F1 Winter Break
What difference will off throttle diffuser ban make?
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Jun 2011   |  9:19 am GMT  |  190 comments

The FIA Technical Working Group met at the end of the week to rubber stamp the FIA’s ban of off-throttle blown diffusers. They also discussed how the ban can be policed. They also accepted that from next season the whole concept of blown diffusers goes out of the window.

From Silverstone this year onwards engine makers will be limited to using just 10% of engine over-run when the driver is off the accelerator.

This will kill of the current practice of blowing high pressure exhaust gas through the diffuser when the driver lifts off the throttle – ie in corners – creating downforce but at the cost of 15% increased fuel consumption.

The key question is, will this change the order at the front in F1?

At a rather gloomy post-race press briefing in a rainy Montreal paddock we sat with Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali who posed this question himself,

“We need to see in Silverstone, what is the real effect of this change in the regulations with regard to the effect of the exhaust,” he said. “Then, we will see really where is the second championship in terms of the level of performance above all in higher downforce tracks.”

This is probably wishful thinking for Ferrari, whose lead driver Fernando Alonso, lies fifth in the championship almost 100 points behind Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.

Off throttle blowing is a technology that was pioneered and perfected by Renault for Red Bull Racing and from early last season was part of the reason why they step up in performance in the final part of qualifying and whenever they need the extra performance.

Of course most top teams have copied the technology. McLaren and Mercedes were active in this field at Singapore last year, as we discussed it there with McLaren’s Jonathan Neale. So all the teams will lose something.

But Red Bull have the best system and so will lose more of their performance advantage. But how much, is the key question?

Engineers I have spoken to suggest that the real differentiator for Red Bull in qualifying is its very powerful DRS rear wing, which can be used on qualifying laps in corners where other teams simply cannot use it, as the car would become unstable.

Of course, the superior blown diffuser created some of the downforce and stability which allowed them to use the DRS in this way, but to be clear, it’s not likely that with this cut to 10% of its current level they will suddenly lose their ability to exploit the DRS.

Red Bull has owned Silverstone in the last two seasons and is likely to still enjoy a performance advantage in qualifying thanks to the DRS, but we’ve seen them under pressure in race conditions in the last four races. not least with the dodgy KERS, compared to the strong units on the Mercedes and Ferrari powered cars.

It looks like the chasing pack of McLaren and Ferrari are closing on them and the race at Silverstone could well be very tight, maybe even tipping the balance away from Red Bull in races. But I still expect them to be quick in qualifying.

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I wonder, in years to come, whether championships won with illegal parts such as the mass damper, blown diffuser, double diffuser will put a question mark on the champions who won it in those years.

But anyway I really hope the Red Bull's pace in qualifying is curbed to a few hundredths after the ban comes into place for nobody (apart from Red Bull fans of course) wants to see a unfair fight.

Personally I do not care about the Valencia win infact I hope the Mclaren lads fail to win it.

The race I really want in the bag is Silverstone - Yes in my book, that win is worth half a world championship.


Also. As for an unfair fight... it's fair because everyone gets the same rules and same chances. I don'twant to see RBR run away with it but changing the rules mid way through is MUCH more unfair than having one constant for everyone throughout the entire year.

I can't remember you saying Brawn should be stopped becasue they were unfair after the first 6 races when Button won.

Or about etc.. previously


Actually, even as a Button fan, I think what Brawn GP did by introducing the double diffusers was put F1 back several years. We suffered a period of the best grid of drivers not being able to overtake because the cars are undriveable when within a second of the guy in front. The FIA should have took the harder stance on it. While within the rules Brawn GP knew they were going against the spirit of those rules which were clearly designed to stop the use of double diffusers.

The F-Duct and Exhaust Blown Diffusers were both clever ideas that were originally within the rules. Unfortunately the rule that banned the F-Duct regarding driver influenced aerodynamics also makes the EBD illegal. Especially now it is thought that some teams are changing the engine mapping between quali and the start of the race using a button on the steering wheel, directly affecting downforce levels. Hence the Red Bulls pace in quali and probably explains the Magic Button that Ross Brawn mentioned in Radio Comms with Schumacher a few races back.


Oh Jesus. Should've known better than posting about a team on a JA Blog, yes others were involved. Sorry for upsetting the Brawn die hards.

As for me knowing nothing about aerodynamics, you'vre hardly made a clear case in your favour apart from telling me I know nothing.

What I do know is that the regs that were supposedly designed to ban double diffusers came from the technical group tasked with increasing overtaking and allowing cars to follow closer, but hey maybe they should bow to your knowledge too.


Exactly, Brawn wasn't the only team to start 2009 with the double diffuser, and if you think it's the double diffuser that causes the 'dirty air' effect for the car behind then you need to learn more about aerodynamics.


They weren't the only team to bring one to the party! I don't see you complaining against Williams, Toyota and BMW.


How is the British GP worth 'half a championship'?


He means that the latter half of the season will be like a new championship, as the playing field will be "even", in Ferrari's eyes. He wasn't referring to Silverstone as a single event, but all the races from Silverstone onward.


That's just trying to take a big dig at all the recent champions apart from your obvious favourite Hamilton.

If you want to look at it like that then what about the stolen Ferrari secrets that was on the Mclaren in 07 and 08, or the the overpowered KERS Mclaren held back in 09 or the F-Duct in 10?? With all that Hamilton could only 1 cheap title given by Glock.

Just face it Vettel is the fastest, most consistent and best driver followed closely by Alonso, Seb will show the skeptics wrong and close out this title before the last race, the Mclaren has been the fastest car in race trim for the past 3 races and yet it's still the world champion that's got the measure of them apart from 1 damp patch at Montreal, expect no surprises in the next 2-3 races even if Mclaren will be quicker Seb will still get good results.


Well, for me Mclaren have always been my favourite British Team. I don't want to speak for others but I think the Ron Dennis era probably reinforced Mclaren's Britishness for many.

I admire Williams for their achievements and also for staying fiercely independent. I think their reluctance to move with the times has hurt them though which as a fan of engineering has been a failing in my eyes. Their factory has good facilities compared with say Torro Rosso but they are lagging behind the top teams. Some investment is needed which has been difficult to achieve without major blue chip backers.

I'm glad to see they have diversified the business to generate profit with Williams Hybrid Power, customer F2 chassis, F1 gearboxes and the manufacture of the new Jaguar super car etc. It's about time and it should help strengthen the team going forward.

I think Williams still have a large and loyal fan base and if they aren't your favourite team, they're probably your 2nd favourite team. They just seem to have this reluctance to move with the times. In this modern world there is more to F1 than turning up at the races. You have to engage the fans with novel ideas. I have a Mclaren App on my Blackberry that gives me live telemetry straight from the cars on track. I know it's nerdy but it gets you involved. I have yet to see Williams market themselves in this interactive modern world and this gives a certain aloof impression, to me anyway. I know they're all about the racing, but the fans require more bang for their buck these days. Mclaren are essentially an independent team nowadays but they still attract the big sponsors because they are cool and interesting. Williams are anonymous by comparison.

My personal reason for favouring Mclaren is not just down to the racing team. I also really admire the Mclaren company and they way they are genuinely excited about engineering challenges. Their road cars are in my opinion beautiful and exciting but it's the little things you hear of them doing. Things like building stuff for NASA which ends up on Mars or whatever. I find it fascinating and in an era of dead or dying manufacturing in GB, a company producing such quality stuff is something the nation should be proud of. Of course, this also applies to Williams nowadays which has made me like them a little more.

As a racing team I also think Mclaren have the best looking cars (usually) and I do love cars!!!

Lastly, I think you're essentially asking do I think Williams will still be Williams as the old boys retire? In name only I think, once they have withdrawn from the day to day running of the business the team will modernise. Probably out of respect for their legacy, Adam Parr has run the team very much in Frank and Patrick's image but once they're gone I'm sure the team will go cool like Mclaren and Ferrari. They need to stay relevant, no one wants them to be the granddad in the corner dribbling and dreaming about the good old days. We want to see Williams fighting at the sharp end and giving Mclaren and Ferrari a bloody nose.

I suppose these reasons are scant justification for my preference and maybe I just can't explain it. I just like Mclaren and always have. I'm not really bothered so much about the drivers, it's the teams I'm interested in. Whilst it's nice to see the British boys doing well and doing it at Mclaren, I'll still be chanting Mclaren's name long after JB and LH have taken up pipe and slippers.


This is a foolish comment. Clearly you have forgotten that technical delegates from the FIA visited Mclaren during the spy scandal and stripped the Mclaren's down to assess how much technology was on the car that may have been derived from the Ferrari dossier and guess what? The outcome of the investigation found no evidence of Ferrari technology anywhere on the cars.

Also, the team was not prosecuted by the FIA for stealing technical secrets because they couldn't find any evidence of it taking place. The team was charged with contravening article 151c I believe which is related to the protection of the public image of the sport and has nothing to do with the technical side. In light if this, as a Ferrari employee instigated the whole thing it's ridiculous that Ferrari weren't equally punished.

