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Much ado over blown diffusers leaves Formula 1 fans and media baffled
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Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Jul 2011   |  7:01 pm GMT  |  224 comments

This afternoon Formula 1 served up a war of words, which is hard to describe, much less explain.

It’s hard for even the specialist media to understand, much less portray to F1 fans. Nor does it do great service to the sport or to the people at the centre of the argument.

F1 thrives on intrigue and hype, but this is one confrontation which would perhaps have been best left behind closed doors.

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh and Red Bull boss Christian Horner got worked up and battled it out in an FIA press conference over how much percentage the throttle should be allowed to be open when the driver lifts off the accelerator pedal.

As sporting narratives go “off-throttle exhaust blown diffusers” are not exactly Ali versus Frazier or a Maradona’s “hand of god” goal. It’s a very obscure point in a sport which is already complicated enough to explain to the public.

In a nutshell, there are two methods of blowing the diffuser to create extra downforce worth around 4/10ths of a second per lap when the driver lifts off the accelerator. One involves introducing fuel into the system, which is the Mercedes way. The other does not, this is the Renault way. The FIA tried to impose a blanket rule on all engines that the throttle could be no more than 10% open, but Renault objected that this left Mercedes’ system at an advantage. The FIA then changed the ruling today to give Renault 50%, believing that this makes the relative penalty to both engines the same. This was a surprise to McLaren and Ferrari.

Renault argues that it needs to be allowed to have the throttles open 50% when the driver lifts off as it is an important part of cooling the engine and has reliability implications.

After the press conference I interviewed both men for TV and even they were having problems explaining concisely what the argument is about.

Horner was indignant, unhappy that the FIA’s change of ruling is being painted by Whitmarsh and others as a performance advantage for Renault and his team.

Whitmarsh said that the ruling was a ‘surprise’ to him and other teams and meant that they would have to follow suit, changing the way the Mercedes engine operates to allow them the same 50% throttle opening as Renault.

In fact, talking to engineers tonight, it seems that Mercedes is allowed to operate 68% open if it does not inject fuel, which allows for the differences in throttle mechanism between engines.

And it gets worse: these engines and maps are so clever that they switch from one method of blowing depending on the corner.

Whitmarsh describes today’s ruling as a “very substantial performance benefit” for Renault and compared it to asking the FIA to be allowed to run a car 100 kilos lighter because the brakes can’t cope with the loads.

Horner has a different view, “Let’s not make any mistake here,” he said. “Firing on over-run, the thrust that that generates through the exhaust, generates a bigger effect. Let’s just be absolutely clear on that.”

One of the most important things in any competitive sport is that whatever the rule, it’s the same for everybody. It’s hideously complicated for the FIA to try to regulate two different systems.

And mid season rule changes are never a good idea because they confuse the public.

To my mind, it would have been better for the FIA to avoid mid season changes and simply say that all blown diffusers are banned at the end of 2011 (which they are) and until then teams can carry on with what they are doing. No-one was complaining before about equivalence, but they are now.

It takes away from the championship if people perceive that it wasn’t achieved on a level playing field. That’s why this is a loss for Red Bull and a win for McLaren.

* Saturday update – After consultations on this overnight, the FIA has reverted to the previous ruling that only 10% throttle opening is permitted, much to the annoyance of Red Bull and Christian Horner.

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What a mess... I don't think you can have one rule for one engine manufacturer and a different rule for another... If an in season rule change(tightening up) HAS to come in to place, then it should be the same rule for everyone.


This explains a lot about the latest engine saga. Source Craig Scarborough's f1 blog.


No mid season rule changes = no mid season embarassments. All new rules should start at the beginning of the season.


Max Mosley would tell you that if all teams ran Cosworth, we wouldn't have such an issue. ;D




I agree, it's an utter FIAsco as in keeping with the general mess the rule making body makes of F1. Basically the teams are mechanically and/or chemically blowing air into the diffuser, which is akin to fitting a big fan to the car - something which is expressly banned. This isn't innovative in any way beyond it's interpretation of the rules on active aero.

It seems to me that the only easy solution to this mess would be to adopt next years exhaust rules. All teams have two weeks to comply with the new exhaust positions which will be plenty of time to come up with a workable, if not optimal, solution. This will stop them blowing the diffuser, give a level playing field where we don't have one or other team running to a different set of rules, and should stop the active aero problems that have been plaguing this years championships. If only the FIA could police their own rules on flexing aero and front wings then we may actually have a close and fair championship (apparently photos and video of Red Bulls front wing flexing aren't valid evidence, but video of McLaren's is) to go with the great racing we've been having behind the race winner.


Yes, this is a bit of a odd decision. I can't recall FIA techincal directives being different for different teams, engines, tyres, etc.

The Resource Restriction Agreement would prevent teams from being able to redesign their cars fully with exhausts exiting on the top of sidepods. RBR and McLaren have developed their 2011 cars around the blown diffusers. The solution you are offering would make F1 look like an absolute farce.

I can see the FIA's point in that there is no technology transfer that any industry will benefit from the refining of the hot blown diffusers. They should have kept this year's regulations untouched and wait for next year's full ban.


The teams don't need to fully redesign their cars for updated exhausts. They've all been caught with their fingers in the cookie jar, in that they're using the engine as a fan to blow air for aero reasons, and if the FIA were to adopt next years exhaust rules with immediate effect all the teams would be able to put together a workable solution whilst keeping whatever off throttle cooling solutions they need for reliability.

Leaving the status quo is effectively the same as allowing a team to run an illegally flexing wing just because it'd cost them too much to redesign it, and is just as much of a farce as different rules for different teams.

The Brabham BT46 fan car was banned after one race (which it won) when the FIA declared it illegal. The concept of using the engine as a fan is basically trying to recreate the effect of the fan on the BT46, at least as much as the current rules allow. It is active aero using mechanical and chemical effects to blow air, and leads to the throttle being controlled by a computer not the driver. It could even be argued that it is a driver aid, with a computer actively adjusting the throttle on behalf of the driver in order to balance the car.

I wish the FIA had banned the EBD before the start of the season, but as they didn't this is the mess we are left with. Either the teams are allowed to continue running illegal cars, the FIA caves and imposes different rules on different teams, or the exhausts are moved so that the engine rules can remain the same. That latter option seems the most fair to me, and wouldn't incur any greater cost than the levels the teams would already have been investing in overall aero and the EBD specifically.


The FIA is losing control and credibility race by race .... its getting worse .... i have no respect for the rules anymore simply because there is a no way to know or understand who's winning here...

I appreciate that the engineering teams at the various teams are clever bods in the extreme and exploit any and all regulation grey areas but the FIA this year in its rule changing, incessant penalties for racing incidents etc is just making a mockery of an otherwise thrilling championship (even if Vettel is romping it) its still enjoyable to watch RACING


Yes Jamie, and the rub of it all is that they introduce mass market appeal gimmicks like DRS and destructo-tyres and then utterly turn off the mass market with stupidity like this. No-one wins or benefits.


Everyone seems to be suggesting that a mid- season rule change is not on and it should not be changed until 2012. Well, I beg to differ. If the FIA was on the ball they'd have seen this blowing up and would have banned it from the start of 2011. After all it was well understood from at least the middle of 2010 -- as Mike Gascoigne explains...


If ive understood all i have read correctly RBR can now use 50% throttle while the accelator is not depressed when they have only been using 45% up to now anyway. Therefore no affect on them. Whilst Hot blowing Mercedes engines (ferrari too?)are now limited to 10% over-run therefore making them slower?


No, every engine can use 50% throttle openings on the over run.

Whitmarsh is arguing that they don't how to get their engine to have 50% throttle openings on the over run, that's all.


A season should finish under the same rules as it started. If not - it isn't a sporting season at all.


Its like the FIA hasn't a clue eh,they kill the show through flip flop rule changes every season.

The best example pre this latest rubbish being the tyre rule change mid season that suited a certain team above all others,this latest grey ruling is all the proof I need to confirm my incompetence suspicions.

Ban it completely,put exhaust ends back out through roof of engine cowl.Problem fixed,much money saved.


What on earth is wrong with these people?

1) Why was this change so important that the FIA could not leave it alone until the end of the year? They absolutely must know that a huge turn off, even for 'hard core' fans, is the constant changing of rules. What must all the new casual fans that they are trying to attract with garbage like DRS and tissue-paper tyres think? What they will hear and believe is that F1 cars are no longer on an even footing because of a governing body desperately trying to justify its existence.

2) How on earth are they realistically going to convince anyone that this arrangement does not hand an advantage to one team or another regardless of who that may be or how small such an advantage is? If there are two sets of rules there is going to be an advantage granted somewhere along the line, especially with seemingly arbitary edicts like 'you can keep the throttle open 50%' - Really? Where did the 50% come from, sounds rather contrived and artifical to me.

I would gladly trade all of the supposedly 'great' races of 2011 achieved with tyres that leave driver's defenceless, qualifying sessions that are a complete non event because of said tyres, DRS 'fly past' buttons and now 2 utterly different rule sets for hot blowing meaning I have no idea if the sport is even fair anymore. I would trade it all for 2007, 2008, when numerous drivers battled for thrilling championships with real overtaking and racing that was not completely contrived by the rules.

