Did FIA flexi-wing intervention put Aston Martin on the back foot?

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) navigates Albert Park's tricky opening complex in wet practice for the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, March 2023.

Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) navigates Albert Park's tricky opening complex in wet practice for the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, March 2023.

Red Bull’s closest challenger at the beginning of this season, Aston Martin have fallen to fourth on the track with a report suggesting the FIA’s flexi-wing intervention in Azerbaijan may have played a role.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso came flying out of the blocks this season with the Spaniard recording a hat-trick of P3s to kick start his campaign, the Silverstone team also showing good pace in qualifying.

But as the season has progressed, with rivals and Aston Martin bringing upgrades to the track, the AMR23 has fallen behind the Mercedes and of late also the McLaren.

Report claims images showed ‘significant deflection at high speed on straights’

That, it has been suggested, could have something to do with the FIA tightening up its tests on flexi-wings.

According to Motorsport.com, a “lot of speed can be found if a team can design a front wing that is strong enough to withstand garage testing, but can flex in a controlled manner at speed.”

A constant battle for the FIA to stay on top of this, “reportedly, the FIA tightened its analysis of the designs and expressed some dissatisfaction with the construction of several front wings, which were said to be more deflected than they would have liked.”

Although all the teams’ front wings “did pass” the FIA’s tests, and there are “no suggestions that teams have been running illegal cars”, wings that bend at speed contravene Article 3.2.2 of the technical regulations.

That states: “All aerodynamic components or bodywork influencing the car’s aerodynamic performance must be rigidly secured and immobile with respect to their frame of reference. Furthermore, these components must produce a uniform, solid, hard, continuous, impervious surface under all circumstances.”

One of the teams is said to have been Aston Martin in Baku.

The report claims that onboard images from Alonso’s car in the early races show “significant deflection at high speed on straights” with the FIA reportedly intervening around the time of the Azerbaijan GP.

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Focus on construction of the front wing

Motorsport’s governing body’s focus on the flexi-wing saga related mainly to the construction of the front wing in order to eradicate “clever solutions” and they “informally informed” some teams that they would need to make changes.

Whether that was behind Aston Martin’s drop-off in performance around the Spanish Grand Prix it cannot be said as the team didn’t say, however, Motorsport.com adds that “sources with knowledge of the situation have revealed that Aston Martin is one of these teams.”

Around that time Aston Martin introduced a new front, one with one less bracket.

Fernando Alonso blames Pirelli for Aston Martin’s struggles

However, it must be noted that when Alonso was asked about the team’s drop-off in pace, he blamed the revised Pirelli tyres that were introduced at the British Grand Prix weekend.

“It is a coincidence that when the new Pirelli tyres came in Silverstone there are a couple of teams that were struggling more and a couple of teams that are very happy with the car now,” said the Spaniard.

“It’s not only us, I think Red Bull has clearly been hit with those tyres, they’ve been one-two in every qualifying, one-two in every race, and now they are not even on pole position.”

Although Alonso remains third in the Drivers’ Championship, the double World Champion is just one point ahead of Lewis Hamilton, while Ferrari are chasing down Aston Martin for third.

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