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GPDA discuss moveable wing regulations

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) met with F1 race director Charlie Whiting in Barcelona on Wednesday evening.

The two main areas for discussion was the high degradation issues of the new Pirelli tyres and the use of the new for 2011 driver-enabled moveable rear wing.

There had previously been fears that the use of the moveable wing and KERS would produce a safety issue with an immediate acceleration of speed from the car behind chasing a slower car, which could create a scenario similar to the one when Mark Webber's Red Bull caught and crashed into Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus, flipping the Australian. Thankfully following winter testing, those fears appear to be unfounded, however the drivers are seeking a tweak to the regulations as they are not entirely happy with how things are currently set-up.

'The difficulty is, if you have [the moveable wing] in the race and you don't have it in qualifying for example, then you will have different gear ratios and that will potentially destroy the effect of the wing in the race.' F1 World champion Sebastian Vettel told Autosport Magazine.

'On the other hand, if it is free to use whenever you want, where's the upside in practice and qualifying? Last year we had an F-duct that we could use whenever we wanted; this year we have the wing we can use whenever we want in practice and qualifying. The question is whether we can improve that and do something smart in order to be safer.'

To re-cap the moveable rear wing simply has an off switch and an on switch, it isnít designed to be adjustable to different settings, it merely increases the gap between the main plane and the flap of the rear wing from around 10mm to 50mm.

This has been designed with the idea to aid overtaking by significantly reducing drag down the straights, therefore increasing the cars speed.

However the issues in the regulations that Vettel refers too, come in practice and qualifying where itís a free for all and drivers are free to push the button as often as they please, however in the race itself it gets complicated.

It cannot be used during the opening two laps of the race and after that it can only be used at certain parts of the track and only then when the driver is less than one second behind the car in front.

The driver is told when they are able to use the wing by a little light flashes on the dashboard.

When that is on, the driver is free to use the adjustable rear wing and make an overtaking manoeuvre.

The problem with that scenario, is that a driver is likely to already be looking at the information on his steering wheel to use his KERS and change other settings and Lotus driver Jarno Trulli feels there are just too many distractions in the cockpit: 'The way we use the wing together with those guys who use KERS, this might be a concern in the way that the driver is sometimes a bit too busy watching lights, buttons and stuff like that rather than watching ahead. So several drivers expressed their view and we discussed about it Ė and it is now down to the teams to say we can trim this rule and have a better solution and do what we have.'

So what are the chances that the regulations could be altered ahead of the Australian Grand Prix? 'At the moment nothing has been said and nothing has been fixed. Charlie will think about it, the teams will go through it with Charlie and if they can improve it and they think it is not a perfect solution they will change it. Otherwise we stick like this.'

Hopefully any alterations to the rules and regs will not ease overtaking too dramatically, while we all want to watch good racing and we want the races to be more exciting, the fear with KERS and a moveable rear wing acting together as a 'Playstation style push to pass button' feels a little too gimmicky and artificial for many F1 purists.

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The Journalist

Writer: Red5 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday March 10 2011

Time: 2:00PM


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