2011 is over for me (I'll watch but i'm past caring who pervails overall). Here's hoping sanity prevails for 2012. Sorry that all my comments are laregly negative James, but until this year I never felt the need to berate the sport I have loved for 15 years. For me 2011 has become a sorry story of towering greed (Bharain), hypocracy (Green initiatives yet flying all over the world to deserted tracks), false and fascile racing (DRS and wacky tyres) and unsurmountable arrogance (FIA Meddling and perverting the sport into prioritising road car development and 'making efficiency cool' over its reason for existing - racing).

Time to turn to my dvd collection of considerably 'purer' seasons gone by, when drivers were actually allowed to race one another, overtaking had meaning and all I had to complain about was madly inconsistent stewards' decisions (and it's not like even that has chnaged in 2011!)


Thanks James, if you say they are genuinely trying to do their best rather than create headlines then that is good enough for me. However, if it is such a complex situation they really needed to leave it alone until 2012 to give themselves time to understand fully the implicfations and the impact on the season. Where does the urgency come from that they were prepared to risk such upheaval in the middle of the season?


So as of now RBR have had their concession revoked. Yet Mercedes still have thiers. Oh dear what a terrible mess

the FIA have created for themselves in their arrogance. How can they now possibly guarrantee that Renault is not

unfairly constrained and other cars do not have an advantage? They cannot can they? Yesterday how could they

guarrantee that Merc and others did not have an advantage? They couldn't could they?

There are no winners here. If

RBR suddenly stop dominating they will cry foul and maintain they have been unfairly constrained and the wdc will

be forever tainted. Other still will claim that their wins thus far were tainted and question the validity of their

car yet again.

As a McLaren and Lewis fan I desperately want to see them win, but even more than that I want to be sure they are all competeing on a level playing field. Someone tell me how I can be sure?

James do they do this dort of thing deliberately just to garner attention with another 'F1 media storm'? It's the only reason I can possibly think of to explain why such intelligent people create such a mess. If I had been part of the FIA I would have said 'hold on we need to do this at the start of 2012 or we create two mini seasons in 2011 - before and after hot blowing. Fans will not have a clue what is happening and we introduce doubt across the board.' Sure the FIA thought of this so did they just not care of was it just a case of justifying their existence?


No, I think it's a very complex situation, very hard to regulate.


What I would genuinely like to see now is a successful protest from a cosworth powered car which disqualifies all the others from the previous races. Effectively we would start the season afresh except Williams would now have a huge points advantage (I'm assuming STR are blown, can't be bothered to find out anymore)

Just give the others a standard exhaust that blows up in the air to use then they can pop and bang all they want.


I find this article at odds with the feedback you have recieved from the FOTA fans forum.

I personally have understood the description of either teams blown diffusers perfectly fine as descriped by yourself in previous articles as well as other sources.

The technical aspect is one of the things that that has kept me interested in the sport and was was of the things the fans wanted more of according the forum. To have it played out in full view warts an all was fascinating.

Give the fans some credit in being able to understand/follow it!!


Completely agree.

Frankly, I find all this 'the public can't understand' line pretty insulting. Even worse is the notion that it 'should be kept behind closed doors'. I am a bit surprised and disappointed by your view of the fansl James.

I think enthusiasts will find this interesting, whereas non-enthusiasts will likely take no notice.

And I quite like the fact that the regulators keep throwing rule changes at RBR and that they still keep winning.

Horner is a top guy and so is Whitmarsh - I like to see them them slug it out in an intelligent and civillised manner.


you are assuming that all fans are the same. 70% of people that watch will be casual viewers who will have no clue what-so-ever. Most of them do not even watch every race!


Well I agree that dedicated fans would defenitely understand the whole concept. What is so difficult in it?

I also believe though that their is something in this situation that does not appeal to the masses. And this is because masses do not get properly informed when they follow formula one. They just hear something here or there and then watch the race or a qualifying. Therefore they do not get enough information to understand what is going on, not because it is difficult to understand the situation, but because it is their habit to watch f1 in that way. And the confusion here is that they do not know if a team is being favored or not by the FIA. This is a bad feeling both because it is not clear if the championship is fair and also because they will be wondering did driver "x" got pole position because he deserved it or because his team was favored?


Marcus in Canada

Totally agree. Except the mid-season rule change.


Totally agree with your point there. For me the technical stuff is what gets me to watch F1 day in day out check out F1 websites, read about the technical side, also whats going on and how it is being dealt with and politics among the teams.

its about on-track and off-track action is the complete F1 experience to me.


I totally agree with this point. Any serious F1 fan totally understands this issue and the technical issues within it.

Proper F1 fans know and relish moments like this. Apart from the rule change mid season (an issue I do have) this is a a yardstick issue - you are either an F1 fan or a prawn sandwich?



+another 1


'Proper' F1 fans? How dare you take it upon yourself to decide who is 'proper'! You havn't even understood what the real complaint is here. Arrogant beyond belief.


Right on


In short, FIA first banned it so it was the same for everyone. Then Mercedes/McLaren demanded something because of reliability, which boosted it to 10%, they got the consession. Then Renault/RBR said that would make their engine unreliable so they got a consession.

Mercedes/McLaren tried to outsmart the teams...then Renault/RBR scored a goal and made Mercedes/McLaren look silly for tring that move 😉


actually they all got 10%.... what Mercedes did this week is get the FIA to allow them to do what is called engine run off with 4 of thier 8 cylinders still blasting out gases when off throttle. This in turn adds downforce and acts like a blown diffuser. Therefore, Renault came back and said if they get half their engine we want 50% of our blown diffuser back

I agree, if Macca had not snuck in the over run this week they would all be stuck at 10%, but you can see why Renault were mad


the key thing you miss is that Renault could also use this engine run-off. However, they feel it would make them unreliable so they won't. The key is that with the first change it was the same for everyone, but this time, they are giving Renault/Red Bull special treatment.


So RBR/Renault at the last minute have said no to the 10% limit we can't do it because of reliability reasons.

They had months to say they couldn't do it.

RBR very very dirty players. They basically took a punt that the FIA dare not ban their cars at the last minute.

(They also have allegations hanging over them for breaching the RRA).


I've just read another article on the concessions and I think that the FIA should have just prohibit using exhausts for affecting aerodynamics, effectively directing the teams to put the exhaust exits to their former place. This way, it would not affect the reliability of Renault engines and it would provide an equal playing field for all the teams.


Well, I guess, after all we can see a protest, if not from some of the bigger teams like McLaren or Mercedes, then from HRT or Williams who were at the inception of this rules change. With 50-40% more overthrottle efficiency (not sure that I call it correctly) which should probably lead to 50-40% more exhaust gases, the basis for the protest is still there - it's impermissible active aerodynamics, regardless of whether it affects reliability or not. I see that the rules change did not achieve the set goal, rather it differentiate the field even more. It can get quite messy, so probably the FIA should not have conceded so easily.


Newey said almost immediately after the original suspended ban on EBD that Renault had to blw to a certain extent for reliability. I think it was even James who posted that interview.

As far as I can tell Charlie Whiting said "no" and that was that, then it looks like merc found a way to retain 10% hot blowing, frankly not sure how that can be justified on any reliability front as it only dumps waste heat into an already very hot system, but they did and with that in hand redbull brought up their original reliability concerns and this time got it through on grounds of what merc had allowed to do. That's just my assumption though, I could be wrong.


Here we go again! My money is on Martin. He's got the longer reach of the two..


Not true. He achieved bugger all about the front wing row as RB are something more important = more intelligent.


As you pointed the FIA made a terrible mistake making such a change in midseason, they should have done it in any case for 2012, secondly i´m amazed that the FIA is entering a very dangerous path making ¨customized¨ rules for 2 different teams or engine manufcaturers, it´s not fair for the teams, and most important for the fans and i don´t know the rules, but maybe somebody could protest the results after this sudden change.


So having read up on all this over last hour one would assume that red bull will be more or less the same as they were before and teams that use other engines will be at a slight disadvantage, particulart those who use Ferrari and Cosworth engines ?

So confusing !


This is also my understanding.

James, can you enlighten us on this point please?


What about the ferrari & cosworths Engines. Renault complained that all the mercedes engines have an advantage over us if the 10% blown diffuser rule is implemented,then what about the Ferrari engines and the cosworths. To equalise two players did they even account for the other two engines will they have an advantage or disadvantage?

Though i dont mind the rule changes in the middle of the season as they were against the rules set but FIA never looked in its legality until other teams pointed it out and that seems fair as FIA is also being operated by humans and they missed out.

Jose Arellano

Wich way ferrari does it ? seems strange they havent said anything


They side with McLaren and Martin Whitmarsh on this one.


I'm baffled and if Mercedes engines are blowing fuel, then they are still doing what the FIA banned a week ago whereas Renault needs that performance lift becuse they don't blow gas. As you rightly said James, why on earth did they even bother to change the rules mid-way, if not to stop Vettel and Redbull marching away with the titles?


