Whitmarsh: Teams must look at moveable wing

FOTA president Martin Whitmarsh believes that teams must consider all aspects of the FIA’s proposed moveable rear wing before agreeing to use it.

The McLaren team principal comments followed Thursday’s Santander/FOTA Fans’ Forum – an event which brought together a number of the sport’s leading figures.

Under the FIA’s proposals, the system will be driver operated and will aim to increase overtaking by reducing drag while following another car.

However, although the device will be part of next season’s rules, Whitmarsh says that teams will deliberate before deciding whether to use it or not.

“We have the adjustable rear wing next year which is a response to some of the pressure [for better racing], we have to be careful,” he said “We could even agree not to deploy it – we have to decide carefully.”

“I think we have to look at it at the beginning of the year, F1 has to overcome this arrogance of saying we had a great idea, all our ideas are great, we must never admit to a bad one!

He added: “You cannot implement it that late, but if everyone builds it and in early testing if the conclusion is that this will not be to the benefit of the show we should say don’t use it, and if the way we envisage using isn’t better than we should change the way we envisage using it. Changing its deployment now, and the sporting regulations, with it would be relatively simple if it was in the best interests of F1.”

“If you are going to do it, you have to think about design of cars, it’s right to define the tech regs that give us the facility, [rather] than a rush of enthusiasm – perhaps over-rushed – to implement the sporting regulations that are used to exploit it.

“That is why I think we have to stand back from it and give a bit more thought to the sporting regulations, but people were concerned that if it wasn’t incorporated in the sporting regulations then we might not be able to deploy the technology that the technical regulations inferred.

“It will be on the car and I hope we deploy it in a manner that improves the show.”

Mercedes engineer Jock Clear, who was also present at the event, echoed Whitmarsh’s comments.

“We really need to think about these things so that we can understand exactly what the implication of what we’re doing is,” he said.

“What we tend to do, and I’m including all of us in F1, is to impose a possible change on the sport in the format that we see at the moment, and you have to look beyond that say ‘okay, if we change this thing, all the engineers in Formula 1 are going to develop in which direction, and which way is that going to end up going?’ And that’s the difficult thing to see.

“You almost have to table these ideas and think about it for a long time and let the likes of Adrian Newey, Ross Brawn and Neil Oatley get their teeth into it and give you a heads up – a ‘you realise if you do that, the implications are going to be this, this and this’ – and they’re not going to be obvious without doing simulations. So I don’t know whether that’s the solution. All I know is that we have to be very, very careful in how we go about this.”

Clear is also wary that such changes might have a negative effect on the sport.

“Two years ago, I would’ve said ‘let’s try something because it’s not very good the way it is at the moment,'” he added. “But looking at what we’ve got at the moment, it would be a crying shame to lose all that and find that we’ve gone completely the wrong way and given ourselves another problem which is unforeseen at the moment.

“We need to think long and hard, and let those brains in Formula 1 come up with a solution, not just have an opinion that gets pushed through.”