FIA Massa's Front Wing

Westy

Pole Sitter
Dear Clip the Apex,

I am a new member for this forum, however I have been reading your comments for quite a while now. I love the technical insight and opinions that you all provide. I would love to hear what you have to say on this matter, even though it does open up a can of worms that some may feel needs to remain shut.

The FIA are notorious for their noncommittal regulations, one that has been of particular interest to the public as of late is the legality of the front wings on certain teams. for the purpose of this discussion I am using Massa's wing as there is no denying the fact that it was flexing.

We know that the front wing has to be a certain amount of inches off the ground (I want to say 3.5, but I could be way off. Please clarify this). However, we saw over this past weekend that Massa's wing was scraping the ground as he came down the long back straight. Despite this evidence the FIA still ruled the wing legal and fit for racing! Surely something must be done. This is the pinnacle of motor sports is it not?

Anyway, what do you guys think?
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
Welcome Westy!

Twas a very strange scenario in India. The wing was ruled illegal after the ludicrous amount of flex it displayed in Free Practice. Then after the suspension was demolished in qualifying and the only legal front wing they had was destroyed, the illegal wing was somehow ruled suitable to race. Bizarre.

On the SPEED broadcast they were convinced that there was a correlation between the flexi-wing and the suspension failures on Massa's car, as he was the only one using the front wing. I'm not convinced of that.

What I do think is that F1 wouldn't have wanted a Ferrari to have to sit out the inaugural Indian GP because they didn't have any suitable front wings, so they allowed them to race whatever they had.
 

jez101

Bookies drive nice cars because of people like me
Contributor
Welcome to the forum :wave:

I think Ferrari were checking the interpretation of the regs prior to committing to a design approach to 2012. My guess is that they have done an extreme copy of Red Bull and said to Charlie, "what about this?" If my guess is correct, they would have hoped that the wing would have been banned, taking RBRs solution down with it. Either way though, they have certainty, although how long it lasts for is anyone's guess after the EBD saga this year.
 

Westy

Pole Sitter
I watched the SPEED broadcast as well. I do enjoy their insight for the most part, however, they do get stuck on silly theories like that and never seem to change them. I am with you on the suspension issues and believe that it was a result of Massa attacking the curbs much more aggressively than the other drivers. Just my opinion.
 

mjo

Procrastinating
Contributor
Welcome to CTA!:friends:
Copied from the FIA regulations:

Hope this helps!
3.17.1
Bodywork may deflect no more than 20mm vertically when a 1000N load is applied vertically to it 800mm forward of the front wheel centre line and 795mm from the car centre line.
3.15 Aerodynamic influence :
With the exception of the driver adjustable bodywork described in Article 3.18 (in addition to minimal parts
solely associated with its actuation) and the ducts described in Article 11.4, any specific part of the car
influencing its aerodynamic performance :
- must comply with the rules relating to bodywork.
- must be rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any degree of freedom).
- must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car.
Any device or construction that is designed to bridge the gap between the sprung part of the car and the ground is prohibited under all circumstances.
No part having an aerodynamic influence and no part of the bodywork, with the exception of the skid block in 3.13 above, may under any circumstances be located below the reference plane.
With the exception of the parts necessary for the adjustment described in Article 3.18, any car system,
device or procedure which uses, or is suspected of using, driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited.
3.17.8 In order to ensure that the requirements of Article 3.15 are respected, the FIA reserves the right to introduce further load/deflection tests on any part of the bodywork which appears to be (or is suspected of), moving whilst the car is in motion.


Hope this helps!

It is basically saying that bodywork cannot be deflected more than 2cm when 1000N is applied to it. Obviously, there was no way to test how much load Massa's front wing is under, or how muxh it is deflected by, but it looked more than 2cm.
Although the wing must have been tested anf be proven legal otherwise more stringent tests would have been used.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
What was of equal interest to me is Massa was permitted to start from his qualifying grid position, despite reverting to the wing he used in practice.

It was clear for all to see that the wings were fundamentally different, possibly in the way the layers were built up.

Unfortunately the FIA load tests are wholly inadequate, as we've seen with Red Bull. It is only designed to test load flex in one dimension, not torsional.

P.S. Welcome to the site.
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
It's also clear that the FIA simply make things up as they go along. Which is why those that constantly used the refrain "rules are rules" this weekend to admonish a certain driver were well off base.

Nothing is cut and dry, and nothing is set in stone. The FIA have the authority to do whatever they see fit, however they see fit. And they often exert this authority in perplexing ways.
 

Road of Bones

MTC Mole
Contributor
I think Ferrari may need to take a closer look at the "Monza Relic" and figure out where they went wrong with the Carbon Fibre laying-up. ;)

The problem seemed to be only when Massa hit a certain speed, and is clearly a harmonic vibration brought about due to resonant frequencies induced through the airflow & wing interaction at that speed. I agree with Keke though - there was probably a case of "we must have Ferraris on-track, never mind if their wing is illegal - it'll probably disintegrate partway through the race anyway on the basis of that flexing, so they won't necessarily derive much of an advantage..."

