x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Formula One explained: aerodynamics

Gary Meenaghan looks at one of the most intriguing aspects of the F1 car; from the "F-duct" to the "Drag Reduction System".

At each grand prix weekend in 2011, The National will look at different aspects of Formula One and how it works. This week Gary Meenaghan looks at aerodynamics.

• In 1977, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), world motorsports governing body, prohibited the use of moveable aerodynamics to improve car performance. Race teams have been searching for loopholes ever since.

• Last year's moveable front wing and McLaren-Mercedes' recent "F-duct", a device that involved the driver physically blocking an air vent from the cockpit, have been banned for 2011. But in their place, an adjustable rear wing, operated by a button on the steering wheel, has been introduced.

• The "Drag Reduction System" can provide a driver with an additional 7-13kph speed and is designed to lessen resistance, produce quick bursts of pace and make overtaking a more prominent sight at grands prix.

• However, while the electronically-governed wing is available throughout free practice and qualifying, during an actual race it can only be used at predetermined points of the track and only when the driver is less than one second behind another car.

• At this weekend's Malaysia Grand Prix, the FIA has confirmed drivers will be able to activate the rear wing for the entire length of the pit straight, meaning the true impact of the wing should become clearer.

• "If it doesn't work here I don't know where it will work," Mark Webber, the Red Bull Racing driver, said. "You have a slow corner to open the lap, a slow corner at the braking point, and 'Heathrow airport' in between, so it should work."

• Drivers had offered mixed reviews following the opening race in Australia last month.Lewis Hamilton, second in Melbourne, said "it didn't really make much difference", but third-place finisher Vitaly Petrov, the Lotus-Renault driver, said he used it "two or three times while lapping cars", and that it helped him hold off Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.