The F duct was a brilliant idea which was deemed legal by the FIA under the regulations in place at the time. It was brilliant because it not only improved the car's performance but also had fuel saving advantages which in this day and age should be applauded for having green credentials. Red Bull's over run blown diffuser wastes fuel and as F1 moves towards a greener era it is rightly being banned. The only reason the F Duct was so bemoaned by other teams was because they were gutted they hadn't thought of it first. Also, I think it was clear that by Spa the Renault had the best F Duct, not Mclaren.

You mention British Hypocrisy and accuse the British fans of being partisan and Biased towards the British teams, Mclaren in particular. This is hypocrisy!! If a Ferrari fan chest beats about their beloved team it's merely loyalty on display but if a Brit makes the Battle Cry for Mclaren it's described as unhealthy bias. Ridiculous!!

I am proudly British and a staunch supporter of Mclaren. That doesn't make me intolerant of other teams/countries/races or anything else for that matter. I am entitled to get behind our boys just as much as the Germans may get behind Mercedes or the Italians behind Ferrari. Showing support for the home team is only natural and I find it highly irritating that other countries object to us displaying this sort of attitude simply because we're British.

Dismissing Mclaren and their rich history because of a few minor controversies is utterly unfair and unjustifiable. I can recall many incidents where the mighty Ferrari's chosen approach could be regarded as less than honest to say the least and of course, many teams over the years have bent the rules in their favour, often to the point of controversy but that's part of the game that is F1. Throwing your toys out of the pram just because a team other than your favourite has had a good idea and stolen a march is no way to go racing. If F1 designers wasted their time sulking like you instead of catching up they wouldn't last very long would they?


Hi David,

I've been busy doing a uni assignment, hence the late reply. I could be wrong, but I suspect that Dave C is really just having a go dig at goferet's comments, which rarely survive rational analysis.

On the British bit, from an Australian perspective it is interesting to note the change since I started following F1 in the mid-1980s. Then Williams was the true "British" teamm, even compared to Lotus (possibly considered slighlty 'Red Bull' in rule interpretation). Until Denny Hulme left the team in the early seventies, I understand that McLaren still had a very strong New Zealand expatriate component, and in a way was more New Zealand than Brabham was Australian even with the Repco engine and Ron Tauranac (forgive my spelling) as the designer. Did McLaren have the same British appeal with Kimi and JPM? Will Williams lose further support as Frank and Patrick move further into the background?




It's down to the wording of the article which relates to the conduct of team members being the responsibility of the team when charges of bringing the sport into disrepute are being brought. Stepney was a Ferrari Team Member and one would assume they were responsible for not having adequate anti fraud measures in place in order to protect the sport from humiliation.


I would agree with most of your comments, but, how can you say that Ferrari should be punished for having an employee stealing from them?


The Mclaren servers were all searched too and none of the information from the Dossier was found.

The dossier was in the private possession of Mike Coughlan and the season was already underway when he received it from Stepney so quite how he managed to copy the Ferrari data and get it onto the Mclaren is difficult to imagine.

The scandal broke before anything untoward took place which is why Mosely, in his determination to give Ron Dennis a bashing went down the article 151c route. It's common knowledge that Mosely had it in for Dennis and Ecclestone admits as much in his recent biography. In fact Ecclestone says they only pursued the punishment because "Ron's a BEEP".

Mclaren have never needed to copy Ferrari or anyone, they have always been the main innovators in the sport and I'm sure Ron Dennis would rather eat his own fingers than put anything Red on his cars apart from Vodafone stickers. Ron and Ferrari are arch enemies, the thought of putting their technology on his cars would make his skin crawl, I have no doubt.


The foolish comment is made by the person that mentions the 'british' this 'british' that, well I'm British and I don't support Hamilton, ...[mod]. It's true that F1 is about innovations and if you think Mclaren didn't use any of the Ferrari information then thats more foolish than supporting that loose cannon! In the end comon sense and real ethical and moral champions will shine through, and thats not Hamilton, its Vettel and Button even though I have to say Vettel is by far the best driver today.


I could not have said it better myself. Top marks for an answer!!


The parts aren't illegal, the teams just push their interpretation of the rules to the very limit, and sometimes these rules need slightly 'amended' after the fact.

It won't tarnish anyone's championship, simply because nobody is actually breaking the rules as such.


Actually, the mass dampers were ruled to be illegal by the FIA's International Court of Appeal.


IMO the parts are illegal when they clash with the spirit of good sportsmanship.Also regarding the RedBull's I feel the FIA need to do something about that low riding (sometimes) front wing,during those arty slow mo shots that Brundle so loves I regularly witness the R/B's front wing noticeably lower than their competitors.

The FIA needs to stop allowing grey areas in their rule interpretations,its sport,not law.


Pushing the boundaries of technology in F1 is good sportsmanship. Some sports relish tradition (Tennis?), some sports thrive on innovation (F1).


How can the use of a part that is legal be regarded as clashing with the spirit of good sportsmanship? Saying this about Brawn's double diffuser is very harsh on Ross Brawn. Brawn, as technical advisor to FOTA, informed all of the teams of the loophole he had discovered in the regs, with a view to bring it to the attention of the FIA. The teams, apparently not understanding what he was telling them, chose to let it slide. Only when they saw Jenson and Rubens disappearing into the distance did they begin to understand.

What more was Brawn to do to satisfy your idea of good sportsmanship?



One of the thing I love about F1 is that they are pushing the boundries and interpretations of rules.. the kind of 'When is a hole not a hole?... when it's a gap' mentality is somethjing I like because its so rare in modern 'safe' culture.

Everyone year the guy with the fastest car wins pretty much. Otherwise the list is rediculous

Vettel - blown diffuser

Button - Double Diffuser

Hamilton - continuation of the espionage copying scandale

Raikkonen - Lucked into it

Alonso - dampers

Schumacher - Rory Byrne.. and his wing moved a bit according to Brawn last year or so


Infact in 2010 who would have won it... surely the true WDC of 2010 in Rosberg.

Webber & Vettel - Blown diffuser grey area and front wing grey area

Hamilton & Button - F-duct grey area

Alonso & Massa - got the front wing going eventually grey area

So that leaves Rosberg on top!

And the last statement I think is the exact opposite.

In law there shouldn't be grey areas. It should be clearly defined as much as possible.

In sport its about pushing the rules in F1 and I really like that.


Such typical British hypocrisy. No mention of the F-Duct, and no-Briton was crying foul last year when McLaren had the best F-duct and was winning racing with.

This time it’s not a British team and they’re ‘cheats’


The parts are illegal when they are deemed so by the FIA. Until then, they are legal.


Would it not be considered a mistake that DRS is allowed in qualifying. It seems to only exaggerate downforce advantages and reduces competitiveness of the field; something counter productive to the DRS' original objective of improving the show.


I never really understood being allowed to use DRS in qualifying, it is supposed to be an aid to overtaking. In my opinion using it anywhere on the lap was a mistake and should be a focus for a change if we want a closer championship.


I think the reason that it has been allowed in Quali is that if it wasn't, teams may have not even bothered having it on their car full stop.


I think they allow the DRS in quali because FOM wants the glory of setting all the track records every weekend. Martin and DC keep marveling at how they keep going so fast in quali, well the flipping wing is open for 3/4 of the lap, of course it's the lap record!


Have to say, I agree with that sentiment. I thought that you had parc ferme rules once Qualifying started, and while I know that physically the cars are not touched, the parc ferme rules should exted to cover the way that the DRS is used in qualifying, ie only used on that section of the track where it is allowed during the race.


Qailifying is still a practice session and the rules governing DRS are for the race.


I don't see why it's hard for the other teams to evaluate Red Bulls rear wing and if it's so great just copy it. Maybe I'm missing something. The rear wing is one of the most visible parts of the car. It's not like it's hidden on the underside of the car.


you cannot just copy it is because of the term Coupled Effect...it is a package not one item is the reason


I think it's more to do with the fact that, overall, their car produces SO much more downforce in every area than the other cars that they can open their wing earlier and the cars will be stable. This is different for the other teams because they need the downforce the rear wing provides.


Nick, If you look at the Red Bull cars on the grid during pre race coverage. You wont be able to see their rear wing, as it's view is obstructed by the 3 or 4 mechanics standing around it to hide it from not only the other teams but us the fans!


The difficulty is that it isn't the wing they need to copy - the reason they can open the wing in corners nobody else can is because the rest of the car produces so much downforce. So in actual fact teams would need to produce/adjust new floors, blown diffusers, front wing, ride height,engine modes, suspension settings etc. If it was simply copying the wing the teams would have done that.


again, the very typical narrow minded assumption that Newey cars are somehow a giant turd without x-superfast innovation that makes it a world beater... grow up everyone, the class has a long way to go to catch the RB7, and if it is true they arent even using the off throttle EBD in races the gap will only get bigger. If Mclaren had the best EBD people would be crying for heads in the FIA right now, its no different than the F-duct or the DDD.

If we went to retroactively strip all championships from drivers who won when their team was using technology that later got banned, each year you would have to scrap the hall of fame.


Bang on. Which is why I think the EBD ban will have a bigger effect in Quali than JA is predicting. Vettel has the DRS open on most corners way before anyone else because their EBD gives them so much downforce anyway.


So which other teams will also be hit by this? Surely Redbull, Renault, Macca and Ferrari?

So I guess the question should be... Who won't be affected?


I was told that Williams had the best blown diffuser (without the overrun function). None of the cosworth cars have it.


