Ferrari chief: Movable wing always could be abandoned

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During the team principals interview session today, Aldo Costa of Ferrari said what is perhaps the single most sane thing I’ve seen from Formula 1 for a long, long time. When being asked about the rules changes for 2011, including tires, KERS and the rear movable wing, Costa said this:

It is a completely new element. We have not tested it. We have studied very, very little about it. We are going with it next year, so we will see after a few races. Anyway it is a movable option, so the FIA and the teams can always decide to stop it in case it is not good enough or not good for some reason.

Now, if that isn’t the F1 rules in a nutshell, I don’t know what is.

Costa was joined by HRT’s Colin Kolles, Force India’s Vijay Mallya and Saubers’s Peter Sauber. Each has his own take on the rules. First, Kolles, who also has to answer to the 107% rule:

Q: A question to you all about the recent decisions of the World Motor Sport Council; how they might affect your team, your particular thoughts on Pirelli or adjustable rear wings.
Colin Kolles: Well, obviously this has all been discussed in the FOTA meetings and we basically agreed on these modifications and also to the new tyre supplier, so we are happy with it.

Q: Is there anything in particular which will affect your team? Are you worried about the 107 per cent rule or anything like that?
CK: I don’t think we will be worried next year about the 107 per cent rule anymore. This year we are more afraid about the 107 per cent rule. I think it is the right decision to go with Pirelli, we were always in favour of Pirelli.

Q: And the movable rear wing?
CK: The more changes the better for a new team. I see it like this, to have maybe innovative ideas with the right people in the team.

Kolles was close to getting the award for “most sane” answer. I’m very intrigued by his statement that the more changes, the better for the new teams. I’m not sure I agree, but it is interesting. I can see how it makes sense. The team hasn’t gone way down one particular road, only to be forced to head down another. But at the same time, I’d think the new teams would want to head down one clear road for a few years as they tried to get everything right on their cars.

Next up, Sauber. And I may be reading into this, but the first two questions make it seem like Peter is still not coming across as a happy camper.

Q: Peter?
Peter Sauber: About the tyres?

Q: About anything. You can talk about anything, even BMW Sauber if you like.
PS: I speak about the tyres. I think it is a good solution for Formula One. I am confident that they will do a good job. KERS, I think on the one hand, it is important for Formula One to use future technologies. On the other hand it makes the car more complicated and more expensive.

Q: So you are not necessarily in favour of KERS?
PS: I think the faster solution will be the better one. And the rear wing it’s a kind of miracle for me and please ask me again after the first three races next season.

Q: It is interesting to see the number of new ideas to help overtaking.
PS: I think maybe it is a good idea for overtaking, but I think we have different opinions from the technicians.

Then there’s Vijay, who takes the most politically correct route:

Q: Doctor Mallya?
Vijay Mallya: I have the proud privilege to be a member of the World Council as well and as Team Principal of Force India. I am obviously involved with FOTA as well as the F1 Commission. I think that everything is discussed comprehensively first by FOTA, then at the F1 Commission level before it gets to the World Council, so at the World Council level these changes were voted in without any problem whatsoever. I think the FIA is focussed on making the sport more exciting, to promote overtaking on one hand, maintaining and improving safety on the other hand, reducing costs which is a stated objective to make Formula One even more commercially viable and I would go along with these changes except that I would caution against repeated changes going forward. I think right now that we have a package that is to the satisfaction of all the participating teams.

Finally, Costa, in greater detail:

Q: Aldo?
Aldo Costa: From my side I think the World Council voted for solutions that have been studied for a long time, a lot of work has been done by FOTA teams and a lot of the job has been done by the Technical Working Group. I think we achieved quite a lot of interesting innovation in Formula One. One point that no-one is underling but for me the safety aspect is important. The chassis with several little modifications would be safer for next year. The FIA as usual and the teams have looked at last year and this year’s crashes and, as usual, reacted on that making the chassis safer. We will have the front part of the chassis more robust, the roll loop more robust, the side protection of the chassis more robust. Underneath the chassis in the driver area. The driver will be more protected, so all very positive aspects. KERS, we spoke about already last time here. Ferrari is in favour of KERS. Ferrari would like to do more about KERS but unfortunately the rule that we had last year will be the rule of 2011 which is for us a shame. In terms of aerodynamic change we will have a substantial reduction of downforce without the double diffuser that for us was never a legal option. We will simplify and clarify all the rear wing elemental stuff which I think will be good for the clarity of the rule itself. We will have the introduction of the new adjustable rear wing. I have the same mixed feeling like Mr Sauber. It is a completely new element. We have not tested it. We have studied very, very little about it. We are going with it next year, so we will see after a few races. Anyway it is a movable option, so the FIA and the teams can always decide to stop it in case it is not good enough or not good for some reason. All in all I think we have done quite a good movement (inaudible word) a rule which is safer, clearer in terms of definition and again trying, a genuine attempt to improve the show.

He seems to suggest that safety is going to improve in the new rules, an issue that’s already bubbling up — enough so team leaders are responding to it. And, of course, when you read his entire answer, he doesn’t sound nearly so sane.

So, anyone want to bet whether — or when — the movable wing will be scrapped? During 2011? Right after?

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