Martin Whitmarsh has asserted that the controversial new driver-adjustable rear wing that will be introduced into the top flight in 2011 is 'a bit of an experiment' and 'can be implemented fairly and simply and safely' – musing that occasionally in F1, the rule-makers and teams are 'damned if we do, damned if we don't'.
The device will be operated via a button inside the cockpit that opens up a slot to boost straight-line speed, when it is electronically detected that a driver is within a second of the car in front at one of several pre-determined positions around the circuit.
It has been pioneered by the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) and ratified by governing body the FIA in an effort to help facilitate passing and as such spice up the spectacle a little, but it has met with a distinctly lukewarm reaction from many of the sport's leading drivers [see separate story – click here
Red Bull Racing star Mark Webber and Force India F1 ace Adrian Sutil dismissed it as artificial and likened it to a PlayStation game, Williams' Rubens Barrichello questioned its fairness given that 'the [driver] in front cannot use it and the one behind can' and Renault's Robert Kubica confessed that he doesn't think 'there is a lot of entertainment in seeing cars overtake each other on a straight'.
Worse still, Lotus Racing veteran Jarno Trulli called into question the very safety of the adjustable rear wing should it fail, with others wondering whether it will simply generate an even greater straight-line speed differential between cars – what has been blamed by David Coulthard for Webber's spectacular Valencia accident last weekend [see separate story – click here
FOTA chairman and McLaren-Mercedes team principal Whitmarsh, however, believes the rear wing can
work, that F1 is right to be trying out new concepts as it seeks to improve the show for the fans and has urged drivers and teams to give the innovation a chance – adding that if it doesn't work, it will be ditched without hesitation.
“We will see whether people are convinced by it or not,” the Englishman is quoted as having said by ITV-F1
. “There were a lot of people saying 'when are we going to do something, when are we going to do something?' There was a lot of fan-based pressure to do something, and I think we are damned if we do, damned if we don't.
“This is something which we believe can be implemented fairly and simply and safely. I think we have got to do a little bit more work on deployment [of the system] and the sporting regulations that accompany it, and if we get that right we'll give it a go. If it detracts [or] isn't right, it's easy to take it off and fix the rear wing – but let's have a look at it. It's a bit of an experiment.
“I think we have got a great show [and] we should be careful not to spoil it, but at the same time we shouldn't be complacent. We should always be thinking about how we create some entertainment. The nice thing is it was a co-operative [agreement] – there was a lot of discussion, the experts came up with the idea, we've agreed [and] we're pushing it through.”