Speculation is running rife in the wake of Renault launching its R31 challenger that the new design holds several tricks under its black-and-gold carbon fibre bodywork, fearing that the team’s rhetoric about its envelope-pushing design might having a ring of truth to it.
Close inspection of close-up photographs of the car have already led to one question: where are the car’s exhaust exits?
F1 tech heads will recall that Red Bull placed exhaust-like stickers on the bodywork of its RB6 in an attempt to trick rival outfits into thinking it had a conventional exhaust layout on its championship-winning car, and managed to successfully hide the face that it was running the now-commonly-used ‘blown’, or lowered, exhaust
Rumours have suggested that Renault’s R31 has placed its exhaust exits further forward on the car, which must create some sort of aerodynamic benefit.
This year’s cars are banned from using the ‘F-duct’, a device developed by McLaren that allowed drivers to stall the flow of air to the rear wing to increase straight-line speed. The actual ‘duct’ sucked in air flowing outside the car and diverted it to the rear wing, and drivers could then block the channel of airflow to boost their speed.
Perhaps – and this is pure speculation at this stage – Renault is using and ‘stalling’ some of its engine exhaust air flow to mimic the function of the ‘F-duct’?
Either way, it has the press buzzing, with France’s Auto Hebdo describing it as a “car [that is] ambitious and differs in its entire concept not only from last year, but from all the cars previously made by this team.”
Lead driver Robert Kubica is keeping very quiet about his prospects for 2011 – and indeed, any of the car’s features – and would not be drawn on his thoughts for the season ahead.
“I don’t want to say too much because the last time we spoke about winning races, I was with BMW and half the season was a disaster,” he said.
[Original images via GP Update]