The mystery of McLaren's exhaust solved
17th March 2011, 13:24 at 1:24 pm #129040
For a while now, people have been wondering exactly what McLaren’s technical boffins have been up to with the design of the MP4-26, which had no immediately-apparent exhaust outlets. Where rumours of Renault’s exhaust solution broke just hours after the car launch, it would appear that Woking have been even trickier than Enstone.
Scuttlebutt suggests that McLaren have managed to find a loophole in the regulations that allows them to have mutiple exhaust outlets. The exhaust moves from the engine to a ceramic “box” behind the gearbox, which then splits off into several smaller tubes that route the exhaust gasses across the whole diffuser, thus applying the concept of an exhaust-blown diffuser to the car by cleverly stepping around it.
Spinning out from this is the suggestion that McLaren’s lack of pace has nothing to do with an absence downforce. Rather, the suggestion has been that the tubes used in the ceramic box – known as the “Octopus” – are too small and too long. They are supposedly deforming when exposed to the incredible heat of the exhaust, and they cannot handle the strain of forces exerted on them. If this is indeed true and McLaren can engineer a solution, the the MP4-26 could be incredibly competitive. If not, then the entire car will be compromised because an alternative solution will be needed and planned upgrades will be rendered useless.
I stress this is all just rumour right now, but if it’s true, then I can see the FIA banning it at the end of the year. Or sooner if Ferrari complain about it.17th March 2011, 13:34 at 1:34 pm #163582
If this is true, the chances of it still being legal next year are slim…or nil. But I’m not really sure I buy it.
For a start, surely McLaren would have been able to get this right (if it’s true)- a deforming exhaust system is a pretty big problem to overlook. And also, I find it hard to believe that this makes such a dramatic difference to lap times. Yes, blown diffusers are a definite advantage, but McLaren are over a second slower than Red Bull. I think that McLaren has just got an overall slow car this year, I’d be surprised if it were purely down to the diffuser not working well. And then there’s the question of reliability.17th March 2011, 13:40 at 1:40 pm #163583
Part of the problem is that McLaren apparently wanted to use material called “pyrosic” to manufacture the exhaust systems. It’s a next-generation lightweight alloy that can easily withstand the kind of high temperatures produced by superheated exhaust fumes. But the FIA has apparently said no, and put pyrosic on the list of banned materials (most of which – like beryllium alloys used in engine manufacture in the late 1990s – seem to have been found by McLaren), because it could cost as much as twenty thousand Euros for a single exhaust manifold. While it has obvious benefits, it’s simply too expensive in its current state to be used.
And a deforming exhaust could easily cost McLaren a second. Each of the exhaust outlets would be blowing exhaust gases over a particular area of the diffuser in a particular manner. If those outlets are deforming with the heat, then their profile is changing. If their profile is changing, the exhaust is hitting the diffuser in a different manner to what was intended. The effect is magnified because the entire diffuser is exposed to the exhaust gas bousing off it at the wrong vector. This will alter the rear-end aero dramatically – so much so that McLaren are lucky they’ve only lost a second.17th March 2011, 13:44 at 1:44 pm #163584
Sounds like quite a clever idea and I can see how it would aid them enormously. But given the level of negativity from both drivers, particularly Lewis, it seems that there genuinely is nothing to get excited about (I would expect them to display a hint of cheeky optimism to the media if there was).
Unless they’ve been successfully calling everyones bluff!17th March 2011, 13:46 at 1:46 pm #163585
Also, I can appreciate that they wouldn’t know how it might react with the diffuser but surely they would know from CFD simulations and just testing of the ‘ceramic box’ attached to the engine that it might cause over-heating issues?17th March 2011, 13:52 at 1:52 pm #163586
I saw some tweets from ScarbsF1 and KhanF1 about this. I must say, this sounds very McLaren and perfectly explains a) why they ran out of spare parts early in testing b) why they have been pretty slow c) why the drivers and team still say they only need a bit of time to get it right d) why Brawn all of a sudden says it could prove to have a bigger effect than the DDD after saying it is not that significant before.
If McLaren get this to work in a few races time, they might have a hit. Makes you wonder exaclty what it was they were testing in the last couple of races last season, was it an early version of this?17th March 2011, 14:02 at 2:02 pm #163587
(I would expect them to display a hint of cheeky optimism to the media if there was)
Like I said, it could be a major problem. McLaren have everything to lose with this – if they can’t find a solution, they may never be able to recover this year.
And it would not surprise me if they were given specific instructions to downplay the car. This will be very difficult to duplicate, especially if teams are faced with the same problems McLaren have. The longer they can stall for time, the better. If Button and Hamilton started playing games in the media, the other teams would notice ad start paying close attention.17th March 2011, 14:04 at 2:04 pm #163588
Here is a nice sketch of what it should look like from Twitter:
RT @DanSN117: “I need picture ideas of this octopus” Will this do?
- http://yfrog.com/h7qg4stj17th March 2011, 15:24 at 3:24 pm #163589
Ferrari Complain about it! I think you will find that it is McLaren that does all of the complaining in this sport!! Just ask Christian Horner. Maybe if they concentrated on their own problems instead of everyone else’s cars they would have won a WCC in the last 13Yrs!17th March 2011, 18:02 at 6:02 pm #163590
Well as a Hamilton fa, I can only hope this is the case. Personally I thought they were just a bit behind, not the fastest but that this was magnified because they were late to the game, one update behind in effect.
But even if there is no Octopus, it does seem to be about them switching the exhausts. I bet they do have some kind of system (Renault or Octopus or otherwise), but the time it was eating up threatened to destroy all of testing, which is why they kept switching to standard exhausts.17th March 2011, 23:09 at 11:09 pm #163591
@ PM Ferrari complain about it?? Were Mclaren not the ones complaining about Red Bull the whole of 2010. Also about Ferrari and Red Bulls front wing’s.
Learn to see past your own nose.17th March 2011, 23:11 at 11:11 pm #163592
Ferrari Complain about it! I think you will find that it is McLaren that does all of the complaining in this sport!!
Yes, McLaren are going to complain that prts they developed are going to give them an unfair advantage.
Ferrari are the ones who do the complaining. They’re the ones who got McLaren’s second brake pedal banned in 1998. They’re the ones who got the 107% rule reintroduced. They’re the ones who have protested results and ruling more often than anyone else.17th March 2011, 23:16 at 11:16 pm #163593
@ PM I think you will find that Mark Hughes took a picture of the brake pedal and the FIA got a hold of it and had it banned.
Jean Todt and the FIA World Motor Sport Council had the rule re-introduced.
I guess any excuse for you to suck up to Mclaren.17th March 2011, 23:25 at 11:25 pm #163594
Why would I “suck it up to McLaren”? I’m not a McLaren fan. The only reason I might show any support for them is because Jenson Button drives for them – but once Button leaves, I won’t exactly have any loyalty to the team.
Ferrari, on the other hand, have a documented history of having the FIA in their pocket. At the height of their power, they got just about anything they wanted. So if someone had something on their car that gave them an advantage, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Ferrari got it banned because they hadn’t thought of it themselves.17th March 2011, 23:31 at 11:31 pm #163595
You always seem to be having a go at Ferrari. You always act like Mclaren are angels. Well they do not exactly have a clean record.
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