The heads of the Red Bull and McLaren teams clashed publically during Friday’s FIA Press Conference as the governing body’s rules change over off-throttle blown exhausts took a new twist at the British Grand Prix.
Despite ruling that all teams would need to limit their off-throttle exhaust blowing to just 10 per cent, many trackside observers noted that the Renault-powered teams – most notably the dominant Red Bulls – sounded much louder than their many rivals under braking and when cornering.
The reason for this became apparent when it emerged that the FIA had conceded that the Renault-engined teams could rev at 50% off-throttle – it was claimed ostensibly for reliability purposes – on the proviso that no fuel was burned under those conditions. This practice is known as ‘cold-blowing’.
While this is a matter more for the technical boffins of the sport, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh derided the latest FIA flip-flop as another example of the “cloudy, ambiguous and changing” position taken by the sport’s rule-makers.
“It’s messy and I think the intention people believed was that we were going to stop exhaust blowing when the driver didn’t have his foot on the throttle,” Whitmarsh told the scores of journalists attending the media session.
“I think that was the simple concept but that concept has been deflected and therefore it hasn’t been clear. And the fact that these things were only coming out during the course of today is fairly extraordinary. But nonetheless, I’m sure we will remain calm and pick our way through but I think it’s probably better to make changes to the regulations between seasons, not in-season and also make changes to regulations which are clear and unambiguous.
“I think at the moment, a lot of people are clearly getting emotional about the situation and I can understand why: it’s frustrating for the engineers not to know what it is that we’re allowed to do, because these changes… by cold blowing you’re getting 30, 40 points of extra rear downforce in braking and that’s quite an attractive thing so if you can do it, then you’re going to try and do it aren’t you?”
However, it emerged later that the FIA had backflipped once again and overturned its concession to the Renault-powered teams ahead of Saturday’s final practice session.
[Image via Sutton Images]