Editor's Note: Major Danby originally posted this on the webpage "cliptheapex" and the homepage is here : http://www.cliptheapex.com/home.php
Please go to ClipTheApex for further discussion.
After having a rather in depth discussion about the legality of the flexible wings, the pitfalls of proving if they are legal or illegal, and the definition of the reference plane with Galahad, I have been prompted to write the following article. Hopefully, by the end of it we can try and get a common consensus on what exactly the reference plane is, and how it is related to the flexibility of the front wing.
I hasten to add, that the following is purely my interpretation, and as such may well be incorrect, so please do not hesitate to put your point across if you disagree with me.
I'll start by saying that the reference plane is not a fixed distance in relation to the car and the floor. The reference plane is constantly changing be it through the change of ride height of the car, the change due to suspension effects, or even the ground, which obviously is never perfectly flat.
So where to begin? I guess the first place will be a schematic from the FIA Technical Regulations
To start to define the reference plane, first we must define a plane. In mathematics, a plane is any flat, two-dimensional surface. A plane is the two dimensional analogue of a point (zero-dimensions), a line (one-dimension) and a space (three-dimensions).
Therefore the reference plane, in the case of F1, is an imaginary plane, of infinitesimal thickness, that all other measurements defined in the technical regulations are based on. As the reference plane is undefinable in relation to the ground, it is essentially imaginary. Instead all other measurements are based in relation to this imaginary plane.
The easiest way to think about it, is that it is the lowest area of the car, the area closest to the ground of the sprung area of the car (the chassis). As defined in the technical regulations, the skid block is attached to the reference plane, and as such is the only part of the chassis that is allowed to lie below the reference plane:
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