Feb.28 (GMM) As was the case in 2011, the exhausts look set to remain the key to technical success this season.

Mercedes exhaust
Mercedes exhaust

Photo by: xpb.cc

"I don't know if it's the key," said Sauber's Sergio Perez, "but of course the exhaust is the area of greatest potential for improvement.

"That's where we are focusing the most time in this preseason," he is quoted by Spain's Marca newspaper.

After the deliberate and off-throttle blowing of exhaust gases for aerodynamic effect was banned after 2011, teams are still looking for the optimum solution for the new set of rules.

"The cars this year are very difficult to drive," Fernando Alonso is quoted as saying, amid reports Ferrari ended the recent Jerez and Barcelona tests with vastly different positions for the exhaust exits.

The cars this year are very difficult to drive

Fernando Alonso

When asked about it, the Spaniard said it was an usual question for the media to pose.

"I can only say that we are continuing to work on the best configuration of the car for Melbourne," he said this week.

Marca, meanwhile, said McLaren has three pre-set exhaust outlet positions for possible use in 2012, while Red Bull has also been experimenting this winter.