Despite a generally positive mood before the Spanish Grand Prix that the race could actually feature some overtaking for a change, the atmosphere could be set to get very nasty very quickly as Formula 1 verges on heading towards another controversy as the FIA moves to shut down the so-called exploitation of the ‘blown exhaust’ regulations.
Within the next few races, the sport’s governing body will move to restrict teams being able to channel hot exhaust gases through the cars’ exhausts even when the throttle is not being applied fully.
But the FIA’s Charlie Whiting – aside from pointing out the obvious that the current practice flies in the face of fuel-saving initiatives being rolled out into the sport – has also said that the current technology is already (effectively) illegal under the current wording of the sport’s regulations.
With the actual text of the regulations restricting ‘driver-assisted aerodynamic aids’, the current perception is that ‘blown exhausts’ act in this function by increasing cornering grip and mid-corner speeds. It is believed that the design around this particular piece of the car is one of the reasons why the Red Bull RB7 is proving so supremely competitive relative to its rivals.
Whiting’s admission has left the door open for the teams not running the ‘blown exhaust’ – known to the be the three Cosworth-powered teams, Williams, HRT and Virgin Racing – to theoretically protest the outcome of the Spanish Grand Prix.
“[A protest] could happen and then we’ll just take it to the stewards in the normal way,” he admitted to reporters.
“I’d like to think that probably wouldn’t happen but one never knows. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility,” he added.
The sudden change in tack over the ‘blown exhaust’ regulations – whereby the FIA is set to instigate the rules changes before the British Grand Prix – is believed to have been sparked by the Williams team writing to the FIA to seek clarification on the design, rather than seeking to have it banned.
“There is a strong enough argument on both sides,” Williams’ technical director Sam Michael told reporters.
“There is a reasonable argument to say that it is illegal and that certainly appears to be the view of the FIA.
“Charlie’s view on it is very clear – they do not consider it to be legal. But I can see why other people can say that there are vagaries in the rules. The important thing is that the decision shouldn’t be clouded by not interfering with a championship. It’s either legal or illegal.”
Meanwhile, Virgin Racing has denied it has any interest in lodging – or supporting – a protest against teams currently using a ‘blown exhaust’, while HRT is sitting more on the fence, with team boss Colin Kolles admitting that he “would see” as to whether his outfit would lodge a complaint.
[Image via LAT]
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