In the aftermath of Lewis Hamilton comments on Red Bull’s “bendy rear wing”, the FIA wrote to F1 teams after the Spanish Grand Prix to inform them that two new tests will be adopted to check for the rear wing rotating backwards under load to reduce drag on the straights. However, these new tests will not be implemented until mid-June, meaning as late as the French GP, in two-races distance.
In this scenario, Toto Wolff — the Mercedes’ team principal — questioned the relevance of the delay, as the situation could impact more than one team, and end up in a sport court arbitration.
“Delaying the introduction for whatever reason leaves us in a legal vacuum and leaves the door open for protests,” said Wolff at the Monaco Grand Prix.
“It's not only us but it's probably two other teams that are most affected, maybe more, and obviously a protest could end up in the ICA [International Court of Appeal].”
“That is a messy situation and can take weeks before we have a result. And we should have not ended in this situation if we're having four weeks until the race that is most relevant in the calendar.”
For the Austrian, while it’s not unusual to give time for teams to adapt to rule changes, there is sufficient time for any changes to be made in time for the race in Azerbaijan. He also pointed out how beneficial a flexible rear wing would be, particularly at the Baku track with its long straights.
“It's clear that if you have a back-to-back race, maybe even two weeks is too short for everybody to adjust, but we're having four weeks to Baku,” he said.
“It is incomprehensible that within four weeks you can't stiffen up the rear wing for the track that is probably the most effective for flexible rear wings.”
“That leaves us in no man's land, because the technical directive says that the movement of some rear wings has been judged as excessive.”
“So, teams who would run this kind of wing are prone to be protested, and probably this is going to go to the ICA, and nobody needs this messy situation.”
In light with the openness in the interpretation of the rear wing flexibility rule, Wolff asserted that his team might bring some alterations to their wing, as it is currently too rigid for what is allowed in the technical directives.
“We will need to modify our wing,”
“We need to soften it. Our wing is extremely rigid complying to the famous article 3.8 that [demands] it must remain immobile.”
In the end, the Mercedes’ leader asserted that the middle ground that the FIA is trying to reach is giving an opportunity for teams to exploit loopholes in how bendy wings could be in a near future.
“The new test that has been introduced is a half-baked solution, which is giving us opportunity. So the whole thing can soften and bend more in future.”