Just as the various F1 teams were poised to head for round five of the 2011 world championship thinking they had to get their heads around revised regulations concerning the use of exhaust-blown diffusers, it appears that they may be able to retain their existing systems after all.
Tuesday's unveiling of Silverstone's new pit and paddock complex was populated by F1 team personnel concerned by the prospect of having to remap their engine management systems to prevent the diffusers from receiving exhaust gases when the drivers are off the throttle. While the sport's governing body said that it was happy for the mapping system to be used to produce torque, it was aiming to prevent it being used to enhance aerodynamic performance.
"The FIA clarified some rules on engine management systems which I think are going to affect all the teams," Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn told Reuters
reporters at Silverstone, "The teams have all been developing their engine management systems to take the maximum advantage from the exhausts and the FIA want to push us in a different direction now, so there will be changes there. I think it's forced all the teams to have a fresh look at what they are doing on engine strategies. The sort of staccato exhausts that you hear, I don't think you will be hearing any more."
Christian Horner, whose Red Bull Racing team has won three of the opening four races courtesy of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, admitted that the ruling could shake up the competitive order - provided it is enforced from this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
"It is inevitable and the unfortunate consequence of success," he was quoted as saying by the BBC
, "It is going to have an effect with all teams that have been utilising it - and that appears to be 90 per cent of the grid. It is not something unique to this year, it is something that started last year, so Barcelona will clearly show what effect this will have."
Exactly what the situation regarding the use of engine mapping and the diffusers will be appears set to be determined when the teams take to the circuit on Friday morning, for reports have emerged that the FIA is poised to backtrack on its demands. According to pitpass.com
, the mandate to revise the systems to remove any aero advantage has been withdrawn for this weekend, with the governing body now looking to impose the requirement at a later date, most likely after the next Technical Working Group meeting on 16 June, when teams will have had more time to safely implement the changes.