivals would switch back and forth places after the first pass was made.

    Finally, we don’t know if the predetermined activation points will only be corners only, they may well be at the exit of corners onto a long straight, with rivals passing multiple times on that straight, wing adjustment or not, several times.

    Maybe another fanboy noticed the completely hypothetical stats; “Alsono is the true champion” Massa in 08 esque. The only thing we can take from the stats, if anything at all, is that Ferrari qualified badly and/or, were overtaken more, had more wing and were more sinsitive when in dirty air of the car in front. And judging by Massa’s performances, they probably had all of those problems. Only Alonso’s talent made up for the rest.

    If this site didn’t have HD pictures it would be worthless.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th January 2011, 10:21

      The stats on how many passes would have been possible by driver at track is completely inacurate, because we don’t yet know which corners at each track, the activations for use of the rear wing will take place.

      The data doesn’t show “how many passes would have been possible” and I never said it did. It shows how many opportunities to use the rear wing drivers would have had last year.

      Maybe another fanboy noticed the completely hypothetical stats; “Alsono is the true champion” Massa in 08 esque.

      Er, what?

  2. The edge said on 26th January 2011, 6:52

    Pain staking work but dosnt really mean alot, crashed out…no o overtaking opportunity, leading race, little overtaking need, the only reason
    Massa at the top is because he had a reasonable car yet lagged back in the field

  3. Wow! Amazing information, no wonder why F1Fanatic is the best F1 website. Great article Kieth!

  4. LeRoy said on 30th January 2011, 14:04

    Great article Keith! Thanks for the insight and the research. This is why I visit the site every day.

    If nothing else, this shows us how close the racing was during the year. Hopefully, this year when a car is “stuck” behind another car, lap after lap, the wing will help the car behind to get around the car in front. Then he’ll be off to get the next guy.

    However, do you think that this will cause the field to be strung out with the fastest cars out front and too far apart to pass? In other words, let’s say that everyone uses the wing to get by the slower cars in laps 3-10 and after that the order is based on who runs the fastest laps, will the rest of the race be processional? Is there a way this can backfire on F1?

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.