Rival teams are uncertain whether to follow Renault’s lead and switch to exhausts that feed the ﬂoor of the car from the front of the sidepod.
The new Renault R31 blows exhaust gases into the front of the ﬂoor, which increases down force and extends the blown-diffuser concept to act on the entire undertray. But there is uncertainty over the design’s beneﬁts.
Renault engine boss Rob White said: “This moves the authority of the exhaust effect into a different league. There are opportunities to be had in using the energy in the car exhaust stream and the air passing under, over and around the car.”
Robert Kubica topped the timesheets at last week’s Valencia test on the ﬁrst outing for the car.
However, despite showing good pace, the car was noted to be a little inconsistent and further reﬁnement of the way that the exhausts interact with the ﬂoor is needed. But, fundamentally, the design produced promising results. The majority of teams are now evaluating whether to adapt their cars to take the system, and Red Bull is believed to have looked at such a design before the Renault appeared. However, integrating such a fundamental design change would make it far more difﬁcult to change a car to this specification than it was to integrate the blown diffuser last year. Williams technical director Sam Michael told AUTOSPORT Magazine on February 10: “If Renault thought about it a long time ago and took that direction, I don’t think it’s a big deal to make it work. It’s a bit hard to do now [in an existing car].
“We did not think of it before we saw it and we now have a CPD programme running to see what it does. It’s got to do something or else why would Renault do it? But whether it’s worth implementing during the year is too early to say.”
However, Virgin technical director Nick Wirth is unconvinced that it is the best way to use exhaust gases to generate downforce, having already evaluated the concept.
“We heard rumors of the front-blowing exhaust and it’s a solution that we tested,” Wirth told AUTOSPORT Magazine on February 10. “It’s very interesting, but it doesn’t offer any more absolute performance than our solution. It also creates very different characteristics on and off the throttle.
“It’s a massive packaging challenge. It would be interesting to understand how you can make the crash structures strong enough when they are hot.”
McLaren, which launched its car in Berlin last week with a dummy exhaust system, is also believed to have considered such a design.
Engineering director Tim Goss said: “The exhaust solution is a signiﬁcant part of the performance of the car.”