FIA in engine-mapping clampdown for 2012 Formula 1 season

Formula 1 teams have been told that there will be stricter limitations on engine mapping next year, as part of a clampdown by the FIA to prevent teams exploiting exhausts gases

FIA in engine-mapping clampdown for 2012 Formula 1 season

Although moves to outlaw blown diffusers have already resulted in teams being forced to run with periscope exhausts in 2012, there have been mounting concerns that some outfits are still trying to exploit loopholes in this area of the regulations.

Earlier this week, Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn voiced his fears on the matter - especially because it had become clear to everyone this year just what benefit can be had from using exhaust gases for improved aerodynamic performance.

"In our case it [the exhaust design] is still relatively conventional, but whether someone else will come up with something dramatic I would have to wait and see," he said. "I would not say I am confident that there will not be an innovative exhaust scheme because once we have learned something you cannot unlearn it.

"The strength and performance that comes from the exhaust, using exhaust energy, is substantial, and people now have a better understanding of what they can do with exhausts/engine mapping to extenuate the effect."

With the FIA keen to ensure that off-throttle blowing of exhausts does not continue, sources have revealed that the governing body has this week issued a Technical Directive to teams informing them that there will now be severe limitations on what is allowed next year.

To prevent teams using off-throttle blowing through extreme engine maps, the FIA has made it clear that the 2012 version of the software used by F1's standard ECU will now put certain limitations on engine mapping.

AUTOSPORT understands that the FIA acted because it had become aware that, although the positioning of exhaust tailpipes was more tightly controlled, there was still some potential for off-throttle engine mapping to be heavily exploited.

Although the move has not delighted all teams, with some expressing reservations in a meeting of the FIA's Technical Working Group this week, the majority of outfits have welcomed the move - because it effectively removes a grey area of car development.

The FIA argued earlier this season, during an intended push to ban off-throttle blown diffusers which eventually had to be abandoned, that such extreme engine maps were a breach of the famous Article 3.15 of F1's Technical Regulations.

This was based on its view that there was an aerodynamic benefit from a moveable part, plus it was being influenced by the movement of the driver through the throttle. Neither are allowed in the rules.

Williams chief operations engineer Mark Gillan said in Korea last weekend that all teams were likely looking at ways of exploiting the new exhaust regulations.

"I think with all regulations, I have never seen a year where there isn't the potential for a loophole," he said.

"That is part of the fun of the development side. I don't think there have been any regulations that don't have them. Our job as F1 designers and aerodynamicists is to seek out potential areas where the regulations are potentially vague and exploit them."

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Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
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