Red Bull Racing has been forced to make modifications to the wheel hub of its car after suggestions it was gaining an aerodynamic advantage from its clever design (illustration).
Since the start of the season, the central area of the front wheel hubs on the RB8 has featured holes that channel hot air from the brake ducts to the outside of the wheel. Following a close examination of the design by the FIA at the Canadian Grand Prix, however, AUTOSPORT reports that it was decided that the design was actually providing more than just a cooling effect and was helping the aerodynamic performance of the car.
Sources suggest that channeling air to the outside of the wheel, the design can energize the flow over the front wing.
Under article 3.15 of the Formula 1 Technical Regulations, teams are told that "any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance" must be "rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car" and must remain "immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car." To ensure that the team did not gain any aerodynamic advantage from its concept – and therefore be in breach of the regulations – it has had to block the holes in the hub from the inside.
Red Bull Racing sources have played down the impact of the modifications and insist that it will not have any major impact on the performance of its car.
The wheel hub issue comes just two weeks after Red Bull was at the center of another technical controversy in Monaco regarding holes in the floor of the car. Following complaints from rival teams, the FIA issued a clarification that the Red Bull-type holes would not be allowed anymore.
Although the FIA has ruled that the wheel hub design has had to be changed, the car has passed scrutineering at every race so far this season. Mark Webber reacted angrily to suggestions earlier this week that the hole issue on the floor meant the victories he and Sebastian Vettel had achieved were only done with an "illegal" car.
"I'm happy to be called lots of things and I'm happy to have criticism about my driving and lots of stuff, but I will not take criticism in that respect," he said. "It completely pisses me off to be honest, because the car has passed every single technical regulation after the race."