The current proposals for the collapsing wing or DRS (drag reduction systems) are listed below together with the proposed rules for its use. Will it work? I have grave doubts that it will.
3.18.2 The adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver at any time prior to the start of the race and, for the sole purpose of improving overtaking opportunities during the race, after the driver has completed a minimum of two laps after the race start or following a safety car period.
The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race when he has been notified via the control electronics (see Article 8.2) that it is enabled. It will only be enabled if the driver is less than one second behind another at any of the pre-determined positions around each circuit. The system will be disabled by the control electronics the first time the driver uses the brakes after he has activated the system.
The FIA may, after consulting all competitors, adjust the above time proximity in order to ensure the stated purpose of the adjustable bodywork is met.
The FIA’s current plan is for the overtaking zone - where the moveable wing will be made active in races - to be the final 600 metres of a track's main straight.
A driver pursuing a rival will only be able to activate his wing there if he is within one-second of the car ahead of him at a timing zone that will be set-up in the braking area for the corner before that main straight.
The FIA believes that the 600-metre passing zone is the right length to ensure that overtaking is possible – but is also not too easy. Early simulation data suggests that this length of track will result in a speed differential between cars of between 10-12 km/h depending on car design.
Drivers will be also free to use the wing at will during practice and qualifying.
To help Formula 1 fans and television commentators understand the implementation of the rules better, lines will be painted on the track to mark out the overtaking and timing zone.
A single line on the straight will show where the overtaking zone starts, while two lines will be painted at the preceding corner to indicate the one-second time difference distance. This latter line will also serve as a visual back up for the FIA should the official timing transponders fail at any point.
Note: The zones will be on the start-finish straights in Australia and Malaysia, while in China it will be at the end of the long back-straight.
The current F1 cars are all close to an overall length of five metres. So for the following car to pass the car in front it has to cover at the bare minimum of three car lengths plus reasonable spacing between them to avoid accidents. The following car cannot get closer than two metres to the car in front before it pulls out to overtake. On that basis the following car must cover at least eighteen metres to safely pass the other car. The driver in front will position his car to force his opponent to pass him on the wrong side thus ensuring that his opponent has to be fully clear of him before he can get onto the correct racing line for the next corner. He will not need to change his line more than once which he is allowed to do within the present rules.
Using the FOTA simulated data as my source, the wing will be worth about 10/12 kph when deployed, a similar effect to the F-Duct. To do a proper calculation of the effectiveness of the low downforce wing positions, we must make some assumptions. They are as follows:
- Two cars reach the “wing deployment” line almost equal and almost side by side.
- Neither car uses Kers
- Both cars have equal speed at the line, for this example, 300 kph.
- One does not use the wing (A) due to regulation
- One does use the wing (B)
- The distance covered is 600m
Here is the formula for car A:
(600m/300,000m) * 3600secs = 7.2 seconds to go 600m at 300 kph
300 kph = 300,000m per hour
1 hour =3600 seconds
Here’s the formula for car B:
(600m/312,000m) * 3600secs = 6.92 seconds to go 600m at 312kph
Results: car B covers the 600m .28 seconds faster than car A, as 7.2 – 6.92 = .28 secs
Is that enough of an advantage to make the pass? It depends on how much distance a car covers in .28 secs at an average of 312 kph.
If one (B) goes 600m in 6.92 secs they travel 1m in 6.92secs/600m = .011533….sec per meter
If the speed advantage using the “wing down” gains .28secs, then the formula is .28secs/.011533 secs per meter = 24 meters gained over the other car. 24 meters is enough. The pass could be made.
But of course, the cars will not be operating under the assumptions expressed above. They will not be side by side, they will not be going the exact same speed, they will not be without the Kers option, and they will not be equal in any way.
The best case example shown above proves it is possible to pass with the “wing down” option, in a best case scenario, but the many other variables means that it is not likely to happen with any regularity.
Last year’s dominant car the Red Bull RB6 dominance was not down to its top speed. In truth it rarely appeared in the top five or six cars in the speed traps. High lap speeds are far more dependent on cornering speeds than outright top speeds on the straights.
It would also appear that even if this wing was in use last year that Alonso would still not have managed to pass Petrov on the straight at Abu Dhabi as the Renault was some eight kph faster on the straight.
If its use was unrestricted it could well play a much more decisive role. It is unrestricted in qualifying which will give a good indication of its potential.
My thanks to Flood 1 for his help with the calculations involved
But any errors are mine.