McLaren engineering director Paddy Lowe says he is confident that the introduction of moveable rear wings will be a success in F1 in 2011.
The decision to bring in the device in an attempt to boost overtaking is one of the major changes for the new year, which also includes the return of KERS and the switch from Bridgestone tyres to Pirelli.
The new rear wing is being viewed as key to improving the show in F1 and Lowe admitted it was the part that gave teams the biggest challenge when it comes to designing its 2011 cars.
“I think the most interesting and challenging – and they really go together in the technical domain for me – change is the adjustable rear wing, which is intended to add overtaking interest to the races,” he told a recent Vodafone McLarenMercedes phone-in. “We can use it whenever we like in qualifying, much like we used the F-flap last year. That as a new package has presented interesting opportunities to optimise and has set some technical challenges, which has been good fun.
“It has a lot more leverage [than the adjustable front wing]. The adjustable front wing was introduced along with the OWG (Overtaking Work Group) regulations in 2009 and it was really only intended as a mild adjustment for a driver to trim the balance of the car when in the wake and while attempting to overtake another car. I was a member of the OWG and we actually put it in there as an insurance policy as we were all a bit worried that if we had got it wrong the car would be very unbalanced in the wake and possibly have oversteer.
“As it turned out nobody used the front wing for that purpose at all, we only really used it to make mild adjustments during the race for balance. So we all agreed last year that we would get rid of it in the interests of simplicity and cost saving because it would be the same for everybody. It will add a bit more of a challenge in the race, in terms of balance, because now we will have to make any front-wing adjustments in the pit stop.”
The idea behind the moveable rear wings is that drivers will be able to use the part in order to try and make up positions on track, although Lowe said the FIA needed to clarify exactly how drivers can make the most of the system when they hit the track for the new campaign.
“I think it will be quite exciting,” he said. “The one control that the FIA have is for each circuit they can set the points in the deployment straights at which you are allowed to press the button. So, for instance, you might be allowed to press it for the last 300m of the main straight until the braking point. I think the FIA have it within their power to manage the situation so that the authority of the system makes sense and that may take one or two races to settle down. But they can lengthen or shorten that amount of straight on a race-by-race basis so that will give some ability to make it work in the way we intended it to.”
Lowe also confirmed that the moveable rear wing won’t be fitted to McLaren’s car for the opening test of the year, with the team planning to run a 2010 chassis fitted with a number of development parts.