F1 Teams May Need Loads of Spare Front Wings for Race Weekends Thanks to the New Aero Rules

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Photo: Mark Thompson (Getty Images)

When the new Formula One season begins in Australia next weekend, the cars will be a lot simpler, aerodynamically, than they were last year. But simpler aero doesn’t mean simpler everything, because it may force teams to double their already huge supply of replacement front wings each race weekend.


That’s at least according to Racing Point (Force India) technical director Andrew Green, who told Motorsport.com he thinks design changes to the front wings on the cars for this year will force teams to bring seven to nine spare wings to race weekends—up from the already high norm of about five.

The need to nearly double the supply of replacement front wings, Green said, is because of their dimensions under the new rules. The new aero rules mean the front wings have to be more basic this season, although teams still have design freedom with them, and wider. That last part is the catch.

Because they’re wider, there’s more area to potentially damage, and Green said teams may even have to bring more than nine spares depending on how things go. It shouldn’t make too much of a difference monetarily, though, Green told Motorsport.com:

“Budget-wise it’s probably the same because [the new wings] are definitely easier and cheaper to manufacture. [...]”

Green reckons drivers will need to be more cautious at the start of this year’s races in order to avoid losing parts of the wing when running close to other cars.

“They are a lot wider, a lot more susceptible to damage,” Green said. “We are already taking the bottoms off over kerbs and we’re not really pushing them very hard.

“The drivers are going to have to be pretty wary of them going into Turn 1 on the first lap.”

The new aerodynamics rules for 2019 are meant to help cars race more closely together and be better able to overtake each other—something that’s been a big issue in the past—but there are downsides to it, as we’ve seen. There’s the need to bring more spare wings this year, like Green pointed out, and smaller teams weren’t thrilled with multiple aspects of the new regulations back in January.

But if it makes the racing better in the end, that’s a good thing—even if there are some wrinkles to work out in the beginning.


Margin Of Error

I once had a Mercedes team staffer explain to me that these wings were hand painted by an artist at the factory, and that everyone felt really bad for him/her (don’t remember) each time a front wing was destroyed.

Apparently it’s a long and tedious process.