Fabulous. So now on Sunday I can wonder whether an overtake was merely down to driver skill or whether it involved flappy wing slots, confusing tyre status or differing throttle mapping on the overrun with or without engine firing.

Maybe the teams could draw from a lottery for different brake pad compounds just to spice things up a little?


Unfortunately fia continues to show it's apathy towards the fans . .try explaining different rules for diff teams in the same competition which may be an all new benchmark for sports ..weak management of the issue at hand.


If the rule is 10% opening then it should be 10% for all the cars - so what if this gives an advantage to the Mercedes engines - after all 100% has been advantaging Race Bull so much that nobody else has been on pole all season and they have won 6 out of the 8 races so far! Should FIA have changed some other engine mapping to equalize the engines/exhaust performances as a result? I dont think so - FIA as a regulator should not, regardless of the reason,allow one car to run on different rules from the others be it a Ferrari, Mercedes or Renault. The rules must always be the same and if one of them has an advantage as a result, then so be it.


you guys are missing rhe part where Mercedes got permission this week to not only do the 10% as everyone else... they also were granted engine over run, which allows them to keep 4 of the 8 cylinders blasting away under breaking....


I'm afraid you're misunderstanding what overrun is, it's not something that can be granted to anyone, it's the term used to describe the condition when the driver is off the throttle and the engine is being driven by the car, instead of the other way round. It's what the teams do in terms of keeping the throttles open and/or feeding fuel though the engine during overrun that is up for debate.

Read for a very good explanation of why Mercedes and Renault have different strategies.



But everyone is allowed to do this! this is what people are missing


Lets not forget, the rule is not about equalising rear download points but rather equalising the physical attributes of the cars.


Makes me want to cry what all this garbage with DRS, Silly destructo-tyres and now different engine blowing systems have done to F1 this year. Can't wait for 2012.


It IS a mess, isn't it.


Hardly a professionally run sport at the moment.


This is total BS..... I hope many turn off the TV...I know I will


"Just when thought I was out, they pull me back in!"


The total lack of consistency in FIA decisions and how they formulate a decision tree … is reprehensible. The most highly technical racing organization (we have known) cannot put together a basic Fishbone analysis (root case) to visually see what the teams will come back on them with….amazing on so many levels they cannot equal the intelligence lever of the teams they direct and govern.

America does not need this we have this crap in NASCAR and Indy cars are cookie cutter copies of each other.

F1 was supposed to be the best 🙁

The good thing it is tape delayed on Fox in this country so I would rather go ride my bike then watch this inconsistency and duplicity.

Seán Craddock

that's a good point, no matter how confused fans are at this time, it won't stop them from watching it. Why would you turn your tv off?

BTW, James with this new website, have you thought of introducing a "like" option for comments? This has >50 comments and I don't know which ones r worth a read. Just a thought


James - There are some rumors saying that FIA will do a turn around and change the rulles back to allow the EBD.

The FIA is a joke. We, fans, do not deserve that!


Not more fiddling with the rules? This season is a) already over as far as the DWC and CWC are concerned, and b) fast disappearing up its own backside as far as rule-tweaking is concerned - nobody cares, Vettel/RBR win, move the focus on to next year and get some decent rules in place by then, puh-lease!

F1 2011? Meh..


It sounds like the FIA are trying to control two things; firstly the view that the sport is "wasting" fuel by pumping it through the engine when the engine is off-throttle; secondly the use of "movable aero devices".

The first is a PR exercise they can win by bringing in the rule changes mid-season (regardless of how many amendments are later made).

The second appears to be more problematic!

As a fan, I struggle to understand how the engine can be used as a moveable aero device to begin with, but even after taking that as read, I'm struggling to come to terms with the fact there might be different ways to achieve this, some of which are affected differently by the FIA ruling. The mind boggles.

There are three engines that are using the blown diffuser if I'm right : Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari, with the Cosworth the only engine not capable(?) of doing it. So where do Ferrari stand on the whole thing? Are they pro or anti the 11th Hour rule change? Does it give them any advantage or not?


Why do the FIA (& certain elements of the media) keep leading us to believe that ebd's are wasting fuel!! How is it wasting fuel if it gets you round the track faster? Is that not the whole purpose behind burning fuel in the first place?

If they want to get serious on the efficiency aspect they should crack on and put a cap on fuel use in the race, as they already do in MOTO GP.


Can't argue with that.


frighteningly simple, clear honest logic.


Porque porque porque Why Why Why


That's what Mourniho said after the Champions league classico against Barca. That's what most want to say to Charlie Whiting today.

The FIA had many headaches with technical rules hard to impose and hard to monitor. Maybe the most controversial saga is the one of traction control which ended with the mandatory TAG ECU all the teams use. Many controversies & many U-turns were needed before solving the issue.

Here, Charlie Whiting does the same mistake by trying to impose a rule impossible to apply. When Renault & Mercedes ask for more off throttle blowing, is it really for reliability issues or is it because they want an advantage. Probably a bit of both but it was easy to see it coming.

In Monaco Friday press conference, Newey said Renault used cold blowing and that it was necessary for the engine reliability. It is impossible for the FIA to monitor that unless they have engineers monitoring the engine development from A to Z.

The controversy, the loopholes were easily predictable and Charlie Whiting had long weeks to think about yet he messed it up incredibly.

As James said, it would have been better if Charlie waited till next year. In my opinion, the only viable solution is to go back allowing blowing. Otherwise, the controversy will never end.

P.S : some thought Ferrari pushed the move yet Ferrari finds itself being the most penalized engine behind Cosworth (Given the importance of teams using Cosworth it's not such an issue). This proves that FIA is no longer Ferrari International Assistance.


FIA not being Ferrari Int'nal Assistance was crystal clear after last year GP of Europe, wasn't it?


yes, that and silverstone.


I cannot WAIT will the exhaust has to come out on top.

I like technical aspect of F1, but it's this type of bickering that makes me wish these guys were forced to shift gears with a stick and all engineers were put in a corner for a very long time out.


This row just underscores the fact that the teams can apparently run circles around the FIA on these intensely complex technical issues. And that the FIA does not have the depth of knowledge or the testicular fortitude to revise regulations appropriately and fairly, and to administer those changes without controversy.



You are banned!

No we want 10%.

Oh OK.

No now WE want 50%.

Oh OK.

FIA = useless.


Whitmarsh really is Whitless, he's trying to keep a sinking ship afloat and this battle is won by Horner fullstop.

RBR is performing better, last year's troubles are behind them, i.e. reliability and Webber being out of control, Hamilton is seen wanting to drive for RBR, Button is also wanting to leave, now Whitless can't even deal with the blown diffuser situation, something tells me Whitless will be out of a job if he doesn't win the title in the next 3 years.


Been drinking a bit too much caffeine infested fizzy drink I think. Desperately funny to notice "whit", now some of your magic on "horn" and "Dom"


webber out of control last season, eh???? Hamilton and button wanting out??? They are both happy and will both be there next season! U should start reading f1 news sites and read some facts rather than making up your own wee storylines that frankly lack imagination and sense!


Really, not one of your comments makes the least sense.


It seems the FIA isn't sure about itself. I think changing rules mid season itself was wrong on FIA's part. They should have waited till the end of this season to make these changes.

Horner is right in the sense that Red Bull is being portrayed as a victim here for no fault of his. Firstly its a Renault engine and secondly FIA was the one to approve.

Also James from what I heard, Renault had tried to complain earlier regarding their reliability and was shot down, however when they found out that Merc was given an exception with their hot blown diffuser, Renault protested again, and this time was approved - can't really verify this as I got this off a fan forum.

Also looking at the line of reasoning, I would think that next some team should try puttin traction control or automatic transmission in their cars sighting reliability reasons - who knows they might get away with it.


One more thing, since the FIA opened this can of worms...

Could I please have details of how FIA figures 10% Mercedes Hot = 50% Renault Cold? Please at least tell me, someone from FIA went out there and measured the pressure of the exhaust of both configurations at various throttle levels in at least 2 cars and then came up with this equivalency formula via some reasonable scientific method that I as a fan can say is fair.


the point is no-one can for absolute certain. Shambles.


10% blown diffuser AND engine over run... the two are seperate but the same.... as they both add downforce


Adam Cooper said this:

One team source tells me that Renault's exhaust advantage stems from the engine's use of a butterfly rather than barrel throttle.Which apparently means that a 50% opening actually equates to 68% - the number I gave earlier today. It's getting complicated...


Based on THIS calculation it means that ML have an advantage. Yet, we know it is not so simple 🙂


While I actually generally agree with the ban on off therottle diffusers I don't really agree with it been banned Mid-Season, Should have banned it from the start of 2012.

While Red Bull/Vettel's dominance of 2011 so far hasn't been good in terms of a good fight for the championship, Red Bull have done the best job with there car & Vettel has been driving brilliantly so why should they be unfairly penalised just because other teams can't keep up & because fans want a closer championship fight.

