FIA avoids Wing-Gate…or Knee-Gate…or Drag-Gate

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FIA representative Charlie Whiting has cleared the McLaren car for the 2010 season opening race in Bahrain including an endorsement for the clever trick-wing design manually controlled by the drivers knees. The unique wing has a benefit to reducing drag on long, high-speed straights when manually controlled by the driver. Perhaps James Allan did one of the best descriptions I have read so far:

It is emerging that the cleverest thing about this wing is actually something very simple; the airflow from an opening in the cockpit to the slot in the back of the rear wing, is carried down a pipe in the sharkfin engine cover, but it needs to be “switched on” on the straights. To have any kind of mechanical device would be illegal. The solution? It is controlled by the driver’s body. When he moves his left leg in a certain way, it allows air flow through, which shoots into the slot on the back of the wing and separates the airflow underneath the wing, causing it to shed drag, so the car goes faster down the straight. It’s a bit like the brake steer third pedal McLaren had in 1997, but even more simple.

The teams could still protest this device after the race and the Stewards would be left to decide if the device was legal or not. That could happen but then again the other teams may choose to keep quiet and develop their own version instead.

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