At least three Formula one teams have this week been preparing for life after the current ‘blown exhaust’ era. In 2012, to limit the possibility of using the exhausts as an aerodynamic aid by pushing the engine gases through the diffuser, the exhausts must exit at the top of the rear of the cars.
Prototype solutions were seen during the ‘young driver test’ in Abu Dhabi this week on the cars of the Williams, Mercedes and Ferrari teams, according to Auto Motor und Sport. It – along with the debut of Pirelli’s 2012 tyres – was one of the points of note in an otherwise quiet three days of testing, with the field comprised of many drivers who paid handsomely for the privilege.
Auto Motor und Sport estimates that, of the two dozen drivers in action this week, perhaps only Charles Pic and Jean-Eric Vergne might actually secure a drive for next season.
Attracting a lot of attention, therefore, was Frenchman Vergne, who at the end of the six separate test sessions over the course of the three days was fastest on every available opportunity.
“I must say I have been very impressed with him during this test,” said Red Bull’s engineering chief Ian Morgan.
Vergne’s laptimes have compared favourably to Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber’s of a week ago, but Ferrari’s Jules Bianchi pointed out to Autosprint: “I honestly don’t know what tyres they’ve been running”.
At the very least, 21-year-old Vergne is – with his Red Bull junior stablemate Daniel Ricciardo – now a frontrunner for a Toro Rosso seat, or at least place at HRT if the energy drink company extends its driver deal with the Spanish team.
It is bad news for Sebastien Buemi, the lower points scorer at Toro Rosso this year who must now sit out morning practice in Brazil next Friday to make room for Vergne.
“In life you can’t ever give up,” the Swiss is quoted by Blick newspaper this week. “No matter what happens, the sun rises every day as it did before.”