The real story behind the FIA’s exhaust clampdown
The real story behind the FIA’s exhaust clampdown
Posted By: James Allen  |  18 May 2011   |  2:06 pm GMT  |  145 comments

Yesterday’s volte face by the FIA on the exhaust blown diffusers has sent out some confused messages to fans about what’s going on behind the scenes.

I’ve been in touch with engineers and with the FIA today to get to the bottom of it and here’s my take on what’s happened here.

A typical 2011 style exhaust exit into the diffuser (JA photo)

The FIA’s Charlie Whiting sent out a letter to teams on Thursday May 12th telling them that the FIA planned to clamp down on the way the engines were used to generate exhaust gas pressure on the over-run, in other words when the driver lifts off the throttle. He wanted to cut the effect by 90% and this would come into effect from Spain. To be clear it’s not blown diffusers that were being banned, just the over-run part of their function. Cutting that alone would lose probably 30% of the overall effect blown diffusers give to the car’s performance.

Then last night, almost a week later, he wrote to the teams again saying that the clampdown was on hold and that it would be discussed at the next Technical Working Group meeting, due to take place the week after the Canadian Grand Prix.

The timing is not unusual for the FIA; they often bring in sudden changes for the Spanish Grand Prix. Last year it was the winglets in front of the sidepods, in 2001 it was the re-introduction of traction control and there have been other examples.

The reason is that, by making a change for Spain, in May, it gives the FIA and the teams time to digest the changes in time to draft suitable rules for the following year, which must be done by June 30th.

As it stands now, this topic will be on a packed agenda for the TWG meeting in mid June, as there is a lot of 2013 rules content to wade through as well.

So now the question is why does the FIA want to clampdown on engines blowing exhaust gas on the over run?

Well it’s not very efficient for a start. It increases fuel consumption and is not environmentally a very attractive thing to do. It’s also an area which has zero relevance to the road car industry or to society generally.

While Red Bull and Renault are to be applauded for their innovation, it’s a road that Jean Todt’s FIA doesn’t want the sport to go down. Whiting said in his original letter that they feared an escalation and where that might lead. Better to outlaw the practice now and then make sure its written into the 2012 rules.

Also the cost of the blown exhaust “arms race”, as the engineers describe it, is high and it’s money that is going out of the sport, paying exhaust makers.

As things stand blown diffusers are still allowed in the 2012 and 2013 rules, but one wonders whether this might be the start of a move away from the whole concept. Also the turbo engines of 2013 will not work so well with the devices anyway as the turbos and the generators for the hybrid system will take a lot of the energy out of the exhaust gas.

Although Red Bull’s Christian Horner said yesterday that this might have been triggered by a rival team seeking to reduce Red Bull’s advantage, engineers I’ve spoken to today say that there is no indication that this is the case. It looks more like something the FIA want to see outlawed.

Tim Goss, the McLaren designer said today in a Vodafone phone in that the ruling, once it has been clarified and the method of policing established, would mean a loss of performance not just for Red Bull and Renault, who pioneered this technology, but for all the leading teams who have been making use of it for some time.

“I think all of the major teams are up to the same tricks with regards to engine mapping. Certainly we exploit them,” he said. “If the latest guidelines that the FIA have given us on use of engine to drive exhaust systems came in then it would be a performance setback to us. I know it would almost certainly be a performance setback to our major competitors.

“As to whether it affects us more than our competitors is impossible for me to say. I know what we get out of it and we get quite a substantial benefit, but I imagine it would be just a sizeable a setback to our competitors as well.

“We’re just working to the latest set of guidelines from the FIA – I think we can react to whatever they tell us reasonably promptly – and for the moment it would appear that the FIA have decided that it’s quite a complex matter and that they need more time to consider how they will try and police it. So as a result it looks like at the Spanish Grand Prix it will be business as usual.”

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What would happen if the fans started to object to illegal cars, if the gap between pole and last is over 107% you would have to be crazy not to raise the legality aspect for your sponsors sake more than anything else. This is going to ruin this season as cheating is always a hard pill to swallow when it starts to be branded about, this could seriously affect the support of the leading teams and the brands they are sponsored by. It needs proving one way or the other, if it is to be banned anyway at the end of the year why not make the method and gains public to help understand how the FIA and the teams got it so wrong.

Tom in adelaide

Couldn’t they stick the gearbox into N under breaking and keep the revs high whilst cornering?

Obviously im missing something……!


