Lotus F1 Team has confirmed it will become the next team to convert to a Coanda style exhaust system. Along with the new exhaust, the team is also likely to temporarily drop their V-duct in order to have enough time to test the new exhaust layout.
"We’ve been ploughing something of a lonely furrow on the circuit with our relatively straightforward, power-maximizing exhaust." commented Lotus technical director James Allison. "However, since well before the launch of the E20 and to the present day we’ve been carrying out parallel developments in our wind tunnel programme based around a Coandă effect exhaust. Once we saw the potential gain of the Coandă system surpass that of our current design it was clear that we needed to implement it, both for the benefit we could get in the last quarter of this season and also for learning experience it presents us for next year. We will run our first version of this style of exhaust in Korea."
Only 2 races ago, Mercedes AMG became the last team to jump the wagon as they introduced a Coanda exhaust layout on their W03. Although not immediately evident, the team is adamant that its new design is helping recover lost performance. With these exhaust layouts, teams attempt to direct exhaust gases down onto the car's floor into an area where that was directly blown by the exhausts on the 2010 and 2011 cars.
While it is certainly late in the season to convert the exhaust layout, the technical regulations with regards to the exhausts remain the same for 2013, hence it is a good base for the development of next year's cars as well. Allison also confirmed that the exhaust required almost a rebuild of the rear end of the car with fins guiding exhaust flow and heat protective covers shielding the car's floor from the exhaust gases.
"It is not as big a deal as the 2011 style blown exhausts. Last year (for all teams, but especially for our forward exhausts) it was quite challenging to ensure that the exhausts did not set fire to the car. The Coandă system is a little more indirect, and the jet has cooled a little before it impinges on the floor which makes things a little easier to manage. There’s still a fair amount of rearrangement including new Coke panels, new exhausts, new exhaust exit panels, some fireproofing of the floor and so on. All told, it’s a biggish change rather than an enormous one. It’s also easier to swap to and fro for evaluation."
Along with the new exhaust, the technical director confirmed that the V-duct that was tested repeatedly on Fridays will be shelved until the upcoming young driver test at Abu Dhabi. Until then, the team will focus on getting the next exhaust to work efficiently.
"We haven’t had the happiest of introductions with the system. It’s been harder than I anticipated to make it switch effectively with only the limited opportunity afforded in Free Practice. We’re going to take it away, have another think and most likely give it another go in the Abu Dhabi young drivers’ test where we’ll have more time to develop it in a systematic fashion."