Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Formula for Success - Aerodynamics

The BBC has a series of very interesting articles about the things that's needed to be successful in F1 but presented in a way that is easy to understand. The language used to explain the concepts and how they relate to performance is nicely done for the non technical follower of F1 and even hardcore fans.

Formula 1's sleek racing machines look so different to the cars we see every day on the road because their design is dictated by aerodynamics. This is the study of forces and their impact on how objects move through the air.

Hundreds of engineers working in the blue ribbon of motorsport are slaves to its principles, and teams spend millions each year chasing its rewards.

"Aerodynamics is the start, middle and the end of whether a car is quick," Lotus F1 team technical director James Allison explains.

"Generally the car with the best aerodynamics wins the championship."

The aerodynamics of an F1 car has two vital jobs on the racetrack - producing downforce and controlling drag.

Where does the downforce come from?
The low, wide front wing and the tall, narrow rear wing contribute roughly 60% of the car's downforce with the other 40% generated from underneath the car by its floor.

Did you know?
The exploitation of 'ground effect' downforce in the mid-1970s was both brilliant and dangerous. A shaped wing underneath the car and flexible side skirts around its side sucked it to the track. Mario Andretti won the world championship in 1978 with the famous Lotus 'wing' car. But the concept led to a huge increase in cornering speeds and a series of accidents led to ground effects being banned in 1983 and a new rule required cars to have a stepped floor.

To read the rest of this interesting article, visit here.

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