Image: Copyright Scarbs F1
The mooted ban on exhaust blown diffusers (EBD) will be going the same way as the f-duct of last year, i.e. in the bin, albeit a bit quicker than last year. From the British GP onwards they are officially contra to the 2011 FIA Technical Regulations and therefore outlawed.
Not too upset about this as they do tend to make the cars sound a bit like a nursery school class blowing a raspberry in unison through the slow corners. For anyone who doesn’t know how these things work, I’ll explain quickly.
When the cars are ‘on throttle’, i.e. under acceleration, the engine is creating hot exhaust gases which are routed via the exhaust system to the ‘floor’ or diffuser area, depending on which team you are referring to. This has the effect of producing ‘ground effect’ downforce by creating a pressurised area, therefore ‘sucking’ the car to the track. This has been going on in one form or another in F1 for about 10 years, but has recently been really focussed on by the teams, trying to claw back some of the FIA confiscated downforce of past years.
This year however, things were taken a step further by a few of the teams, Red Bull and Renault most significantly, by still blowing hot exhaust gas when ‘off throttle’ i.e. in braking zones and low throttle applications (hairpins etc), this is achieved by retarding (heehee) the ignition in the engine, so as not to produce drive but still burn fuel. This has the effect of producing downforce at low speeds that wouldn’t normally be evident, and in turn increasing traction, turn in, braking stability etc, i.e. a faster car around any given track.
The reasons for the ban are mainly due t0 the message that this engineering sends, i.e. we are quite happy to burn resources (fuel) to gain lap time, this is seen as wasteful by the FIA in these green times. I say – bollocks. For all the fuel they are using, compared to the extra resource that will go into coming up with a new solution to claw back the downforce lost!!! Change the calendar slightly so the whole F1 circus isn’t bouncing willy nilly around the globe in some sort of epileptic pattern wasting huge, huge amounts of aviation fuel! (rant over)
There have been objections from the smaller teams who could not afford to react quickly enough to implement their own EBD systems, but these have fallen silent, particularly as in Canada even HRT managed to test their system!
The message this sends is very muddled, F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and development is at the very heart of it, the greatest engineering minds in the industry, and from other industries, flock to F1. Why bother when your bright idea will be banned in 6 months? F1 will always push the boundaries, it’s racing after all, but some new thinking needs to come out of the regulatory body to ensure this doesn’t keep happening mid season and changing the game. Or maybe that’s the desired effect? The people in the know say Red Bull will be most affected by this ban, Red Bull themselves say not, and I tend to agree, but it would certainly open up the championship battle if Sebastians mount were to be reined in a bit!
Renault have the most to lose on this due to their very innovative, and seemingly effective front exiting exhausts.
They exit forward of the sidepods and route the gases under the entire floor, effectively energising the whole floor rather than just the rear diffuser section. Clever, but for nought now. They are gonna need Bobby K back!!!