Red Bull frustrated as FIA clamps down on blown diffusers

The FIA is pushing ahead with its clampdown on ‘extreme’ blown diffusers, commencing with the British GP next month.

On Saturday the FIA wrote to the teams to confirm that the ban on engine mapping influencing aerodynamics – which was put on hold after a previous attempt before the Spanish GP – would go ahead. It cites cost implications of a development race as the main reason.

Details will be discussed at next week’s meeting of the Technical Working Group, but the FIA insists that the principle aims will be maintained.

In addition the governing body intends to ban any kind of exhaust action on diffusers from 2012, with strict controls on exhaust exits by restricting teams to a basic ‘straight through’ layout, which will put an end to Renault’s system.

The Silverstone ban could affect the balance of power between the top teams for the remainder of this season, with Red Bull Racing likely to suffer more than anyone else.

Having honed their cars to work with the systems, teams will now have to revise them within a month. Ironically Ferrari has just made a step by getting more out of its diffuser this weekend.

McLaren’s Whitmarsh made it clear that he was happy with the change, while a frustrated Christian Horner told this blog that RBR took the opposite view

“I don’t think it will create a fundamental change to the picture,” said Whitmarsh. “But it will hurt some more than others. Depending on how optimistic you are feeling that day, you like to think that it will hurt others more than you! It will change according to which team, who’s exploiting these tactics the most. It’s been a moving feast. Here you can hear changes and difference in some teams [ie Ferrari’s exhaust note] which will not be there when we get to Silverstone.”

This blog has seen a copy of the technical directive, which justifies the clampdown as follows:

“It is clear that some engine control maps have become extreme both during overrun and acceleration phases and, combined with similarly extreme exhaust systems, have become powerful downforce generating devices. Such systems arguably contravene the F1 Technical Regulations by generating exhaust air flow that goes beyond their primary purpose, that of generating engine torque.

“There are clear indications that this is an active development area and far more extreme systems or procedures can be expected to appear.

“Additionally, the financial, technical and human resources required to support such developments, as well as the impact on engine reliability and on fuel consumption are totally contrary to the objectives pursued by the FIA, the teams and the engine manufacturers.

“The FIA intends to ensure that no engine mapping is used to artificially alter the aerodynamic characteristics of a car beyond the primary purpose of generating engine torque.”

16 Comments

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16 responses to “Red Bull frustrated as FIA clamps down on blown diffusers

  1. A bit of a shame for closing a development route, but actually I think it is a good point to put a halt on this, it really is escalating.
    And from RBR reactions, it seems it will help the season as much as the ban on 3rd pedal and mass dampers (but those were more dodgy bans, I think)

  2. pjg

    Actions such as these are what make FIA decisions so maddening. If the money isn’t spent chasing this, it’ll be spent chasing other developments.

    But it will be spent.

    Mid-season decisions just look capricious and interfering. As if the FIA sees the course of a season, dislikes it, changes rules, dislikes outcome, changes rules, etc.

    Stop the mid-season tinkering, please.

  3. It was common knowledge teams were doing this last season. I’m glad its being banned and should be clear that teams should not do this next season. This should have happened last season to be fair. the FIA bottled bringing this in a few races ago. if its against the rules why say its ok to carry on for a few more races. Same with the Mclaren F-duct last seaosn. Definitely against the spirit of the Regs.

    Given that the FIA have said that this band was in then out then would be in by Silverstone. All they have done is cause ferrari and other teams to continue spending money on something that should have been banned already.

  4. D

    Call my a cynic, but …

    Everything on this subject went quiet for a few weeks. Then yesterday the only car on the grid not to be using this system (Virgin) failed to meet the 107% time. As expected by cynics everywhere the stewards found a utterly nonsensical reason to allow the car to race, despite it not having shown it was able to get inside the 107% time during practice (in by 1sec FP, out by 1 sec FP2, out by 2 secs FP3).

    Clearly threats of appealing were made, which would have allowed the Virgin to race under protest and forced the FIA to end the current farcical situation, with the potential to cause yet more nonsense with mass disqualifications.

    2+2 = 17 🙂

    • GQsm

      I think you are barking up the wrong tree.
      None of the Cosworth engine teams are blowing the exhaust off throttle and I’m not sure all the other teams are either.
      HRT was the most vocal opponent although it was Williams that originally went to Charlie Whiting asking about the legality of off throttle blowing. The quiet period was while the FIA made a plan of action but it was mentioned at the time that a ban would probably be in place for Silverstone.

      107% rule is a different ball game. Rule was brought in so the FIA could easily stop a poor performing team from racing on a Sunday. Most of it is arguably because the FIA considered it dangerous (and possibly embarrassing for the sport) that HRT turned up in 2010 with an untested unreliable slow car, did their first run in Q3, broke down and still got to start the race. The team was clearly ill prepared but there was no easily cut and dried rule that the FIA could cite to stop them taking part. When HRT turned up at the first race in 2011 ill prepared again, the rule was in place and the FIA used it to stop them from racing. Since then all the back markers are relatively competent and not considered a danger. (or as embarrassing). As long as any team is not consistently a lot slower over the entire race weekend expect to see any car failing the 107% rule during the rest of the season to be given dispensation by the stewards.

