Mercedes GP boss Ross Brawn believes the introduction of forward exhausts will have a more significant impact than double diffusers had during the 2009 season.
The Renault team presented one of the biggest technical innovations ahead of the start of the season with its exhaust exits coming out at the leading edge of the sidepods of its car. Some teams already tried similar versions of that during winter testing.
In similar fashion, the Brawn GP squad introduced a double diffuser in its 2009 car and the device, with which the team went on to win both titles, was eventually copied by its rivals. Brawn reckons the impact of the forward exhausts could be even bigger.
"It is a significant area and maybe more significant than the double diffuser in terms of performance and, of course, the teams are all working with their engine partners to work out how to get the most out of the exhaust energy so that is the new interesting area of development," said Brawn. "It is in the spirit of F1 to push these boundaries and find new areas. We may find in the future that that is not where we want to be and we will change the regulations to control it, and in 2013 we only have one exhaust and it is a turbo engine and the whole thing will change again, so there are lots of differences coming – but it is a fascinating area and all within the spirit of F1."
Unlike the double diffuser, however, Brawn reckons there are no gray areas about the exhaust design, which he believes is not controversial.
"I think the nature of F1 is that the engineers are always challenging the interpretation of the regulations," he added. "It is very, very rare for people to cheat in F1 and what all the engineers do, and what I expect my engineers do, is to challenge the boundaries of what you can do. And, obviously, the double diffuser was one of those boundaries.
"The exhausts, I don't think they are challenging the boundaries so much, I think they are a clever idea but I don't think there is any regulatory problems with the exhaust systems so I don't see that as being overly controversial. There have been clarifications in the last week or two about the materials and one or two other things, but they are not really that controversial."