Red Bull files complaint against McLaren and Ferrari over illegal flexi-wings

Red Bull files complaint against McLaren and Ferrari over illegal flexi-wings

Red Bull has expressed concerns over the front wings used by McLaren and Ferrari as the controversy surrounding illegal flexi-wings rocks F1 again.

The reigning constructors champions are reported to have filed a complaint with Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, over the front wings of both McLaren and Ferrari claiming that their rivals are violating the sport’s stringent regulations.

This comes as McLaren and Ferrari have made significant progress in matching Max Verstappen’s pace this season with the reigning world champion failing to win on three occasions so far in 2024—the same number of times he failed to win over the course of his previous campaign.

A report from the German publication Auto Motor und Sport claims that Red Bull suspects the wings of its rivals might be more flexible than allowed by the rules, therefore giving them an aerodynamic edge.

The team bosses at the Milton Keynes headquarters are believed to be unimpressed by how their rivals’ front wings flex through fast corners and on straights, perhaps breaching the current regulations.

According to the report, Red Bull even attempted to influence Aston Martin to also protest to the legality of these wings, but the Silverstone-based outfit declined.

This comes after Aston Martin was forced to lower the specification of their front wing last year due to a lack of rigidity in its attachment to the nose. The change resulted to a significant loss of speed and quite explains the drop in performance towards the end of the season after an impressive showing earlier in the year.

Before the Singapore Grand Prix last year, the FIA released a Technical Directive reminding teams that “all aerodynamic components or bodywork influencing the car’s aerodynamic performance must be rigidly secured and immobile” in order to ensure that all competitors adhere to the spirit of the current regulations.

The directive from the governing body sought to discourage teams from taking use of aerodynamic advantages by defining boundaries for bodywork flexibility.

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The FIA is able to enforce these regulations by carrying out tests by applying an certain amount of pressure (60 newtons) to the front wings and measuring the resulting deformation. Wings with a deflection more than three millimeters are deemed to be in violation of the rules.

Mercedes also sparked a debate earlier in the season when it debuted a controversial front wing design on its W15 car that passed FIA inspection. However, it was dropped later on at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The exact details of Mercedes’ “legality trick” remains unknown, but it highlights the continuous conflict between teams that push the boundaries and FIA’s attempts to maintain fair competition.

Regardless of whether Red Bull’s suspicions are valid or not highlights the high stakes in Formula 1, where small aerodynamic gains can result in big competitive advantages.

It remains to be seen if McLaren and Ferrari could face penalties from the FIA if found in violation of the regulations, or if they will face an action similar to what Aston Martin were subjected to last season.

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