Lets say for example that with the rule change Red Bull are suddenly nowhere & Mclaren & Ferrrari catch & pass them in both championships (I Don't believe that will happen, just a very extreme example), I think you could then say that the 2011 championship had been manipulated.

F1 is supposed to be about the best drivers in the best cars, One team having a much better car & its driver/s doing a better job with that car is what F1 has always been about. If you start changing things Mid-season just to stop that dominance & make a closer championship fight then your doing nothing but potentially manipulating the results of the world championship.


Never should have changed such complex rules half way through the year. Funny how Brawn and Whitmarsh are so OK with the ban, but fail to mention the FIA gave them a repreve to use engine run over and in turn more downforce. I think many fans are mad at the change because they wanted the FIA to slow down Red Bull so their favorite team or driver would catch up. The reality is the FIA should not be changing things mid season.


1 Winner : Bernie


The press conference between Whitmarsh & Horner was a heated one & luckily no gloves were thrown to both men. When you know, how cool & composed are both men, you for sure conclude that this is a very serious matter. As James said, they don't even understand all the technical details of the opponent engine & conspiracy theories easily find a way to both men minds.

Knowing how important are egos of such men & how much pressure they are subjected to, because let's not forget Whitmarch is only an employee & Ron Dennis presence in the paddock increased recently and might be heavily felt by Whitmarsh.

These controversies & the battle of egos are exactly what Bernie waits for like a hyena spotting the injured & ill beasts before attacking.

The biggest issue is that by the looks of it Ferrari looks like the most penalized among the established engines & as we all know all it takes for the FOTA to disappear is to pull Ferrari out of it.

Not only that, but Bernie will used to further weaken Jean Todt who has faced a string of backtracks (Bahrain, 4L Turbo engine) and whose position is being steadily eroded like rocks by sea waves.

Will Bernie break FOTA, will he get rid of TODT be continued.


This makes the sport look like a joke, to be perfectly honest. I love the technical aspect of F1, probably being as big a draw to me as the racing itself.

Teams had known this ban was coming into affect for sometime now, easily a month or better. Why couldn't they make corrections to their engines during this time frame? They could have, and should have; it's as simple as that.

If Renault need to have an open throttle for reliability reasons, I suspect they're running lean on the fuel/air mixture, which would explain why their engine requires the least amount of fuel. It goes deeper than that, as an easy fix for running high combustion temps is to simply add more fuel to the mix. Quench, valve design, possibly piston design and timing all play a part in this, BUT it isn't so complicated that they couldn't have remedied the problem in a matter of 3 weeks.

As for Mercedes - they have no real problem in my mind. They simply retard the ignition until the exhaust valve pops open and then they ignite the air/fuel mixture, causing the intake charge to burn in the exhaust side of the head and exhaust manifold. A remedy to their "problem" is open and shut - don't retard the ignition and allow the throttle to shut completely.

The FIA needs to stand firm on regulation modifications, even if they amend the regs mid-season (which is ridiculous to me). I do hope any and all teams that do follow the original stated 10% open throttle rule protest the results.


engine designers are not allowed to make any changes since 07, it's not fair to impose 10% if it means Renaults blow up on their 3rd outing.


Logically explained, but is it 100% accurate in this messy defuser messy mess?


Wouldn't it have been slightly easier to just require the teams to have their exhausts exit in a location nowhere near the diffuser? That way, the teams\engine manufacturers could do whatever they wanted with their engines with no effect on downforce. Surely that's easier than the ridiculous mess that we're in now.


That rule has been put in place for 2012, technically everyone should have the exhaust in the same position next year.


James you said

"It would have been better for the FIA to simply say that all blown diffusers are banned at the end of 2011 (which they are) and until then teams can carry on with what they are doing."

any chance the FIA goes this way and just states everyone go back as they were for now and at year we make the ban?


How would that make them look after the Bahrain U Turn?


The U turn on Bahrain occurred because the sport is nominally controlled by a body unrelated and not accountable to the teams that race in the championship.

Ditto the four cylinder engine farce.

The FIA simply failed to listen to what the teams were saying.

Decision-making by fax voting by people round the world who know nothing about F1 is a ridiculous way to run a sport. The comparison with the way FIFA operates is entirely valid.

To make matters worse, the FIA wants to take more money out of the sport : On what basis do they deserve anything at all ?

The mess that they have created this weekend over blown exhausts is just as ridiculous : there should only be rule changes mid season on urgent safety grounds.


On the basis that they own F1 perhaps?


Surely if they can come up with a rule change within a single day, they could ban all blowing by the next grand prix and move the total ban from the end of 2011 to July 2011.

Can they not?

Anything else looks silly.


It would make them look more interested in saving the integrity of F1 than in simply saving face.

Glynn Harrold

I think the FIA are already looking a bit foolish after Bahrain and this fiasco. At least if they say there will be no changes this year and the new rules will be only in place for next year, we know there's not chance of another change (sorry, I mean clarification 😉 )later in the year and everyone (including the teams) know where they stand. You've got to admit that this is better than the "make it up as we go along" attitude that FIA seem to operate with at the moment.


So, where is the outcry? There was so much dirt stirred up in the media for perceived bias toward Ferrari by the Failed It Again, yet now I have yet to see much about it. Perhaps a bit early, but not long ago, the internet(s) would be on fire with "Ferrari International Assistance" commentary...



If the FIA decides to make the change effective at the end of the season, won't that contravene the rule on moving aerodynamic devices? And will it not prompt other teams to protest the results, which is why the FIA decided on the rule change to begin with?


So the new rule says that teams can only have the throttle 10% open when the driver is not pressing the pedal, except for the Renault engine teams (including Red Bull) who can have 50!? That's absolutely ridiculous.

I don't buy the cooling excuse - there are other ways to cool the engine, they just don't want to use them as it would hurt performance.

I think the Mercedes teams should simply ignore this rule and use 50% as well. Sod it.

Otherwise please just give Red Bull both championships and cancel the procession.


Did you read the article?


If you ask me, FOTA should write the rules, and the FIA should police them. It would help take care of these ridiculous mid-season rule changes.


But this is a policing issue


Yes it is and no they are not......


Frustrating, especially considering the team that every neutral fan wanted to see lose some of its incredible advantage to level the playing field a bit, appears to be getting this negated, and even further compromises their rivals, hope not...

If this is the case, get used to seeing a lot more of 'The Finger', and a whole bunch of records get broken.

Exciting season... hmmmm try answering that to someone who says, "but Vettel always wins"...


Rather than see Red Bull throttled, I'd prefer to see the other teams make up the difference. Still, you're right, the predictability is a turn off for the more casual fan.

Ahead of the last race my dad said "what are you watching that for? You know who's going to win already." I know Valencia was a let down excitement-wise, but Red Bull's dominance didn't help either.

If the FIA are going to start bringing in rules mid season why not do away with the rev limit? That'd liven things up a bit.


I am a neutral fan and I did not want this because it is manipulating the championship to try slow the leader and let the rest catch up. That is fake and cheating, not fair racing.

The fact you said "the Finger" in that manner, proves you are not a neutral fan but an anti-Vettel one.


No I'm neither a neutral, nor am I anti-Vettel.

He has finished no lower than 2nd, and won 6/8, and been on pole, 7/8. The finger, is something we have seen frequently, and it's Vettels trademark, just like Alonso used to show his win count. Vettel is 3 DNFs ahead of being caught, is it so wrong to hope for the sake of a Championship that Red Bull have to start doing some chasing rather than being chased for the rest of the season...

I disagree that the FIA is manipulating the championship to specifically penalise Red Bull. Red Bull stole a march on the others, a huge march, they deserve their position, the others have slowly started clawing back. Fair is fair.

What I say is frustrating, is that now there was an opportunity for this grey area to be closed, and everyone would at least in one area of the rules be in the same boat going forward. It now appears that Red Bull and other Renault engined teams, are going to have a different advatage... but we will have to wait for quali / race to see if that is the case...

Yes Red Bull are very clever, well done. I understand Engineering and applaud their brilliance... but I am watching F1 for entertainment and ultimately want to see a sport, not a procession. Yes, I know, some races have been great, but boring runaway football league seasons have had a couple if amazing games too, and the league winner (and that it was a dull season) is remembered... not the few standout games.


In response to Neutral...

Where did I say I was a Neutral Fan? I said "...All the Neutral Fans...". I never said I am one of them, all I suggested was a closer 2nd half to the season would be good for the championship. And my response thereafter... "No I’m neither a neutral, nor am I anti-Vettel.". I also addressed "The Finger", sorry that you are so sensitive about the context I used, I didn't realise that it had a superinjunction attached to it. I don't know how I could not have been more clear about these points?

Therefore my conclusion is...

You are anti reading properly, why even hide it?


You are anti Vettel the way you talk about him, why even hide it?

You said you are a neutral F1 fan that wants 1 team to be disadvantaged so "The Finger" (that you used in a negative way) doesn't win?

How is that neutral? You support manipulation of the competition, nay, demand it. That is not neutral in any way.