Hahaha 🙂

Yep, HRT won't be affected..... they will still be dead last.


So people expect Adrian to just give away the off-throttle diffuser without coming up with something equally brilliant? I predict that Red Bull will stay at the front of the field, despite the rule change at Silverstone.

And where do people get off thinking that McLaren are getting closer to Red Bull? Vettel would have lapped Jenson in Canada if not for safety cars. Maybe if McLaren had 2 drivers working towards the goal they might make some inroads. Unfortunately you can't count on Lewis finishing a race without incident at the moment.


Unbelieveable comment!! Should've gone to Specsavers :). Other opticians are available..


What race were you watching?


I think it was the Red Bull Wonderland GP on the Red Bull Channel


I'm glad I got to hear these cars in real life just once, that Lotus Renault sounded unreal, I guess they might move the complex exhausts when that tech has been banned.


I thought the reason why the RB's were able to open the DRS earlier than everyone else during qualifying was a result of their 'superior' blown diffuser giving them greater levels of downforcea and grip.

Therefore restricting everyone to just 10% should mean that RB will loose the most performance?

or am I missing something here?


It's important to understand what exactly is affected by this rule change.

It relates purely to the overrun phase of the corner, when the throttle would normally be closed and the exhaust product not being generated. The trickery employed by the teams so far enables a faster corner entry, that's all.

When the corner exit phase commences and the driver starts to accelerate, this effect is lost. You are quite right Ste H. in saying that the assumed-to-be superior normally blown diffuser of the RB, plus the overall aerodynamic efficiency of the car, allows them to get on the throttle sooner and harder and as soon as the traction & grip exceeds the power available, the drivers can start shedding downforce by opening the DRS, since from then on, they have more grip than they need to keep traction.

So this rule need have no effect at all on RB's use of the DRS on corner exit, they simply have more downforce to exploit than the other teams.

The new rule should therefore affect them to about the same level as the other teams. Consequently, I don't see that it will change their relative position.


But its only limited to 10% while off-throttle.

the corners where red bull were able to open the drs earlier than anyone else were corners where they were already fully back on the throttle (Final corner at barcelona for example) so in these corners the off-throttle blown diffuser ban will have no effect.


I reckon Mr. Newey has (once again) exploited the rules change very well in respect to DRS. However, I do believe this will hurt their qualifying performance and mean that it won't be an automatic pole for Red Bull. What is surprising however is Red Bulls KERS system which is proving rather weak and hurts them massively! I feel that is a whole different kettle of fish and is why the others are better during the race.


Very difficult from this regard something to say, and perhaps no one can judge about, until Silverstone, but certainly for RBR will come tougher times, and as Helmut Mako said Ferrari will benefit on this change. Seems any way that in average assessment, RBR will stay the quickest on the field.


What i dont understand is why the FIA hasnt banned the technology on the 2011 regulations, since there were teams already expoloiting it and doing researches in Singapore 2010 ?

Maybe the FIA should issue a new article on its regulations :

" If theres a team which has been so clever and outsmarted the whole field with a certain technology - the FIA reserves the right to ban the technology any time during the season "


>” If theres a team which has been so clever and outsmarted the whole field with a certain technology – the FIA reserves the right to ban the technology any time during the season “

They already do this, they just don't admit it.


This is just right - it's tampering by the governing body. They can ban it for 2012, or could've banned it for 2011 (but didn't). To ban it mid-season when there's no major safety concern is just the kind of damaging tinkering that F1 can't seem to resist.


The FIA has to be seen as 'Road Relevant' too, y'know.


Until the breakaway series happens, which it will and we go back to technology in F1...then road relevant is gone ...as it should be.


The net result of such a rule is that F1 becomes a control formula. None of the technologies are, as someone excitable has it in comment 1, "illegal" --- it's likely that Charlie Whiting was consulted before they went onto the car. Other teams have just found away to protest them that is as clever as the original concept, and Whiting has to act when presented with a protest that is accurate on its face, even if he's previously approved the part.

F1's basic policy of the past few years seems a good one. If you come up with a clever reading of the rules that exploits the gap between the letter and the spirit or intent, then good luck to you: you get one season to use it. But it's banned from the end of the year, so the other teams don't have the expense of developing it.

But some of those bans are silly: the double-clutch ban essentially means that VW's DSG gearbox, fitted to Polos, is illegal. Same with CVT: a real road technology banned for tactical F1 reasons.


Yes, you can count Traction Control, ABS and Active Suspension to name a few in that list. But I don't think that just because something was developed by F1 that translated to road cars, that they should necessarily stay on F1 cars after they have been perfected.

F1 is an avant guard engineering formula, and that's how it should stay. I want innovation, I want to see teams pushing the boundaries. I'm a McLaren fan, but I admire Red Bull for the way they are able to stretch everything that little bit further.

However, once the technology has been developed, it is on everyone's cars and it is reliable, a stalemate develops. No one car has an advantage anymore through that technology, and suddnly the show is a bit duller because no-one can overtake any more; so you might as well say 'OK, it's banned'. This will then bring forward a new crop of clever interpretations and designs.

If you just let everything that is developed stay on the cars, they will end up so fast, so agile, so powerful and so capable that a) no-one will be able to physically drive it because it would necessitate an autopilot due to the reaction times and G-forces necessary and b) they will be so tiny margins between them that there will be no overtaking possible.


Why is DRS allowed in qualifying anyway? It's not even used the way it is in the race (for obvious reasons) but surely disallowing it at all times rather than allowing it would be the better option.

Here is a thought. In typical DRS help-the-follower style, maybe DRS could be disallowed during qualifying for teams that finish in the top ten during free practice 3? A sort of return to pre-qualifying.


Surely teams would just do their qualifying set up in practice two and sandbag practice three by doing long runs with high fuel loads. The penalising the top ten finishers of the last race would be the only option but then you likely end up punishing anyone who has a surprising weekend and making teams in tenth place happy to lose a single position to set themselves up for the next race. There are already too many interfering rules, just let them race, best package that doesn't break any rules wins and get some ex-engineers and designers to write the rules so that there are less loopholes.



You said:

Engineers I have spoken to suggest that the real differentiator for Red Bull in qualifying is its very powerful DRS rear wing, which can be used on qualifying laps in corners where other teams simply cannot use it, as the car would become unstable.

Is that precisely because the Redbull has more downforce going round corners compared to other teams (due to the success of its offthrottle EBD) that it is able to deploy its DRS more aggressively?

I'm not sure that there DRS success is independent of their offthrottle EBD.


According to a report that I read, Red Bull's DRS is worth up to an extra 17 km/h, whereas the McLaren system is only worth up to 12 km/h. The Mercedes-Benz system is supposedly worth up to 20 km/h. Presumably it is due to the profiling of the wing and how it relates to other elements of the car.


Exactly. The Red Bull has a longer main element with a decent angle of attack on its own. The McLaren has a much shorter one.

Aside from the increased drag reduction, the Red Bull wing also generates more downforce than the McLaren wing when DRS is open. It basically works like a big single-element wing with a little wing above it, whereas the McLaren wing has a trailing edge that is far lower than the leading edge.

This means that when the McLaren wing opens, it loses a tremendous amount of downforce, as it relies on that upper element to create the conditions needed for the main element to work properly. The Red Bull doesn't need that, so while it is less efficient when closed, when DRS is open the Red Bull wing makes more downforce with far less drag. That's why it's a qualifying monster, but not far ahead in the race.

I think the EBD ban will hurt Red Bull, but they will still be ahead. It won't be a titanic shift in much of anything, from my view.


Sorry, I wasn't clear with my post.

In the case where the DRS is open, the Red Bull wing makes more downforce AND has less drag than the McLaren wing. When DRS is closed, McLaren has less drag and more downforce than Red Bull. Both downforce and drag are dropped when DRS is open, but Red Bull loses more drag and less downforce than McLaren.

That is why in some faster corners, Red Bull can run with DRS open, whereas McLaren and some others cannot (this may change in the coming rounds, as development catches up).

If the EBD is the deciding factor for them to run with the DRS open, and it is only on corners that are flat-out, then the off-throttle ban won't make any difference at all; they will still be making all the downforce of before where it matters. The car will be a little loose entering the corners due to the loss of downforce from off-throttle blowing, but it's not hard to play with shocks and get that settled down on entry without affecting the exit of the corner.

Here is a quick sketch:


When the DRS is open, the main element essentially works in isolation. Now imagine the effectiveness of the Red Bull wing (above) versus the McLaren wing (below) if you were relying solely on the main element. The Red Bull wing will clearly make far more downforce.


Hi Malcolm,

I still struggle with the concept that the Red Bull DRS wing being the significant factor in the qualifying difference, more so James' argument that the ability to use it in corners is a big advantage.

An imbalanced car is a great way of having a crap in-race performance and destroying the tyres. What I see is a high downforce car that in the race is well balanced and due to the high downforce works its tyres quite hard. This means that the Red Bull drivers have to manage them very carefully. The drag reduction doesn't come for free, or otherwise the wing would just be designed in the DRS open configuration all the time.

From what I've seen the Red Bull cars are only using the DRS in corners where the car is under full throttle, so in effect are power rather than grip limited. The exhaust blown diffuser would contribute to this situation, but the point is that the lap time gain comes from the corner apex speed the car has due to the downforce, not the extra fraction of a second of drag reduction that the car has to add 3 km/h when it is already doing 10-15 km/h more at the apex.

