Agreement reached on engine mapping rule, but will it change the order again?
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Jul 2011   |  5:46 pm GMT  |  130 comments

In the background of today’s exciting Grand Prix at Silverstone, the teams agreed to a plan for the rest of the season on the off throttle blown diffuser issue.

After a meeting this morning at which Sauber refused to sign an agreement to revert to the rules as they were in Valencia, this afternoon a unanimous agreement was reached. So from Germany onwards teams can go back to what they were doing before, only they will not be allowed to change engine maps between qualifying and the race.

Then at the end of the season, blown diffusers will be banned once and for all.

Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali said, “I think that this thing was not really good for everyone. We need to draw a line and now look ahead, because otherwise where we are going? Even if I think I don’t agree with the process, for the benefit of the sport we should have action.”

Ferrari certainly benefitted today from the patched together agreement reached for this race only on Saturday. THis saw teams operating with between 10% and 20% of throttle open on lift off of the accelerator.

Although Ferrari has made progress with its car, Red Bull seem to have lost a couple of tenths of a second more this weekend. With the old arrangement back in place for the rest of the season, it is likely that this will put Red Bull in a better place than they were in this weekend, according to engineers I’ve spoken to this evening.

So this race could prove a blip, rather than the start of a new trend.

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The whole idea of banning any part of Exhaust Blown Diffuser technology is hypocritical on the part of F1. And here’s why:

F1 has a stated objective to be “green”. Which means not wasting energy or resources, and not hurting the environment. As such, they have decided to move to Turbo V6’s as opposed to V8’s in 2014, to reduce fuel usage and carbon footprint. Fine.

F1 also supports KERS, which harvests wasted kinetic energy released during braking, stores it in batteries, and feeds it back to power the car. Fine again.

However, pressure and heat are also forms of energy, and an F1 exhaust produces gobs of both. What teams have been doing with EBD is harvesting that formerly wasted energy and using it to generate downforce.

By generating this downforce, less of the fuel burned in the engine to create torque is wasted in wheelspin because the EBD creates rear downforce and reduces wheelspin. So, in effect, EBD can be seen as a “green” technology also.

When the turbo engines used in 2014, this same exhaust pressure will then be used to spin a turbine to force more air into the engine, thereby increasing efficiency. I fail to see the logic in using wasted exhaust energy to produce power being legal, while using it to produce traction is not.


Sorry if you discussed this already.

Is it possible at the end of the season some of the teams who didn’t use off-throttle diffuser at all to question the legality of the final classification?


Hi James,

Many pundits have said that it is the trick engine mapping which allows 90% of the throttle to be used even when the driver is off-throttle that has allowed Vettel to start being quicker than Webber. My information is that the 90% map was introduced in Hungary last year. Even though Webber, won that race, Vettel was the faster driver there.

From that point onwards Vettel has been about 4 tenths faster than Webber rather than being about 1 tenth slower than Webber. Suggesting that Vettel is much better able to exploit the additional downforce through the corners. Which is also backed up by the side-by-side qualifying comparison in Turkey, which showed that Webber lost heaps of time to Vettel by not carrying as much speed in the corners, but was actually faster than Vettel in other areas.

Throughout this season Vettel has been about 4 tenths faster than Webber. All of a sudden at Silverstone with a ban on trick engine mapping, in dry conditions it seemed as if Webber was about 1-3 tenths faster than Vettel. Many people, including Ted Kravitz, who also said a number of people in pitlane agreed with him, commented that the big winner in the banning of blown diffusers was Webber. In that, although he is slower, he is faster relative to his team-mate by some margin.

So the reversion to allow the blown diffuser appears to be a disaster for Webber, Ferrari and the interests of having a decent championship.

Love the blog, and keep up the good work James. Good to see you on RPM on One giving your views too.


I should also point out that next track is the Nurburgring. This is Webber’s best track, and if the ban on diffusers had have remained, I think there would have been every chance that Webber would not only have been faster than Vettel, but probably half a second faster than Vettel, like he was in 2009 when Webber won his maiden grand prix there despite a harsh drive-thru penalty.



I want to ask what may be a really nerdy question.

As i understand it the rule that is being interpreted as banning off-throttle blowing says that there must not be a system which allows the driver to influece the aerodynamics of the car- intended to ban the f duct.

In the case of the blown diffuser surely it is when the driver is ON the throttle that he is influencing the aerodynamics by introducing exhaust gasses into the diffuser by pressing on the throttle pedal? When OFF throttle it is the ECU doing it- not the driver.

Would it not be better to saying it is blown diffusers which are illegal (which I know they are doing next year) not OFF throttle blowing per-se?

In fact, you might say that off throttle blowing STOPS the change in aerodynamics due to the driver’s right boot and therefore is a requirement if you are going to have blown diffusers?!

I realise i may have got this wrong but would appreciate your thoughts!