Red Bull have done a fantastic job with the blown diffuser and use it to probably its maximum advantage as they developed it initially and probably base much of their car around it such as running a high rake which enables them to get their front wing so close to the ground. But there have been many examples of teams coming up with fantastic ideas which are subsequently banned (the double diffuser and McLarens F-Duct to name a couple).

What the FIA are trying to do is minimise the performance gap between the cars so as to make the championship more fairly geared towards the driver as well. With Red Bull and Sebestian Vettle runaway leaders after only 4 races does nothing for the championship. Who wants the championship to be over before midway through the season?

All this about the blown diffuser being inefficient and not related to road cars is just a smokescreen to change the rules to make the cars more similar so that qualifing is won by maybe a tenth or two and not the 8 tenth’s to 1 and a half seconds Vettle is dominating it by at the moment.

We will then see even closer racing which is what everyone wants anyway.


I’m getting fed up of the suffocation of innovation in Formula One since 2005, in the name of being environmentally friendly. The points you make in the article James are well noted, such as the lack of relevance in the overrun effect to road cars or society. But I doubt that the *majority* of the public will ever view F1 cars as relevant to society or the cars they drive.

F1 has brought many innovations to road cars that people take for granted such as crumple zones, traction control, semi automatic gearboxes, carbonfibre construction among others. Yet many just write F1 off as “that boring sport where people drive round in circles.”

Another post on this site made a very good point about F1 being green when it suits them. F1 is not about to save the planet or lead the way in so-called environmental friendliness. F1 looks environmentally frivolous-OK, I would struggle to argue that it is not-but on a global scale it’s contribution is negligible.

It’s a shame that politics-and very incompetent politics at that-from the FIA in making the rules is taking F1 towards a spec series.


This is nothing more than a form of racism for pistons over diffusers. The piston is moved by aerodynamic downforce (higher pressure on top of the piston than below) so it is an aerodynamic device, the only difference is the downforce on the piston is used to turn the wheels, whereas the diffuser downforce is used to push the wheels down.

And this talk of waste is rubbish, it isn’t wasteful otherwise they wouldn’t do it. By the “waste” logic, wings are wasteful because the add drag, and by definition, fuel consumption.


And engine is wasteful because it burns fuel.

Maybe the road relevance talk isn’t BS – they will construct a perpetuum mobile 🙂

Tires are a waste too – due to friction they increase fuel consumption. Let’s make them less grippy!


Mclaren has environmental considerations in it’s mtc.

It is an incredibly green building. Does that mean f1 is anything but resource sapping? No, but not because of fuel usage. The carbon footprint from travel outweighs anything else the teams do or could do to lessen their ‘footprint’


Great article James . Keep the tech stuff coming. This sort of info was impossible to come by even a couple of years ago. Now it just adds to the interest in F1. You seem to have just the right mix of technical and strategy articles…. For me at least.

Hope to see more of you on OneHD


As quoted “It’s also an area which has zero relevance to the road car industry or to society generally” Whilst there are innovations that eventually reach road cars I don’t see why this is an issue. With the risk of sounding un’pc this is the pinnacle of motorsport and do not see the relevance as to whether an innovation on an F1 car will have any significance to a road car or society. F1 is not here to save the planet and think the green issue is getting completely out of hand. Also as mentioned in previous comments we constantly here about cost cutting so why are changes made as often as they are? Confused as to the FIA’s thinking as all these changes cost money.


The words “FIA” and “thinking” do NOT belong in the same sentence. -1 for you!


This makes me think back to some cars from to the good old days, the Chaparral 2J & the Brabham BT46B.


Hi James,

Read a story on F1 Fanatic, that states Red Bull deny breaking the testing regulations.

This comes after the driver they used on a “straight line test” reported that his neck muscles were hurting after 400 km of testing in the rb7 on twitter… Sounds fishy to me..

Is there anything more to this?


Are the neck muscles also not used during braking? Less so during acceleration because you can rest your head against the back of the cockpit.


Dunno, but it seems everyone is accusing them of breaking rules in every area. That’s what happens when you are winning…


When any team has such a debilitating advantage over the rest, its only to be expected that there is accusation of breaking the rules.

I actually believe Red Bull are bending the rules by about as much as the front wing is bending!

With the very real threat of both championships being sewn up prior to the summer break, Red Bull may like winning and making it look so easy (especially in Q3 where they seem to ‘switch something on’), but they are actually doing a dis-service to F1 because if I see that the championship is decided by half distance, I wont even bother watching the remainder of the races, and I am sure there must be many who feel the same.