As long as you keep in mind that Mercedes was the first engine manufactuer to get a concession from the FIA.


Yep, not nice. It's the same as if they would've banned single-tyre races in 2005 because Bridgestone protested Michelin and then reintroduced the rule. This is hurting F1's image big time; most fans don't care about technology or rather watch the show thinking it's the most sophisticated technology in motor racing but "if I don't understand everything, it's fine".

Blown diffusers should've been banned for 2012 and last through 2011, like F-Duct in 2010 or DD in 2009-2010.

Generally, the desire to make everybody equal should have some limits: in the past if you were clever enough to build a fast car using some kind of technology, you could enjoy the product of your work. Now the FIA bigwigs are busy banning things almost on a daily basis! LRGP had to invest in a new version of the car with backwards/normal exhausts - extra cash because some guy from HRT complained or because Cosworth don't want to inverst in the same type of thing as Mercedes or Renault.

Make a set of rules last for the entire year for once!

PS The website told me to slow down in posting comments - I took some time to write this one while sipping on a cup of coffee. Am I so fast indeed?


I have to agree with James on this one. They should leave the teams alone and have the rule change take effect at the end of the season. Why does this happen in F1? Mid season changes only show that the FIA engineers are not as bright as the teams engineers and should just leave them alone. It also is very suspicious. Why change the rules now? Is it because Red Bull are running away with it? Afraid that it won't be exciting enough for the average TV viewer? I just don't get it, and I have been watching F1 for years.... In the end it just looks like someone higher up is just tampering with the sport. The change that were made to the rules have, for the most part worked. Pirelli have done a great job making the sport exciting to watch again. DRS can be written off if you ask me, but just leave the rules alone for one FULL season for once!


what is the story with ferrari. are they going to be totally screwed over in this. surely if renault and mercedes are being allowed to do things ferraricosworth should be allowed to do something. f1 is a bigger sopa opera than eastenders with stuff like this. i hate it.


James, I don't quite understand how Renault can argue they should be allowed to cold-blow on the basis of reliability; we've known about the ban on off-throttle blowing for quite a while now, should it not have been their responsbility to adjust their engine accordingly rather than ask the FIA for dispensation?


From what I read elsewhere RBR did ask to change their side pods, and radiators in order to cool the car effectively when they were no longer allowed to pump cool air through the engine, and were denied.


Engine freeze, not allowed.

So in short, if renault followed what FIA said you would have 6 blown Renault engines at every race.


I did consider the engine freeze, but as I understand it it is allowed to modify engines to adress reliability-issues. Surely this would have qualified for that.


Why do all F1 commentators and Team spokesman assume that F1 "public" or fans are easily confused by technical matters and regulation changes? Do they assume we are stupid? While I do agree that changing rules all the time does create confusion (for everyone: fans, teams commentators alike) a lot of fans like myself (but all) enjoy the technical side of the sport. I for one, don't want to see "innovation" restricted because it brings a performance advantage to a team. As long as its in the rules then fair game, the rest have to either respond in some way or suck it up. For me that is one of the spices of F1 and why I am much less interested in more series such as NASCAR and Indy were the cars are all virtually identical.


Yeah, this is one thing I simply cannot explain to interested-but-casual-fan friends, because I can't really get my head around it even when virtually all the other subtleties have been within my grasp.

A nuance within a nuance.



My suggestion is switch to MotoGP!!!


Why could they of not just told all the teams that they can all keep blowing on over-run, as much as they want, but the exhaust outlet must be as per next year, behind the rear axle?

Would that of not leveled the playing field?

Taken the gasses away from the diffusers?


This is absolutely ridiculous. How has the fia determined that the renault engines will be unreliable if they don't have atleast 50% off-throttle opened. Even if that is the case, why didn't they tell renault to copy the system of mercedes instead of forcing mercedes to copy the renault.

Remember the original problem they were trying to solve was the extreme intrepretation of these things.With 50% throttle open,teams are still free to pursue their extreme examples.

A bunch of monkeys would do a better job at FIA. Shame!!!


Sorry if this is a ditto but I keep crashing my computer...............

Why could they of not just told all the teams that they can all keep blowing on over-run, as much as they want, but the exhaust outlet must be as per next year, behind the rear axle?

Would that of not leveled the playing field?

Glynn Harrold

This is a complete farce! Not only have FIA changed the interpitation of the rules half way through a season, then then change the way that teams using one engine supplier can use the EBD half way through a FP session. The FIA are shooting themselves in the foot over this and I hope something is done soon (tonight!) to sort out this mess :/


F1 should look at other sports where the excitement is created by the competition and by the events, not by controversy.

It is possible to gain publicity and attention if you organise decent events and where the rules are clear and stable. IT IS POSSIBLE.

Behind all of this you can sense that there is something...well, a lot of people on the Internet claim that it is not only incompetence.

In fact, there is so much to be said, but at the same time there is nothing just do not know what to say or think.

Perhaps this will create publicity for some days and later all will be back to business as usual.

One thing is clear - this weekend is becoming frustrating and no one knows what to expect from the race and who will gain or lose something. It is all a bit vague.

Michael Prestia

Force all teams to move their exhaust system away from the diffuser and that is it!


You'd think, wouldn't you...


Now that's a good idea...


Nice to see FOTA as disunited as ever, and stabbing each other in the back at the first available opportunity.


Crazy FIA behaviour. Like something from the Balestre days.


Balestre references more frequent since Senna movie.


For those of you trying to understand this (I didn't even bother), give up as you're wasting your time. It's these sort of issues which is why F1 is not fan friendly. Once again, shambles and F1 fit perfectly!


Oh boy. The FIA should have waited until the end of the season. If they could wait for the F-duct regulation which was arguably even more important on safety grounds, it's hard to understand why this change comes right now. Any pointers on why the decision swung this way James?

This sort of mid-season change incorrectly discredits drivers' performances in the eyes of the casual fans as well. Now if Vettel wins the WDC, it will be because the blown diffuser regulation favored RBR. If Alonso wins, it will be because Ferrari made the FIA change the rules mid-season. And then you wonder where do these conspiracy theories come from.


Some questions for you James: Though I agree this should have been dealt with as an end of season rule change, but didn't a certain team threaten to protest races which led to this mess? Any idea who the clever/obnoxious team was?

ALSO, this isn't the first time there have been technical disputes in F1, so correct me if I'm wrong but I thought a significant part of the interest in the sport were technical developments of which disputes will arise from time to time? Do you have an idea why suddenly (even among the seasoned f1 journalists and personnel) things are so confusing now and will suddenly ruin championships? What has changed over the past generation that f1 fans and professionals in the sport are having trouble (or are all losing sleep) over minute technical details?

Thanks, great website.


Why no word about Ferrari or from Ferrari? Which system are they using and what they are going to do?

I though it was more or less clear and equal for everybody before I saw the article on

Do they really have to ruin such a wonderful season as this one?


The Silverstone GP on Sunday will be protested

and winner will be one that has conformed to a recent change of regulation.

Sad when decission can not stick it make you

wonder where is the governance.


Surely the ramifications for all engines should have been considered prior to this rule change even being mooted - to have a rule change which now allows even more cold blowing than was previously being used seems utterly bizarre and totally counter-productive.


James, can you tell us something about the situation with Ferrari engines? It seems that they have been caught napping while Red Bull and McLaren lobbied the FIA to improve their options.


I reckon Ferrari are keeping quiet and will abide by the 10% rule, ready for a massive post-race protest against the Renault and Mercedes engines which will in all likelihood give them the race victory.


Its suspicious that Ferrari are keeping quiet.

We will probably find out- when someone's cell phone is hacked - that Ferrari actually have a special rule for themselves already.


This seems to undo some of the excellent work from the Fans' forum last week, where there seemed to be a real sense of the teams united and looking to make F1 better.

Less than a week later and there's argument and counter-argument and seemingly the top 2 team bosses trading blows like ... school children

Not for the first time this season, F1 is looking farcical, probably not to the 'average' F1 spectator, but to those who like to follow things a bit closer like those on this website.


The FIA should never tinker with the rules in season. This mess is all their fault. They must now reverse their decision and allow exaust blown diffusers for the rest of the season. Sure, it will be embarassing for them and will create problems for this weekend but I see no other way of ensuring that all the teams are competing on a level playing field.

On a related note, I'm a little sick of hearing how unfair it is that the Renault engine is not as powerful as the Mercedes unit.

From what I can see, the Renault engine appears to offer superior power delivery to its rival making it more 'drivable' (and who knows how the engines compare regarding fuel consumption). If it's so bad, why did Team Lotus and Williams sign up to use it in the last 12 months?

Anyhoo, it's nice to have a bit of controvesy to write about again. It seems like ages since we've had such a tasty bone of contention to sink our teeth into.


Y don't the FIA look @ the ECU's from before they were blowing their exhaust systems.

This will ensure the mapping was not designed for blowing gasses and they can't argue about reliability


I think that they came up with the numbers they did by looking at 2009 engine maps.


Who, FIA or the teams?

