With 2012 pre-season now in full swing, the new technical regulations that have been designed for this season and beyond are now in full view. The major talking point is obviously the change in the exhaust positioning and how the regulations have been clearly defined to bring an end to the exhaust blown diffusers that were the center of attention during the 2011 season.
Engine mapping has also been clamped down on for this season, meaning that things like overrun and hot/cold blowing of exhaust gases are no longer allowed under the new regulations.For the fans point of view this is good news, as it’s now possible to be able to hear the V8 engines as they were intended, without the cars sounding like they have a bag of nails rattling around inside them
The FIA technical regulations define the area where the tailpipe is permitted to exit the bodywork and also the shape of the tailpipe at the last 100mm.The technical regulations in section 5.8.3 state the following:
5.8.3 The last 100mm of any tailpipe must in its entirety :
a) Form a thin‐walled unobstructed right circular cylinder whose internal diameter is nogreater than 75mm with its axis at +/‐10° to the car centre line when viewed from abovethe car and between +10° and +30° (tail‐up) to the reference plane when viewed fromthe side of the car. The entire circumference of the exit should lie on a single planenormal to the tailpipe axis and be located at the rearmost extremity of the last 100mmof the tailpipe.
b) Be located between 250mm and 600mm above the reference plane.
c) Be located between 200mm and 500mm from the car centre line.
d) Be positioned in order that the entire circumference of the exit of the tailpipe lies between two vertical planes normal to the car centre line and which lie 500mm and1200mm forward of the rear wheel centre line.
To give this a visual representation, the following diagram lays out the area that is allowed and the area that is not from the side view and the top view and also an idea of the variance in angle that can be used from a give point inside the allowed area.
This gives the engineers an area of 700mm x 300mm from the top view and 700mm x 350mm from the side view to work with. The last 100mm of the tailpipe must also be straight and have a diameter no greater than 75mm.The regulations also define that only two exits are permitted, that they must be rearward facing and only fluid from the engine exhaust ports and permitted to enter the exhaust system.
Despite these regulations, it’s clear to see that the FIA has given the teams quite a large room and directional leniency to come up with different interpretations to these new set of regulations. While we will certainly not see the amount of downforce being produced by feeding the exhaust gases directly into the rear diffuser, this certainly won’t stop teams from experimenting and try to obtain some aerodynamic effect from the rearward area of the car. Areas that could be exploited to produce downforce from the exiting gases of the tailpipe are around the rear brake ducts where aerodynamic winglets now exist attached to the wheel housing, the rear beam wing, and even the underside of the rear wing itself.
With the majority of the teams now having launched and been testing their 2012 cars, the exhaust exit points on some cars are very similar to what were being used in 2009 and parts of 2010. However it is Ferrari and McLaren who are pushing the regulations to the limit.The following is the rear of the F2012 during Jerez testing and it is clear to see that the exhaust exits are as far outboard as allowed, much further than some other teams.
McLaren also have a very similar design to this on the MP4-27. The tailpipes seem to be aimed around the inner sidewall of the rear tyres and around the rear brake ducts where aerodynamic winglets exist. The team could be trying to blow exhaust gases around these aerodynamic winglets to create further downforce.
This has not been without problems however as both McLaren and Ferrari have been experiencing overheating of bodywork around the tailpipe areas, but this is generally not uncommon in this phase of pre-season testing. To counteract this, Ferrari have extended the length of the tailpipe past the opening of the bodywork as is shown in the diagram. Other issues have been Sauber seemingly causing high wear to the inner sidewall of the rear tyres, which could be being caused by the positioning of the tailpipe towards this area. They were testing new rear bodywork from day 2 onwards around the exits of the tailpipes when this was noticed.
Obviously, this is called testing for a reason, and ultimately it will be the next testing period at Barcelona where hopefully these problems should start to be solved, and perhaps introducing better and more intriguing solutions than the ones already on show.