Since the EBD is just making the undertray work better, I suspect that Red Bull will just tweak its floor design, which Rob Marshall and his team clearly understands better than then other teams a bit and little will change. The Red Bull drives will use the DRS in corners a little less, but will still be well ahead in qualifying but have to manage their race pace, just like last year, when there was no DRS, due to the downforce load causing increased tyre wear. I also suspect, with minimal evidence, that the Renault Q3 power level is a bigger delta over the race "cruise" power than the Mercedes or Ferrari engines require.

As one of the few other engineering commentators (and racer, which I'm not) I'd appreciate your thoughts.




Thanks for the explanation!

Raymond Petersson

Will there be changes with the hot blowing already at Valencia, which Michael Schmidt suggests as a possibility?


James, you have hit the point that I believe to be totally wrong in F1, the use of DRS & KERS in qualifying. Without these aids there would be a more representative grid, therefore better racing. Yes, I know the argument of drivers using tools etc but regardless, DRS is used once during a lap (except Montreal) so why allow it all the time in Qually?


Yes, I thought these technologies were designed to overcome shortcomings in the abilities of the cars to overtake during a race. Qualifying isn't racing, and unless team-mates choose to get a slipstream off each other (as happened occasionally in the past), it seems strange to allow DRS and KERS in qualifying.

Tom in adelaide

I'm definitely not the most tecnically knowledgable person around here - any reason why a driver couldn't disengage the clutch and keep their foot on the throttle in slow corners?

part time viewer

that would be the same as the car opening the throttle so the 10% rule still aplies.

Also the loss of engine breaking, and kers braking, would increase the braking distance, plus the kers wouldnt recharge


That's ok in theory,but the clutches in these cars are only designed to get them off the line or out of the pits.


ummm... because there's no clutch per se and the computer does all the shifting?


James, is it not the case that Red Bull can use it's DRS to greater effect in qualifying due to it's superior exhaust blown diffuser creating more downforce? Hence, take away the engine retardation and it will impact the amount of DRS they can use.


I'm thinking not only teams but also drivers.

Remembering that this isn't a complete ban on the concept but a ban on the complex mapping systems that they were using.

At Red Bull in particular, a new attempt was made to improve it from the start of the 'european season' until they quickly changed it. During this time, Webber was able to alter his driving style much more to get the most out of it and had massive wins in Spain and Monaco. Once RBR worked out how to get it to produce the downforce for the full lap (i.e. what they have now), Vettel moved back ahead.

If RBR go back to something that requires more of a driving style change since they can't just prop the thrttle open again will Webber be a bit faster?

Surely this could be very interesting as Vettel is well ahead of everyone, and some members of RBR (i.e. marko) may not want to see the championship slide and would prefer Vettel to keep ahold of it rather than let Webber eat into it and pick up less points over other drivers incase of a late season car problem or melt down for Vettel.


Very true about last season.

I'm a Webber fan but i don't think he'll be able to get to that position even with the new rulings, the problem for Webber is getting the tyres to cooperate with his driving style.

He may pull some time back from Vettel and make it a little closer and put some pressure on him but other than that all of his focus should be on the Pirellis.


Hi James,

On a slightly different subject, i notice Jenson has been abit closer to Hamilton in quali this year, and also last year he was closer than many people expected.

Could this be down to the Mclarens centre, shared data garage setup? So Jenson can access Hamiltons info and get up to speed, that could explain why Jenson was closer than many expected, and also why Webber is so far off Vettel because they dont have this shared data system..

Or am i far off the mark on that?


From what I have read it is often the other way around, Jenson is more comfortable setting the car up in Friday practice. After which Lewis alters the setup for Saturday and as we know Lewis is a bit quicker over the one lap.


I'm not sure wha tyou mean by 'shared data system'.

Webber is off the pace in the race becasue of bad luck, he is usually pace wise on pace in the race. In quali it's because he isn't getting to grips with the tyres which is a bit weird given that in the past Webber has been able to successfully change his driving style better than Vettel.

I think Button is going for it a bit more than last year and is a bit more confident with the tyres and car. Button prefers a bit of understeer. Hamilton a bit of oversteer. These tyres are weak at the rear and so the drivers don't burn the rears out in the race the car is setup with a bit of understeer so that the front slides damaging the strong front before they hit the weak rears. This suits Button a bit more.


Surely the blown diffuser is allowing or at least helping the DRS to work so well on the RB in corners? Other teams cant use the DRS in certain corners because their blown diffuser is less efficient. I thought F1 cars were integrated systems, not a collection of separate unrelated systems.


I think the reason the Red Bull DRS can be used so much in qualifying is because of how well they are hot-blowing the diffuser. The underside of the car is generating so much suction that they don't need the downforce from the wing.

Depending on how the FIA implements the new restriction I think Red Bull's gap to the others will shrink, and possibly disappear...


In reality RBR should be losing the greatest from this change in the rules, but I am not completely sure it's going to be significant relatively to other top teams. Previously RBR had been using the exhaust over run as a shield for turbulence created by the back wheels, giving the diffuser less restrictions upon exit at the rear. I thought all the teams started blowing the diffuser about the same time and not really sure if RBR has such a big advantage here. RBR have a big advantage with down force, something that came from the RB5 for generating down force without massive help from the diffuser.

I don't see how the DRS is still going to be any greater advantage because their ability to deploy it earlier in the corners is down to the higher levels of down force. Start losing that down force and the longer it will be before you can deploy the DRS.


Interestingly Williams and McLaren made a concerted effort to allow clean airflow to the diffuser with the compact back end and entirely different sidepod philosophy respectively. This was found to provide only a small benefit compared with the RBR EBD as McLaren found out, hence why they copied the flat exhaust.

This is not to say the RB7 does not have many other reasons for its inherent high downforce, but that others may benefit more due to the design philosophy of their cars.


Given the reduction in off throttle hot blowing of the diffuser it could be that Red Bull will be forced to reduce the size of their DRS wing to avoid de-stabilising the car that being the case it might well be that Red Bull's advantage is further eroded. Close scrutiny of Vettel's cornering techniques have revealed that he has his DRS wing open before he exits the corner which speaks volumes for amount of downforce that car currently has. Take that away and the playing field becomes much more level. Having said that Red Bull will not be standing idle while this is going on and therefore I expect them to optimise their performance another way.


Surely Red Bull's ability to open their rear wing far earlier than anyone else points to the e off throttlefficiency of their EBD..With the exhaust throughput limit in force they might not be able to activate their DRS so early in a corner during qualifying any more.


Sorry James but I think you are missing the point here. Your conclusion is not supported by your own facts at all.

As you stated in your article, "Engineers I have spoken to suggest that the real differentiator for Red Bull in qualifying is its very powerful DRS rear wing, which can be used on qualifying laps in corners where other teams simply cannot use it, as the car would become unstable."

Red Bull can use the DRS in those corners because they have more down force and some of that down force comes from the off-throttle blown diffuser. In addition, Red Bull do use the off-throttle blown diffuser in the race (albeit to a lesser extent compared to qualifying, which explains why they use 10% to 15% more fuel, depending on your sources).

The banning of the off-throttle blown diffuser will affect them in both qualifying and race as they will have less down force in both, unless they manage to recover the lost down force from somewhere else. Otherwise, they too may no longer be able to use the DRS in those corners in qualifying like they do now. In the race, even without DRS they currently still benefit from the extra down force in those same corners, when they need to put the hammer down. That too will be gone from Silverstone.

If Mclaren, Ferrari and Mercedes lose significantly less from this rule clarification in comparison to Red Bull (who have mastered the system more than the rest), then this could certainly be looking good for those teams, and for the championship. It could be like the banning of the Renault mass damber in 2006 in my view.


And you tested this in your own wind-tunnel? Or CFD?

There are significant differences in wing design. The Red Bull has a longer, higher-cambered main element with a small flap that opens to horizontal. The McLaren wing has a shorter, lower-cambered main element with a longer flap that can only open to roughly 45 degrees.

The Red Bull rear wing creates less downforce and more drag than the McLaren wing when DRS is closed (and is therefore a penalty in the race), but it creates more downforce AND less drag when it is open. The latter scenario makes it a killer wing in qualifying, because the main element is still working quite well as a stand-alone with with no flap, whereas the McLaren wing really needs that flap to work properly.

While you are correct that the off-throttle EBD ban will affect the balance of the car, it will only do so on corner entry. Red Bull stands to lose ground on corner entry, but they will still have the blown diffuser for corner exit. So even if they can't use the DRS through the entire corner, they will be able to use it from the apex onward, thus still gaining a huge benefit over other cars that have a less-effective rear wing when it DRS is open.

I agree with James on this one.


I guess next you will say the special qualifying engine maps that have just been banned have nothing to do with it either; let's wait and see what happens over the next two to three race weekends as things unfold, teams adapt and new developments come to the fore. This will be like the mass damper ban me thinks! Possibly a new championship as the Ferrari boss said


When did I say it had "nothing" to do with it?

Again, the maps will only affect corner entry and braking.

