FIA expand ‘flexi’ tests…truth is the only thing flexing

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You may be familiar with the discussion centered on flexible wings that we’ve discussed here. You may also be familiar with the FIA’s position on increasing the deflection test loads in order to ferret out any potential shenanigans, as alleged by McLaren, with Red Bull and Ferrari’s front wings flexing beyond tolerable and regulated levels.

This is due to photography exposing the distance the wing is from the ground at high speed of both Ferrari and Red Bull’s front wing. McLaren have stated before and most recently again this week that they are bereft of the logic and reason for this amount of distance being displayed and just how Ferrari and Red Bull are achieving this under the current regulations. The implication was first made of the wing and the allegation that the wing is within the current testing limits but when loads are greater than the current 50 newtons, it then flexes beyond the allotted amount.

This very implication has found the FIA redoubling its efforts with a new testing parameter that was to be conducted prior to Sunday’s race in Belgium. Today, however, AUTOSPORT has announced the FIA will also be redoubling their efforts with greater testing parameters regarding the flexing of the body work; more specifically the floor of the chassis.
The wings deflection, rendering it closer to the ground than regulations allow, has been scrutinized by McLaren and they implied that the wing flexing by itself is really something they just don’t understand (read, it has to be the whole structure allowing the wing to flex and not just the wing alone). They’re self-deprecating approach has them sounding like a group of individuals who are at a loss as to how these wacky F1 cars are designed and we all know that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Specifically the FIA, according the AUTOSPORT, have not explained the new testing procedures specifically but that it will “take place 380mm behind the front wheel center line at points 100mm either side of the car center line”. This implies the chassis floor is in play as that the legality plank is also being looked at as well.

What does all of this mean? Well, it means that McLaren feel Red Bull and Ferrari are using a flexible floor system that allow for the type of performance gains that the two teams seem to be experiencing. Ferrari has already had moveable floor issues a few years ago and it was deemed beyond regulation by the FIA. Now it seems that a sophisticated system using compounds and materials that flex under higher pressures than FIA testing uses and is designed to allow for the entire nose section to deflect toward the road surface is being used.

This news chassis test is to be completed prior to the race in Monza. Will this make a difference? McLaren seems to think so and I am inclined to agree with them but just as the dual diffuser was deemed “clever engineering” as was the McLaren F-duct, I suggest that this may qualify as the same. The only difference is that it would be deemed clever if it were being deployed by Force India, Sauber or Virgin Racing. As it is being used by Red Bull and Ferrari, I doubt the FIA will endorse it as within regulation.

Why do I feel that way? Many have argued that the regulations really didn’t allow for the dual diffuser but it spiced up the show by allowing a small-budget team to take it to McLaren and Ferrari (the big boys) and that’s good for “the show”. If McLaren had shown up last year with a dual diffuser, I seriously doubt it would have been rubber-stamped by Max Mosley’s FIA. That’s just my opinion, I may be wrong.

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