Originally published on Richland F1
On the very first test outing of the current generation V6 turbo hybrid power units back in February 2014, photographers and journalists got their first taste of the sound of the future of F1. Needless to say, the paddock was split. They are far from the screaming naturally aspirated engines of the past but do arguably offer a much deeper and richer blend of tones, albeit at a substantially lower volume.
There have been complaints from a lot of fans about the lack of decibels over the past year and a half, which is why the FIA have decided to take action ahead of the 2016 season. This involves splitting the wastegate and engine exhaust gases into two separate systems.
At the moment, the exhaust gases from the engine (via the turbocharger) and from the wastegate system all exit through a single exit pipe at the back of the car. The single exhaust pipe layout allows the wastegate gases to escape the bodywork cleanly and prevent internal overheating although this does slightly hinder the overall volume of the exhaust tone.
For 2016 the FIA have decided to divide the ICE and wastegate gases into two sets of pipework, whereby the teams must retain the single, large exhaust exit for the former and up to two smaller outlets – straddling either side the central exit – for the latter. The motorsport governing body think that by splitting the two systems the engine sound will be louder than before, although it is actually more likely to change its tone. Regardless of whether it works or not, at least we won’t be seeing the ‘trumpet’ exhaust tested last year!
Another interesting topic that has emerged from the regulation change is whether it will have any aerodynamic benefits. We have witnessed the power of exhaust gases when it comes to generating downforce when Red Bull pioneered the EBD (exhaust blown diffuser), but will we something similar next year?
Unlike a conventional mechanical system, an F1 wastegate is hydraulically actuated by the ECU to prevent the turbo from over-boosting. The MGU-H does a lot of work on the turbo to prevent over-boosting anyway, so wastegate actuation is often sporadic and not as simplistic as that of a road car, i.e. actuated when coming off throttle.
It is for this reason that we shouldn’t expect any further exploitation of the exhaust exit gases, especially the wastegate gases – it would be too inconsistent and too weak to provide any aerodynamic benefit. The teams can only just about work with the existing exhaust exit by drawing the gases up to the bottom of the rear wing using a winglet, but even this is limited.