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Audi's Ralf Jüttner On Exhausts And Hybrid Systems

Audi Sport Team Joest’s Technical Director and Team Manager Ralf Jüttner was available for the media at the Audi Meet the Team session in the Spa-Francorchamps paddock earlier today. The ideal moment to ask him several questions regarding the hybrid system and the new exhaust system on the R18s.

Obviously there have been several questions regarding the new exhaust system on the 2013 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, so how does it work exactly?

"It guides the exhaust somewhere and gets it out of the car," answered Jüttner laughing. "It is definitely not what we hear every now and then, it’s not a Formula 1 kind of diffuser with funny engine mappings that ensure an airflow and stuff like this. It is just exiting differently than it was last year and that is what you hear as well."

So is the exhaust exit located in the wheel-arch now?

"The exhaust is not in the back anymore, let’s put it that way. Which you can see. It’s just the routing of the gases and the exit of the gases in an area which, together with all the other aerodynamic work that has gone into the 2013 car, as a complete package is an improvement over last year," said Jüttner. "You exit the gases that you have anyway in an area where you think it makes more sense. With that you fill a low pressure area, which produces drag, with the gases that are there anyway and by doing so try to optimize your overall aerodynamics package."

The hybrid system on the Audi R18 e-tron quattro has been talked about a lot. What are the changes in the current system when compared to the 2012 version?

"The basic system is the same as last year. There have been further developments in all elements of it, like the flywheel and the MGU (motor generator unit). We can now adapt the MGU to different race tracks, which means to different top speeds," said Jüttner. "Last year we only had one version, which was laid out for Le Mans. At Le Mans you go 340 km/h a couple of times per lap and on the other tracks we do 290 or sometimes even less and then the MGU wasn’t revving high enough to charge the flywheel completely. As a result we didn’t reach the 500 kJ limit that was allowed by the regulations. This should now be better. We can now adapt the engine a little bit like a gearbox. You go to different tracks and then you adapt to top speeds getting there."

Jüttner questions the recuperation regulations as they are now. As the Audi R18 e-tron quattro’s hybrid system acts on the front axle the system can only be used when the car is traveling at a speed of over 120 km/h.

"Why do you allow one thing and reduce it for certain areas. For example to not allow it to work below 120 km/h. We have the possibility to charge that much energy and to release it again, so let the people do whatever they want to do. The other thing we would like to do is to drive away from a pit stop with electrical power, as Toyota, but we’re not allowed to do it because in the pit lane you’re only allowed to do it. You fire up the engine with the mass of the car running and it prevents the car from stalling as an electrical engine won’t stall. It’s definitely a benefit."

Audi did not change the hybrid configuration for 2013, Jüttner explained why:

"We couldn’t do it with a (simple) evolution of the car. With the rules as they are now we believe we have found a good solution with the current hybrid system."