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Red Bull has joined Lotus in calling for an explanation of the rules surrounding the revolutionary system developed by Mercedes, dubbed ‘super f-duct’. By effectively taking advantage of a loophole, the silver arrows are enjoying a significant straight-line speed advantage greater than the usual DRS effect.
Formula 1 regulations state that no driver-operated system is permitted. In the case of Mercedes, the super f-duct is a hole located on the inside of both rear wing end fences; it is only revealed to the elements when the main DRS flap is open, meaning that – although DRS itself is driver-operated and legal according to the rules – the super f-duct is a simple by-product of this and not directly controlled by the driver. The system was cleared by the FIA last week.
“I think that there are different interpretations of the rear wing of the Mercedes,” Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal, is quoted as saying by Autosport. “We have had some discussions with Charlie (Whiting, FIA technical delegate) and we chose not to protest it this weekend. There were other teams who were perhaps even more animated than we were, but I think it is something that we just want clarity on because one could argue that it is a switch that is affected by the driver.”
It is believed the super f-duct could be flowing air, not just into the hollow main plane of the Mercedes rear wing, but as far around the car as the front wing.
“The driver hits the button and it uncovers the hole - so therefore it is driver-activated, which would not be in compliance with the regulations,” Horner argued.
“I think there will be a whole load of debate about it during the next five days. The frustrating thing with all these systems is that it will undoubtedly be banned for next year, but in the meantime are we all going to go off and chase the idea. Inevitably there would be a considerable amount of cost involved. It would be a development that the front teams would look at, but it might be something that is prohibitively expensive for the smaller teams.”
On Saturday, Lotus counterpart Eric Boullier claimed that he would protest the results of qualifying because of Mercedes’ super f-duct; however, his driver Romain Grosjean then out-qualified both Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, with Boullier eventually electing not to protest the results or qualifying or the race.
In 2010, McLaren developed the original f-duct idea; however, this was directly operated by the driver, who was required to cover a hole in the cockpit with his hand. Other teams soon copied the idea, with the system being outlawed for 2011.
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