Brawn exhaust pipes illegal? UPDATE Was Jenson Button's BGP001 fitted with illegal exhausts in Melbourne?
A small scandal is brewing about the legality of the winning Brawn GP cars at the Australian Grand Prix. It is claimed that the cars ran throughout the weekend with its exhaust pipes protruding from the bodywork by 10cm, which could be outside the regulations. The Brawn bodywork was changed for the Malaysian Grand Prix suggesting that the question of legality may have been raised during the weekend.
BGP001 exhaust exit in Australian GP spec - note the protruding pipe, which is thought to be in breach of the 75mm rule.
At the Malaysian GP, the bodywork had been modified to comply fully with the regulations - note the new cover over the tailpipe. Ferrari were caught out by the same regulation following the launch of its F60. Both the original Ferrari and Brawn Melbourne designs are felt to contravene the following part of the 2009 technical regulations
Any vertical cross section of bodywork normal to the car centre line situated in the volumes defined below must form one tangent continuous curve on its external surface. This tangent continuous curve may not contain any radius less than 75mm :
- the volume between 50mm forward of the rear wheel centre line and 300mm rearward of the rear face of the cockpit entry template, which is more than 25mm from the car centre line and more than 100mm above the reference plane. The surfaces lying within these volumes, which are situated more than 55mm forward of the rear wheel centre line, must not contain any apertures (other than those permitted by Article 3.8.5) or contain any vertical surfaces which lie normal to the centre line of the car.
Once the relevant bodywork surfaces are defined in accordance with Article 3.8.4, apertures may be added for the following purposes only : single apertures either side of the car centre line for the purpose of exhaust exits. These apertures may have a combined area of no more than 50,000mm2 when projected onto the surface itself.
However whilst the regulations do not specifically outlaw this approach, though they also do not specifically allow it Toyota's Pascal Vasselon told Racecar Engineering of his point of view at the pre season Algarve test, before the Brawn had even appeared "the Ferrari has a few illegal features like the exhaust pipes which are in an area where the bodywork must have a minimum radius of 75mm. They just cannot comply with this rule, we expect that rear bodywork to change quite quickly. There was a clarification that the exhaust had to comply with the bodywork rule in mid September." Ferrari was forced to change the rear bodywork on the F60 as a result of the other teams threatened protest. Racecar Engineering04/05/09 Spanish newspaper Marca has revealed, Brawn may have infringed the technical regulations, diffusers aside, during the Australia Grand Prix.
As they report today, the BGP001 may have used controversial exhaust pipes lay out that could be out of the regulations.
Apparently their exhausts extended 10cm out of the bodywork while used during the (entire?) Australian GP, something that has been corrected for the Malaysian GP. Now the bodywork has been increased, to cover the pipes.
It’s clear that this didn't make any significant pace gain, as it’s not an area where big gains can be obtained, but nevertheless it's well remembered that back in pre-season testing Ferrari had to modify theirs for the very same reason, after complaints from some teams and sectors of the media
Rival teams engineers have already noticed it, but have made no claim yet, probably as already FIA has rejected multiple protests against Brawn GP diffusers.
In fact, the article claims some teams were keen to imitate it, as probably it gave a slightly refrigeration advantage.