Both bans will have an effect, but it won't be a titanic shift. Wing design is a key component to the DRS advantage, and while the off-throttle EBD ban will hurt them a bit, it won't be the end of the world for Red Bull.

I agree with you on one thing... we will see. 🙂

Oxford Bullnose

Beeb to lose F1!! Yeeeesssss!!



I was immediately suspicious when I read the article on the front page of the Sunday Times - remember this newspaper is owned by News Corp, who are not afraid to order their publications to print stories for their own ulterior motives.

Hypothetically if the BBC did drop it, would ITV want it back? I seem to remember Bernie decided to offer it back to the BBC on a bit of a whim for 2009 and it took ITV by surprise, so they were obviously happy doing what they were doing.

I'm not sure how many of the current crew would move. Jake and Lee are definitely BBC people and would not go. Jordan would I think throw a strop and not go either. Brundle and DC? Not sure.

For all those worried about ads in the middle of races or bad commentators, I think it's only a matter of time before FOM starts offering the live feed on the web, for a fee, so we may be able to watch that and, for example, listen to the 5 live commentary. Or perhaps FOM would hire James Allen to commentate?


Yes, great news that we go to Sky or something else like that.... give me a break.

Whilst I liked JA on the ITV coverage, the adverts were terrible. And also IMHO the quality of the BBC programming is better (imho - barring Eddie jordan and DC)

If you look at the salaries some of the BBC guys get (not F1 but newsreaders and kids presenters on mid 6 figure sums).

I'm afraid to say though, a relation of mine had dealings with the BBC (through an ad agency contract) and mentioned that for every 1 person they sent to the meeting, the BBC had about 4. There is little doubt the corporation needs more sensible spending, but removing F1 (one of its best products - and one of the only reasons I'm happy to support keeping the license fee) is not the way to go.

Oxford Bullnose

Whatever the objections, this is going through on a purely financial basis - Britain is bankrupt - Beeb can't afford it - so we all need to get used to it. Stomping feet isn't going to change anything - F1 is a minority interest and nothing's going to change - this isn't the NHS..


Beeb COULD afford it, if they didn't pay their CEO Mark Thompson £800,000 salary + bonus & also many of their execs ludicrous sums of money.

It all comes out of licence-payers money, but they refuse to rein it in.

As regards their team, I'd rather have what we have now than possible adverts & hysterical hype for commentary.


Yes, that's a high salary. However the BBC is paying £3m per race. Oxford Bullnose is correct that that's a lot to pay to cover a minority sport. I'll be sad to see it go from the BBC.

Of course the comment could be just a BBC negotiating position.


You're making the huge assumption that F1 operates in a vacuum. It doesn't. Television rights, just like marketing deals and driver salaries, are negotiated within the context of prevailing market conditions.

FOM aren't stupid. Sponsorship is based on media coverage. Maximum coverage comes from prime free-to-air channels. without this a critical piece of the F1 business model is compromised. It's in FOM's own interest to get the best possible coverage at the best possible price - but there's nothing to say that price is at the same levels as previously agreed.

Incidentally, the idea that the BBC licence fee is either a tax or poor value is ridiculous. It provides us with multiple tv channels, multiple radio stations, a 24 hour news service, a website, live events, community events AND creates its own content - all for a fraction of the cost of subscribing to a satellite or cable provider who simply purchases and not produce their own content. It's a bargain, but if you object to the 'tax', unlike most other taxes - you have a simple option to not pay. And unlike other taxes they'll STILL provide you with most of the services listed above.

Oxford Bullnose

Sky clearly want F1 and they'll outbid the (budget frozen) Beeb and do whatever's necessary to satisfy Bernie (if Bernie hasn't been sidelined by then).

I too think the BBC offers great value in general, across its output, for the tax we're charged (it's a de facto tax, an enforced subscription). But it does have many many problems (bloated wages, bloated staff numbers - not only in F1, a left wing, pretty much socialist-Marxist, politically correct bias, etc etc) and, even as an F1 fan, I cannot see it as fair that so much expenditure is spent on 'me', whereas by keeping Wimbledon (I hate tennis, watching it at least), for example, it'd be spread across more people of both sexes and I reckon that's more what the Beeb should be about. Just looking beyond my own personal wishes. And, for the umpteenth time, I don't really like the BBC team (a personal thing, I know) and I wouldn't be sad to see the end of Jake, Lee, Crofty, DC and MB lording it over all the F1 I watch (EJ and Ted, I like, for what it's worth). New faces, fewer please, would be a welcome thing.

I don't think how big a fan you are is dependent on the volume of live coverage you watch - in that case some student/unemployed/retired guy in Derby is F1's biggest fan. No. I've been watching as much as possible since the 80's and now 20 live races, Sat and Sun (and Fri) is enough - on PPV I'd watch maybe 10 or 12 races, but for Malaysia, China, Bahrain etc I'd be satisfied with delayed/catch-up or even highlights. I don't accept that that makes me less of a fan than anyone else. I just don't buy the 'Beeb, best in the world' mantra that so many of my countryfolk seem wedded to (ditto for the NHS - despite our docs being 2nd-best paid in the planet - taxes again! - do people realise how low their chances are of surviving heart attacks, cancers, strokes, compared with places like France, Germany, Japan?...)


I hope you get a chance to do a full post on this James... clearly an emotive issue for the fans of the sport. Personally I think the BBC coverage before and after the race has been considerably better than ITV, with DC and EJ being fantastic assets.

Do you know if any of the European broadcasters thought of teaming up together to bit for the rights? Surely as a collective they'd have a lot more power.


Yes, but the cost would be calculated on the basis of the countries it shows in, so it would probably work out no cheaper.

The fact is that Bernie has to realise that there's a global financial downturn, there's less money sloshing about and he needs to cut his coat. He's milking the market and there will be a backlash.

Oxford Bullnose

Off throttle BD ban to affect RB more than anyone, btw, else why would they be bringing it in now? They must have some idea it'll bring others into the game and make for a better show - if not, they'd just have left it until season's end.


The BBC's coverage in my opinion has been excellent. Don't think we should forget that ITV raised the bar though from what was poor coverage on the bbc.

Agree with the sentiment though that 55m are basically paying for lets say 5m. Those numbers don't stack up from a Business case point of view at the BBC.

I am sure that Bernie will guarantee that the coverage is as good and I for one don't fear Sky. They have taken coverage of Golf Cricket etc to the max. ITV took F1 a step further in the 90's so I really have no concerns.

Oxford Bullnose

Right. Sky has done great things with golf, cricket and rugby (and football, of course) - taken things much further than the Beeb ever did, and the only reason Beeb's F1 coverage is so comprehensive now is because they had to offer more than ITV were doing (and ITV really did raise the bar compared with the frankly cruddy - in retrospect - coverage the BBC used to offer...)

While the Beeb's race coverage is good, I stand by my criticisms of the bloated 'team' it sends to every race. But I've got a nagging suspicion that wherever F1 goes, MB will go too (he's somehow become the new Murray)- like a lot of football commentators nowadays he pronounces judgement much too readily, in the midst of the action, only to backpedal later (eg Hamilton at Monaco - MB states definitively during the Maldonado incident that 'it's a penalty, blah blah blah', only to later, quietly, admit on the BBC website that, having seen more footage, he'd been wrong.) Note to all commentators, all sports: you're not stewards, refs, umpires - just tell us what's going on and stick to that. Less annoying for viewers, less embarrassing for you.


And this would be a good thing- if true - why ?

Do you like adverts ruining the action that much ?

I think the BBC has done a great job and even if it moved elsewhere that does not automatically mean that James would get the gig - even if he wanted it - which is the only possible reason that this could be considered good


Oxford Bullnose

I don't get this post. Are you implying that I'm in favour of the Beeb losing F1 because of JA? Nope. No thoughts on that. I'm not a particular fan of JA - thought he (and Leggard) did the job better than MB, tbh, but I'm far, far from an MB fan, so that doesn't say much and there's not that much between the lot of them as lead commentator. Offer someone like JA or Leggard in the Jake role, though, and I'd bite your hand off. But then ANYONE would do for me, rather than Jake - Zippy from Rainbow, even...

No. I am not JA, and I'm unrelated to JA in any way (as far as I know). Don't care at all who commentates in future.


Leggard??? LOL. MB is far far far better. He's light years ahead when it comes to F1.


Very off topic, but how would that be good? I suppose you are one of these that would rather pay and/or watch ads.

Oxford Bullnose

Happy to pay for the races I want to see if it means the other 58 million people in the UK don't have to subsidise me through the TV Tax.

Ads give one time to nip to the bog (and if you're not needing to nip to the bog anyway, commercials or no commercials, on a Sunday afternoon after a nice roast dinner and a few beers, what is the trick - cross legs and chew knuckles? A bucket in the living room?) Anyway, it should be possible to air the race itself uninterrupted - like they do with big footies games...


That's your own preference if you want to pay, or go to the bog during ads, but speak for yourself, as most people here don't feel the same way. There are plenty of people who obviously don't need the bog as much as you do, therefore the ads are an unwanted interruption.

