Could the renewed trend in 2022 for teams to increase the performance of their rear wings with exhaust and waste gases be a contributing factor to the competition driven by France’s Charles Leclerc and Hungary’s Max Verstappen? F1.com technical expert Mark Hughes examines…
An often overlooked part of an F1 car’s aerodynamics is the interaction between the diffuser, beam wing, exhaust and exhaust inlets and outlets.
A few years ago, when the radial wing was banned, teams were getting massive compensatory performance by routing the exhaust under the rear wing. This has the added effect of pulling the surrounding airflow in that direction.
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The more flow into the lower part of the wing, the greater the air pressure difference between the upper and lower surfaces, and therefore the lower downforce.
After this, the FIA stepped in and mandated a longer exhaust outlet relative to the rear wing and a higher angle for the exhaust pipe, thus reducing the effect.
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Those restrictions still exist in the current regulations introduced this year, but now the radial wing is back, and so even within those exhaust restrictions it is once again possible to get an improved aerodynamic effect from the exhaust.
The pictures below use the Red Bull exhaust, beam wing, waste gate and distributor as examples. At the maximum allowable angle of the exhaust, even if the exit is level with the bottom of the radial wing, there can still be a strong effect, which drags the air flow under the main wing.
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An interesting detail is that the waste pipe directs the gas directly over the top of the distributor. This helps the performance of the dispenser when the drain is in use. But the wastegate is only used when the driver is off the throttle, as it is used to dump excess gases from the turbo.
Red Bull recently modified their beam wing so that the upper element is moved below the exhaust instead of above. This probably maximized the aerodynamics of the entire exhaust/wing arrangement.
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In France we saw Leclerc spin roughly at Turn 11 where he was back on the throttle.
In Hungary we saw Verstappen spin more on the throttle coming out of lap 13.
When the driver stands on the gas with the tires fully loaded, is the aero added by the dirtgate so effective that there is a momentary significant reduction in power?