Is Red Bull’s Rear Wing the Difference Maker in F1 Title Fight with Mercedes?
It is a known fact that Mercedes have been the strongest F1 team of the ongoing hybrid era, having secured 14 championship titles. However, 2021 ended up writing a different script altogether; Red Bull Racing, finally woke up from their 7-year hibernation.
The Milton-Keynes outfit are looking quite dangerous at the moment and strong enough to stop Mercedes’ dominant run in F1. And of course, part of the credit goes to Honda, who managed to design a prodigious engine over their farewell season.
However, there seems to be another factor that could be playing a huge role in Red Bull’s successful 2021 outing; the rear wing.
How the rear-wing controversy unfolded
Red Bull caught their rivals’ attention at the Spanish Grand Prix, earlier this season, by allegedly sporting flexible rear wings. It was Lewis Hamilton, who initially started off the proceedings by giving his team a heads-up during the race.
The Briton spent a handful of laps following Max Verstappen and might have noticed something strange happening to the Red Bull’s rear wing.
The Brackley outfit consequently reported the issue to the FIA in a bid to halt Red Bull’s brief dominance. And the importance Mercedes are investing in the flexi-wing row clearly suggests that the Christian Horner-led team are enjoying a huge chunk of advantage from it.
Is aeroelasticity helping Red Bull against Mercedes?
‘No’ is the answer. Following Mercedes‘ report to the FIA at Baku, Red Bull complied with the rules and fitted an updated rear wing to both the cars in France. And what was the outcome? Well, the Milton Keynes outfit are still the fastest on the track.
They’ve consequently disproved the claims that the flexi-wings had been providing them with a substantial pace advantage over Mercedes.
Although the cars possess a tinge of elasticity to their rear wings, they don’t seem to be breaching F1 and FIA’s regulations.
How flexi-wing improvises the pace of an F1 car
Let’s consider Mercedes for instance. One of Mercedes’ strengths has always been their straight-line speed. And the flexi-wing most likely shatters that advantage. Why you might ask?
Introducing aeroelasticity into the wings can help produce more drag and consequently improve the velocity of the car.
Hence, Mercedes drivers, on several occasions, have struggled to keep up with Red Bull on the straights despite using the slipstream to full effect.
Overall, with Red Bull clearing the allegations over the flexing wing controversy, are Mercedes out of options to halt their rivals’ dominance this season?
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