It was reported the FIA’s technical delegate decided to attend the opening test of the 2012 pre-season amid speculation the teams may have overstepped the mark with their new exhaust layouts.
Exhaust-blown diffusers have been banned for this season, but the early signs were that teams had been clever in their interpretation of the new rules to maintain an aerodynamic benefit.
“At the moment they’re all legal,” Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, following Whiting’s inspection of all the team garages on Wednesday, quoted the Briton as saying.
Red Bull’s Adrian Newey also played down all the speculation about 2012 exhaust interpretations, insisting there is unlikely to be a “bright idea” from this year’s restrictive rules similar to the double diffuser or blown exhaust innovations.
“We do not see any big differences between all the possible solutions,” he said. “The rules are very specific and very restrictive.”
That could, of course, be great news for Red Bull’s rivals, particularly with the FIA having also clamped down on flexing front wings — another area perfected recently by Newey.
“That rule change,” said Newey, referring to the halving of the allowable wing flex for 2012, “came very late.
“The result is that the wing has gained a lot of weight, making it harder to achieve the optimum weight distribution.”
Newey said the FIA’s new stance on wings was “probably” powered by the violently fluttering components on Ferrari’s car late last season.
Indeed, between Ferrari and Red Bull, there already appears some tension.
Spain’s Marca newspaper claims Newey suspected Ferrari’s initial exhaust solution on the F2012 was not legal.
Then on Wednesday – the day of Whiting’s pit visits – the Maranello based team hastily cut into its exhausts and fairings, ostensibly to meet the new rule about top visibility.
“Honestly,” Ferrari designer Nikolas Tombazis said, “I haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary. We have analysed what everyone is doing and I do not see a great innovation that we have not studied already.”
The saga will continue to run.
“They will still be able to use the exhausts (aerodynamically) this year,” predicted Remi Taffin, engine supplier Renault’s track boss.
“So we will see changes in this area in the Barcelona testing and probably also in Melbourne,” he is quoted by France’s Auto Plus.