Moveable wings making any difference?

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

We’ve had no shortage of stuff to talk about since the F1 season got started again last week: KERS, tyres, the look of the cars, the emergence of Brawn GP, the BBC, McLaren’s lack of pace, twilight races and the usual controversies.

But we’ve hardly heard anything at all about the new adjustable wings.

Before the season began there was a lot of scepticism about whether they would make much difference and, for all we know, they may not be. Few if anyof the drivers seem to have mentioned them. I haven’t seen any footage of the wings moving and there doesn’t appear to be any television graphic to show the fans when they are being used.

Are the moveable wings making a difference? Have you seen any evidence of them being used? Leave a comment below.

28 comments on “Moveable wings making any difference?”

  1. I think barcaello changed them last week to compinsate for when he knocked the end plate off the wing (I remember a bit of team radio!)

  2. I don’t remember who, but in Melbourne some driver said that they were not touching the movable wing because it made no difference and was one thing more to think on. (seems strange, but anyway my memory is not good…)

  3. Think that was Alonso.

  4. Yeah, that was Alonso but it was in practice. I thought it will be used more so the setup can be more tuned towards one part of the track (straight for example) and drivers can compensate for that by adjusting wing levels.

    Maybe it allows drivers to follow others more easily…

  5. I think either the drivers are missing a trick here or the change is not big enough to have that much impact. Because in theory with the flaps up you could brake later due to more downforce but it all depends on how much extra downforce it generate, im guessing because of the drivers reactions its quite small, and with brake bias kers and all the other stuff the driver has going on its on thing that is not worth crucial time thinking about.

  6. Robert McKay
    4th April 2009, 18:51

    I wonder if they’re a bit like KERS and used differently in the race from in practice (if at all) and quali.

    In the race the drivers are largely using KERS as an offensive/defensive passing boost, but in practice Hamilton at least was using it in two or three short bursts out of specific corners to minimise laptime.

    Maybe the front wing is similar in that just turning practice laps you don’t touch it, for consistency in determining the setup/balance. Maybe in the race running in reasonably clear air you do the same and don’t bother with it, and only think about using it if you are stuck behind another car and haven’t been able to get close to it in the corners.

    Or maybe the teams aren’t bothering with it – noone seems to be talking much about it. I heard Massa being told to adjust it in one of the sessions but that’s one of the few references to it I’ve heard.

    We should be getting some sort of indicator/graphic to see its usage. After all, all the drivers have it at the moment, unlike KERS…

  7. why nobody ask the drivers about it ?

  8. Robert McKay
    4th April 2009, 22:28

    This was bugging me, and I’ve went and tried to do some digging and asking around on other forums, and some people are saying that not all the teams even have adjustable front wing flaps, let alone use them. Some people are of the opinion Force India don’t have them, and I’ve seen some people say that Red Bull/STR don’t.

    However I can find nothing official anywhere that says this is true and nothing that says that teams aren’t using it. Indeed I’ve found a Webber quote that he tried the flap and found it ineffective.

    Not sure what’s true, and am a bit befuddled by the whole thing, to be honest.

  9. I recall Brundle very briefly mentioning that Red Bull don’t have it on their front wing, but he didn’t explore that at all. Commentary immediately moved onto something else. Would like to hear more about the front wings.

  10. The drivers can only changed them twice in a lap, so its of very limited use in gaining lap times.

  11. Ethnic_Tension
    5th April 2009, 1:19

    I think the problem lies with the fact the cars have too much front downforce already when compared to the rear. The last thing you want is even more on the front.

  12. I haven’t heard of any use of the movable front flaps either, only drivers saying “nah, no difference”. But I find it difficult to believe that it does not have any effect at all. No matter how small the effect, lowering the flap angle in a long straight should reduce drag only if by a little bit? And in a long straight there is not much to do for the drivers…
    Maybe nowadays the aerodynamics of the car are so fine tuned that even that is more of a disruption than a help?

  13. I dont think anybody would be stuffing around with the wings. It would upset the balance to much and the drivers would lose feel and confidence from corner to corner. Also i think stuffing around with aero while driving would also affect the tyres to much. This is just a throw away regulation because it to restrictive in its application. If it could be controlled by an air flow pressure meter and ecu automaticaly all the teams would have it. The wings would change angle as downforce levels change, and air over them changes. This would help the drivers because they would have the same feel all the time regardless if there is a car in front or not.

