Renault Stuns F1 with Innovative Exhaust System

Following the first day of testing in Valencia, it was not Ferrari, Red Bull or Mercedes GP that stole the show, like everyone would have expected, but Lotus Renault. And their newly launched black&gold R31 single-seater impressed the audience from the get go, even before it was given its usual track time by race driver Vitaly Petrov.

The media left the Ricardo Tormo pit lane on Tuesday scratching their heads as they were (and still are) trying to figure out the whereabouts of the R31's exhaust system. And that's because neither during the media presentation of the car, nor during the usual photograph session shortly after, the details of the car's exhaust system were revealed.

Talking to the media before the launch, the team's owner Gerard Lopez revealed that the car is “quite revolutionary in a number of areas” and was later echoed by technical boss James Allison, who admitted to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport that the team's challenger for 2011 is featuring a “very bold design.”

It is right to say this car is ambitious and differs in its entire concept not only from last year but from all the cars previously made by this team,” Allison added, according to France's Auto Hebdo.

Judging by the photos released after the launch, the 2011-spec R31's exhausts are featured at the front edge of the sidepods, causing the exhaust gases to go under the floor, rather that in the rear, with the classic design. While having to tackle some issues regarding overheating, the new system improves the effects of the blown diffuser, as it uses a larger part of the car's underbody.

Despite its futuristic and innovatory design, the new R31 was anything but a frontrunner on Tuesday, as Vitaly Petrov ended the first day of testing more than two and a half seconds behind pace-setter Sebastian Vettel. Nevertheless, team principal Eric Boullier insisted, after Day 1 or the group test, that the positive effects of the new design will be seen in time.

We know it takes time. You have to be creative. You have to find different ways of creating downforce or performance points. We have been taking this path because we believed, quite early in 2010, that we could find more gains going this way,” said Boullier in an interview with Autosport.

In the wind tunnel, or on paper shall we say, the car already has more performance than 12 months ago. If it's on the car it's because we believe it works. But we will see on the track.
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