As far as subsidising is concerned, that's the way it goes. You pay your licence fee and the beeb shows what it deems appropriate. I don't really want to subsidise most of the crap they show most of the time (Eastenders, Clog Dancing on BBC4, stupid game shows, quiz shows etc etc etc) but that's the way it is. I'm not going to suggest they drop it all just to be selfish!


why is that a good thing?

bbc have provided us with the best f1 coverage for many years, no commercials, practice shown live on th etv, great pre-race/post-race, interactive extras like the onboard channel/driver tracker and the bbc forum.

if you were to do a poll of f1 fans i would guarantee that 99% would want f1 to stay on the bcc because the quality of the coverage the bbc have provided is far superior to anything we've had since that ppv service we had in 2002!


His username explains all.

Oxford Bullnose

Does it indeed?


@ Oxford Bullnose

Except that the article you're presumably referring to is riddled with factual inaccuracies and was printed in a Murdoch owned paper, but they couldn't possibly have any kind of agenda!



In what way can it be better that the BBC does not show F1? The alternative is either pay-per-view or commercials.

According to the Sunday Times today the current cost to the BBC is £1 per viewer for every race. That's a lot -- the most expensive programming they show.

Oxford Bullnose

Because no F1 on the Beeb means: a) the whole country no longer subsidising the hobby of a small (2m) mostly male audience with a bloated show that uses licence fee money to pay salaries and/or travel expenses to exotic locations to a bloated group of millionaires (DC, EJ, MB) and a whole host of lesser beings [mod] (Jake, 'Crofty', Lee 'get a sensational tabloid quote' McKenzie, etc, b) better coverage elsewhere (I for one think Brundle's become a different guy to the ITV days [mod] - JA will probably edit that out) [you are correct -mod] the Beeb's coverage appears good because we're not comparing like-for-like (lots of 'red button' stuff and HD wasn't possible back in the ITV days) - I for one would welcome a switch to ITV or Sky on that basis alone, and c) if it saves BB4, that'll do me (now, if it were Radio 1 or BBC 3 threatened I might not care enough...)

Tbh, even a 'Match of the Day' type F1 prog on the BBC would suit me - I'd maybe pay to watch Silverstone, Monaco, Suzuka and a few other races on ppv, but 20-odd races live is too much for most people with normal lives - don't get me wrong, I'm an F1 fanatic and have been for years, but with all the Tilke middle-of-nowhere tracks and dodgy goverments putting on races for vanity purposes, I could do with being made to think seriously whether I really, really want to watch every race - and I definitely don't think the Beeb should be sending its inflated crew all over the place.

No. It'll be tough medicine for me, but I need it.

Oxford Bullnose

BBC's own figures give most races attracting 2-4m viewers (and that's, I'm told, people watching for at least 15 minutes of a broadcast, so out of the 8m figure quoted above for Canada - which was on primetime for pretty much all of Sunday evening - how many watched only half an hour here or there?..)

Of course Silverstone and end-of-season finales attract more, but for the Beeb's supposedly flagship sports presentation it's just not followed by a wide enough audience to justify the expense (ask Lord Patten) - I'm as gutted as anyone on that score, if only it did attract that wider audience, but I'm not a fan in principle, epsecially not at the Beeb crew's smug satisfaction at spending other people's money to, as I said before, fly millionaires around the world to tell us, frankly, what we can most of the time see for ourselves.


This is an exceptionally strange view.

I've never heard a 'fanatic' of any sport, hobbie, or pastime say that they're not really bothered about missing the action and would be happy with a highlights show!

If it were financially viable, logistically possible and wouldn't totally ruin the relationships of those involved, then I'd happily watch a race every week.

As for the BBC coverage, I think it's certainly credible. Yes, it suffers a little for having to cater for a wide audience and is sometimes sensationalist but all media is guilty of that.

I'd be appalled if coverage went to any channel that would even consider putting adverts in the middle of the racing. I think that's a contemptible way to treat the sport - imagine the uproar if ITV or Sky started advertising in-play during the football.

Alas, it seems the Beeb can't afford to keep what surely must be its flagship sports coverage. I read that it costs roughly £1 per viewer - it's a shame that they can't move to a pay-per-view red-button format, with minimal charge e.g. £1 per race weekend to help cover costs.

I'd snap that up.

But then again, I'd still go for it if it were £50 per race. I must really, really want to watch every race.


an audience of 2m?

the viewing figures for f1 on the bbc are higher than that.

the last race at montreal was watched by 8.48m. average figures for the year so far is just over 5m.


Figures are good. Montreal figure was good. But it was basically the Sunday night prime time BBC slot! Also remember that ITV got peaks of 12m for Brazil 2008 and that wasn't isolated.


I think you have missed the point that Red Bull are sweating because the KERS on that car does not work (for long) and without the blown exhaust in the race they will be eaten alive by the teams that have a KERS that works! IE the equalisation will not be equal as the other teams now have something Red Bull do not! The other part is if the Red Bull chassis lacks as much mechanical grip as the others can achieve! Couple of percent down on mechanical grip and the lack of aero grip will really start to show. DRS maybe helping to qualify, but without the blown exhaust may make the car unbalanced! Then where will they be? Changing one thing profoundly and assuming all other elements will compensate is probably wishful thinking! That is why they call it a package and the DRS worked well because they had the blown exhaust.


if you look back to q1 and q2 in canada last week the ferrari's were the fastest car and then came q3 when red bull flicked the switch they were a good fraction faster. think if it was a dry race it would of been a ferrari 1 2 last week after the way it had been going up till q3. think this will definitly hurt red bull the most but probably hurt all the top teams a good bit. i hated the sound anyways it makes off throttle so i am glad.


"...Red Bull's... very powerful DRS rear wing."

I'm not sure in what way the RB DRS can be described as 'powerful', James. The rules seem pretty straightforward, so do we know what RB are doing to make their's so effective -- or perhaps that's the problem? Seems to me that in some way RB has managed to create better balance between the front and rear of the car. Maybe that 'flexible front wing' rears its head again?

On the other hand perhaps RB are countering the reduced down force and drag of the DRS with the overrun blown diffuser and we'll therefore see a significant change from Silverstone onwards? Let's hope so. I suspect it's only VET's pole positions that enable him to achieve so many 1st place finishes.


It has a longer main element with a higher angle of attack. When DRS opens, it still functions well as a stand-alone, single-element wing that happens to have a second horizontal wing mounted above. They have been able to maximize the downforce of the main element of their wing when the DRS is open, whereas most other teams have just focused on drag reduction.

So yes, their DRS is powerful, as it produces more downforce and less drag than the competition when the DRS is open.


The DRS Rear Wing is so 'powerful' on the RBR because of the size of the flaps, the airs direction over the body work and also because the rest of the car has so much downforce and the setup is very good they can use it much earlier. See Australia earlier this year, or Spain, well before. Hamilton wasn't even full throttle at the point where Vettel had his wing open with full throttle!


It must be annoying for teams in the midfield and back, having struggled to get blown diffusers or floors designed, to have their full use banned.

Red Bull in the shape of our Aide claimed that the off throttle blowing was "Exhaust valve cooling" the fact that fuel was being squirted in and burnt around it as a virtual afterburner or re-heat, seems to have escaped him.

However now under the new rule only 10% of throttle is allowed when officially "off throttle" though how it is going to be measured let alone policed is a mystery, since it is basically just another engine map. The obvious thing would be to measure gas flow in the exhaust, but this requires a static setup in a test bay with engine and all system cooling (as per used on a dyno) and since all exhaust exits are different from each other the only actual way would be to measure static downforce from the diffuser or floor. As far as I know the FIA has no such portable test bay.

There is also the interpretation of the rule, 10% of throttle in terms of air, or fuel, or pedal movement, or power output, torque output, or gas flow ????

In my view a voluntary compliance only, un-testable by the FIA unless they are clever and tell the teams that they must demonstrate to Charlie and co that they comply or else. Ball in team court.


The "exhaust valve cooling" argument sounds remarkably like Brabham's claim that their fan car needed the fans for adequate cooling... nevermind the massive downforce generated by them at any road speed.


The ECUs are standard, so the engine maps in use are transparent to the FIA.


Exactly, the FIA have access to all the telemetry etc.


Yup, They can just take the ECU post race plug it into a laptop and see all the data they need.

part time viewer

it is very easy to police, the fia could fit their own sensor on the throtle bodies to measure throttle opening, and as for when to measure it, how about a comparative overlay from previous years regarding when the drivers are opening the throttle?


If MW qualifying time suddenly gets close to SV then team mate wars will erupt big time.

Different maps anyone?


James, nice write up!

The chasing pack would probably not include Ferrari as hard tyres make a comeback in Silverstone and Ferrari, I don't think, have still found a solution to their performance lapse with the same. And ofcourse its wishful thinking from them bcos as a team principal, SD hasn't produced a drivers champion in the last 4 years (including this one) after Kimi won their only WDC. Fernando-Ferrari, the marriage made in heaven isn't working to the level their fans would have wanted. Worst, Massa looks as if he's lost a lot of armory from his arsenal.

Redbull are not really frustrated with all these because if they sort out the KERS issues, no one is gonna catch them in both the championships unless McLaren pioneer something spectacular in the next few races. And Seb has raised his game a notch above everyone else this year and ofcourse the machinery beneath him is helping the cause. Say goodbye to WDC!!!