Incidentally - welcome to the forum Westy! (have we met before...?:thinking: )
 

Chad Stewarthill

Champion Elect
Contributor
Hi Westy, and welome to CTA.

Just to clear up a minor technical point, it's not that the wing must be a certain height above the griound, but above the reference plane, which is an imaginary plane corresponding to the top surface of the underbody plank. There's nothing to stop the car being tilted forwards, altering the rake angle, to bring the front wing closer to the ground (something Red Bull have been doing for some time and others, notably Ferrari, beginning to copy them) while still being legal, since if the car tilts the reference plane tilts with it.
This is a little simplistic, but I hope you get the picture.

And Road of Bones and Josh are both right I think, in that I'm pretty sure Brundle suggested that there seems to be a threshold speed, reached only when the fuel load is light enough, above which the wing starts to oscillate.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
Just to clear up a minor technical point, it's not that the wing must be a certain height above the griound, but above the reference plane, which is an imaginary plane corresponding to the top surface of the underbody plank. There's nothing to stop the car being tilted forwards, altering the rake angle, to bring the front wing closer to the ground
Even so, if the wing is scraping on the ground then it's safe to assume it's below the reference plane.


And looking at the still image on the video above, it is clearly deflecting more than the limit set down in the regulations.
 

The Pits

Harumph. Again.
Valued Member
The relevant stuff is below, however, I think that the interesting parts are in bold

3.15 Aerodynamic influence
With the exception of the driver adjustable bodywork described in Article 3.18 (in addition to minimal parts
solely associated with its actuation) and the ducts described in Article 11.4, any specific part of the car
influencing its aerodynamic performance :
- must comply with the rules relating to bodywork ;
- must be rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any
degree of freedom) ;
- must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car.
Any device or construction that is designed to bridge the gap between the sprung part of the car and the
ground is prohibited under all circumstances.
No part having an aerodynamic influence and no part of the bodywork, with the exception of the skid block
in 3.13 above, may under any circumstances be located below the reference plane.
With the exception of the parts necessary for the adjustment described in Article 3.18, any car system,
device or procedure which uses, or is suspected of using, driver movement as a means of altering the
aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited.

Based on this information, and the obvious evidence, it seems that the FIA test is woeful. Also, if the wing passes the test, then surely it is legal, no matter how much it wobbles. If, once again, the FIA seem to be able to adjudge the legality of a part using video evidence (McLaren front wing in Valencia being the other example) how come the copious video evidence of Red Bull flexology seems to be ignored????
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
The rule is badly worded (no degree of freedom whatsoever is impossible to achieve in practice), and the tests are inadequate.

From my perspective, the tests are equally inadequate for everyone, and some of F1's most interesting innovations have come through these sorts of regulatory loopholes.

I also think there's a distinct possibility that this was a political move by Ferrari to pressure the FIA into some sort of action.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
From my perspective, the tests are equally inadequate for everyone, and some of F1's most interesting innovations have come through these sorts of regulatory loopholes.
I've suggested in the past that the regulations are deliberately written in this way, just for that very reason.

If they were water tight then it would be a spec' series, more or less.
 

The Pits

Harumph. Again.
Valued Member
The rule is badly worded (no degree of freedom whatsoever is impossible to achieve in practice), and the tests are inadequate.

From my perspective, the tests are equally inadequate for everyone, and some of F1's most interesting innovations have come through these sorts of regulatory loopholes.

I also think there's a distinct possibility that this was a political move by Ferrari to pressure the FIA into some sort of action.

I appreciate the loopholes, but two teams have been told to address issues which passed scrutineering, and the necessary checks.

I am all for innovation, and for teams to be able to push the limits, and interpreting the regulations seems to be an art form in itself, however, whilst the loopholes should be there for all to exploit evenly, it would seem that there has been inconsistent application of the "spirit of the regulations" McLaren, Mercedes, I think Force india and now Ferrari all seem to have fallen foul of this.
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
So much of this goes on behind closed doors, it's hard to be able to comment with confidence. I suspect the problem may have been not the degree of flex, but the manner in which it was being achieved?
 

The Pits

Harumph. Again.
Valued Member
You're probably correct G, safety grounds would http://be enough, and as keke pointed out earlier there were reasons to let them race.

I just can't help thinking about starter holes and consistency of application of the rules. Oh well, it is to be expected!!!
 

Muddytalker

Points Scorer
Even so, if the wing is scraping on the ground then it's safe to assume it's below the reference plane.
Whilst I agree with the notion, this is actually incorrect. As Chad says, if the rear is jacked up a few inches, the reference plane is now angled towards the track surface and will at some point (ahead of the front wheel axis) intersect the plane of the track surface. The front wing can then intersect the plane of the track surface, whilst still being above, and parallel to, the reference plane. It might be geometrically unlikely, but not impossible, and as the FIA can only measure the dimensions when static, the whole thing is pretty much unpoliceable. Which as you say, has to be a factor in how the rules are written (perhaps an unspoken fop to the designers in return for introducing new regulations?)
 
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