Maybe it really is time for a spec series so we can see a real shoot-out between drivers in equal cars and not designers.


To answer Christopher because I cannot seem to reply to him directly;

Maybe I didnt express myself clearly enough, what I mean is that by Red Bull obviously bending at the very least the interpretation of the rules, they are doing a dis-service to F1.

I am sure Newey is clever enough to do it without all the ‘grey areas’ and tricks.

And to answer Malcolm;

They are making the car so devastatingly fast that you could put Luca Badoer in it and win 🙂 How’s that a drivers championship??

I am still waiting for Vettel to show us he can really overtake without binning it (eg. Turkey and Spa last year).


“Maybe it really is time for a spec series so we can see a real shoot-out between drivers in equal cars and not designers.”

It’s called GP2. We get to see it every year.

Christopher Snowdon

Utter nonsense, how can a team be doing formula one a disservice by winning? Red Bull allegiance is to itself and it sponsor’s, not to formula one fans. However if they did what you say and slowed down to keep the spectacle going, then they would be doing formula one a disservice, on the basis of they are not throwing all their effort at it.

Ps – I support the Force India team, they will probably not get a podium this year, doesn’t stop me watching and supporting them, and enjoying the spectacle that is F1.


Y’know, I have gotten sooo damn tired of the FIA farting around with things that I would now support *any breakaway series that did not need them as a sanctioning body!

Even if it meant letting 3-Car Monte run it to his own benefit.


I’m slightly confused about why F1 has to be, or seen to be, environmentally sound. Grand Prix are effectively one off spectacular events and are about innovation and speed. And I furthermore don’t get the reason why it’s considered virtuous for F1 tech. to be motor industry compatible. Who came up with these ineffectual ideas. They only amount to swanky PR anyway.


F1 influences the world around it. F1 made turbos cool in the 80s, and tons of road cars had them. F1 can make hybrids cool (and they are starting to).

Having them dump raw fuel into the exhaust to make more downforce via an exhaust-blown diffuser is definitely counter-productive.

Also, try telling that “isolated” story to sponsors that are also trying to get a green image. They won’t be happy when the headlines say that their team is using up to 20% more fuel when they are off-throttle just to get more downforce.


Plus allow some fuel-efficiency tweaks in the engine. Reasonably limited.

Than the manufacturer will be able to say that they improved their engines to be more fuel efficient and gained performance thanks to it. And that this experience will help to make their road car engines greener (sure it will 🙂 )

The FIA could say not only work on better rules for the future, but also act now to encourage development of environmental friendly engine technology.


It is not counter productive. Firstly, nothing that makes a race car faster is counter productive. Saying so is ridiculous.

Secondly, it can be turned into good marketing/PR easily. Even very good one.

Renault has a less powerful, but more fuel efficient engine. This efficiency allows them to use the saved fuel to gain an edge over their competitors by better aerodynamic performance.

Instead of saying that they use more fuel*, just say that having an fuel efficient engine is a big advantage. And that this advantage comes from better aerodynamic performance directly thanks to the saved fuel.

It’s good marketing on so many different levels. Interesting technology, sophisticated aerodynamics, engine efficiency better (at least in the PR image we are creating) than bigger power etc. You just need to market it in a clever way.

But of course no one cars about the sport’s image. The FIA just wants to show that they are the good, environment friendly people, and the teams are those bad, fuel burning ignorant ones.

And do you really think that a casual F1 fan knows how EBD work, what’s retarded ignition, how much extra fuel the teams are using to make it work? Or that the above marketing talk is half true/half BS (as always)?

Do you think that the average F1 viewer cares that they use some fuel in a different way?

If you tell him over and over again what I’ve wrote above he will believe in it and prise it.

Hardcore F1 fans will know better, but still it’s true in many aspects (just exaggerated, as all marketing talk).

*- which isn’t bad if it makes the car faster. That’s what fuel is about, isn’t it?


Ok, that may work for Renault’s website and press releases, but how are they going to get all the news agencies to toe the same line?

Simple fact: they aren’t.

The news will pick up on the fact that 20% of the fuel is being dumped through the engine.

That IS counter-productive in the overall scheme of things, taking into account the image of the team, the image of F1, the sport’s credibility on the world stage, and lap times.

It would be like saying “lets get rid of the roll bar!”, and saying it’s not counter-productive because it’ll make the car faster. Even though the car is faster, overall it is counter-productive because if the car rolls, the driver will likely die.

