F1 – Renault’s Trick Exhaust: Legal?

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?

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4 Thoughts to “F1 – Renault’s Trick Exhaust: Legal?

  1. Wow. I’ll put my vote in the “clever” category. As far as I know (referencing my imaginary copy of the FIA Formula 1 rulebook here), there’s no rule saying where the exhaust has to exit the car, just that all but the very tip of the pipe must be shrouded from view. This would be a fantastic way to either introduce more air to the overall underfloor airflow, or another way to try to seal off the main floor section from the airflow around the outside of the sidepods (Joe Saward’s blog talks about this a little: http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/the-mystery-of-the-missing-exhaust/). If they can find a way to keep the flow from alongside the sidepods from bleeding under the car, they could better control the airflow under the car, and therefore, the level of downforce. Very interesting.

  2. http://www.fia.com/sport/Regulations/f1regs.html
    There ya go. PDFs of both the sporting and technical regs.

    Personally, I think its a great idea, and has the additional benefit of really cleaning up the rear end of the car. Provided the sidepods don’t catch fire, it could be a huge advantage.

  3. Heaven forbid, someone in F1 think something through and not just throw big wads of money at it. I think it would have been even more clever if they pulled a renault, and put some dummy pipes at the rear of the car to throw everyone off for the unveil.

  4. LOL!! Now THAT would have been brilliant!!

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