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Movable Rear Wings Approved for 2011

In an effort to further complicate the already convoluted technical regulations, the FIA has announced that beginning in 2011 movable rear wings will be allowed.  That sounds simply enough in concept, right?  Obviously, the idea would be to adjust the wing to have less drag on straights and more in turns.  But wait, that’s just too darn simple.

According to the FIA, movable wings will be restricted as follows:  “From 2011, 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 two laps.  The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race when he has been notified via the control electronics 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 the first time the driver uses the brakes after the system has been activated.  The FIA may, after consulting all the competitors, adjust the time proximity in order to ensure the purpose of the adjustable bodywork is met.”

In other words, movable wings will be enabled electronically, outside of the drivers’ control.  They will only be enabled after lap 3 of each race begins.  They may not be activated if the car in question is trailing the car ahead by less than one second.  Their sole purpose will be to assist in overtaking.

Moreover, F-ducts will be banned, which makes sense, more or less, considering that the sole function of the F-duct is to adjust the amount of drag/downforce created by the rear wing.  But if the rear wing is movable, it will create much the same effect.

So why ditch the F-duct, and introduce movable rear wings?  The F-duct concept seems to be complicated.  Several teams, including Williams, Mercedes, Ferrari and Sauber have all introduced F-ducts in order to catch up with McLaren, the team that first introduced the device, but none of them has quite mastered its design and use.  Perhaps movable rear wings is seen as a simpler, lower cost solution to the same problem.

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