Clifton Green

It is a complete joke. At this rate it will turn into Indycar! What is the point allowing different engine manufacturers if you then try to equalise them. First there was the argument about the Renault engine having less BHP then mercedes due to the engine freeze, now this. Surely the teams choose their engine supplier for a reason, if everything is to be completely equal, give them one engine supplier, one chassis etc...

I personally don't want that and I'm sure other fans don't either. Red Bull have an advantage on aero and downforce and front wings nearly touching the ground, I don't see the FIA getting involved there and equalising that. It's about development. If one team manages to develop something over another, that's the sport and it's part of the development race. We don't want to see teams be given wild cards just because they moan and pull a dirty trick the day before qualifying knowing they would never be disqualified.


Don't put down IndyCar just yet. Took kid today to HondaIndy. Free Fridays. Many father/son combos packing the stands to the gills. The type of PR move that could make this series a player in open wheel in not to distant future. They also have a few competitive women drivers and I hear a new car coming soon.

If FIA keeps up this up, looks like they will turn off fans and they may look around for something else.

Clifton Green

Sorry please don't take that as a

Knock against Indycar, personally I enjoy watching it too, although not quite as much, but my main point being that having the option of designing chassis, their own aero packages, different engines, i.e. The ability to find areas where teams can get an upperhand is what separates formula 1 from Indycar.


Clearly it is a less popular series. But just like you may find more purity of sport in a lower rank of football series - which is unspoiled by greed and mega money, you can find quite a few things in IndyCar you can't find in F1. For one F1 is so professional and serious about itself with sterile circuit and excessive rules that it can be a bit full of itself. They could use a bit of that "amature" flavor which is missing. Often you hear fans refer to F1 years with some of that flavor present in a very fond way. As recently as the 90s for example. Since then it has become a bit stuck up and full of itself. And some long time fans have noticed. And for that reason started following IndyCar more or GP2.


I'm going to the Indycar race in Baltimore next month, and really looking forward to it. They're also running a leg of American Le Mans the same weekend.

Open wheel, and tin tops in one weekend, at the same course one hour away.


Renault and RBR are dirty liars! What reliability? These engines have been homologated for few years now, they had been developed before anyone even heard about blown diffusers.


The difference is that in the past their off-throttle exhaust blowing was not being used to blow the diffuser (not to the same effect as now anyway) so there was not the same level of performance benefit. They just blew the extra exhaust out the back of the car. Now it is refined, repurposed and causing an unfair advantage (depending on who's side your on).


You got that right, James! I'd call it a tempest in a teapot, but that would be trivializing teapots.


So nothing changes. A high proportion of posts on here working out how their favourite team is hard done by,

Next the other fanboys will be saying that one driver is favoured by hot/cold diffusing more than another.

Why not ban the things completely NOW, or leave them as they are & let RedBull run away with the WDC & WCC?

To the average Joe, F1 has now become a big turn-off because of the fiddled rules giving it as much credibility as the News of the World.


+1 for banning off throttle blown diffusers completely now.


agree completly here guys. banning it saves all this bitching going on and makes the cars better to watch if there are moving about with less downforce and saves wastes of fuel. hate the way f1 goes on like this sometimes. it a joke.


Unfreeze the engines and tell them to make the reliability fix.


Dissappointing to hear about those "special rules" depending upon the engines. The engines are frozen and equalized and engine performance is not the discussion point here; it's just blown diffuser -with hot exhaust-. The FIA made a huge mistake to the eyes of most fans; rules should be the same for everyone, rules must be enforceable, something that I deeply doubt the FIA will be able to do. Additionally, blown diffusers shouldn't be a problem, the problems is the use of the powerplant during throttle off to keep blowing hot exhaust using the ECU. The complicated way the FIA is managing the regs is a non-sense. They should ban hot-blown-diffuser, allowing only blowing it with the normal exhaust gas provided by the driver's input. At the end of the day, McLaren will ripe from all this mess and the FIA and Mr.E will have a more interesting "sport" this season. Sorry for RBR, they basically marred their world championships


what gets me in all this is not that they changed the rule but rather why now? Blown diffusers was used last year, and as I understand it Renault even used it as early as 09. Everyone KNEW RBR/Renault used it in '10 so for 11 more teams deployed it then multiple races into the season all a sudden it's decided that it needs to be banned and baffeling enough it is decided for a in season regulation change. Hello... Majority of the cars was designed around this for 11 and cars where KNOWN to use it in 10. If the regulation change should have come it should been in 10. Alright the envelope was pushed further for '11 by some teams that used hot blown (ie burning gas) while last years usage was all "cold blown".


"And it gets worse"

Too right, James. I'm all for the technology, I love the detail, but this situation is beyond ridiculous. Why on earth are we in a situation where the rules are changing even after the cars have started running?!


By creating this FIAsco, Silverstone has become must-see-tv. I have the popcorn ready.

On a serious note, EBD was banned because of a fear that there might be protests from some back of the grid teams. By giving Renault and Mercedes special dispensations, haven't they shot themselves in the foot. I would assume that all Cosworth and Ferrari powered teams will protest this ruling.

Whatever the FIA folk are smoking must be really good stuff!!

I think just to spice it up, they should allow full EBD in Copse and Becketts, however, only Renault and Mercedes should be allowed to use 50% EBD in Abbey through Brooklands and Cosworth should be allowed to rev their engines to 20000 rpm in Luffield through Copse 🙂


I won't be happy until I hear Jenson Button explain why this change makes him slower.


u already know what he's gonna say........THE BALANCE!!!


No traction. But this time,probably right.


Huge mess and no easy way out for any of the parties......

I suspect that the engine manufactures have evolved their strategies to maintain the exhaust flow of throttle for two reasons. Firstly, to maintain the flow of gases over the diffuser off throttle to maintain down force as the car brakes and enters the corner. Secondly to aid the cooling of the exhaust valves and in turn run a mixture with less fuel and more air.

The exhaust valve is one of the hardest parts of an engine to cool as it sits suspended in the exhaust flow and has very little surface area in contact with cylinder head that is water cooled.

In the case of cold blowing the manufactures are letting cold air flow through the engine to aid the cooling of the exhaust valves.

In the case of hot blowing I suspect that they are injecting fuel and not using the spark plug to ignite it, this way the exhaust valve is cooled by the fuel that then ignites in the exhaust.

The manufactures push the economy of the engines to the limit by using a leaner mixture, however this causes the engine run hotter to the point that the exhaust valves could fail without additional cooling.

Renault claim they have been cold blowing for a long time, possibly even pre exhaust blown diffusers. Perhaps this is what led Adrian Newey to look again at exhaust blown diffuser? Either way I get the impression that Renault have to cold blow or would be at a major disadvantage in terms of power and economy as they would have to use a very rich mixture to achieve the same level of reliability. They would have to write a new map for this, do they have one up their sleeves as a back up?

Mercedes are probably in a better position as I suspect that they have taken advantage of the additional cooling through developing hot blowing not the other way around.

In essence I think that Renault have to cold blow and would lose massively if they stopped, this led the FIA to allow Mercedes to hot blow half of their cylinders and now no one can agree on who has the advantage


I think this is the most accurate description of the current state of affairs.

First of all, I don't think this should be changed mid-season. This is not a blatant rule violation and I do not think this is a safety concern currently.

Second, if they are allowing off-throttle cold blown settings based on 2009 engine mappings I partially understand it. What would be better would be allow the maximum cold blowing for all teams that was used in 2009. If Mercedes had the highest cold blow rate in 2009, everyone should be allowed to use this setting from here on out. Any re-design of the engine itself at this point of the year seems even more ridiculous so I don't see it as a viable option. Also, I don't understand why any hot blown settings are being allowed, if the idea is to have settings the teams used before blown diffusers then why allow hot blown at all? Hot blown has only been used after the invention of the blown diffuser. That is the only reason to hot blow the engine off throttle.


I am afraid there is only one outfit to blame here and it is the FIA. Unless it is able (or willing) to categorically state hot blown diffusers are illegal - and thus open up to appeal all 2011 results thus far - the only sensible and pragmatic way forward is to introduce rule changes (or 'clarifications') for 2012.

It's a while since I last strongly agreed with Max Mosley but his end-of-term stance of allowing expensive but valueless-to-the-real-world performance differentiators for the season they are introduced, thus rewarding innovation in the short term, but outlawing them thereafter, was eminently sensible and resolutely clear.

F1 has had more cracking races in 2011 than in many a season. To stir up a hornets' nest is counter-productive and open to allegations of rule fixing to alter the championship, in much the same way as the conspiracy theories that abounded after Schumacher's disproportionate penalty following Silverstone '94.

If Renault or Red Bull or Uncle Tom Cobley has a bona fide advantage this year then so be it. If that perceived advantage is illegal, then it should have been addressed much sooner or else the outcome of this year's championships have already been tarnished.


The FIA made this so messy. Why not just bring the regs forward, the teams would of had 4 weeks to reroute the exhaust to stick them out the back of the car by a few inches so it would of been a fair playing field for all.

