The FIA is to close off a loophole in Formula 1's new engine mapping regulations as part of a fresh clampdown on exhaust blowing.
As teams continue to push the limits of the exhaust regulations, sources have revealed that the FIA has been alerted about a way in which teams could get around the stricter engine mapping limits laid down for this year. The sport's governing body has been on a crusade to eradicate any form of exhaust blowing that is primarily aimed at producing an aerodynamic benefit.
As well as agreeing with teams on technical regulations that forced the now-standard periscope exhaust designs, AUTOSPORT revealed in October that the FIA was also imposing strict limits on engine mapping programs to prevent the continued off-throttle blowing of them.
Although that move went some way to resolving the issue, sources have revealed that the FIA has now been tipped off by one engine maker that there remains the possibility in the current mapping configurations to get around those new limits. The issue evidently relates to the extreme possibility of a team trying to make use of a bigger throttle opening than is allowed, to help increase the flow of exhaust gases by inducing a misfire.
Sources have confirmed that the FIA has worked with the manufacturer involved to cut off this potential avenue of development. An updated version of the software for F1's Standard ECU – which controls the engine maps – will be released before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
The FIA does not suspect that any team was making use of this loophole at the present time, although such an action could not have been ruled out if teams had found out about it later in the campaign.
Williams chief operations engineer Mark Gillan said he remained confident that the FIA had a handle on the exhaust regulations for 2012 – and that the closing of such loopholes would be part and parcel of the build-up to the new season.
"The engine mapping technical directives, which have now been out for a few months, are very clear," said Gillan, when asked about the situation during Barcelona testing. "How you direct the exhausts is clear as well. As we can see down the pit lane, there are various options and we are investigating all of those options to see what benefit we can get.
"There's definitely performance to be had, but it's nowhere near the performance levels that we had last year. From our side, we have a good idea of the boundaries. There are a few minor technical directives coming out in terms of what is acceptable and what is not, but they are minor compared to the ones that came out in the tail end of last season."