FIA clamps down on loopholes teams were keen to exploit

Ahead of the 2018 Formula One season, FIA did its best job to ensure that teams did not take advantage of a number of loopholes in the existing regulations. They tried to do so with a series of tightened rules and technical directives.

It is no secret that the FIA has one of the trickiest jobs in the world of motorsport. While they constantly look to make rules as bulletproof as possible, teams consist of engineers who make money purely based on how best they can use loopholes to gain an advantage.

You may argue that it is an unequal fight where the teams inevitably seem to come out on top. While the FIA can always come up with new regulations, it is a time consuming task and they have done as much as they possibly could this year to ensure that such a situation does not arise.



Since 2014, the FIA has looked to stop teams from using exhaust fumes from being used as an aerodynamic aid. The first step was to regulate the exhaust position and engine mappings.

Last year, however, McLaren found a way to tackle this problem and ‘blew’ the Monkey Seat, so that it generates extra downforce.

Auto Motor und Sport has learned that this came at a great cost for Honda. The measures that they had to take to ensure that this happened opened the door to many defects in the engine.

After it became public knowledge that many teams were using the exhaust gases for aerodynamics (again), the FIA ​​modified the regulations of the exhaust tailpipe.

Currently, a team cannot have parts (that can aid downforce created by exhaust gases) within the target area of said gases. While this still allows the potential for ‘Monkey Seats’, it would barely add value to the car.

It is interesting to note that Renault found another way to make use of exhaust for aerodynamic gains.

The team has carefully mounted the tailpipe on the new RS18 at the maximum permitted height of 55 centimeters above the reference plane and angled it upwards by five degrees, which is the maximum allowed angle.

This enables the exhaust to aim gases towards the main rear wing element. That part is specially coated, on the underside, so that the carbon structure does not melt.


Burning oil

How about the case of burning oil to gain extra performance?

For a long time both Mercedes and Ferrari have accused each other of increasing performance by adding oil additives to the fuel or reusing the gases produced in the crankcase.

In such a situation, how could Renault hold back? The French manufacturer made a case against both the German and the Italian team.

This resulted in FIA lowering the oil consumption limit from 1.2 to 0.9 liters per 100 kilometers during the 2017 season.

It was claimed at the time by both Mercedes and Ferrari that this was the normal oil consumption of their engines.

However, the matter did not die down here. In Paris, the FIA examined the consumption of lubricants more closely and it was observed that Mercedes and Ferrari burned the exact amount of 0.89 liters per 100 kilometers, from the Italian GP onwards, where the new limit was imposed.

While this was just about within the parameters set out, it was strange given the fact that Renault’s and Honda’s engine only consumed 0.1 liters per 100 kilometers.

To level things up further nd ensure that no undue advantage was being taken, the 2018 regulations have been reduced to 0.6 liters.

Red Bull has spoken about how teams will still manage to find a loophole, but FIA was claimed that the oil level sensors that they have fitted into every car will make sure no foul play is present.

The downside to this is that it can only provide results to the governing body over a race distance. In qualifying, the results are reportedly not going to be as precise.

However, speaking purely on the basis of teams taking advantage by adding performance enhancers to their oil, it is next to impossible now.

In its latest dictate, FIA ​​has now specified oil in the same manner as they do with fuel.

In a re-worked rulebook, there are now four pages on exactly what elements can be added to the oil and the maximum quanitity.

If the FIA takes a sample of the oil from any car and finds that there is some substance abuse, a penalty will be applied to the team.


Engine equality 

Recently, it was claimed that the FIA ​​has asked engine manufacturers not only to provide their customer teams with the same powerplant, but also to supply them with the same software and specification for oil and fuel.

This is reportedly due to a complaint filed by Toro Rosso, who felt that they had been tricked by Renault last year.

It is important to note, however, that while the regulation process may be easy, implementation will not be so straigtforward.

There may be a situation where a manufacturer agrees with the customer team to only give them oil or fuel of a different stage of development due to cost factors.

Renault reportedly charges its clientèle (that wants to use different fuel and oil than they prescribe) five million Euro, for further development with their spec of fuel and lubricants.

The FIA does not have the jurisdiction to manipulate the contracts that are already in place, but they can only demand that the manufacturer can no longer refuse a customer if the latter demands the same treatment in this area.


Front axle

It all began with Ferrari, with Red Bull, Renault and McLaren quickly jumping on-board.

Ferrari found a unique way of designing the front axle in such a way that the front of the car was lowered in accordance with the steering angle.

This made sure that the front wing edges closer to the track, while cornering, which inevitably led to greater downforce.

This undoubtedly impacted the aerodynamics and the FIA ​​has now put a stop to this technique.

As things stand, a car, at a 12 degrees steering angle, isn’t allowed to sink forward more than five millimeters. This will be measured on a purpose build platform.

However, it has been argued by some critics that this ground clearance changes more on the racetrack than it does on the measurement platform, if you just do it skillfully.

They have pointed to the front suspension of the new McLaren MCL33, which substantiates this suspicion with its extreme placement of the push-rods, has been built keeping this in mind.

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