• Exhaust regulations

FIA willing to scrap exhaust clampdown

ESPNF1 Staff
July 9, 2011 « Schumacher blames 13th on timing | »

The FIA is willing to scrap its controversial ban on off-throttle blown diffusers if all the teams can agree ahead of the German Grand Prix.

The rules regarding off-throttle exhaust blowing have changed several times over the British Grand Prix this weekend as the FIA has tried to find a fair way of restricting the practice, which it believes is illegal. However, the complex nature of the regulations and the different ways in which the engine manufacturers blow the diffuser has left some of the teams feeling hard done by.

Ahead of qualifying an extraordinary meeting of the Technical Working Group reluctantly agreed to the FIA's pre-race plan to limit off-throttle blowing to 10% of full throttle. In the build up to the session, which saw Mark Webber take pole from Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said his team would be at a "disadvantage". Then after the session, which also saw Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton qualify fifth and tenth, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh said his team had suffered. "[Either] we haven't been able to respond to them [the exhaust regulations] or the impact on us has been greater," he said.

Although the regulations are now set for the rest of the weekend, the teams will meet again on Sunday to try to come to a solution for the remainder of the season. Whitmarsh is confident that a return to the rules the teams had in Valencia - when off-throttle exhaust blowing was allowed but changing engine maps between qualifying and the race wasn't - will be the most likely outcome.

"This morning it seemed like it was likely to happen," he said. "Whether people like exhaust blowing or not, it's probably the most equitable situation - we had a free market so to speak leading up to Valencia. I think people, in good faith, expect that that's what we've got and that's what we'll develop our engines for, what we'll develop our exhausts for, and develop the fundamental aerodynamics of the car and the vehicle handling and setup [for]. So everything that we've done is based upon that and working in good faith."

After qualifying the FIA announced that it is prepared to agree to returning to Valencia regulations. "During Saturday morning's Extraordinary Technical Working Group meeting, the members discussed the viability of returning to the pre-Silverstone setups and strategies," read a statement. "If the teams are in unanimous agreement, the FIA is prepared to adopt this arrangement until the end of the season."

Whitmarsh said part of the reason the teams couldn't switch back to Valencia rules this weekend was because the qualifying session was looming when the final agreement was made.

"When we all met together earlier this morning, there was a general consensus that the fairest thing to do would be to revert to a Valencia condition," he added. "I think a lot of people felt that it was the right thing to do here, but understandably a number of teams said they couldn't revert because, by the time we were having the discussion, it was 45 minutes before qualifying and that's why we didn't revert this weekend."

Renault boss Eric Boullier revealed that some manufacturers were against it as they had worked on a system based on the Silverstone regulations.

"We understand that some teams have developed a new system around this new regulation," he said. "So it would be unfair to change just before qualifying and go back to another system."

Boullier believes it is important F1 comes up with a solution for the good of the sport.

"We cannot carry on like this," he said. "It's not good to be seen again as a mini war. Formula One doesn't need this kind of wasted debate. Everybody understands that we are in a corner now and we have to take a decision and a fair one for this year."

He added: "Let's say freeze the rules like it was [in Valencia], that would be a fair compromise."