McLaren’s 2010 car, including its controversial rear wing design, has been given the green light by FIA officials in Bahrain on Thursday.
At least two teams, Red Bull and Ferrari, had asked the governing body to issue a clarification about the British team’s rules interpretation, with the wing design believed to give Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton a 6kph straight line advantage.
The FIA’s Charlie Whiting had intended to check the innovation at McLaren’s Woking headquarters last week, but after flight delays from Brazil opted instead to leave the inspection until the day of scrutineering for the season opener.
It is believed McLaren’s system involves an air inlet on the upper left monocoque top, which is opened and closed by a trigger activated by the drivers’ knee.
Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport quoted an FIA official as describing it as a “simple but brilliant trick”.
In an immediate reaction to the FIA announcement, Renault technical director Bob Bell has slammed the decision to allow McLaren’s innovative rear wing.
The McLaren design allows the driver to close a vent in the cockpit which helps to stall the rear wing and create less drag. The result is a higher top speed on the straights but still maximum downforce through the corners. Although most teams, including Ferrari and Red Bull who lodged the initial protest, have accepted the FIA decision, Bell believes it is not in the spirit of the rules.
“It is a complete joke,” he told BBC Sport. “It has driven a horse and cart straight through the rule that teams cannot use moveable aerodynamic devices on their cars. It is fundamentally illegally. At a time when we are trying to cut costs, this will just start a new arms race. The FIA have acted irresponsibly. It’s going to cost everybody a lot of money. The governing body needs to be a lot stronger with these things.
“I think that it is ridiculous in this era where we are all trying to save money. We are restricted by the number of people that we can bring to the track, with mechanics working ridiculous hours at night to prepare the car.”
He did not confirm whether Renault would lodge a protest.
Movable aerodynamic devices are banned with the exception of an adjustable flap on the front wing. However, beyond that they have been strictly forbidden in F1 ever since they caused some spectacular accidents in the late 1960s.