Brawn defends moveable wing scheme, makes it sound really confusing

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A little confession here.

It’s been a long week. Lots of early morning, some travel for work including a quick up and back plane flight for a meeting that turned out to be much more serious and intended by VIPs than I expected.

I’m super happy it’s the weekend, and here in the States, a long week at that because tomorrow is the Fourth of July. (Programming note: I think it means the podcast will hit iTunes on Tuesday. But I know it will be worth the wait. Todd and Grace? Ferrari and McLaren? If you’re an old podcast listener, you know what that means. If you’re new, you will enjoy. Guaranteed.*)

I need to catch up on some rest, including some brain downtime. But Ross Brawn’s defense of the 2011 moveable wing plan is not giving me that. So I’m tossing it to you all to unpack, to figure out, to take apart and then put back together. Does it really sound like it will be safe? Do you think it will make overtaking too frequent?

Here’s Brawn’s quotes on the subject, via Autosport, with a little lead-in. I think he’s speaking somewhere around Goodwood, but I’m not certain:

Ross Brawn has jumped to the defence of plans for a moveable rear wing in Formula 1 next year – on the back of scepticism from drivers on safety grounds and fans on if it will make the racing too artificial.

Although teams have made it clear that they will only introduce the radical concept if it is guaranteed to improve the show, Brawn is optimistic that the idea will work.

[snip]

“There has been quite a bit of work done by several of the teams, CFD work, and the wing is being configured so that if there was a failure it would fail in its full loaded position,” said Brawn.

“The way it works is that the front of the flap lifts up, it is not the back of the flap going down. So the main plane and the flap will be horizontal and, if there is a failure, the wing will drop back into its fully loaded position.”

[snip]

“The amount that we said we are going to lift the wing – we set a target which we think is adequate, and maybe a little bit more than is needed, but then we will have the scope to reduce that if the effect becomes too strong.

“What we now have to define carefully is when you are allowed to use that facility. The idea is for some sort of calculated proximity based on the section times and loops in the track – so when a car is close enough he will have the message that he is close enough and he can use it for the next period, part of the lap or a complete lap, and reduce the drag on the straight.”

OK, so here are my points of confusion. Brawn is saying that if the wing fails, it will just basically retract into a neutral position? That doesn’t really answer the concern about its flying off, right?

And, from the sounds of it, will there be yet another light or signal on the steering wheel telling a driver it’s OK to use the wing? Seriously? That sounds safe? I don’t want to bring the whole Valencia Safety Car issue up, again, but isn’t one of the takeaways there the fact that the FIA has made things too complicated, that there are too many bells and whistles the drivers have to monitor? Now we’re going to add another?

Finally, if I’ve grabbed Brawn’s quotes too much from Autosport’s explanations, apologies. But, yes, you are reading one other part correctly: When he talks about the effect being too strong, he means if it makes overtaking too easy.

Could that happen? (I’m sure it could, but really?) And what is the point at which overtaking is happening too much? Maybe, say, when Kamui Kobayashi in a crappy Sauber passes Fernando Alonso in a Ferrari?

This wing thing is going to be one of the big technical issues next year, it sure appears. So let’s start diving in. But y’all first! (One quick thought. The last time there was this kind of change, Ross made great use of it with his 2009 car. Think Mercedes might get a lift in 2011 in a similar way?)

* Note: That promise is not actually guaranteed.

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