Basically, teams can spin the news in their press releases, but Autosport, BBC, et al, will all see right through it and report on how fuel is being dumped through the engine and into the exhaust to burn. Then all it takes is someone to point out that not all the fuel will burn completely in the exhaust and that LOTS of VOC’s will end up being pushed out the exhaust-pipe on over-run, and environmental groups will be jumping over F1 far more than they already are.

All the average viewer needs to hear is 20% more fuel used and fuel being dumped into the exhaust, and even the most casual viewer can draw their own conclusions from that. People talk about the “casual viewer” as if they have an IQ of 40, watch American Wrestling, love NASCAR for the crashes and have the math skills of an 8 year old child.

Let me put it this way:

Burning 20% more fuel = bad.


Hasn’t the majority of the research money already been spent on this? It should have been banned last year when only RB had it. Also, the cost saving argument doesn’t seem to hold water. Those engineers would be working on some aspect of tuning the design if there wasn’t a blown diffuser to work on.


Absolutely. Just as with the f duct, the money has been spent I guess the only saving is continual dev.


I wouldn’t consider it saving. The money they won’t spent on continual development will be spent on developing something different (which will give a smaller gain).

The money they’ve spent on the initial development will be simply lost. Thrown away. And I guess that in many cases it’s much bigger than the future spendings (F-Duct for example).

In this case it’s even worse – you can’t exactly develop engine-maps more. And lack of retarded ignition will make EBD development harder. Or even make some of the current developed solutions worthless.

But the FIA will still say that their decision saves money. They always do.


Thanks for some information James. Two things 🙂 :

Firstly according to Craig Scarborough and Jean Claude Migeot exhaust blowing in turbo cars was actually twice as effective in cars with N/A engines (as far as the gas momentum is considered). Keep in mind that the turbocharger forces more air to the system, allowing the engine to burn more fuel. This produces more exhaust gases.

My second point will be in regard to this quote

“Well it’s not very efficient for a start. It increases fuel consumption and is not environmentally a very attractive thing to do.”

The green racing thing is plain BS for me. But I can understand that the marketing/PR people need to take this fashion into account.

The problem is that they are completely missing the point! It is said that Renault and RBR have such aggressive engine maps because the Renault engine is efficient. This allows allows them to safe fuel and use it in a different way.

So the more fuel efficient engine gives those teams an edge over their competitors with thirstier, but more powerful engines. And this advantage comes in aerodynamics, which are (practically) unrelated to engine technology.

I mean this is an marketing dream!

And you’d be surprised how many F1 fans actually consider lack of road relevance (which in fact is, and always was, mostly a myth) a good thing. And how many hate the fact that FIA bans every interesting or exciting technology. Many people will say that they did it to slow RBR down – this isn’t good for the sport’s image.

We want to watch world’s best drivers racing in world’s fastest and most advanced cars.

If I’d want more road relevant cars I’d watch rallying, touring cars or perhaps endurance racing.

And how exactly does this constant changing the rules encourage cost-cutting? It’s quite the opposite.




Exhaust blowing from a turbo being twice as effective as from an NA engine – what is being compared there? Engines of equivalent capacity? If so I’m sure it’s true; as you say, the turbo engine will be stuffing more mixture in and getting more exhaust gas out.

But if you compared engines of equivalent power – say a 2l turbo and a 4l NA both making 500hp – then I suspect things will be different. They will both be burning similar amounts of fuel to make that power, so producing similar amounts of exhaust gas, but the turbo will then be robbing some of the energy from the exhaust.

If the new turbo F1 engines make similar power to the current ones, then I think it’s probably true that they will be less effective at blowing the diffuser.


I’ve meant that diffuser blowing was twice as effective on turbo cars than it is on cars with N/A engines. Sorry, I haven’t had much sleep this night 😉

There’s actually a different issue here. The current cars were built around the EBD concept. They were tested with it. Retarded ignition is a big part of it, because it helps to eliminate one of the biggest problems of diffuser blowing – throttle position related aerodynamic balance.

Banning it during the season is actually quite irresponsible. It will not only cost the teams some performance, but it will also make the cars more twitchy and decrease safety.

On top of this they’ve reduced the overall downforce (especially on rear wheels) by quite a margin compared to last year. Most of this downforce was regained by the beam wing and EBDs. And the drivers need to exploit DRS as much as possible during qualifing, which makes diffuser related downforce even more important.

