Feb.25 (GMM) As ever in formula one, rules are being pushed to the limit, as the Barcelona pitlane revealed on Thursday.
The wheel covers that became commonplace in F1 last year have been banned, but at the Spanish circuit Ferrari was testing an innovation on the wheels of the F10 car.
Even though Fernando Alonso’s progress was halted with an early technical problem, it was clear that his wheels have taken on a more aerodynamic shape since the Jerez test last week.
To ban the 2009-like wheel covers, this year’s rules state that no devices may be physically attached to the wheels or wheel nuts.
But while the F10’s wheels resembled the other conventional wheels on track last week, on Thursday at Barcelona they included circular inner rims that appear to have been designed with airflow in mind.
Another rule for 2010 states that “powered devices which assist in lifting any part of a car are forbidden in the pitlane during a race”.
But at Mercedes GP, mechanics were testing new quick-release pit jacks that operate with the use of purely mechanical and spring-loaded triggers, rather than electronics or pneumatics.
There have also been some insider rumblings – most notably from within Red Bull Racing – about the design of the new McLaren MP4-25 car.
It is believed that some of the air flowing into the airbox above Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button’s heads is being channelled not to the engine, but also to the rear of the car for aerodynamic purposes.
Also on Thursday, Virgin’s woes continued. After the new British team’s Jerez test was marred by hydraulic troubles, Lucas di Grassi crashed the VR-01 when the Barcelona test kicked off.
He hit the barriers with the rear of the car in turn 9, causing significant damage to the black and red single seater.
Mark Webber’s Red Bull was the fastest runner at the time of the latest red flag around lunchtime.