With the ban on hot blown diffusers looming large, Alex Scott gives his views on how it will affect the teams.
With the news that the FIA have acted to ban hot blown diffusers from the British Grand Prix onwards, the inevitable questions have arisen regarding who will be affected the most, and when.
It is important to firstly realise the difference between a ‘hot’ blown diffuser and the regular definition of a blown diffuser to help see where there is any effect to be had by its banning. The blown diffuser concept is simply a case of the teams using exhaust gases to manipulate air flow at the rear of the car and aid aerodynamic performance. However, in usual circumstances exhaust gases are only produced when the throttle is being used. This is where ‘hot’ blown diffusers come in; the engineers have worked to produce a solution that allows the exhausts to produce these gases off-throttle via sophisticated engine mapping, and therefore giving the aerodynamic benefits that result from this at all times. It is this aspect alone that has been banned from Silverstone onwards, with a full blown diffuser ban coming into place next season.
From this we can see that the cars will feel the effects most when the throttle is not being used. In modern F1 this will generally be under braking, and through the apexes of slower corners. It could therefore be said that the cars might lose some braking stability, but in slower corners aerodynamics have a much lower effect on performance, so it could be argued that no substantial difference will actually be seen in pure lap times at most circuits – contrary to what many have been speculating.
If anything, the effect of this ban will be seen most explicitly in qualifying, where teams can run these aggressive engine mappings to the most extreme settings they can (as the focus is on pure one lap performance over fuel consumption, reliability, and so on).
So the question on everyone’s lips is which teams are going to gain or lose out as a result of this ban? The general paddock opinion is that Renault-engined cars run the most effective engine mappings for providing the hot blown diffuser benefits and hence they will be the teams to lose the most from this ban.
Certainly all the talk has been about whether this will bring an end to Red Bull’s run of pole positions and dominant one lap pace, as they were the team to originally introduce blown aerodynamic innovations and supposedly therefore have a more advanced system than other teams. A reasonable point, but still just speculation and is to an extent unfounded – it is just as easily possible for their one lap speed to be due to a number of other factors, most notably the unlimited use of DRS or an ability to get the tyres working most effectively for that one flying lap.
Some have speculated that Silverstone may see a complete upheaval in the running order of the 2011 season, but based on reasons given above, it is this writer’s opinion that anyone expecting a huge shake-up shouldn’t hold their breath.