I don't think any of the devices currently used can be judged in isolation, and it's a good bet that the size of the RBR rear wing flap or the amount it opens will be reduce from Silverstone. I think it's known that the step up in Q3 is largely down to engine mapping mode that gives maximum hot blow to their diffuser. This mode is potentially detrimental to engine reliability and longevity in extremis, and therefore has to be used sparingly.


James, you touched on an interesting point but have not yet expanded on it it, namely the policing of the ban. I'm sure that, in principle, telemetry will hold much of the key but life always gets complicated when percentages are involved. And what is the "current level", Red Bull's or individual teams'?


Lots of people assuming James has missed the erosion of DRS use in qualifying. I would guess Red Bull will still have more downforce than everyone else even after this change - i.e. not all of their advantage comes from EBD. Also this is an aero change and you would back the best aero team to be able to respond quickest / most effectively, again favouring Red Bull. This will also impact fuel loads, so perhaps Red Bull will be kinder on tires and Ferrari's early race pace strength may be eroded. Whatever happens is all guesswork, but I hope it does make the championship more competitive.

(Tongue firmly in cheek) rather than bringing the Red Bull closer to the pack, might this bring Team Lotus closer to Renault Lotus?


+1 from me to all those who have wondered why the DRS is allowed during qualifying. I have never understood why an aid to overtaking is either allowed or is appropriate to be used during qualifying. The more so in that it has limted defined uses during a race.

That said I am not a fan of qualifying anyway. The concept of a system designed to rank the cars in order of quickest to slowest so that the quick ones can clear off and reduce close racing has no merit for me.

I would prefer the start order to be based on the pre-race WDC order: maybe 5,4,3,2,1, then 10,9,8,7,6. The remaining cars to decide their stating grid positions by means of a race on Saturday in place of the present qualifying. This will allow the slower cars more development / testing time, and hopefully bring the performances closer together.

Now I would watch that instead of the individual cars setting a lap. I cannot get excited with the news that car "x" is faster than car "y" by 0.001 seconds. However a qualifying race for the back markers? Bring it on for me.

James. Who are "they" who thought that unfetterd use of DRS in during the qualy hour was a supposedly good idea? The names of a few of a "suspects" would be appreciated.


The FIA had to give free use of the DRS device in qualifying to avoid certain situations that could ruin the spectacle of the races. For example, there were concerns that if DRS was not in use in qualifying, some teams would opt not to use it at all, race included. Any team opting not to use the DRS device would be able to optimise gear ratios to achieve best top speed under normal conditions i.e. without the use of DRS. Any car that was optimised for top speed whilst using DRS could be significantly slower in accelerating whilst the wing is engaged thus making it harder to catch the non-DRS car and get within the necessary 1 second gap in which it can deploy the DRS. This would also raise eyebrows because cars could be running in different configurations giving some onlookers the impression of disparity which could call into question the equality of opportunity amongst drivers.

Also, the device was conceived to spice up the action. They wanted to make sure it would get used in the races so allowing the use of it in qualifying forced the teams to use it as not doing so would hurt your qualifying position.


The DRS qualy rule is already giving us a reverse grid of sorts, the fastest car in race trim is unlikely to get pole now, you can optimise your DRS for the race or qualy, not both.


I guarantee you that when all those engineers left the meeting, *each one was thinking "ok, here's how we get around that!"


You've made the comment a few times that the power of the RBR DRS is a major part of their advantage.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this; is it that the DRS is more effective at reducing drag/ achieving higher speeds (which seems unlikely given the similar parameters within which all teams operate, though potentially differing upper flaps) or is it that their overall better downforce, partly through the EBD allows them to utilise this system earlier (we saw this in Spain mid-corner at the last).

If its the former, it is a fundamental difference as you suggest, if the latter, more a consequence of the overall difference in package and not really due to DRS.


As qualifying is seen as an all out dash for position I expect the DRS was seen as yet another device that could improve pace over one lap for everybody. Of course those with the most aerodynamically efficient cars are likely to gain the most. - And let's not forget F1 is also a development race rather than just a numbers of guys simply competing.


Exactly when do you guys think that off throttle blowing is used?

Braking and a few seconds of coasting after braking in a few turns. This is no more than 20% of a lap on average.

Scarbs states that RB is does not have the most aggressive off throttle mapping. Do any of you have a better source?

Rb is going to be fine.



Looking and what is happening today...I simply can't believe that a single man (A.Newey) is worth more that the army of highly rated engineers from other team. How is that possible that noone can get close and they all look at him with open mouths...not even believing that they can beat him.


Because he's been in the sport so long. Not many ideas are actually brand new in F1. What Adrian is good at doing is having an encyclopedic knowledge of past technologies that have been tried and knowing when technical regulation changes will allow one of them to be used.

I think its great that theres a new team at the front of the pack upsetting the old order, although as a spectator I'd prefer the gap to be a bit smaller.


It isn't just Newey, RBR hand picked a large number of top engineers from every other team when they were on the way up. (Don't get me wrong Newey is a genius, no doubt, but one man does not make an entire team).

Hence when the latest RRA was discussed one team did not want any change to the repercussions for over spending. JA has there been any developments since the aforementioned rumour?


He is actually a space alien in disguise, with advanced knowledge we can only guess at.


James, is it true that Pirelli have said that Red Bull's exhaust is too close to the rear tyres for safety reasons? If so, is there any benefit for Red Bull from this (either in qualifying, at race start / restart or in the race)and could this be the next thing to go if it is indeed true and indeed dangerous?


james, with regards to the banning of the blown diffuser mid season, the fia have said they feel this to be illegal and stated their reasons of "movable parts being used to influence aerodynamics/downforce". Now surely a team such has sauber who don't run the system and were DQ'd at start of the season (losing several valuable championship points) for a rear wing infringment would have a case for it being overturned? How can they allow the richer teams to take more of the points with use of an illegal system with no punishment yet punish a smaller team for a simple wing measurment error?


The rule change will be exploited by somehow having the driver Stay on the throttle while cornering but at cornering revs.

The blown gases get limited 10% ONLY WHILE OFF THROTTLE. So anyone who can somehow get the driver to saty on the throttle while cornering and still blowing the gases will not be doing anything illegal. Stay on Throttle while cornering but at cornering Revs.


To produce the gasses on the overrun the ignition has to be retarded -- by 30 degrees or more. It's not that difficult to police a ban on retarded ignition off throttle (ie on the overrun). If the ignition is not retarded and the driver has the throttle open he's producing power at the wheels causing a spin in the corner.


It is surely common practice in rallying and some other formulae to keep one's foot hard on the gas whilst braking into a corner


I'd argue that Red Bull's DRS advantage in qualifying is a symptom of its superior downforce and not an advantage all by itself. Redd Bull has more downforce from the rest of its components which is what gives them the ability to remove rear wing at more places on the track than anybody else. The big question is how much of this 'DRS on' downforce is due to the blown diffuser they run? This is why I'd say its all still very much up in the air.


It's my guess that the FIA will police the ban by having a template engine map on a plug in analysing computer which would make it very easy to check what the engines ignition system would be doing off throttle. The ignition system has to be sufficiently retarded so torque is negated currently otherwise the cars would be off the track.


Going off topic James, what do you make of the story in todays News of the World by Ian Gordon that Ferrari are intrested in signing Jenson Button for next season?

Andrew Benson is on his BBC blog is also reporting the same story and reporting Jensons 3 year deal with McLaren has a opt out clause for 2012.


I bet Ferrari would love to get Button, but it looks like Hamilton might leave at the end of the season, which would enable Button to ask for more money in order to stay and establish himself as the No1 driver in the team.

He went to McLaren to prove he can compete with Hamilton, which he has done, so I think now he is eyeing another championship and a good start would be to become No1 at McLaren.


If you look back at my reporting from my trip to Maranello three weeks ago, you'll see that I suggested that if I were Stefano Domenicali, I would sign Button alongside Alonso. He'd get along fine, would score lots of points, is very strong technically, doesn't mind being beaten by a team mate on pace and generally gets the job done. It doesn't surprise me at all that Stefano is looking at him.


Button does seem to be keeping his options open at the moment in regards to a new contract, but I think he's actually got his eye on Webbers seat at RB. The only question would be would Vettel be happy to have such a quick driver alongside him.

Edward Valentine

I's a good shout and an interesting thought and a Brit as good as JB would do nicely in terms of RedBull PR. Of the three options which would you say is the best? For the passion and history I'd say Ferrari but for a best chance at the title it must be RedBull.

It would also leave an open seat for Di Resta at McLaren.


It was said some years ago that Jenson is a perfect ferrari driver (i.e exactly the type of driver to go there and do well).

I am a McLaren fan through and through, particularly since Jenson arrived. But I'd love to see him win races at Ferrari.

I dont think Jenson will move. He's got the team right behind him at McLaren. He is very very popular there by all accounts, and if anything why would he go from McLaren where he appears to get absolutely equal treatment, to Ferrari where you can guarantee he wouldnt.


Would be good to see Button in red, however one thing is (let me know if you dont agree) would he be able to adapt to the Ferrari culture. Button has been with British teams all his career(same I think applies to the Webber rumours). Being towards the end of his F1 driver career would the lifestyle suit him? Or is Ferrari now very different?


Wow, I'd missed reading about this. I'm a McLaren fan and would hate to lose Button, but I can see why he'd be attractive to Ferrari.


