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FIA poised to ban F1 ‘T-wings’

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Formula 1’s governing body could be poised to ban the controversial ‘T-wings’ seen up and down the grid in 2017.

The aerodynamic appendages are unpopular from an aesthetic point of view, and there could also be a safety issue after two high-profile failures on the Mercedes car recently.

“It did about 50,000 pounds of damage (to Max Verstappen’s car in Bahrain) so I think they should be banned on the grounds of safety and cost,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

Now, it emerges that F1 has scheduled a meeting of the technical working group for next Friday, with the future of the T-wings and engine cover ‘shark fins’ on the agenda.

Mercedes was ordered by the FIA to strengthen its T-wing design in Bahrain, but boss Toto Wolff is not sure a ban is necessary.

“I can well imagine that Christian wants a part banned on a rival car,” he smiled, insisting even a “baseball bat” would not damage the reinforced Mercedes T-wing now.

When asked if T-wings are poised to be banned ahead of the forthcoming Russian grand prix, Williams technical boss Paddy Lowe answered: “I don’t know. Ask Charlie Whiting.”

The purpose of the “T wings”

T-Wings are mainly a ‘flow conditioning’ device, which has a small effect on clearing up the airflow to the (now for F1 2017 lower) rear wing package.

The rear wing has to work the air hard to ‘activate’ the diffuser (the part at the rear of the floor) that produces something like 60% of the overall downforce of the vehicle with very little drag consequence.

The reason they look so strange is that there is a 50mm ‘loophole’ in the regulations that allows the wing with a maximum chord length of 50mm.

The double layer t-wing will also be used to adjust the position of the center of pressure (CoP) for aero stability.

Mercedes (double T-wing), Ferrari, Williams and Haas have run T-wings since the start of the season.

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