After all the confusion and debate over the legality or otherwise of the double-decker diffuser fitted by Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams that to some extent overshadowed the beginning of the 2009 world championship campaign, controversy has again reared its ugly head as F1 2010 approaches apace – with the news that Ferrari and Red Bull Racing have requested that the FIA closely examine McLaren-Mercedes' innovative rear wing.
Alongside Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes Grand Prix – formerly Brawn GP – McLaren has been one of the pace-setters of pre-season testing, and heads to Sakhir for the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix in just over a week's time looking set and indeed expecting to challenge for the top step of the podium.
Should the governing body deem that there is something amiss with the MP4-25's rear wing, however, with no further testing now allowed before the campaign revs into lie in the desert kingdom, those victory hopes could be dealt a hammer blow.
Reportedly, a slot above the driver's helmet diverts air flow away from the rear wing in an effort to reduce drag and thereby increase downforce – and by extension add roughly 6mph to the car's straight-line speed figure. Whilst by no means as major an issue as the infamous diffuser row, RBR and Ferrari are both seeking clarification on a device that the former's team principal Christian Horner describes as 'certainly different from all of the other teams'.
“There's a bit of a fuss over McLaren's rear wing,” the Englishman explained, according to Planet-F1
. “They have a slot on it and can pick up a lot of straight-line speed. Basically, if you stall the wing you take all the drag off it and pick up straight-line speed. It's something that's been done quite a lot over the years, but with the wing separators you're not supposed to do that.
“I think it will get resolved before the first race. We've asked the FIA for clarification, although I think Ferrari are probably more excited than we are to be honest. Our question ultimately will be, 'Is it clever design or is it in breach of the regulations?' They must be very confident that it's legal. I would think it will be legal.”