Renault GP set Formula One design on its head yesterday after it was found out that the new R31 features engine exhausts that exit in front the sidepods, rather than at the rear. It is already becoming clear that many teams are looking into the new system.
Renault's front exhausts are a complicated matter, but when they get it working might prove key to the success of their car, similar to what double deck diffusers were in 2009.
To implement the system, the team routed the exhaust pipes - limited to one on each side of the car - forward, from the engine along the fuel tank, exiting under the cooling inlet in the sidepod. Considering the exhausts can go up to 650°C during running, shielding was probably the biggest concern for the team as the pipes are bound to pass closely along the fuel tank and the KERS battery pack.
At their exit, the pipe makes a sharp turn and directs the gases partly around the sidepod, and partly under the car's floor. As such, Renault make sure there is plenty of high-energy airflow under the car, allowing the diffuser to suck more from under the car and create more downforce. The exhaust gases passing around the sidepod will eventually end up flowing over the rear diffuser, further adding to its downforce like the more common blown diffusers work.
With the concept so interesting, German magazine "auto motor und sport" has heard the new McLaren MP4-26, which is to be launched next Friday, will likely feature a similar exhaust system, coupled to a massive undercut of the sidepods similar to Toro Rosso's STR6 design.
Mercedes GP's Ross Brawn meanwhile has also confirmed his team was already working on a similar system, while Red Bull Racing is expected to be into something similar as they are adamant their launch package is just a start for testing.