Since the beginning of the 2010, when it became clear that the Red Bull squad was the team to beat, rival teams have been quick to point fingers and suggest that in one way or another the Milton-Keynes based outfit was somehow circumventing the rules.
As Red Bull honcho Chris Horner recently told Autosport, “We’ve been questioned so many times this year – whether it be ride-height systems, whether it be suspension, whether it be blown diffusers…so our guys take it as a compliment that so much of the car has attracted so much attention.”
Most recently, of course, both Red Bull and Ferrari have been accused of, in contravention of F1 regs, deploying flexible front wings that give a distinct downforce advantage. While there is photographic evidence that, in fact, the front wings do flex under certain conditions, both Red Bull and Ferrari have thus far passed the tests employed by the FIA to enforce the regulations.
In response to a clamor from rival teams, however, the FIA has decided to impose stricter tests on front wings this weekend at Spa. Horner’s response? “The front wings we have here are the same as we had in Budapest,” he said at Spa on Thursaday. “We are happy they will meet the tests imposed by the FIA.”
Very likely, he’s right. The one-man technical brain trust, i.e. Adrian Newey, who has steered Red Bull to its current level of performance, has built a reputation on his ability to find slender margins of performance advantage within the rules, and not outside of them. At worst, his cars, always on the edge of the design curve, are known for being a bit fragile, but never illegal.
After Spa, all teams will face yet another round of tests, this time on their flooring, to ensure that teams aren’t employing multi-sectioned skid blocks to allow floor flexing. Furthermore, from Monza onward, all joints, bearing pivots and any other form of articulation must be fixed.
While Horner was confident that Red Bull wouldn’t be forced to make any changes to their front wing package to pass the new tests, he did acknowledge that many teams up and down the grid would probably be forced to revise their current flooring arrangements. Nevertheless, he assumes most teams are in the same boat.
“I can’t say it will affect us any more or less than any other team,” he said. “I haven’t had a chance to look at the regulation in detail, and you would have to have a chat with Adrian about that, but I don’t think it poses us any major concerns.”