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Page last updated at 12:49 GMT, Wednesday, 18 May 2011 13:49 UK

Exhaust management system ban put on hold by F1 bosses

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Teams have won a stay of execution over a ban on Formula 1's latest must-have technology at this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

Governing body the FIA had outlawed the practice of continuing to flow gases out of the exhaust even when drivers are off the throttle in corners.

Teams, including dominant Red Bull, have been using this to increase grip.

But the FIA has decided to postpone the ban after representations from the teams about its effect.

A top-level source said "unintended consequences and complications" had become apparent - and that teams would have had to put significant work into changing their engine maps ahead of the race.

Any decision will now be delayed until after the sport's Technical Working Group meets on 16 June, when the issue will be discussed by team engineers and FIA race director Charlie Whiting.

That means teams can continue to use the technology for the next three races in Spain, Monaco and Canada.

But the FIA has made it clear that it is not abandoning the principle that using the exhaust in such a way is illegal.

The practice has developed in the last year or so after teams began again to blow the exhaust gases around the diffusers, a key part at the back of the cars that has a major effect on their overall aerodynamic performance.

Doing so increases the airflow in that area, which is behind the rear wheels and under the rear wing, lowering the air pressure and therefore increasing downforce and grip.

A major problem with the technology has traditionally been an instability created when the driver comes off the accelerator in a corner - as no gas is coming out of the exhaust at that point, meaning downforce suddenly reduces.

Teams have solved that by keeping exhausts gases flowing through the exhausts even when the driver is not pressing the throttle.

They do this by continuing to burn fuel in the engine but retarding the ignition by as much as 35-40%.

The FIA regards this as a waste of fuel, as well as contravention of article 3.15 of the technical regulations, which among other things dictates that driver movement that affects the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is not allowed.

That part of the rule is new this year and was introduced to ban the F-duct aerodynamic devices that boosted straight-line speed.

It is believed that Renault, which supplies engines to the Red Bull, Renault and Lotus teams, was the leader in the exhaust technology. However, other manufacturers have followed suit.

McLaren's engineering director Tim Goss reckons a change in FIA guidelines would result in a "performance setback" for most F1 teams.

"All major teams are up to same tricks regards to engine mapping," Goss said on Wednesday.

"Certainly we exploit them. If FIA's latest guidelines came in then that would be a performance setback for us and for our major competitors. As to whether it will affect us more than our competitors, it's tough to say. At the moment we get a substantial benefit out of it."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hinted on Tuesday that the ban had come about as a result of their rivals complaining following the world championship leaders' runaway success this season.

Sebastian Vettel is dominating the drivers' championship after taking three wins and a second place from the first four races of the season.

Horner, talking before the ban was put on hold, was asked whether the clarification had been triggered by a rival team's complaint.

He said: "It is inevitable and the unfortunate consequence of success."

Horner added that the changes would affect the majority of the grid. "It is going to have an effect with all teams that have been utilising it," he stated.

"That appears to be 90% of the grid, if you look at how many teams are running blown diffusers.

"It is not something unique to this year, it is something that started last year."



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see also
Teams vote to drop car revolution
16 May 11 |  Formula One
Behind the scenes at F1 testing
20 Feb 11 |  Formula 1


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