Flexi-wings still raising on-track suspicions with key FIA insight revealed

Jamie Woodhouse
All 20 F1 drivers line up behind the Safety Car for the Belgian Grand Prix sprint race.

The 2023 Formula 1 grid.

While the FIA’s senior race director advisor Herbie Blash says finding tricks to test the F1 regulations has become a great deal harder, flexi-wings are still a suspicious area.

Blash’s career in Formula 1 stretches all the way back to the 1960s having started out with Rob Walker Racing before stints working with Lotus, Sir Frank Williams and Brabham before moving on to duties with Formula 1’s governing body the FIA.

Having served as former FIA race director Charlie Whiting’s deputy from 1995-2016, Blash in 2022 took up the role of ‘permanent senior advisor to the Formula One race director’.

Question marks remain around F1 flexi-wings

Blash then has experienced life in Formula 1 on both sides of the fence, and spoke during the Beyond the Grid podcast about the tricks of the trade which teams came up with to bend the rules during his time on the grid, ranging from a “rather heavy seat” to be bolted in for post-race weighing to a “very special lightweight qualifying car” for Monaco.

Pumping lead and water into the tyres at pit stops, plus “water-cooled brakes” were further examples.

And these days, while the intense FIA scrutineering has eliminated most of these “little tricks”, Blash believes the flexing in the front and rear wings, which can have an impact on performance, is still an area where some teams are playing with the boundaries of the regulations.

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“The tricks today now, basically, they’re all computerised,” he said.

“And obviously the cars are scrutineered from top to bottom now, even down to all the radiuses etc.

“I think the only area that I would question today is maybe the flexing of the wing elements, that however much weight the FIA have to put on the wings, when you actually look on a TV on an onboard shot, and you can actually see the wings move.

“And I remember I used to sit there with a ruler trying to work out on the screen and Race Control how far that front flap is going down or that rear wing is moving.

“And so yeah, it’s so restricted and would be so, so difficult now. All of the fuel is checked. Yeah, just everything is checked.”

Red Bull are very much schooling the current Formula 1 field, heading into the F1 2023 summer break with an undefeated record this season of 12 wins from 12, while in the Constructors’ Championship they are 256 points clear of nearest rival Mercedes.

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