McLaren and Ferrari are closer to Red Bull pace, but not through regulation changes…which have now been unchanged! (BELOW LEFT) At Silverstone, Christian Horner of Red Bull and Martin Whitmarsh of McLaren had to answer questions that, in retrospect, have been rendered totally irrelevant.
spark and fuel, leaving the engine to
pump air through the exhaust onto the
di;user – hey presto, o;-throttle blowing.
All the front-running teams had it by the
second half of last year and the governing
body had full knowledge of that.
But for this year, with a winter to
think and work on it, the systems
became more extreme. Mercedes and
Ferrari introduced “hot blowing”
o;-throttle whereby the engine throttle
still remained open but some fuel was
introduced. With no spark, it still didn’t
ignite within the engine but did so as it
reached the hot exhaust, increasing the
velocity of the flow to the di;user.
Renault had it too, but it wasn’t used
on the Red Bull-Renaults since RBR
found it increased their already marginal
rear tire temperatures too much.
Extreme engine maps – of both hot and
cold blowing – giving 100-percent
throttle opening throughout the lap were
devised for use in qualifying. But these couldn’t be used in the
race as the ignition retardation would ultimately cause a failure
and the fuel consumption would be too high.
It was Williams – with an engine supplier (Cosworth)
unwilling to develop a hot-blowing map for reasons of cost
and reliability – that first questioned the FIA about whether
a) having separate maps for qualifying and for racing contravened
the parc ferme regulations, and b) whether the throttles were
being used primarily as an aerodynamic device. Williams was
surprised at just how enthusiastically the FIA took up these
points – almost as if it was pushing against an open door.
Ferrari said nothing publicly but in the Technical Working
Group meetings was highly supportive of the FIA’s intention
to outlaw o;-throttle blowing. What no one could fathom was
Mercedes’ attitude but many thought they detected the
politically savvy hand of Ross Brawn here. As ever,
competitive agendas, politics and governance all interweaved,
and trying to unstitch each of them is an impossible task.
There was definitely a feeling among Red Bull’s opposition
that the RB7 was gaining more than anyone else from this
technology. They believed that the extra lap time the car
would invariably find in Q3 and the way the car would revert to
a more normal performance in the race was evidence of an
Alonso’s startling pace at Silverstone
was a result of Ferrari’s upgrades,
not the tech-reg whirligig.