Suggesting that the clampdown on “bendy” wings will not only impact Red Bull, Helmut Marko insists that the move will not compromise his team’s fight for the title(s).
Not for the first time in recent years, flexing wings made the headlines again over the Barcelona weekend when Lewis Hamilton, speaking in the moments after out-qualifying Max Verstappen for pole, said that his title rival had a “bendy (rear) wing”, which he believed accounted for some of the RBR16B’s speed.
“The Red Bulls are really fast on the straights,” Hamilton told Sky Sports. “They have this bendy wing on the back of their car which they put on today and they gained at least three tenths from this wing.
“So they will be quicker down the straights than us, and it will be hard to keep them behind. But that doesn’t mean it will be impossible.”
Less than 72 hours later, the FIA’s single-seater technical head, Nikolas Tombazis sent a technical directive to all the teams advising that new load deflection tests would be introduced from 15 June.
“We have become aware of some cases whereby rear designs which comply with the requirements of articles 3.9.3 and 3.9.4 nonetheless exhibit excessive deflections while the cars are in motion,” he wrote. “We believe that such deformations can have a significant influence on a car’s aerodynamic performance and hence could be deemed to contravene the provisions of article 3.8.
“We will be looking out for any anomalous behaviour of the deformation of the rear wing,” he added. “In particular we will not tolerate any persistent out of plane deformation that may be contrived to circumvent the symmetrical loading applied in the load deflection tests.
“Should we observe any characteristics that indicate exploitation of this area, we will introduce further load deflection tests as necessary.”
Speaking to Motorsport-Total.com, Helmut Marko, while claiming that the move will not only affect Red Bull, insisted that the clampdown will not compromise his team’s fight for the titles.
“The wing has passed the load test,” he said. “That is crucial.
“Now, there are new criteria that have different guidelines with regards to load,” he added. “It’s often the case when new regulations come and teams discover grey areas.
“But it’s not just Red Bull being targeted,” he insisted. “It affects other teams as well.”
The Austrian dismissed Hamilton’s claim that a “bendy” wing gave the RBR16B a 0.3s advantage on the straight, insisting that his team had been running a high downforce wing on Friday – in anticipation of this weekend’s race in Monaco – while reverting to a lower drag version on Saturday.
“The reason for the smaller rear wing was that we were too slow on the straights,” said Marko. “Hamilton then saw, when he was driving behind us, that we were relatively fast on the straights and put it down to the wing. That’s where two things came together.”
In terms of the title fight, Marko insists the new tests will not make a difference, just as they didn’t during the Austrian outfit’s era of domination between 2010 and 2013.
“It is certainly not a disadvantage that is decisive for the world championship”, he said. “We had to readjust the front wings two, three times a season during our successful world championship period.”