Following comments from Lewis Hamilton about Red Bull’s “bendy wing” over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, a saga emerged surrounding the flexibility of the rear wings run by a number of teams.
The FIA wrote to teams announcing it would be clamping down on rear wing designs from the French Grand Prix onwards, sparking a variety of responses up and down the paddock.
Mercedes and McLaren both questioned why the more stringent tests were not being introduced sooner, with Toto Wolff warning there could be a “very messy” protest situation at next weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix if the FIA did not give clarity sooner.
Alfa Romeo team principal Vasseur was particularly unhappy about the ruling, calling it a “joke” after diverting resources to take advantage of the rules as they were initially written.
Suggestions were made that the flexi-wings could be particularly effective at the Baku City Circuit, which has both a slow-speed section and one of the longest straights on the F1 calendar.
But Vasseur denied this would be the case, believing there would not be a huge performance benefit in Baku.
“We have to be serious with the wings, that it won’t be a game changer at all,” Vasseur said.
“I think with Ferrari, we showed that on this kind of layout [in Monaco] we are performing. Perhaps that it will be the same in Azerbaijan.
“In Azerbaijan you have two different part of the track. You have the city, and the philosophy of this part of the track is quite close to Monaco. And then you have the 2.5 kilometres or something like this of straights.
The Baku City Circuit pit straight
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
“This will be probably a bit more difficult, but it is like it is.”
Vasseur expanded on his position on the flexi-wing saga in an exclusive interview with Autosport’s sister publication Motorsport.com Italy, saying it may change his approach moving forward after investing time and money in the design concept.
“I’m not writing the rules, the FIA did it, then we designed the car with the rules published,” Vasseur said.
“We have to go to the limit on every single area. This is the philosophy of the F1. And this is the philosophy of every single team, and that [is like that] in terms of weight, for the design and on every single topic we have to go to the limit.
“And suddenly, I don’t know the reason – perhaps just because that one team started to complain one week ago – we had a new technical directive.
“I think it’s a shame to come so late with the clarification, because I think all the teams asked for clarification much earlier. And we have also to consider the fact, that we are all collectively doing big effort to reduce the cost.
“We had tons of discussion to know if we have to reduce the personnel on track by one or two people and so on and so on and so on. And then they come [up] with this kind of TD, and we’ll have to redesign the wings, and to produce new wings.
“I’m not speaking about the performance penalty, because honestly, we did a back-to-back a couple of times and it’s not a big drama, and it won’t change the approach.
“But at the end, it will change my approach, because that I will have to spend a big part of my development budget on this. And this is unfair for me.”