L&T Motorsport

Shark Fins: What are they and what do they do?

With the new 2017 regulations comes the return of the shark fin, last used in 2011. The shark fin is used for rear wing efficiency. Due to the new lower and wider rear wings, the airflow traveling towards it is blocked by the roll hoop and air intake, which means the rear wing wouldn’t be as effective as last year’s tall and narrow rear wing. So, the only way the teams can smooth the air going to rear wing is to use a shark fin to have the rear wings at maximum efficiency.

Different shark fin configuraations.png
These diagrams show the different setups of the shark fins, the one on the left is the 2010 variation which connected to the rear wing; on the right is the 2017 variation which stops just before the rear wing. (Images: @ScarbsTech & F1i.com)
In 2010, the shark fin was used by nearly all teams, firstly to benefit the airflow to the rear but secondly as a part of the F-Duct setup. The FIA banned the F-Duct the following season, the fin now cannot connect to the rear wing and instead, must stop just before the rear wing (See Diagram Above). The 2010 variation of the shark fin is now used in the LMP categories of the WEC.

The shark fin works in two ways:

Image: @ScarbsTech
The first way it works is like a sail (Left Diagram), should the car slide, the large surface area would face the airflow and correct the slide.

The second way it works is to straighten airflow (Right Diagram), if there was a crosswind, the air would meet the shark fin and be directed to the rear wing, which would increase downforce.

The shark fin divides opinion, mostly because of its aesthetics. It can come in many different shapes, whether it being the defined shape that most teams run, or the basic shape of the Force India, Mercedes have taken a different route and created a small shark fin. The main reason for the disapproval of the shark fin is that nearly all teams don’t develop their livery onto the fin, with only Haas creating a livery for it.

The fin is not mandatory, at various races teams will run without fins, and possibly for much of the season which will please the majority of the fans. Let us know what you think, do you like them? Should they stay or be banned?

(Featured Image: formula1.com)

Words: @JDixon1899

One thought on “Shark Fins: What are they and what do they do?

  • 05/03/2017 at 1:46 PM

    If it will be a massive eyesore, sponsor the thing so it doesn’t look slapped on.

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