      If you wanted to be cynical then you could say that banning off throttle blowing has a good chance of bringing Red Bull backwards towards McLaren and Ferrari as they are thought to be exploiting it far more than any other team (It’s probably the reason for Red Bulls Q3 pace). This would make qualifying and races less predictable, a more exciting season and that in turn should keep viewing figures up and negative comments about F1 and Red Bull’s dominance down. If the season wasn’t looking such a forgone conclusion at this stage, I wonder if they would just wait till next season to ban it.

  5. Ray Hunt

    Typical F1, McLaren moaning agains cos their golden boy cant keep up with the pace set by redbull, lets face it they havent stopped moaning for 2 yrs cos of redbulls supremacy and they just dont like it. I really hope Newey comes out with something else to make em go quicker, watch Whitmarsh moan again!!!

    • GQsm

      It’s the Cosworth teams that want it banned because they don’t have it and it will cost a lot of time and money for Cosworth to develop it while the other teams leave them behind enhancing theirs.
      McLaren were the second team to use it having introduced it last year, the unique exhaust they developed for this season uses it. This isn’t McLaren protesting. They will also lose performance when it is banned, Ferrari would have originally gained the most from a ban in the top teams but they have just got their improved version on the car this weekend so that might be mute now. Either way this is down to HRT and Williams as the vocal opponents to it.

    • Siperoth

      You do realize that it was Williams who asked the FIA for clarification right? Someone is seeing ghost chasing him it seems.

    • MarkM

      Sorry I missed the bit about McLaren “moaning about diffusers.
      Did you make that up or can you provide some quotes

    • Stone the crows

      Yes, I thought it was HRT that was challenging the blown diffusers. However, I do think that Adrian would rather just build an aerodynamically clean light car and leave all the FiA imposed engineering gimmicks in the dustbin where they belong. It wouldn’t at all surprise me, if after all this blown diffuser rule fiddling that Newey came up with an upgrade that performed better without it.

  6. Matt

    All this is doing for the rest of 2011 in forcing the throttle to close to 10% of maximum when the acceleraor is not depressed at all. As the exhausts do not have to change until nex year there is nothing to stop a driver winding on more rear bias then holding the throttle on ??% to keep up the gas flow to the diffuser, it will just give the driver more to do to get a similar (albeit, not as efficient) effect. Seriously, why bother this year?

  7. If it’s true that the exhaust gases were blown over the diffuser last year when off throttle, creating more downforce, then why didn’t the FIA change the rules at the end of last season? If journalists and those commentating on F1 knew it was happening last year, why didn’t Virgin and Williams protest at the end of last season to have the rule changed for the start of the 2011 F1 season?

    I agree with pjg, mid-season rule changes, especially on “cost” grounds, really bug me. I can understand if a team turns up with a completely new component that could compromise safety, but when the FIA are intervening to stop the teams developing their cars mid-season, it’s too much. Yes, a team may gain an “unfair” advantage for a race or two, but F1 designers and engineers are the best in the business. Give them 2 race weekends and they’ll have the competitors car with that new innovation on it. F1 and motor-racing thrives on development and innovation, and I feel many of the FIA mid-season rule changes are designed purely to stunt that, to the long-term detriment of the sport.

    • D

      Why is a mid-season change a bad thing?

      The way things are currently its not a tiny fraction of performance, its seconds per lap thats involved here, at a development cost that is relatively cheap compared to finding that performance in any other way.

      Every team is being forced into development in this area – see the new floor HRT apparently had this weekend. If it is to be banned eventually then doing it now saves any more money being wasted on it.

      A ban is a good thing as far as Im concerned, the cars sound utterly ridiculous with the throttle open through slow corners, and when some people are still trying to pretend that KERS is an environmentally friendly device this sends out entirely the opposite message.

  8. Stone the crows

    I don’t get it either. One of the key talking points about F-1 is innovation, and as soon as an innovation comes along that fits withng the regulations, yet puts one team head and shoulders above the rest the only solution is to get Charlie Whiting to slow them down. Since March I’ve read about the ‘artificiality’ of DRS, tyres designed to degrade at a certain rate, etc. etc., but leaving RBR (and others) hamstrung halfway through the season– that’s not an artificial manipulation of the competition? Banning on the basiss of cost is a canard to cover up the politics. The FiA doesn’t have any problem inflicting costs on the team when it’s their pet project, i..e, KERS, and tell me that didn’t cause additional cost and an unfair advantage?

  9. Anyone know where the FIA have plucked this 10% figure from? Or how they plan on monitoring it??

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