One of the big changes in Formula One this year is the introduction of the movable rear wing. It's introduction is a effort to assist overtaking during the course of a race. Known as the Drag Reduction System, has been put forward by the teams as a means of improving the racing in 2011.
Drivers have the ability in certain situation to move the rear wing when close enough to a car in front. However in a race they can not access the system other than at strictly controlled times.
Via the on track electronic timing system at designated points on the circuit, when the trailing car is within one second of the car ahead the system will be armed and the driver will have access to the system. He will not however be able to use the system until another designated point of the track around 600 metres before the next corner. The last point is subject to ongoing adjustment as the system is bedded in. There will be markings on the circuit to indicate the points where the timing assessment is made and where the driver may use the system to assist spectators and TV viewers.
The FIA has also been quick to point out the system does not guarantee overtaking, merely that the driver will have a additional tool at his disposal to assist with passing. In the end the driver will still have to execute the move on track.
Also as the system is controlled electronically there is no chance of the system being used to interfere with the race via race control to determine the result of the race. In event of any issues with the system there is a override built in to allow its use if instructed by Race Control.
The FIA has estimated that a driver using the system will gain a sped advantage of around 10-12 km/h over the car in front.
Below is a Question and Answer on the new Drag Reduction System with Charlie Whiting FIA Formula One Race Director.
Q The big news for the coming season is the moveable rear wing rule. If we have correctly understood, the system works in this way : There is an actuator to move the flap of the rear wing, this actuator is driven by each F1 driver and it is under the authority of race control. How is race control regulating this procedure?
A There is an actuator in each wing which is under the control of the driver at all times, however, it can only be used when the on‐board electronics (FIA ECU) notify the driver that he is authorised to use it.
Proximity to the car in front will be detected before the straight on which the wing may be activated, if the car behind is less than one second behind (as judged by the installed timing loops in the track) the driver will be told that his system is “armed”, however, he may only use it when he reaches the designated point on the following straight. This point is likely to be 600 metres before the braking point for the following corner, this may however be adjusted according data gathered during testing and practice.
Q What was the thinking behind the introduction of this new regulation?
This was a proposal the teams made to the FIA with the sole purpose of improving overtaking potential, whilst not making it easy. The FIA is always willing to listen to suggestions for improving the spectacle and we have sought a solution which both pleases the teams and the spectators.
Q Are you not worried this might confuse the spectators?
There is no reason to suppose spectators will be confused. Operation of the wing as described above is simple, there will be marks (lines) on the track to show the area where proximity is being detected and a line across the track at the point where the drivers whose system is armed may deploy it. Furthermore, the television broadcasters will be sent a signal each time a system is armed and this will be displayed to the viewers.
Q Are you not sensitive to the comments that race control will determine the outcome of the race?
As explained above race control has no influence over the outcome of a race, cars will simply have to get within one second of the one in front, the system will be
armed automatically and the driver can use it at the pre‐determined point, there is no question of race control being able to intervene.
Q How will you stop drivers tail‐ending the leader to then ‘jump’ on the final straight?
If a car is able to get within one second of the leader entering the last corner of the last lap it is unlikely that he would be able to pass him before the finish line. If a car can get within one second of any other car, the driver will have the opportunity open to him, irrespective of their relative race positions.
It should be remembered though that the distance over which the Drag Reduction System (DRS) may be used is going to be tuned with the intention of assisting the following driver, not guaranteeing him an overtaking manoeuvre.
Q How will this activation/action affect the speed of the car? It is true that the speed benefit will be around 6/7 km/h or more?
From the simulation work done so far the difference between a car with and without the DRS is likely to be in the region of 10‐12km/h at the end of the straight.
Q Have you factored in the issue of reliability? After all electronic systems do sometimes go wrong?
We have written the software to allow a driver to override the system if, for example, the proximity detection failed for any reason. This would only be permitted if the team had been given a specific instruction to do so from the race director. Heavy penalties would be imposed for unauthorised use.
Q Will the rear adjustable rear wing be used in practice or during qualifying?
The adjustable rear wing may be used freely in practice and qualifying, in any place on any lap. It will therefore not be used as an overtaking device during these sessions but more of a means to gain lap time, however, it will mean that the car is geared correctly for the race. If its use was prohibited or restricted in qualifying teams would have little incentive to gear the car purely for the race at the expense of qualifying performance.
Q When do you expect that the final choice will be made in setting this new system up?
Having gathered the information we need in the final test this will happen during the coming days and the teams informed accordingly.
Q Will the FIA allocate a test session to evaluate this new system?
This has been discussed but no decision has been taken. We will discuss the possibility of using part of a free practice session in Melbourne with the teams on the day before first practice.
Q How does the moveable rear wing affect KERS?
The DRS will not affect KERS in any way, the latter may be used by all drivers at any time, the following driver of course may use both, they are however independent systems.
Q How do you think these new rules will affect the handling of the car, and in particular how will the tyres be affected, bearing in mind that Pirelli are on their first season anyway?
We think it will have little or no effect on tyres as downforce should be at normal levels when the tyres are being loaded laterally. This however is something that can only be accurately assessed after more extensive running with the system.
What other rule changes are outlined for 2011?
‐ Ban on “double diffusers”.
‐ Ban on F‐Ducts (driver operated rear wing stall systems).
‐ More stringent load/deflection tests on the front wing and the front of the floor.
‐ One additional wheel tether on each wheel. ‐ Anti‐intrusion panels attached to the monocoque around the driver’s legs.
‐ One additional load test on every chassis at a point beneath the driver’s seating position.
- Gearboxes will have to last five races instead of four previously.
- Introduction of a 107% minimum qualifying time.