  14. I think it will only come into play in qualifying on tracks with very long straights

  15. I don’t think there would be much difference at tracks like Melbourne where the track is very similar style for the whole lap.

    In Malaysia we might see more use of it as the drivers can increase the wing going into turn 1 and then drop it as they come onto the straight at the end of the lap. The length of the last and pit straights might make it worthwhile, while the bit in between is fairly twisty so warrants adding a bit of extra wing.

    You’d need to wait until later in the season when they’ve raced at a number of circuits of differing styles to see what kind of effect its having.

  16. Maybe we should all email the BBC F1 team, it might spur them into an investigation… asking the driver / teams how much they are used, and if they make a difference.

    What is the email address?

  17. Spot on Phil C. It would change the balance and as we’ve seen most cars front ends are working well its the rear thats causing problems (unless you have a double deck diffuser). Also air leaving the front wing then makes it to the rear of the car and changing the angle of attack of the front wings will affect the rear as a non constant. As John Barnard said when asked about how exhaust gases affect diffuser performance “Its better to have 90% constantly than 100% sometimes.”

  18. Sush Meerkat
    5th April 2009, 9:25

    the changes for overtake in the moveable wings is nullified by KERS boosting cars defending the race line.

  19. Button said in an interview after Sepang, paraphrasing: “The movable flaps were key to getting a good lap time in qualifying.” So clearly they make a difference.

  20. i always hear kers being used by the cars equipped by it. and then on late braking, commentators suggest it is because of the better weight distribution of KERS-less cars that let them brake later or overtake other cars. movable flaps are not mentioned. worthless, and stupid innovation

  21. If moveable front wings are allowed, why not moveable rear ones too? If the idea is to make the car adaptable to the circuit and individual corners, wouldn’t changeable downforce at both ends make more of a difference?

  22. Martin Bell
    6th April 2009, 10:20

    As I understand it, the moveable wings are of most use in the race when changing between the different tyre compounds, to restore balance. They can also be useful when a race starts dry and turns wet for the same reason. Button, however, said that his was not working during the race yesteday, and it didn’t seem to slow him down did it? In normal race conditions, they are a pointless innovation.

  23. I believe there is a restriction on how many times u can use the movable wings per lap. I also think, although I may be wrong, that you can only use 2 preset angles.

    1. You can use it just two times per lap, but the only restriction to the angle is that the maximum freedom of the wing must be 6 degrees.
      In any case, I agree with the comments before: changing the angle of the front wing modifies the general balance of the car, so you need to carefully study the consequences. If they can find a compromise setup in which changing the angle in a sector of the lap significantly improves the overall lap time, then they’ll use it. If not, it will be used only in particular occasions, like following a car closely into a fast corner.

  24. Should the movable wings allow cars to take flight to the next sector? Think about it. The longest track is Spa (7.004 km), and do you think drivers can adjust the wings to work, c’mon gimme a break, by the time they angle the wings it will not be an advantage. There’s too much to do with the existing steering. KERS should be thrown out too (saw Kimi jumping out from cockpit real fast, lolol, less he gets electrocuted). Strange that cars without KERS are doing much better. So in one and a half minutes drivers need to adjust wings and trigger KERS, wow, what about the existing knobs. It will be too busy for divers to concentrate, for sure. Technology has almost maxed out, unless F1 starts floating around without wheels. All said, I still prefer the talent and skills of racers. One can buy a 10K guitar, but can you play well?

  25. Does anyone know if the FIA are policing the use of the wing. Do they download the ECU after ther race and check how many movements there have been per lap. What would be the penality if you moved the wing more then twice. DSQ from the race, 10sec penality.

    The more i think about it, the more i think its a media stunt. Has BBC or anyone actually shown the movement of the wing???

  26. I am thinking:
    300+Kmh or 5,000meters/minute or 83.3 meters/second down one of the Sepang straights waiting for the taw to pull me under the car in front, flap-up (if I understood correctly to get more down force)
    ..and then? ..push the kers to overtake..look at the breaking point…get in to the corner…flap down to get away on the exit…all in +/- 1 second ??
    I don’t think so.
    To much to loose.
    I also believe most of the teams do not use it as intended (to help overtaking) but to gain max speed when needed therefore there is no need to invent clever expensive “illegal flexy wings”

  27. If it actually works, my thought is that the moveable wing is about as useful as what they call the “weight-jacker” (a ballast that moves back and forth with a ratchet) in the IndyCar world, that is, until a team decide to hook the moving wingplanes up to a robot-computer system that adjusts them independently while the car is being driven.

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