Ferrari signing up to the reversal of the ban is the most interesting part of the story. It was obviously felt that Red Bull’s blown diffuser was a big part of its advantage and this (to an extent) was borne out by the state of play at Silverstone. But the back story seems to be that hot-blowing of the diffuser (which Mercedes and Maclaren seem to be most advanced with) is potentially a larger gain the cold-blowing (which is the RBR / Renault solution). It seemed that Maclaren and Mercedes were in fact hit by the ban *harder* than RBR, which basically confirms that there is already a way of doing the blown-diffuser thing better than RBR.

So what explains Ferrari’s thinking?

Presumably, they have a hot-blowing solution well in progress (as I understand things, Ferrari are not yet hot-blowing) – so they see the blown-diffuser as an opportunity to overhaul RBR. Moreover, it is, in some ways to Ferrari’s advantage to have Maclaren competitive and potentially able to take points of RBR, if Ferrari are to have a hope of getting back into this title challenge.

Maybe RBR cannot actually do a hot-blowing solution without extreme difficulty.

The hypothesis would, therefore, be that the current state of play on blown diffusers is something like – using Ferrari as the baseline

(1) Ferrari +0.00 secs/lap

(2) Red Bull -0.4 secs/lap

(3) Mclaren -0.8 secs/lap

(*) Mercedes would also be potentially able to get the -0.8 secs/lap, but they seem to get a balance problem.

(**) Ferrari may be expecting to get to Maclaren levels of effectiveness.


Glad it’s not just me who thinks that the red cars have something to gain by agreeing to suspend the ban


While the FIA didn’t excatly handle things brilliantly, I think the teams also share a big portion of the blame over the OTBD row. Lets not forget that the FIA informed the teams of the changes back in early May so they have had 2 months to prepare for it.

The teams should have said when the ban was 1st announced that they had problems running at the 10% limit & they all should have sat down then to work out some sort of comprimise rather than wait untill the last minuite.


Hi James,

On the BBC feed, during a quick interview Nigel Mansell indicated that one of the teams had found a novel use for a heat resistant carbon fibre material “developed by NASA.” I’m extremely curious as to which team, and what use they might be putting it to – do you or any of your engineer contacts know any further details on this?



Is it possible for you to do a more in depth article on the Exhaust Blown Diffuser?

I get the impression that Red Bull were using cold blown air which was used to cool the Renualt engine prior to EBD’s being used and that this was a clever idea by Adrain Newey to exploit an existing characteristic of the Renualt engine, whereas Mercedes powered teams have been using hot blown air off throttle to catch up with the bulls. (I don’t think they even believed that Neway was doing it this way until this weekend its that clever)

This means that the 10% restriction off throtle with hot blown air would have affected the Mercedes teams more so than Red Bull hence why the Renualt would need a different % restriction and would stink of the FIA artificially adjusting %’s to fix race results. Hence why it was uninforceable as it would have to be a different % for each circuit.

Also do you have any idea how Ferrari do it? the fact that they rolled over and agreed sugests to me that the proposed regulations wouldn’t have affected them either.

Apologies if the above is BS its as i’ve understood it.

PS Great Site.


“After a meeting this morning at which Sauber refused to sign an agreement to revert to the rules as they were in Valencia, this afternoon a unanimous agreement was reached. So from Germany onwards teams can go back to what they were doing before, only they will not be allowed to change engine maps between qualifying and the race.”

I’m probably being stupid here, but I thought that doing what they liked (within reason), but not changing between qualifying and the race is exactly what they were doing at Valencia.

Did Sauber capitulate, or have I missed a difference between Valencia and the current setup?

Francesco Lanza

Oh come people just stick to a decision, so f1 season over webber not allowed to challenge, and now not even Ferrari, best f1 season ever, not anymore


As I brushed my fangs last night, reviewing the events of the day, a thought occurred to me: the number of personalities yesterday that referred to the blown diffuser rules arguments as “boring” was quite significant.

In the past, these types of issues have been regarded as at best exciting or at worse an integral part of the fabric of F1. Was yesterday a watershed of opinion change on F1 politicking, perhaps because the racing has been so good this year, or merely a reflection on what was actually no more than bad management?


It makes me Laugh, the rules get changed, and hey presto Ferrari win. Then everyone is saying the rules are changed to allow ferrari to win. Ferrari have been getting closer and closer to RBR in the last few races, perhaps there updates have had a baring on this.

Changing the rules half way through a season isn’t the best thing that the FIA could do. But they did, and now they’ve changed it back to the Valencia spec. This is the right thing to do as they shouldn’t be able to change the engine mapping between Quali and Race as they are in Parc Ferme.

Like others have said Red Bull have made the quickest car, and interpretated the regulations the best. Good luck to them, but lets hope Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes can sort there car out and challenge them in the second half of the season.


I am in two minds about this.

On one hand I feel that changing the rules mid season is unfair. The double diffuser and F-duct opened up avenues of development in season and the innovators and cleverest engineers reaped the rewards. To ban something that is apparently legal (as I understand it the driver is not affecting how much off throttle burning is used) half way through a season is unfair.

On the other hand I think it was that Martin Brundle that put it best. His comment was something along the lines of “the throttle position and sound of the engines bears no relation to what the driver is doing”. We might as well reintroduce traction and launch control if we are going to allow that kind of thing.

