Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2021

Red Bull’s rear wing worries continue as Verstappen’s flap misbehaves in qualifying

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton’s rear wing was the chief focus of attention after qualifying, once FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed it had failed an inspection, putting his pole position for the sprint qualifying race in doubt.

But prior to that, a more visible problem on his championship rival’s rear wing indicated Red Bull may not have got on top of their recent recent wing woes.

Max Verstappen‘s DRS flap was seen moving unusually as he approached the braking zone at turn one, the fastest point on the Interlagos circuit, during qualifying.

Unlike Hamilton’s rear wing, Verstappen’s passed all the post-session checks. Nonetheless, the level of vibration seen is obviously undesirable, and the wing clearly didn’t perform as intended. RaceFans understands the team experienced a mechanical problem which did not improve their performance.

The problem may also explain why Verstappen inspected his own rear wing closely after qualifying before turning his attention to his championship rival’s, in a video which appears to have attracted the interest of the stewards.

This is the third race weekend in a row in which the team has experienced a problem with its rear wing. The first occasion was at the Circuit of the Americas where all teams suffered the effect of severe bumps at the track. Red Bull made various repairs to their wings, and Verstappen went on to win the United States Grand Prix.

At the México City Grand Prix last weekend, the team had to repair its wings after what Verstappen described as a ‘crack’ was discovered final practice. Having been comfortably quickest in that session, they were beaten to the front row of the grid by Mercedes. However circumstantial factors contributed to the defeat, the team insisted the wing repair wasn’t the cause of their loss of performance, and Verstappen scored a comfortable win in Sunday’s race.

Red Bull has a further hour of practice on Saturday morning to address the problem before the sprint qualifying race and Sunday’s Grand Prix. As this is a sprint qualifying weekend, parc fermé restrictions are already in force – earlier than they would be at a regular event, which prevents all teams from replacing certain components.

However some exceptions to this are permitted under the regulations, which state: “At an event where a sprint qualifying session is scheduled, replacement parts that are different in design will be permitted provided that the part is of a specification that has been used previously in a qualifying practice session or a race.”

“In such cases, the competitor should inform the FIA prior to the start of the sprint qualifying session of any part where this may be necessary,” it adds. “Any parts removed will be retained by the FIA.”

It remains to be seen what steps Red Bull will have to take to get the undesirable rear wing behaviour seen in qualifying under control, and whether it will affect the rest of their weekend. As they showed in Mexico, their ability to solve these kinds of problems in the field is first-rate.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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18 comments on “Red Bull’s rear wing worries continue as Verstappen’s flap misbehaves in qualifying”

  1. Blatantly obvious on tv. We’ve seen rear wings do this under drs a few dozen times. The fia has to look at it.
    Rb and Alpine seem to have the most fluttery wings.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      13th November 2021, 14:29

      @peartree Wasn’t it Alpine (under the guise of Renault back then) that had a rear wing element completely fly off while the DRS was open during testing a few years ago?

      1. @randommalard Yes, on the very first test day of Ricciardo in 2019 if I remember correctly. But I doubt current problems have anything to do with it.

      2. RandomMallard (@)
        13th November 2021, 14:33

        Follow up: it indeed was Ricciardo in a Renault at Day 2 of 2019 winter testing

      3. @randommallard yes, it has been a thing for that long, 2017 I think when the new rear wings came out. Fia is worried about the rear wing compressing a few extra mm under load but it has not done anything about something this noteworthy.

    2. Its a disadvantage.

  2. I didn’t notice any unusual movement.

    1. Look again and focus on the Honda sign. You will see it fluttering a lot. This has to be very costly in performance.

  3. Finding more ways to reduce damage of a possible Hamilton penalty?

  4. Did Hamilton touch their wings?

  5. Whilst some are joking about this, it does raise the question of why we have had an issue with Red Bull’s rear wing for the third weekend in a row, even if this is a somewhat different issue.

    Incidentally, I would like to point out that Keith is leaving out information about what happened in Mexico – whilst mentioning the repairs, what he neglects to mention is that, in statements to the Spanish speaking press, Perez confirmed that, before qualifying, Red Bull switched the rear wings around on the cars, so Verstappen’s repaired rear wing was fitted to his car and vice versa. Whilst it is therefore true that it wouldn’t have played a part in Verstappen not qualifying on pole, what’s not mentioned is he wasn’t using it in the first place.

    1. You are no max fan I know. But even for you this is getting ridiculous.

      Perez damaged his own wing during fp1.
      He received the only available spare wing. They later used that one on maxs car.stop imagining stories.

      1. erijke, so, now Perez and anybody in the Spanish speaking world must be “imagining stories” because they have stated something that you do not want to hear. The rear wings were switched over – the sock puppet account below, in trying to attack me, instead mistakenly proves that point – and it seems to be the case that you are actively seeking to be offended at anybody who is not a Verstappen ultra.

        I did not attack Red Bull for changing over the wing, did not throw abuse at anybody – unlike you – and was stating objective fact, which is that the rear wings were changed over and that it is misleading for Keith to imply that Verstappen was using a different rear wing to the one he was actually using.

        Could you lay off the prejudice and stop accusing all non-Dutch people of being liars? Every time we get a story from non-Dutch media that you dislike, you start either accusing the writers of being liars or you start going for personal attacks.

    2. Totto cheater for life
      13th November 2021, 17:13

      They only had one brand new rear wing, Peres crashed and damaged his so they put the replacement on his car. Then the team found a crack on Verstappen’s rear wing, for that reason and since it was not his fault(unlike Perez who damaged his rear wing) Red Bull put the replacement they had put on Perez car on Verstappen.

  6. There’s already talk of him illegally touching him Hamilton’s car. But it seems the park ferme regulations are also meant to keep drivers from inspecting their own vehicles.

    So was the car in park ferme? Was this a legal inspection?

  7. Red Bull gives you wings – flappy ones.

  8. Vibration? Did they measure the maximum opening with vibration? Did the FIA and Mercedes confirm that Red Bull didn’t break the rules?

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