There’s been a flurry of unveilings for the 2011 Formula 1 chariots lately including the new machine from Renault Lotus R31 (The Group Lotus, not the Team Lotus). While because of the ever increasing strictness of the FIA regulations the cars are outwardly appearing more and more similar each year, there was something distinctly different about the R31: No exhaust outlets in the rear of the car! Racecar Engineering took a close look at the car during the reveal, and posted their findings in the article, Renault’s radical R31 exhaust system. It would seem that the exhaust is directed clear to the front of the floor of the car, ahead of the sidepod intakes, where it is released directly behind the lead turning vane. Check Racecar Engineering’s article for the photos.
There were significant changes to the technical regulations this year, and f-ducts along with the infamous double-decker diffusers have been prohibited, but as Renault’s technical director puts it, they didn’t prohibit using the exhaust to generate downforce.
“It’s true to say that the car has been designed in an ambitious manner and a quick glance at the layout will confirm that its entire concept differs considerably, not just from last year’s car, but from any car this team has ever produced. Those changes represent our attempt to extract the absolute maximum aerodynamic performance from the regulations, which have changed quite significantly for this year, and to further develop the concept of using the exhausts to blow the floor.” — James Allison, Renault Technical Director
By moving the exhaust completely forward of the floor, rather than venting it near the rear diffuser as Red Bull had done in 2010, the R31 should gain a significant improvement in overall downforce. Regardless of Mr. Allison’s assertions, there has been debate within the fandom as to whether this system really is legal. As for me, I say its a matter of sour grapes. The detractors are merely disappointed that their team didn’t conceive of the system first. I suppose it won’t really matter unless the system really does work. There’s only so much you can glean from testing. We won’t really know how Renaults trick exhaust will perform until the circus arrives in Australia. So what’s your take on this? Legal? Illegal? Clever? Fire waiting to happen?