F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?
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Formula 1’s governing body the F1 has sent ripples through the paddock after warning teams it will introduce new rear wing flexibility tests next after suspicions of rule-bending were claimed by Lewis Hamilton.
Questions were raised after the seven-time champion stated after qualifying that Red Bull used a “bendy” wing, which increased their straight-line speed during last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Hamilton won the race, and extended his lead by 14 points from closest rival Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, however claimed that they could be exploiting a more flexible wing which helps provide more speed on the straights, and provides maximum downforce towards corners.
“The Red Bulls are really fast on the straights,” he said. “They have this bendy wing on the back of their car which they put on today and they gained at least three tenths.”
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However, the the Red Bull boss Christian Horner was refuted the claims, and was adamant their car was fully legal, and that their cars’ rear wings had passed stringent tests
“Of course the cars are scrutineered thoroughly and there’s pullback tests, and there’s all kinds of different tests it has to pass,” he said. “The FIA are completely happy with the car, that it has passed all of those tests that are pretty stringent.”
The governing bodies single-seater technical head Nikolas Tombazi wrote to teams saying it had “become aware” some rear wings passed tests but had “excessive deflections while cars are in motion”.
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The FIA then warned teams that new load deflection tests would be introduced from June 15.
“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,” said Tombazis.
“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.
“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.”
Tombazis’ note did not mention any teams or give specific examples.
The FIA can carry out such tests on any part of the bodywork suspected of moving once the car is in motion, with the first test due to take place around the French Grand Prix.
Teams will be allowed time to strengthen their wings, and the first month of the new tests will have a 20 per cent tolerance.
Horner revealed in Spain that the Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had spoken of the matter.
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