F1 News: Virgin to Replace Monocoque, Red Bull Says They’ve No Tricks, but McLaren’s F-Duct Might Be Unsafe

What Happens When It’s Only Teams Sniping at Each Other

12:14am EST — The news from a traveling and relaxing (oh, and hard-working and celebrating) Formula1 paddock focuses largely on teams poking at each other over technological developments.

Virgin Racing’s New Monocoque In Place at Barcelona:
Virgin Racing, who scored their first finish on Sunday in Malaysia, will be bringing a few new aero bits to Shanghai in just under two weeks, but will have a completely different monocoque and look to the car for the F1 circus’ return to Europe at Barcelona, according to Nick Wirth in an Autosport article.  Obviously, this is the design fix for the team’s fuel cell problem, but Wirth notes, “We think we can put some more things on the car for Shanghai, but then we’re really looking forward to Barcelona and being able to race and qualify properly. We’re hoping to bring some new aerodynamic parts for Barcelona – the car will look quite different. I hope all goes well with the new monocoque.”
Regarding the race finish, Wirth seemed quite pleased, “It was great. All those issues we’ve had – hydraulics, gearbox – were under control. Very happy to finally get the thing over the line and get that monkey off our backs.”  He also hit out, somewhat, at those who were unimpressed with the idea of a non-windtunnel design, “A lot of sceptics were saying can we do it, can we build a car this way? If you look at our performance through the weekend, it was pretty satisfying.”

Horner Rubbishes ‘Active Ride’ Suspension Rumors:
According to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, in an Autosport article, “We haven’t got one [an active ride suspension], it is as simple as that.”  Apparently, rumors continue to spread that the very quick qualifiers have some sort of system that lowers the car’s height for quali but raises it for the inherent lowering caused by heavy fuel loads.  According to the article, “There has even been talk in the paddock that Red Bull may be using compressed gas to push the car down for qualifying, before the gas is released – through time or a temperature change – to then allow the car to run higher for the race when a heavy fuel load needs to be added.”  The FIA cleared the team of such measures Saturday in Malaysia, though the governing body is contemplating yet another rule change that would allow the teams to change the ride height once each weekend, after qualifying and before the race, in order to cut down on the “complex suspension systems that help optimise the car for both qualifying and the race.”  Horner, however, was clear that the team would continue it’s offensive against the teams who seem to be originating the rumors, “If McLaren have one in China we will protest them, because theoretically they are illegal.”

Newey Speaks Out Against F-Duct:
In continued Red Bull-McLaren controversy, Red Bull designer Adrian Newey told Gazzetta dello Sport, as quoted in an Autosport article,”McLaren’s F-duct is intelligent and opens new ways. However I’m worried about the safety aspect. The system works by stalling the rear wing and getting rid of the load. To force a driver to make a sudden movement to change normal load conditions has to do with safety.”  Obviously, the team is unhappy with this newest technical development, likely because they didn’t think of it, as team principal Christian Horner said, “It will be incorporated into an update at some point. The guys are looking at it,” while Newey also said, “We are looking at the F-duct. We have understood how it works, but to get it to work properly is another thing. We don’t know when we can take it to the track. “The difficult thing is that McLaren has designed the chassis around that system, but the rules prevent you from modifying the chassis. Every new thing has to be included in the current structure.”  While it appears that the McLaren F-duct is legal, it also appears as though Red Bull are concentrating on some challenges to the system.  While these two teams publicly complain about the other, Ferrari leads the championship three rounds in over McLaren and Red Bull by ten and fifteen points, respectively.



  1. As people pointed out in a forum I’m at, Horner was very specific in what he actually said. It seems like he might be playing word games, that they might very well have a ride-height adjustment system of some type (and one would assume the other teams get a very good view to tell whether a car’s height changes), just not an active one which would be illegal under the rules.

    The Newey stuff I first of all found ironic and secondly thought seemed like the age old “if you can’t copy it, get it banned” method of dealing with rivals in F1. Sure, they couldn’t get it banned, but they can criticize it in ways to make them seem good, concerned people.

    I probably sound critical of RBR here, but I don’t normally have any problem with them. I just find this recent engineering-related news to be a little suspect.

  2. hhmmm very interesting …

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