If Red Bull wasn't happy with the change, they could of changed their system to run like the Merc's.

I know every team wants an advantage, but it does become confusing, but more so it shows how weak the FIA are for not standing their ground.


Off topic I know, but why aren't posts from James Allen made more apparent e.g italicised/ different colour? I know this is meant to be a forum, but its more useful, to me anyway, to be able to scan for the most important posts.


I think that you are exactly right about Renault. The engine guys may have come up with pulling cooling air off-throttle through the valves years ago as a (lightweight and efficient) reliability mechanism in line with the ever tightening regs for engine use. Leave it to Newey to find a way to take to use this to an additional advantage. This is what Formula1 is about. In a certain way (this is a long shot!), this can be construed as a green technology, they are harvesting otherwise wasted energy for a benefit. The hot blowing is not green as it burns fuel rather than harvesting energy otherwise wasted.


My previous comment was in relation to Matts comment#67.


Scarbsf1 explains very clearly in his blog what's this all about. It helps understanding what happened today at Silverstone. Strongly recommended, with the permission of Sr. Allen.


like the others have said, mid season rule changes are just messy.

BTW, James... does your new site have a mobile version? I enjoyed this on your old site. cheers.


FIAsco once again. They ruined the F1 for me in the Schumacher years, when they had rules for Ferrari and rules for others. That's why in my mind, Schumacher is not 7 times World Champion...and now this.

How can I know that everybody are on the same level playing field this time around? I don't, cause for sure someone will win from this situation more than the others and once again it's the FIA to thank for the mess, for changing rules mid-season. I'm afraid we don't see not a single good year of pure racing until the core members of FIA are changed, all these Charlie Whitings and co need to go.


It'll keep me interested over the weekend and as long as Vettel repeats last year and gets a puncture at turn 1 it could be an interesting race otherwise Red Bull for #1 & #2 on the podium, Alonso for #3


This is a joke. I'm a 'proper F1 fan' whatever that may be (I watch all the races and keep up to date with the news, if that's good enough for the proper F1 fan police) and without sounding arrogant I consider myself to be of decent intelligence.

Yet I haven't got a clue what is going on. I understand the concept of exhaust blowing but have lost all faith that this championship will end with credibility because teams aren't working off a level playing field. And this also calls into question the previous 8 races and whether some teams have had an unfair advantage. It makes a mockery of the fans who bother to watch because now it's apparent that the teams are not competing off an even level.

No wonder F1 gets so much stick from the average fan, because it's full of nonsense like this. Coupled with the comedy tyres and DRS that allows anyone to overtake anyone with no skill whatsoever, F1 is becoming a farce.


This sucks... Just take everything to the way it was in 2006, where people could do more or less whatever they wanted with their engines, and everything else....


If RBR win this race by an even more comfortable margin then I will be deeply depressed- and probably will lose interest in the rest of the championship, although I am sure I will watch the race highlights. I bet I am not alone. why could not the FIA stand their ground and made RBR and McLaren follow their instructons?


Why is Charlie Whiting still anywhere near in charge of anything?

Does anyone remember the fuel Brabham used in South Africa in 1983? Wasn't Charlie there, too???

Tom in adelaide

It's become clear that the lunatics are running the asylum....

James, could you relay the overall sentiment of our comments back to Charlie/FIA? The fans need a voice and you are the man for the job.


Once again, it is the FIA that brings the sport into disrepute. It's high time they were held to the same standards to which they claim the teams should be.

Either these blown diffuser designs were against the rules (in which case the FIA should've done its job policing the rules in the first place, and shouldn't have allowed the results to stand), or they were legal (in which case we shouldn't be changing the rules or their "interpretation" so as to ban them mid-season).

And don't even get me started on the FIA's vague, wishy-washy rules that allow "interpretation". There's no reason why--in the supposed pinnacle of motorsport--we can't manage to write a clear rule in the first place.

Unfortunately, the FIA has been pulling this kind of inconsistent nonsense for years, and its rule / "interpretation" changes are generally seen by fans to be intentionally meddling with championships, in an attempt to artificially engineer closer championships, to assist the "old boy" teams, or both.

Mass dampers? Blown diffusers? Banned mid-season. They're against the spirit of the rules, don'cha know, and they're causing a costly development arms race.

But then when double-deck diffusers and F-ducts went against the spirit of the rules, and caused a costly development race, the FIA gnashed their teeth, sat on their thumbs, and did nothing.

The difference? There isn't one, except that the FIA didn't feel the need to fiddle the results in those years. All we've done with this mid-season ban is create doubt as to the legitimacy of the championship in the minds of fans.

It's high time we had a level playing field from the start of the season. If something is deemed legal for one team in any race of the season, it's legal for every team until the last race. If any team isn't allowed to exploit the same loophole, then the earlier results for other teams using the same technique are nullified.

Of course it will never happen, because the FIA cares not one jot about the fans' opinions, the legitimacy of the sport, or basic sporting fairness. That's why we have idiotic ideas such as "frozen" engine designs that artificially enforce a tilted playing field, and which aren't really frozen anyway, if you offer up the "old boy" handshake, give just the right nod and wink, and pretend you're not making a performance change.

The FIA: Failing In Autosport, since the year dot.


"As sporting narratives go “off-throttle exhaust blown diffusers” are not exactly Ali versus Frazier or a Maradona’s “hand of god” goal."



OK, so it's half three in the morning (where I am) and I should be asleep. But I'm not, so I've butchered a great song instead:

How many roads must a (Ger)man drive down,

Before you call in a ban?

And how many times must the rules intervene,

Before the red cars win again?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wing,

The answer is blowin' in the wing...

Thanks Bob. And Neil (it was your version I had in my head).


Go to bed!!


Less than half way through the season and both championships are already decided. Now, FIA gives an even stronger advantage to the team that is walking away with the prizes under the guise of making things fair. How stupid are they, and how stupid do they think we are?

Wake me up when next season starts.


Read James article by all means (above), and read it well and thoroughly for all it states about the latest dispensations to FIA Ruling changes (and engine diffentiations): but before you Forum Fans 'go off half cocked' on your indignances (Team biased probably), take a look at another first rate and impartial explanation from SCARBSF1 BLOG to add to James' story here.

I'll think a few Forum contributors need to read all the information and background on this situation - before spouting wildly inaccurate 'persecution' and 'unfair favouritism' theories. The FIA have handled this badly again, no doubt. I don't agree with mis-season rule changes at all; but there are solid reasons to the FIA relenting to compromises. JF


The way i see it unfolding, The FIA is purely covering there ass. If the non blowing teams protested the results, Which according to the fia recently they can very well do, They have to be perceived to be tackling the issue somewhat.

What is the bigger scandal, 2/3 of the grid banned due to non adherence of the rules, Or a technical change which is causing confusion.

So to allow certain dispensation to teams due to "reliability concerns" Is no problem to the fia if it keeps the wolves at bay until next season.


So that's what engine driveability means. A different diffuser blow for every corner. Nuke it, and bring in wake performance testing and then nuke more than half of the rest of the aero regs.


i don't understand how you can be allowed to keep a judged "movable aerodynamic device" over reliability concerns. it's like letting a tennis player use a racquet that attaches to his forearm because he has a sore wrist.

to me they've lost sight of rule priority.

letting an illegal car design run over a reliability concern is nonsense.


James I think it is wrong to suggest they should have left this behind closed doors to make it less complicated for people. I know the press love their tidy little stories that bring page hits but as F1 fans we want more transparency on what is going on in the sport particularly with things like the FIA clarifications that are not made public.

I think the wide consensus is that Charlie was wrong to start dabbling mid season, but now that it has happened I hope to see it reported on accurately by the press and am very interested in how, or if, it effects the pecking order.


Sounds like a big big mess - blame goes to FIA.

Imagine having to slow down Red Bull because if the championships over soon, who's gonna watch the rest of the races.

Credit goes to Newey for being too clever for FIA.


I thought Renault's system still injected fuel with the throttle off, and this fuel was lit by the hot exhaust on its way out thus expanding/speeding up the air into the exhaust and out through the diffuser. And I thought Mercedes was adding a spark to the fuel instead of letting the hot exhaust light the fuel. Maybe I'm wrong, but I was pretty sure that's how the systems worked.


FIA are bringing the sport into disrepute.

First there was the idiotic decision that the engine was a movable aero device.

Then they changed horses... I mean rules in mid-season;

Then it turns out several teams have 'special' rules just for them.

Just plain stupid.


Not the engine, the throttle body itself. It makes sense if you leave it there. They also didn't change the rules mid-season, they enforced the rules as they were written. Where the whole thing has gone wrong is:

Rule clarifications with different dispensations for different teams;

Rule clarifications issued mid-session;

Rule clarifications apparently not announced to fans or other teams.


And btw, El Predicto the Psychic Armadillo says there will be a formal protest Sunday afternoon by one of the teams without a trick exhaust. Probably HRT.


If the drivers foot is off the throttle, you should have no fuel injected whatsoever (except to maintain engine idle). This is good for the environment.

