The Politics of Exhaust Direction in Formula One

By Deane Barker on August 20, 2012

Red Bull RB8: I found this tidbit today that explains to what degree Formula One cars are actually engineered.  This is an explanation of a controversy involving the Red Bull Racing chassis for the 2012 season:

The 2011 season saw teams produce more downforce by programming their engines to force more air through the exhaust and over the diffuser. This practice was banned for 2012, with the regulations dictating the position of the exhaust outlet and requiring teams to observe a linear relationship between the degree to which the throttle was opened and the amount of torque being produced by the car. Red Bull were accused of abusing this relationship in medium-speed corners, allowing their throttle to be more open than it should be for the amount of torque being produced.

Yes, those cars are wound up so tight that the direction exhaust leaves the engine has a material bearing on downforce, and, for this reason, revving the engine too hard in corners is a violation of the rules.  (Reminds me of nine years ago, when I found out that Top Fuel dragsters got 800 lbs of downforce from exhaust alone.)

I shouldn’t be surprised – anything that goes this fast has got to be wringing out every last ounce of performance it can.

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