In the last 24 hours it appears that a clarification has gone out from the FIA’s Charlie Whiting to all teams regarding exotic engine maps, to the effect that they aren’t allowed after the end of this 2011 season.
Many engineers I’ve spoken to are rejoicing, because they feel that at last there is clarity on exhausts having an aerodynamic effect by continuing to blow over aerodynamic surfaces while the car is in corners. The feeling is they can all get on with designing a nice F1 car for next year, without worrying about how engine modes are going to factor into the aerodynamics.
Blown diffusers are already banned from next year, with exhausts set to exit above the engine cover, but the designers were still going to find ways to get the exhausts to blow across the lower element of the rear wing to generate extra downforce in the corners and now it looks like all exhausts will be allowed to do is blow out gas at high pressure when the driver has his foot on the throttle.
Whiting tried this summer to do something about engine maps and blown diffusers, but it got a bit diluted after Renault and Red Bull complained that it would affect their reliability. The situation evolved, via a messy one off arrangement at Silverstone, and ended up with a compromise, which was in the best interests of getting through the season.
But now a new wording has gone out for next year, which apparently simplifies things. Let’s hope it sticks.
It really has been amazing how much downforce the blown diffusers have generated, as the teams have perfected them; probably 20% more than was envisaged by Pirelli when they designed their tyres and certainly more than enough to take the cars back to and beyond the levels of downforce in the double diffuser days.
Meanwhile Mercedes have got everyone talking with what amounts to an F Duct front wing, which takes in air through the nose of the car and blows it out across the plane of the wing.
Other teams are not clear on the benefits of this line of development and may not leap in to copy Mercedes.
Interestingly, on the subject of front wings, what some teams have found recently is that, with the soft rubber from which Pirelli is making tyres, the “marbles”, or bits of loose rubber that shred off the tyres are forming in clumps in the gaps between the elements of the front wing, causing a loss of several points of downforce.