Scrap the rules on throttle opening. Makes no sense having a throttle opening rules.


Hi James

Question I haven't seen:

What actual *propulsion* would the exhuast gases actually give? On all corners, engine at half-blast may give a couple of tenths for RB also?


F1 is a racing series based on a formula which ideally should be determined and locked off before racing starts for the year. What we are seeing now is no different to what we have seen in the past with the likes of skirts, mass dampers, active suspension, launch control, traction control, F-Duct, oh my god I could go on forever.

Interpretation of the formula has always been the key to designing the best car. I am not a fan of changing the formula mid year as the FAI has the power to exclude any parts that do not fit the formula prior to any racing starting for the year. Do we all believe that good design should be rewarded by a mid year rule change? The advantage in Formula 1 has always been to exploit the grey areas of the formula.

I must say this year I have enjoyed the spectical. If we are not happy to see one driver dominate there is always the option of the lead trophy. (where the winner gets to carry and extra 50kg in the next race) I for one are not in favour of this in Formula One as it is pinical of motor sport and is not a one make series.

Next year the exhaust will be exiting out of the engine cowl and we will have a new set of controversial parts to argue over.

I have been watching NASCAR and this year at Daytona it was all about the best radiators. Each year I look forward to see what design innovations F1 produce. But, I must admit it makes life hard for teams with a small budget to shine.

I for one would love to see HRT develop a supercharged widget that would see them top of the podium.


Are any of these F1 ppl actually friends, or are they *all cutthroat back-stabbers?

uh oh! Apparently *my exhaust is blowing way too hot: "You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down."

This might be good advice for the Fools International Assn!


I'm not deciding who is proper. I am saying give the fans credit for understanding the issue!

A prawn sandwich (a la Roy Keane) wouldn't understand it - would they?

To say I don't understand what the real complaint is odd. I understand the technical issue and the arguments in some depth

Perhaps your definition of arrogant is different?

Tom in adelaide

I think we have to remember that a large number of fans are 'casual' by nature and don't spend time reading about details etc. I'm an 'above-casual fan' and i dont fully understand this ridiculous situation. Few do, i suspect.

F1 desperately needs to get back to the best racing drivers driving cars with the best mechanical specifications in the world. Get rid of all the damn microchips, computer driving aids etc. They are great for road cars of course but awful for racing cars. And ban the simulators too, i want to see racing, not rote-learned perfection.


In 'MY VIEW' it's a fix

The only right & fair solution is to leave the rules as they were till then end of the season.

McLaren will be the loosers & Ferrari will be the gainers with RedBull staying around the same.


Cosworth teams were unhappy with the status quo before. But I think they should have left it as it was before Valencia and banned the EBDs next season

ricky woolway

I think the real question here is whats happened to Pure f1. The days when a driver got into a car and just drove it. No buttons to do this that and the other. I agree f1 has to have its technical aspect and yes it does make for more exciting races. But In this instance the cars doing the work not the driver. Ban it all I say give the driver a good chasis aero etc an engine a steering wheel brake pedal accelerator pedal a clutch pedal (yeah im feeling real old school this morning lol) and let them drive !


Just evolution. Technology is better and cheaper. Areas where you can find an advantage are fewer. This is why they fight for every inch. But this proves all along what we knew, amazing drivers were only that by having amazing cars with some tech advantage. I like to not think about it because it bothers me to know that very few drivers on the day had any chance of victory during years I spent watching. A fat guy in a Lamborghini will always beat a fit skilled driver in a Focus. Is that a fair race? These tech advantages aren't far from this example.


So the FIA directive was released at 8.30am UK time and initial rumours suggest Renault have been advised that the 50% blowing is illegal and Mercedes are still allowed their over run. I think that's the right decision when Renault only used 45% blowing before the ruling anyway. Hopefully we will get more details soon.


So, looks like the FIA have spoiled the rest of the season.


So... evidently, from the qualifying results, McLaren are the big losers in all this.

No wonder Whitmarsh was so testy about it all. It appears as though *they had the most effective hot blower!


I am going to throw a different view and blame the teams, not (just) the FIA. The FIA gave teams plenty of time to bring up the reliability issues. This whole hot/cold blown diffuser issue came up weeks ago and the teams (specifically RBR and McLaren) had all that time to say that their engine would break and they might as well pack up and go home. I remember hearing RBR (Newey or Horner) mention a realibility issue a few weeks back but that's it. None of this last minute business. To be fair, FIA should have allowed a specific consultation period (especially for a mid-season rule change) and then worded the final rule into stone (at which point you're out of luck).

Maybe I missed part of the main issue and this actually did happen, but it seems like the rules changed twice on Saturday.


Why are there no clear cut answers as to what exactly Ferrari are doing?

We really want to know!


Spoke to Domenicali for you. He says he just wants to stay out of it. No particular gain for them as far as I can see




Well I agree that mid-season rule changes are not wise and the rules should apply to everybody equally, but as someone who just recently started getting into F1 (last season) and, being a lawyer (not quite sure if I'm a barrister or a solicitor) the only thing I know about cars is how to start them, how to make them go and how to make them stop, I find all these tecnical discussions fascinating, as Mr. Spock would say. To me understanding the mechanics are part of all the fun and frankly what make F1 interesting and differentiate this form of racing from say, Indycar where all the teams must use the same the engines and chassis and the cars are only worth a damn if they go in a straight line with minimal curves. I mena where's the skill in that, or am I way off the mark? Having gotten the technical stuff out of the way....VAMOS FERNANDO ALONSO and ANDIAMO FERRARI!


Quercus I have to disagree. This has now yet again has allowed F1 to descend into an unnecessarily complex technical farce. It would have been much simpler to ban these at the end of the season. This is what happened with the double diffusers and last year too with the rear wing devices. Banning things mid-season is just going to result in the teams and the fans of that team saying that their rivals are now getting an unfair advantage like Renault with the mass dampers a few years ago.

The real problem around this current system and especially this weekend in my opinion has been the seemingly leaderless approach of the FIA. You cannot restrict one engine to 10% function and then allow another team more. You certainly cannot then change the ruling part of the way thru a race weekend.

As far as I am concerned unless it is for serious safety concerns the FIA should not change the technical regulations mid-season at all... ever... period! It just alienates and confuses those watching the sport, in this circumstance even the hardcore ones.


Forgetting for a minute the intricate politics of what is going on..

What is telling on this blog, where fans get a voice, is the number of responses, and the consistent level of frustration, indignation over this latest row.

Thanks James, for giving us the opportunity to comment & vent.

It really shows the true effect of what has occurred and who it has really affected.

And it's not the cars on the track, but the fans in the stands & lounge rooms around the world.


James, can you confirm for me that cars running hot-blown diffusers would consume more petrol (than cold-blowing) during a race? If this is the case, then the 'hotter' downforce would be worth the additional weight of the extra fuel load? Love your work by the way... Cheers


Banning blown diffusers won't make any difference to the championship or the likely long term domination by Red Bull/(Adrian Newey). This has been seen before in F1, remember the previous dominant Williams and Mclaren periods?..Mr Newey was involved with both I believe? what are F1 trying to achieve by doing this, with all due respect it will not change a Force-India into a red bull. I could understand if it was a fan car(Bernie)or something radical, but if everyone has it or has the opportunity to utilize it if they are clever enough, which surely IS the point of F1, what is the net gain in banning it? I suspect advertising revenue, keeping up public interest and a slight lack of engineering acumen within a certain team has a lot to do with it...keep um not really when a decent driver gets to grips with a good Newey car I'm afraid. They limit down force and reduce wings so the engineers come up with wings etc that achieve the same down force but leave a lot of turbulence..then the cars cannot follow the car in front so overtaking becomes impossible then FIA come up with "artificial overtaking" rubbish like KERS and DFS. If you want to see real racing check youtube for the F1 period 1970 to 1989.


Banning blown diffusers won't make any difference to the championship or the likely long term domination by Red Bull/(Adrian Newey). This has been seen before in F1, remember the previous dominant Williams and Mclaren periods?..Mr Newey was involved with both I believe, what are F1 trying to achieve by doing this, with all due respect it will not change a Force-India into a red bull. I could understand if it was a fan car(Bernie)or something radical, but if everyone has it or has the opportunity to utilize it if they are clever enough, which surely IS the point of F1, what is the net gain in banning it? I suspect advertising revenue, keeping up public interest and a slight lack of engineering acumen within a certain team has a lot to do with it...keep um not really when a decent driver gets to grips with a good Newey car I'm afraid. They limit down force and reduce wings so the engineers come up with wings etc that achieve the same down force but leave a lot of turbulence..then the cars cannot follow the car in front so overtaking becomes impossible then FIA come up with "artificial overtaking" rubbish like KERS and DFS. If you want to see real racing check youtube for the F1 period 1970 to 1989.


The solution is actually very simple...get one engine manufacturer - passenger car maker or not - to supply all cars on the grid!! Don't forget that ECU has been standardized already.


Yes there should realize the reader to RSS my feed to RSS commentary, quite simply

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