Formula One drivers will be trigger happy next year with movable rear wings joining the returning KERS to create an abundance of overtaking options - but will the new wing concept really work?
McLaren brought the concept of actively-reduced rear drag into the minds of the F1 technical chiefs this year with the f-duct and its 'stallable' rear wing - and that set brains in motion to develop this new concept that is hoped will power Formula One into a new era of on-track overtaking excitement.
The McLaren solution has cleverly explored a regulation loophole that enables the driver to stall the rear wing by manually allowing flow through the f-duct that - when it reaches the rear wing - puts additional flow onto the surface and causes the airflow to separate.
This reduces the downforce and associated drag and gives the driver higher top speed (which from speed trap measurements is around 5-8km/h).
The new proposed solution for 2011 uses the more simple and reliable principles that aerodynamic downforce and drag on a wing is determined by its angle of attack (the angle at which it sits compared to the airflow) and that the shallower that angle, the less downforce and drag is produced.
The new movable wing concept is designed to work with high downforce and drag in the normal position but can be flattened out to create less drag and downforce when the driver behind wants to push to overtake.
Technically, it's pretty simple, and the engineers have so far worked out that it is best done by creating two wings with a 'slot gap' between them that can vary from 10mm to 50mm. This range is believed to be enough of a change to create a 5-15km/h speed difference - but it is yet to be fully tested.
Simulations have not yet been run enough to determine quite the levels that will be needed, but the designers are already working on concepts for 2011 and they need to know sooner rather than later whether this technology may be used.
By deciding to include it now - and creating a large range of movement - the theory is that it can be tweaked and limited and, if it still ends up not producing the kind of genuine overtaking F1 wants, it can just be left unused.
Current thinking says it cannot be used until two laps have been completed. After that it can be operated by the driver only once a lap and only if he is less than one second behind the car ahead at any given sector of the lap. This means it can only be used to attack, not to catch up or defend. But it seems that has been determined on pure intelligent guesswork - and it remains to be seen whether it will work as planned.
There is one big concern.
Only two years ago adjustable front wings were brought in to increase overtaking but failed and will now be scrapped - so why is this expected to work better?
The theory behind the front wings was similar in that it used angle of attack to change how the wing worked - in this case increasing the angle of the flap to increase front downforce.
This comes with the expense of increased drag, but it's the downforce advantage the idea was focused on.
It was supposed to give the trailing car the extra downforce needed to follow another more closely through the corner, then being in a position to overtake as soon as they came onto the straight.
But the idea was flawed initially because the driver in front could also use it to defend, and in clean air his worked even better.
In addition to that, the numbers behind it were developed when double diffusers were not part of the plan. With those introduced, the trailing wake became much bigger and in the dirty air the wing could not make the downforce levels high enough to give an advantage.
In the case of the movable rear wing, activating it will actually reduce downforce so the rear car will not use it until it gets onto the straight - and it will still struggle to follow its rival around the corner and will drop back when heading onto the straight.
It remains to be seen, therefore, whether the straights are long enough in F1 for a driver who has dropped back due to the usual loss of downforce in cornering behind another car to gain enough advantage from the reduced drag to catch up again and overtake on the straight.
Also, the concern is that drivers will become tuned to this overtaking solution and that they will alter the points at which they accelerate and brake on a lap during a race to make it harder for the car behind to use the system - and that could cause a lot of headaches for the FIA.
But that's why it has not yet been set in stone - and if the teams can club together and have a mock race or a non-Championship Grand Prix? in the winter - they could then decide whether it is the golden solution before bringing it into play when the title battle begins...