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Lowe: 2012 exhaust changes hold no fear for McLaren 26 Oct 2011

Paddy Lowe (GBR) McLaren Technical Director.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain,  Sunday, 13 February 2011 McLaren MP4/26 detail diffuser detail.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 7 October 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 16 October 2011 Race winner Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren with Paddy Lowe (GBR) McLaren Technical Director on the podium. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 9 October 2011 McLaren MP4/26 diffuser detail with aero paint. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 26 August 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 16 October 2011

McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe is unconcerned about next season’s ban on exhaust-blown diffusers and the possibility that some teams may find ways to continue to exploit exhaust gases in 2012.

While peers at other teams have expressed concerns about possible loopholes in the revised regulations, Lowe is unfazed and is instead relishing the challenge of doing all he can - within the new limitations - to make next year’s McLaren MP4-27 as quick as possible.

“I’m not in fear over it,” he explained during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Phone-in on Wednesday. “I don’t quite understand when technical directors say they fear stuff like that. What is their fear of? The clue’s in the name - Formula One. It’s a formula - a set of constraints - that we define in the regulations. And once they’re set we’ll go and work as hard as we can to do as much as we can to make the car quick within those limitations.”

Exhaust-blown diffusers, where exhaust gases are channeled towards the car’s rear diffuser to boost downforce, have garnered a lot of attention this season, particularly the use of engine maps that allow the exhaust blowing to continue even when the driver is off the throttle.

Disagreements between the teams on the matter reached a head at July’s British Grand Prix where - after much wrangling - it was eventually decided to drop proposed mid-season revisions to the regulations in favour of a more substantial rule change in 2012. As a result, there will be strict constraints on exhaust positioning next year, which will result in the pipes exiting the bodywork much higher up and no longer in the vicinity of the diffuser.

Although this change to ‘periscope’-style exhausts is expected to minimize the aerodynamic benefit of gas flow over bodywork, Lowe believes anyone who thinks designers will now ignore the downforce-boosting potential of exhausts is naive.

“So we had a bit of a crisis in Silverstone this year with the exhaust blowing situation and reached some agreement in terms of intent next year,” he explained. “The teams have since worked on a range of limits to reduce the amount at which exhausts can be used to create downforce, but it’s never been expected that it would eliminate the effect of exhausts on downforce.

“That would be unrealistic. No regulation we’ve ever written has eliminated an in-car effect. There will be a finite effect. The simple point is that pointing an exhaust out the back will give you a large degree of thrust. That is an aerodynamic fact, but we all know that we can get a lot more than that. And the teams went into that with eyes wide open.

“So I do find it a bit odd when people claim that they fear that people will generate performance from exhausts. Well of course they will. That’s what we have to do. It’s just that some very extreme limits have been put in place to reduce that drastically from where it was.”

News also broke recently that the FIA is to impose even more limitations on the aerodynamic exploitation of exhaust gases in 2012, by further limiting off-throttle blowing through stricter engine mapping rules. Again Lowe was unfazed by the late change.

“We did have a recent clarification from the FIA about how the engine should be run. That did come out of the blue - it wasn’t pre-declared by the FIA. But again that represents a set of limits that we will work to.”

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