Renault caused some buzz by showing up in Australia with an exhaust pipe pointed upward to its furthest limit and they even added some protective rear wing material. Clearly, the consensus goes, they are blowing hot exhaust air on to the rear wing for more aerodynamic downforce.
In China, the buzz was centered around a new paddle/button/switch on Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari steering wheel. Some now consider this to be part of an elaborate engine mode feature which bypasses the compressor-turbine system or routes the flow through the cylinders. The point here is that the accusations are mainly focused on generating exhaust air flow which harkens back to the days of off-throttle exhaust creation.
The FIA’s Nikolas Tombazis have has offered a directive this week in order to clamp down on this technology:
“We do not accept that engine modes specifically designed to increase the exhaust flow in corners are permissible,” wrote Tombazis.
“Such (not permissible) engine modes can be either specific to a compressor-turbine by-pass system, or to flow passing through the cylinders.
“To be permissible, such flows should be the result of settings that genuinely increase the performance or reliability of the power unit, and not contrived to increase the exhaust flow.”
The challenge here is that each team may be using varying technology and engine modes in order to achieve this feature and the FIA know it is difficult to throw a blanket over the entire issue.
“Notwithstanding the above point, we do not feel that it is practical or easy to write a catch-all rule that achieves this aim in a perfect way.
“For this purpose, we intend to control the usage of engine modes on a case-by-case basis and provide the necessary requests to the teams in order to stay within the acceptable limits with regard to [the above] point.
“While this is clearly not perfectly satisfactory, we feel it is the best possible way to handle the situation for 2018, especially as the effects are not large in any case.”
The renewed interest in exhaust blowing to improve aerodynamic performance has driven by the lower rear wing with the new aerodynamic changes from last year. While the blown diffuser era had a major impact, the rear wing is still offering some gains now that it is lower and within striking distance of the exhaust outlet.
So what about that Renault up-turned exhaust pipe and rear wing composite? That’s just fine according to the FIA:
“Regarding the tailpipe position in relation to the rear wing and bodywork, we accept any position within the stated limits of the regulations,” Tombazis said.
“It is the right of any competitor to design their car in such way to have the most advantageous installation for their car’s performance, provided this installation is indeed within the limits of the regulations.”
Having said that, the FIA do make note that they will address the exhaust pipe outlet to lessen its impact in 2019.
Hat Tip: Autosport