It's Been 20 Years Since X-Wings Were Used For The Last Time

It's Been 20 Years Since X-Wings Were Used For The Last Time

The 1998 San Marino Grand Prix took was the last time we saw the ungainly-looking devices in action before they were banned

During 1997, Tyrrell (by then firmly one of F1’s backmarker teams) turned up to some of the higher-downforce circuits with some rather large and unattractive structures mounted on the sidepods. They became known as X-wings (or tower wings) and although they didn’t do much to help the struggling Tyrrell, with overall downforce on the cars being reduced for 1998, other teams took note.

Tyrrell made its X-wings from old front wings to save money, but they did little to improve the performance of the 025. (c) Wikimedia Commons
Tyrrell made its X-wings from old front wings to save money, but they did little to improve the performance of the 025. (c) Wikimedia Commons

The following year they started to appear on other cars. Prost ran some…

…as did Sauber.

Jordan jumped on the trend and Tyrrell also continued to use them.

Now, having backmarkers trying them out wasn’t much of a problem - after all, they’re only at the back and you don’t seem them on TV often. The issue came at San Marino, when Ferrari attached them to its F300.

The X-wings did little to help the Ferraris at Imola given that David Coulthard won rather easily for McLaren. But still, you cant have F1’s most storied team running something that looks so hideous, can you? So naturally, the FIA found a reason to ban them.

Given that the X-wings were tall and spindly, and also that one got ripped off of a Sauber during a pit stop, they were banned on safety grounds a week after the race. I don’t think anyone really misses them…