Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Blown Diffuser Rules Settled - For This Year

With the mid-point of the season fast approaching, it seems that the discussions and regulation changes surrounding hot blown diffusers has finally come to an end. The system requires unburnt fuel to be passed through the engine and ignited in the exhaust while the driver is off the throttle in order to power the rear diffuser and create extra downforce. The FIA regard this as a form of changeable aerodynamic device which is against the technical regulation and so they have been looking for a way to ban the systems for the past couple of months.

As the systems were investigated, it became clear that some teams were using very aggressive engine mapping during qualifying, and then changing the Control unit settings for more reliability during the race. At the Valencia GP this sort of change was outlawed and all teams accepted this change gracefully. This allowed the FIA further time to decide on the exact changes required for the next race to stop hot blowing altogether.

When Silverstone started the FIA had already made the new regulations known and this is where their problems really started. Some teams claimed that differences between their engines meant that they could not stick to the new rules without damaging their engine. Coupled with differences between throttles (butterfly versus barrel) and some need to keep fuel flowing while off throttle to maintain crankcase pressure, there was now pressure on the FIA to make certain concessions to the regulations. This was done and it lead to a complaint from Renault that now they were being unfairly penalised. After being presented with more evidence the FIA allowed slightly different rules for the Renault engines. According to some, this actually allowed them slightly more freedom than they had before the whole sorry saga started!

After a last minute complaint, discussion and decision on the Saturday morning of the British Grand Prix, all the cars were allowed to run as they had at Valencia. More discussion after the event lead to the final decision which all the teams have agreed to run under. This means that engine mapping is free but no changes are to be made between qualifying and the race. In other words, nothing has changed since Valencia. The biggest difference is that all the teams have agreed, which means no more changes before the end of the year.

Next year however, exhaust positions are to be changed. The pipes must exit well above the diffuser and the FIA believe that this will stop them being used as an aerodynamic device. They may even be right at first, but you can't help thinking that F1 engineers are a pretty clever lot and will take any advantage they can. It may be possible to use the exhaust gasses to heat the rear tyres or maybe affect the airflow around the rear spoiler. We are bound to see something clever and its a good bet that someone will find something to complain about.

This is a perfect example of why rules should not be changed mid-season. There is little chance that everyone will agree to any changes while a championship is underway. Someone will always feel hard done by, and they may well be right. Apart from making the FIA look a bit silly and indecisive, this won't have much effect on the racing in the end. Thank goodness for that, because if Ferrari really have pulled themselves up to match Red Bull, we might be in for a great end to the season. Motor sport punters at Luxbet Sports Betting would have been sure to find the odds quite even! Fingers are also crossed that McLaren's dismal performance at Silverstone was a one-off. A three-way battle for the remaining races would be great to watch. We might even start to get some answers this weekend at the Nurburgring. Looking forward to it!

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