Yeah but Button doesnt share the same philosophy with Ferrari when it comes to second driver. "Jenson, Alonso is faster than you" So dont worry, it aint gonna happen.


Might be a smart move for Ferrari it would be suicidal for Button unless he wants to become the new Rubens.


And if you were Jenson?

Already at ease and respected in a team with an improving car and a team mate who seems rattled and erratic?

More importantly, he himself said that he threw that car around last weekend like he doesn't usually - and it paid dividends. If he learns from that and finds the line Lewis finds so hard to tread surely next year is his best chance of a crack at a 2nd title - but only by staying at McLaren surely?


Button I don't think can beat Hamilton or Alonso on pace.

Button is consistant and so when it rains and everyone going mad and makes mistake MR consistant comes through, but when its pace vs pace Button gets owned.

Only Hamiltons mistakes at the end of last year kept the two so close. Given that Hamilton has a tendency to muck up (see 07, 08, 09 and 2010, in particular when he had a WDC capable car) and Alonso doesn't (see the later half of last year) then Button doesn't stand so much of a chance.

Added to that Button is very British and fits in with McLaren in its mentality. Ferrari is emotional and works very well with the hot spaniard. Alonso didn't work well with McLaren. Massa who cries and dances and has good days and bad works well with Ferrari. They love him despite his recent results. Kimi never fitted in with Ferrari and lost interest after 1 and a half years.

Button and McLaren go together like some Forrest Gump analogy

Edward Valentine

When Kimi went from McLaren to Ferrari it was reported in the media as early as August 2006 which was well before the season end, so we may indded hear something soon. I'd love to see JB drive for Ferrari. Sarebbe molto bello per tutti di noi tifosi!


What would you say the chances of it happening are James? I'd say he's looking increasingly settled at McLaren, but then Ferrari is Ferrari.

Given that he hasn't been massively behind Hamilton I'd actually rate his chances against Alonso, certainly on a one lap basis.


The best team mate ever...and damn fast he is...JB to Ferrari...is my love for red showing through ...not sorry at all 🙂


I will look at the article and thanks for the reply James.


With the "hot-blown" exhaust banned the only real change to the competative order I see coming will be that Mercedes and Renault might fall back into the clutches of Sauber, Toro Rosso and Williams, all of whom dont use the system (not sure whether Force India have it or not), but its worth mentioning that its only really effective in slow corners and there arent too many of them at Silverstone.

As for Red Bull's DRS wing use in qualy, they really have the advantage there in fast corners, somewhere the hot-blown exhaust system doesnt get much use and so doesnt effect the car much.


RBR was running away with championship so FIA manipulated the regulations to give other teams a chance, to boost ratings.

Pathetic, 2011 season is a joke, together with DRS and quality lowered tyres for entertainment purposes...now this. How about demand RBR drive around with 3 wheels?

If another team wins thos season it will be a joke because FIA helped them manipulate the regulations while they had no RIGHT. What RBR is doing is not illegal, but clever.


James said:

Engineers I have spoken to suggest that the real differentiator for Red Bull in qualifying is its very powerful DRS rear wing, which can be used on qualifying laps in corners where other teams simply cannot use it, as the car would become unstable.

James – Red Bull can only exploit DRS this way because the off throttle gives them extra downforce and stability through corners.

I bet they will really lost some performance advantage because their system is very interactive with DRS.

What makes me wonder is how Newey discover that. The man is really a genius.

Anyway, theres a great article in Auto Motor und Sport suggesting that Red Bull can’t use the off throttle system in the entire races because they would have to add more 15 kg of fuel in their tanks to feed the system.

According to AMuS, FIA is trying to ban those agressive engine maps already in Valencia.


Sorry, but you are wrong.

They can exploit their DRS wing because of how they have designed it. The main-element is still very effective when the flap is raised, whereas on some of the other competitors, their wings cease to function effectively when DRS is open. Their advantage there is wing design.

Their system does not interact with DRS. While the EBD does give a more rearward downforce bias, potentially offsetting the loss of downforce of the DRS, the EBD affects much more than merely the back end of the car. The EBD helps the entire floor generate more downforce, so I doubt you will see much of a difference when they are not able to use the EBD off-throttle.

The big difference is wing design. Red Bull have managed to drop the drag while retaining significant downforce when DRS is open, and that is their main advantage in qualifying.


Thanks for your explanation, Malcolm!


I doubt it's that simple. The rear wing is one of the most visible components of the car. Even here on this forum there's a lot of people who have a faily good idea of the design of the Red Bull DRS rear wing. So how come no other team has copied it? There must be something else stoping them from using that design / set-up. Time will tell if that is indeed the EBD aided by the special engine maps that have now been banned!


I may have misunderstood the technical explanation - the probability is that I did - but does this mean that the cars will not now have to carry so much fuel? If so, what are the implications?


Yes, those cars that had the off-throttle EBD will now be able to carry less fuel. It will be a marginal gain that will partially offset the loss of downforce on corner entry.


Two things:

On the BBC possibly getting rid of F1, it seems daft considering they only got it in 2009. Doing it from a studio like ITV used would surely save a bit of money as that's the big issue. As long as folk like Martin and Ted are there though then channel-hopping could be worse.

With Button to Ferrari, would he himself consider it? At either team, he is/would be considered the number two, and even more so at Ferrari with Alonso. Being able to say you drove for McLaren and Ferrari is a big honour, but if I were Jenson, I'd stay at McLaren where I have a betetr chance of competing with my team-mate.


I'd stay at McLaren too, but you can understand the lure of Ferrari if given the chance.

I think he's better at McLaren, and he's done really well.


Rules will always be broken when there's innovation. Just don't get caught. FIA will shoot themselves everytime they change the rules which seems like a yearly affair currently.

All you need is a Newey to throw things out of the box and the head scratching begins and last quite awhile.

Silverstone should be interesting and will we see a change in pace from Red Bull? I hope so. Will RB be slower and the others even slower.


As soon as brake is applied, the DRS sytem is switched off. So the off-throttle blown exhaust does not work in combination with DRS.

After this ban, everyone will be less grip going into the corner or wherever brakes are applied but it applies for everyone.

Since RedBull is the most experienced in this tech. They are likely to loose the most. I guess how fast each team adapt to this is the key to wining.


I think it will make a massive difference as Red Bull won't be able to use the DRS in the corners due to the loss in downforce. They may still have an advantage in qualifying on most circuits, but this advantage will almost certainly be cut by at least half a second. In the races, I think McLaren are going to have the advantage and I expect Lewis to be winning the majority of races from Britain onwards. I think he will win in Valencia.

Off the topic, there has been talk about Hamilton's aggressive driving style. Can you do a segment on driving styles, comparing Hamilton to Alonso to Button to Schumacher to Vettel, as well as comparing other drivers, both past, present and possibly the future, including Senna and Prost, please?


A recent autosport article suggested that (very ) high noses could be banned because they make 'take-offs' (such as Webber at Valencia last year) more probably in rear-end accidents.

With Heidfelds crash last weekend, and also Kobayashi at Melbourne last year, it seems there is an additional danger from front wings jamming underneath the front wheels and leaving the drivers without braking or steering.

I wonder if it's time to ban the high nose?


Changing interpretation mid-season is soooo wrong when ....

1. Teams have spent (and were spending) millions to copy and catch-up

2. All the cars passed scrutineering multiple times

3. There is no safety issue

Surely any innovation or "exploitation" should be (firstly) applauded and then (secondly) assessed by FIA to see if it will be allowed to be used NEXT season. Such a decision should be made at, say, Race 4 (?) and then announced so that all teams can decide if they want to pursue (or continue to pursue) the same method/idea or disregard it totally and battle thru the season "as is". Only exception should be when safety is compromised when something would be "bannable" immediately.

What's next? Changing the interpretatiosn race by race ? Weight penalties perhaps ?


I believe the clarification in the rules is being brought about by the possibility of a challenge by the teams who are not using the Exhaust Blown Diffuser (EBD). HRT were threatening a challenge a couple of races ago, but promptly withdrew that threat. I can only imagine that HRT was somehow persuaded to table their challenge with a promise to address the EBD issue in short order.

The challenge would have been on the throttle body being used as a moveable aerodynamic device on overrun which would contravene the rules about moveable aerodynamic devices.

If I am not mistaken, a successful challenge could have ended up with a loss of constructor's points for all teams found to be running the EBD, and the powerhouse teams in F1 certainly wouldn't want to see that since points = money in F1.


Thanks for the info, wasn't aware of that side of the story/issue. One wonders if it was HRT acting alone in rogue attempt to steal the titles (!)or if they were being "actively encouraged" by other interested parties. Methinks the latter !


ok Guys, The Redbull is faster than Mclaren in qualifying but not on race pace.

NOW! The creative engine map fiddling from quali to race sim will be illegal from Valencia onwards, in which case the Redbulls will pretty much use their race mapping for qulifying aswell

So, am I right in saying since the Mclarens have the faster car in race mode, they will also be faster in qualifying, since there will be an eradication of 'creative' qualifying only engine mapping?


...[mod] rbr will take the driver's and constructor's championship this year and that's definite


If teams can't change ECU settings between qualifying and the race, will drivers still be able to change engine settings via the steering wheel controls - for fuel saving etc?


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