They caused a stir in Barcelona. But after just one race, Ferrari’s arrangement of halo-mounted mirrors has been banned. FIA F1 race director Charlie Whiting explains why…
After the Chinese Grand Prix, F1’s governing body told teams they could mount mirrors on the halo to allow for better visibility and Ferrari became the first team to do so in Spain.
But rival teams were unhappy. There was a belief that the winglets Ferrari used in conjunction with the mirrors were being used primarily for aerodynamic rather than visibility reasons, which is against the rules.
The FIA took a closer look and will move to clarify the situation by sending out a technical directive ahead of the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix.
“It's a liberal interpretation of the word 'mounting',” said Whiting. “That's how they become legal, because there is no bodywork allowed in the area in the upper part of that.
“The interpretation hinges on whether we think that's a mounting or not. We somehow think not so we’re going to take some action on that.
“They [Ferrari] think it [the winglet] contributes to the rigidity of the mirror. It's just a matter of interpretation and such a tenuous interpretation is not something we're happy with.”
Whiting said Ferrari were allowed to keep the device on for the remainder of the weekend “because it is a reasonable way of approaching things and it is something we’ve done many times when there is a difference of opinion”.
However when asked if the device is effectively banned, Whiting said: “Yes, you could say that. If it was a clear breach of the regulations, they wouldn’t have been allowed to use it [in Barcelona]. But we’ll clarify that to everybody.
"No [I don’t expect to see it in Monaco]. If we do we're probably going to see the stewards about it. The technical directive will make it clear.”
Whiting said he was not qualified to say whether the device offered an aerodynamic advantage but added: “I doubt they would be there if there wasn't a measurable aero advantage, but these days that doesn't have to be big."
Mark Hughes, Formula1.com Technical Analyst, says...
The dramatic-looking winglets mounted some way above are attached to the mirrors by a thin stalk, ostensibly to reduce vibration of the mirror.
The winglets, which are attached to the halo at a separate point from the mirror attachment, are essentially flow conditioners that will improve the airflow to the rear wing.
Ferrari have justified the winglet’s purpose as a structure to stiffen the installation of the mirrors to reduce their vibration and therefore improve visibility.
The FIA has reasoned that this could be achieved with an extension close to the mirrors that could be mounted from the same point.
This suggests the extra mounting point therefore must be to create a structure higher up on the halo – and the inference of that, together with the shaping of the structure, is that this is primarily an aerodynamic device, not primarily a mirror-stiffening device.