F1 engineers are hard at work again exploiting gaps in the FIA technical regulations. Last season’s double DRS (DDRS) systems are banned, so designers like the famed Adrian Newey of Red Bull are developing “passive stalling devices,” not driver controlled, to stall rear wing downforce and increase straight-line speed. Very cool.
The importance of this system, if implemented correctly and a balance can be found is potentially huge. With limited DRS usage now in force throughout an entire Grand Prix weekend, a passive system that can stall the rear wing effectively will give any team a great advantage throughout an entire lap — not just in the DRS zones as the DDRS was solely being used for.
But as the astute Craig Scarborough observes:
One issue facing the FIA and other teams is that the Mercedes DDRS solution will be banned in 2013, via wording to prevent secondary use of the DRS opening. But being passive, the Lotus system does not employ this solution to stall the wing. As it stand the Lotus will be legal for 2013, but the FIA are likely to find some wording to also outlaw this method of drag reduction.
This back and forth between designers and sanctioning bodies has been a part of Formula One for decades. If there is one thing that is sure in the multi-billion dollar world of Formula 1, there will always be imaginative solutions to whatever new rules are implemented each year. Think back to Colin Chapman’s dual-chassis Lotus 88 or the infamous Brabham BT46B “fan car” from Gordon Murray. Both banned, of course. And the eiptome of all, the six-wheeled Tyrell P34. Formula One likes to say that it is the ultimate in technology and engineering. That’s not the case and never was. But the game is fun to watch.