It reminds me a bit year 1994. I know that I’m exaggerating, but banning all driver aids at once had a similar effect – the teams weren’t prepared to deal with it. And testing wasn’t even banned..

We don’t know how this contributed to Senna’s and Ratzenberge’s deaths, but I’d expect FIA to be more cautious with rule changes..


There is so much conjecture about Ayrtons death, but I don’t see a direct link on driver aids. Yes, the 94 Williams handled badly but I don’t think that was directly involved.

Similarly ratzenbergers crash was supposedly a technical failure.

I do understand your point though that banning things is not always positive.


As I said, it was a exaggeration. But IIRC many drivers, including Senna, said that it was a dangerous decision.

Ratzenberger lost his front wing, driver aids wouldn’t have helped him.

As for Senna, it depends on which of the numerous theories is true.

If it was due to too low ride hight, bottoming out or some similar instability they would help. It wouldn’t help with the steering column failure, of course.

But as you said, this wasn’t my point 😉 If they really want to ban it (which imho is a stupid decision), they should wait till the end of the season.


They can set up the cars to work without it. They managed to do it in 2010, when the system was only used in qualifying. They’ll have to change the set-up, but I doubt it’ll be a safety issue. Might just set them back for a race or two (if that) while they dial in the car.


It’s different than in 2010. As I said, the cars were built around the EBD concept. 2010 cars weren’t (except RB 6, though the EBD was more of an addition to the package).

In 2011 they reduced the diffuser-generated downforce greatly by decreasing the maximum hight and closing the DDD loophole.

Given that a big portion of that downforce has been regained by more efficient diffuser blowing solutions, banning retarded ignition* will have a bigger effect on car’s balance.

Keep in mind that throttle sensitivity was the reason why teams abounded diffuser blowing in the past.

And think about Renault’s solution. Who knows how it will behave without it?

While I doubt that it will be really dangerous and expect teams to cope with it, the decision is still bad also from safety point of view. It’s also bad for many different reasons – this was more of a digression than the main point.

I wonder if they will find some sort of a loophole. I hope so 🙂

* actually reducing to almost non-existent it’s effect by limiting maximum throttle opening


Actually, I bet Red Bull could dial in the car in the simulator and 7-post rig, and show up at Catalunya tomorrow with pole-worthy car.


My guess is that FIA don’t want both Championships decided too early so… they have probably aimed at main RB advantage (their massive downforce).

Steven Lissemore

Why don’t the FIA just designate where the exhaust can exit, i.e. either side of the rear crash structure? And only into open air, not up against a surface.


In fact, why don’t they just specify *everything and then there’s be no need for all the R&D expenses! No more wind tunnels, no more special “fuels”, no more endless miles of testing!

We could have a spec series! And all the money saved could be put to better use in all the PR stuff like motor-palaces and entertainment!


and just be another Indycar??? No thanks!! Big part of what keeps me interested in F1 is the technical innovation


Me too. But sadly the FIA seems hell-bent on stifling innovation in the name of… whatever.

It seems all their announcements, pronouncements and rules changes are aimed at one thing: telling designers what they can NOT do.

Elsewhere in these pages people have listed all the advancements they attribute to F1. They may or may not be correct, but I would challenge them to find very many of those advances actually *on an F1 car today!

Grandma’s Caddy has more technology on it than an F1 car!

No, LMP is the “pinnacle” of motorsport today.


It’s a little ironic that what started off as a brilliant use of previously wasted energy, has ended up using more fuel than before.

Still if the “reheat” is banned then there should be about a 20kg fuel weight saving.


I honestly dont see a problem for the EBD, or a reason to ban it. F1 is about technical innovation, not about being “green”. Its not a safety issue as the drivers dont have to do anything for it to work. FIA, just leave this one alone…


The fact that the decision has been delayed for 3 races means that even more money will be wasted, as Ferrari, McLaren etc. cannot afford not to further develop their engine mapping for the sake of their performance in these three races.

The whole situation is absurd.


Its just another example of the fia chaos.They couldnt run a carwash properly.nothing they do or dont do is a surprise.Think logic,and then do the oposite.


IMHO opinion, the clampdown is to close a loophole in the technical regulations (3.15 in particular), just as the F-Duct was banned.

Since the over-run of the exhaust is purely to improve downforce/aerodynamics and has no other function, it is not allowed according to (the spirit of) the rule. One can argue about moving parts of the car being applied (such as brake or throttle pedal). By mentioning the engine as part of the car in these rules the over-run becomes illegal.

