During today’s Formula 1 test at Valencia, several teams tried out the new flexible rear wing.
The top level of the wing, which will be usable at any time during practice and qualifying, flattens somewhat, thereby removing drag and allowing the car to pick up higher speed on the straights. It, of course, has pros and cons.
Firstly the wing (along with the re-introduced KERS) will potentially allow for truly remarkable top-end speeds. However, utilising the flexible rear wing will also require spreading gear ratios, especially when in 7th where a very long may be necessary to garner the ultimate speed. There may be other complications and benefits that I have not considered.
For the Grand Prix themselves, the wing can only be activated on particular straights and only when the car following is within one second of the machine they are attempting to overtake. The chasing car will be notified electronically as to when they are close enough, at which point, the top level of the wing may be “flattened” – the driver in front cannot use this device to defend his position. The flexible rear wing cannot be used in the opening two laps of a race.
Whether this makes racing any better remains to be seen; however earlier today the FIA announced that should overtaking become too easy, then the rear wing elements may be “fixed” to keep some level of difficulty in place. It is a good move indeed.
Overtaking should never be easy – make it so and soon passing becomes even more dull than twenty races at the Hungaroring or Barcelona and when everyone is overtaking all of the time, who will care?
The video, below, is footage of Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi deploying the flexible rear wing of his C30 machine at various points around the Valencia circuit.