I agree, Ann. It would also be nice to know how else this technology will be used. Will it only be used while trailing another driver (as is described here)? Or will drivers be adjusting it repeatedly throughout a race?
F1 officials say that this functionality will be controlled by "race control" (electronically) only on some straightaways and only when a car is trailing by one second or less. Seems like too much is being taken out of the driver's control. See this article.
I agree with you Ann - why the change of heart? The sport is dangerous enough without adding to it. Hopefully technology has caught up so that rear wings are safe enough now...but the article didn't mention any countermeasures to the previous danger.
And like you Charles, I am wondering when will activating the rear wings be allowed - according to the article:
"Drivers are now able to control the rear wing once they have been behind another driver for a set amount of time, thereby reducing drag on the straightaway and allowing greater opportunity for overtaking."
With the incredibly fast-paced movement of the vehicles into different spaces - how will the driver determine that "the set amount of time" has been met and what penalties will occur if the driver did not wait the correct amount of time - and how would all of this data be collected and processed?
The FIA allowed the use of these wings to increase overtaking for fan enjoyment. The aerodynamics of a car following are greatly affected when following another car that it is hugely difficuly to pass. I think the safety concerns of wings breaking (from aero or vibration loads) are behind us.
There is a timing mark on the circuit before the DRS zone (Drag Reduction System) that measures the time gap between cars (all the cars are equiped with tracking). If the time gap is less than 2 seconds then the driver is allowed to activate the wing and go for a pass. What is interesting about the system is that in qualifying the drivers are allowed to use the system where ever they want on the track. I recall a race this season where Michael Schumacher's wing was stuck inthe open position. He lost a huge number of positions from the lack of down force while he limped back to the pit to have it fixed.
Last season there was a driver adjustable front wing also. It was not restricted to its use onthe track. Many drivers would increase the wing angle when following to get some more downforce on the front tyres.
I'm not sure if one is allowed to post links in the comments but if anyone wants to peek into the F1 technical world a bit a great place to start is Scarb's F1 blog. it will come up in any search engine.
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