But that’s my interpretation of this rule.


“Also the turbo engines of 2013 will not work so well with the devices anyway as the turbos and the generators for the hybrid system will take a lot of the energy out of the exhaust gas”

Ideally of course as far as the engine efficiency is concerned you need the exhaust gas to be cold with just enough energy to flop out of the pipe. (this is very nearly achieved with compound three cylinder steam engines)

All sound and heat coming from the car is an energy loss. (So somewhat bemused by the debate on giving electric cars artificial car noises)

Using the exhaust gas as an energy source is theoretically using energy which would otherwise be lost. This new rule stopping extra flow during the overrun will of course remove some downforce as the driver lifts in order to brake for a corner leading to back end awaydays. Another option (which one used to use in low powered karting) used in rallying is to keep the foot firmly on the throttle whilst braking thus still generating the gas flow, and taking trail braking to an interesting level.

Clutch slip would be another way or some other transmission slip, (magnetic fluid clutch or some type of CVT to auto rev up)

Is the tunnel floor truly dead yet for 2013, or have we to wait a little longer?


As I understand it, and perhaps James can clarify this, the basis for the change is that they are considering the throttle to be functioning as a moveable aerodynamic device.

Jonathan Lodge

Interestingly the throttle is no longer a throttle! The pedal on the Red Bull has become a spark timing device. So there is no moveable device as such as the pedal would now be a potentiometer and merely alter electrical signals.

On another point I see that the Red Bull and Lotus Renault are the 2 teams most noticeably using this concept. They probably have most to lose as the Renault power plant is often cited as the most fuel efficient. This would mean they would ordinarily use less fuel and have a bigger margin to play with.

I believe that Red Bull’s ability to use the overrun effect all race long this year would be almost entirely down to the build of the exhaust construction. I have stated before that I believe the concept can actually cool the engine as the fuel remains unburnt in the cylinder and combustion mostly takes place in the exhaust manifold.


I wonder how input the driver has in all of this, from the sounds of it – not very much. So therefore, can it be seen as a driver aid, thus banned?


If they have indeed removed their throttle body and associated valves then perhaps that explains why the FIA have now reversed their decision to ban the overrun effect for Barcelona. Maybe they can’t cite the moveable aerodynamic devices as a means to eliminate the overrun?

This is cool stuff! The engineers in F1 are amazing.


I bet Christian Horner wasnt too far off the mark with his comment above & if it’s anything to do with Jean Todt’s, you can bet Ferrari have something to do with it too…. maybe its them who’ve fallen behind this season have made there feeling known & Jean Todt’s has put pressure on the F1A to do something about it before the season gets away from them completely… at least McLaren were there or there abouts in regards RB’s lap times…


Don’t agree. Ferrari are completely anti the new engine rules so I doubt it would be Ferrari led.

I think the whole story originated when Renault told everyone how much fuel they were wasting. Hardly fits in with the fia green agenda does it ( not that manufacturing batteries for kers is environmentally friendly).

Christopher Snowdon

JT has more honour that I assure you, and I’m sure James will testify as much!!!


This Jean Todd conspiracy is getting boring. If memory serves, JT was kicked out by Montezemelo. Do you really believe he would want to Ferrari any favors?


ahem… on my Television feed, the only ones giving Red Bull a tough time in Turkey was Alonso who had no new tires (RB saved theirs in Q3)…..


These engine mappings aren’t new, the’ve been used last year as well by RedBull, maybe others, so the FIA had their chance to ban the device fairly, before the season started. Now it just looks like they want to reel RedBull in and have more competition. Don’t the teams have any say in this?

James, can you provide any insight into how much fuel is wasted over the course of a GP by the over-run? How much time is gained by downforce and how much lost by fuel weight?


I saw Renault claiming it was around 20%


Going by your estimates in your previous article on F1 fuels, that would amount to about a minute lost because of extra fuel weight over the course of a GP (might be more if we account for the extra tyre wear). Obviously they get more back from the downforce, seconds per lap maybe.

Engineering is often the science of compromise and this is a great example of that. For me at least technical innovation is as much part of the show as the overtaking. It’s a pity really that innovations keep getting banned. I guess the upside is we’ll get to see something new and unexpected next year. There will always be loopholes in the rules.

Another question for you James: how much do the teams pay for fuel? All that research into additives can’t come cheap. If the FIAs goal is to cut costs and be more ‘relevant’, wouldn’t it be better to use regular fuel?

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