Thus far, the 2021 Formula One season has been hotly contested, with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen duking it out at the top.
Four races in, and whilst Hamilton has three wins under his belt, he’s only 14 points ahead of the Red Bull driver, who has also finished on the podium on each occasion.
You would expect that by the end of the season, Hamilton will have pulled further away from the chasing pack (he’s certainly the clear favourite on Hollywoodbets, and worth a pop with that R25 sign-up bonus), but the British legend is clearly worried.
The latest controversy, which Hamilton has spoken about (more on that later), centres on Red Bull’s supposedly ‘bendy’ rear wings.
For the basics on that, here’s The Telegraph:
It boils down to allegations that some teams – notably Red Bull, but also Alpine and Alfa Romeo – are bending the rules; boosting their straight-line speed by getting their rear wings to “flex” under high loads.
That is, to angle back a little more at high speed so that there is less drag on the wing. It then snaps back into optimum downforce-producing position before the corners.
If you want to get very technical, this video does a good job of explaining the finer intricacies:
Wings are only permitted to bend so much, with rules in place from the FIA regarding flexibility for various parts of the car.
Once you put rules in place, with defined parameters for things like ‘load’ and ‘deflection’ (as well as ‘flexibility’), however, the pushing of said boundaries can begin.
Former F1 designer Gary Anderson elaborates:
“So through the ingenious use of materials or systems, all the teams are trying to create solutions that pass the static load-deflection tests but which still give them a performance gain. They are all trying to exploit this grey area, not just Red Bull.”
That’s true, but Hamilton is clearly most concerned about Red Bull, given that Verstappen is hot on his heels.
He recently said that Red Bull’s cars “are really fast on the straights” and added that 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.”
It was the most high-profile calling out of the issue thus far, and has prompted warnings from the FIA that it will soon clamp down with a number of measures.
One of those will be onboard cameras that can monitor the behaviour of wings while cars are in motion, to help spot excessive movement of bodywork.
The measures kick in from June 15, with teams given some leeway in the first 30 days to help with the transition.
The Red Bull team says they’re not overly concerned, but Hamilton’s statements will add an extra layer of spice to this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
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