FIA clamps down on exhaust blowing... again


Though effectively eliminated with the introduction of the new rules in 2014, exhaust blowing, whereby 'trick' engine modes are used in order to direct exhaust gases so that they assist with downforce, particularly in corners, appears to be creeping aback into the sport following the high downforce regulation changes of 2017.

At the centre of attention since its appearance in pre-season testing has been the Renault, though the French team and the FIA's Charlie Whiting insist all is legal.

However, with a number of other teams, including Ferrari, understood to be looking into the practice, the FIA has opted to act, with the governing body's single-seater technical boss, Nikolas Tombazis, writing to all the teams ahead of this weekend's Azerbaijan Grand Prix in a bid to clarify the situation.

"We do not accept that engine modes specifically designed to increase the exhaust flow in corners are permissible," he writes. Such engine modes can be either specific to a compressor-turbine by-pass system, or to flow passing through the cylinders. To be permissible, such flows should be the result of settings that genuinely increase the performance or reliability of the power unit, and not contrived to increase the exhaust flow.

"Notwithstanding the above point, we do not feel that it is practical or easy to write a catch-all rule that achieves this aim in a perfect way," he continues. "For this purpose, we intend to control the usage of engine modes on a case-by-case basis and provide the necessary requests to the teams in order to stay within the acceptable limits with regard to (the above) point.

"While this is clearly not perfectly satisfactory, we feel it is the best possible way to handle the situation for 2018, especially as the effects are not large in any case."

"One of the objectives of the 2014 regulations was to eliminate once and for all any exhaust influence on the car's aerodynamic performance," he adds. "And while this objective has been largely achieved, the 2017 rules brought back an exhaust effect on rear downforce, mainly because of the lower position of the rear wing. Clearly this effect remains much smaller than the effects that were commonplace in 2011-2013, but it is still undesirable."

In a bid to curtail the return of the practice, the FIA banned 'monkey seats' from the end of last season, however, there remained a question mark over the positioning of the exhaust tailpipe.

"Regarding the tailpipe position in relation to the rear wing and bodywork, we accept any position within the stated limits of the regulations," Tombazis confirms. "It is the right of any competitor to design their car in such way to have the most advantageous installation for their car's performance, provided this installation is indeed within the limits of the regulations."

However, looking ahead he adds: "For 2019, we intend to overcome this issue by acting on the exhaust position. This matter was discussed in the last TWG, but we do not feel that a sufficient solution was found.

"Hence, we intend to have a discussion on this topic in the next TWG, with the aim to achieve an exhaust position that clearly prevents any direct aerodynamic gain, thus eliminating the need for checks on engine modes."

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 24/04/2018
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