What I am sure of is that this has been handled badly by the FIA. They should have either stuck to their guns on 10% throttle and let the engine manufacturers sort out the reliability in the normal way, or not banned it at all.


Honestly the season is over for me. RRB designed a winning car. You can’t change the rules to slow them down. Now FIA wants to go back to Valencia. Wouldn’t this bring the championship even closer to the end for 2011.

Anymore tweaking to rules will make FIA look even more stupid IMHO.


Would be nice to see all the ‘geniuses’ that commented earlier about how Ferrari were behind all this and pushing the FIA admit that they are wrong since Ferrari have agreed to revert. But they are probably too classy for that. Thats the only hot air that is really bothering me.

Adrian Newey Jr

James – do you think the focus on mapping is smoke and mirrors – ie that the true RB performance margin is due to another factor?

Notwithstanding that there are some differences (eg quality of drivers, designers, etc) but I had expected Renault to be a lot closer to RB at the start of the season due to their supposed engine/exhaust combination, assuming Renault (the engine manufacturer) gave their former team the same engineering support. This leads me to think there are other factors contributing more to the performance gap over the rest of the field.


Renault would have been closer to Red Bull if Kubica was in that car. Hopefully he returns to F1 at his best in the near future.


Clearly there is more to their car than this technology. But it is designed around being able to do this and the aerodynamics of the various parts of a car all work together


Hi James

I have to comment on the “team orders” imposed on Webber, I’m disgusted in Horner Marko and Red Bull. It absolutely stinks. I think Webber should move to Ferrari as soon as he can. At least then if team orders are imposed on him there at least he’s in a Ferrari. Thinking I was going to see a thrilling overtake on Vettel you had stupid horner stifling competition. I truely feel sorry for Webber!


James, Could you please expalin or find out why simply moving the exhausts to the back was not seriousley considered?

there are so many reasons For.

– Non aerodynamic advantage from a moving device.

– Simple remedy for all teams.

– Better parity to all teams

– Is a rule already intended for release 2012

– Maintains whatever engine cooling, running requirements for all of the teams, meaning they can blow hot or cold as much as they like…



It was and it will be the rule for 2012


Too much hot air really, let’s move on and go racing 🙂


ban-unban-unban-ban-ban-unban-ban-unban gate lol


as long as its fair and square let it go on! i dont like it when FIA help ferrari and FERNANDO in particular!


FIA has never helped Fernando, even indirectly. But it seems some fanatics will never see that.


FIA pulls the strings: like with Brawn GP in ’09, allows RBR’s creative interpretation of the rules to cut traditional Fer-McL dominance, then applies initial rule to level the field for a better show. Now we’re back to pre-S’stone rules because the FIA shot itself in the foot. The Tour de France is cleaner than the FIA.


I think Ferrari agreed (and allowed Sauber to agree) because they realized that not having to run the hard tires was the difference and not the diffuser crap.


Hi, James do you feel that Ferrari would have struggled using the Hard tyre compound, due to using wets/ intermediate tyres at the start?

The Mclaren looked good in changeable conditions, but once the track dried out they looked like the third fastest team apart from the Fuel issue with Hamilton, which robbed him of a 3rd place finish.

The race was good, and I think we should get former race drivers and current ones to provide suggestions for further improvements across F1 tracks i.e. Dubai, Valencia etc (Boring tracks) i.e. promote better overtaking?

Finally with the off throttle engine maps are to go back on Valencia spec, would this close the gap as teams would not want to create a quicker car on one single lap and therefore keep the cars conserved over a long race stint?


Certainly the wet start changed the race, made the situation more simple once they went to slicks. But Ferrari was faster in the dry condition

rpaco (other rpaco)

I think that Charlie has been made to look bad in this.

Ok he has explained and convinced that the several rapid changes of rule were to give equality to each engine manufacturer. But if they do give equality, the teams don’t like it and want to return to their original perceived advantage. Which is very nearly where we have ended up.

I do not understand (I was going to say “accept”) Charlie’s sudden urge to declare off throttle blowing as a movable aero device, there is no definition of throttle operation in the tech regs. It is obvious that there would be a comparative loss of rear downforce off throttle and that teams would try and compensate for it, all this was a given at the start of the season.

The real question is what was it that induced Charlie to act now instead of leaving it to the end of the season?

rpaco (other rpaco)

Not quite true that throttle operation is not defined at all, there is this:

5.5.3 The minimum and maximum throttle pedal travel positions must correspond to the engine throttle minimum (nominal idle) and maximum open positions.

Now obviously if it can idle with foot off, it cannot also be half open with foot off and still comply. So Charlie could have chosen to enforce that which would affect all teams blowing.


Incorrect. The engine us not idling during at any stage during cornering, unless the driver has one foot on the clutch and the other off the throttle.

rpaco (other rpaco)

As far as I am aware there is no clutch pedal on a modern F1 car and the drivers do lift off during a corner at some point (I would guess under braking at the final trail into the corner before the maybe through turn in but before apex) .

However the engine is required to idle on the grid at the start and under pit stop conditions. This means that there must be at least two versions of foot off if the engine is required to provide up to 50% gas flow.

during cornering with foot off.

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