Battle to limit the costs of F1

2013-03-03 10:00

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Since 2000, the FIA, the governing body of motor sport worldwide, has been issuing an increasing number of rule changes to limit the cost of the sport.

The expense of running a team in the sport has increased dramatically in recent years and this situation has proved unsustainable.

From 2009 onwards, Formula 1 has committed itself to dramatic reductions in expenses.

After Williams launched their 2013 car in Barcelona, it wasn’t long before talk turned to their somewhat different exhaust design.

Caterham also found themselves in a similar situation with their CT03 at the Jerez testing session two weeks ago.

Extracting downforce from the exhaust gases is a big topic in F1 as so much performance can be found when combined with the back floor of the car and, to stop the teams going all 2011 on us (when this idea was at its peak), the FIA’s technical regulations are worded extremely carefully on the subject to try to stop clever engineers from cheating or pushing it to the limit.

In the case of Williams, they have almost a totally new car, which includes a new gearbox, floor, nose and rear suspension, as well as new radiators, exhausts and bodywork.

The controversy surrounds exhaust exits, which are strictly controlled in an attempt to reduce teams’ ability to harness exhaust gases to increase aerodynamic downforce.

Exhaust designs have been the subject of controversy since the start of 2011 and although the FIA has worked to put an end to the controversial off-throttle blown diffuser, some teams believe it still raises questions.

The issue this year might come over the angling and positioning of the exhausts.

There are limitations on where the exhaust physically can be.

As long as a team satisfies all of those, hopefully there won’t be too much further controversy.

The rules dictate exhaust gases may not be redirected, but all teams are still doing that to some extent.

The FIA’s stance means teams risk being disqualified at the first race in Australia.

But they can continue to use such exhausts in testing.

Though Formula 1 racing engines have lost some of the developments they used to have when the regulations allowed more freedom, every single design currently in use is still a highly advanced piece of engineering.

But exhaust design is tough to perfect and it negatively affects cost and reliability for teams that don’t have the resources to spend on it.

The FIA doesn’t like creating an arms race where cost equals competitiveness, so a number of teams cried foul that exhaust-blown diffusers were against the spirit of technical regulations.

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