Formula one is one of the most prestigious sports in the world. There are various concepts that are applied in F1 to make the cars perform well. One of that concept or idea if aerodynamics. But you might wonder; what is aerodynamics in F1?
That is a very good question to ask.
Understanding aerodynamics in F1 and how it affects formula one cars is very important.
Having an idea or the basic knowledge of how aerodynamic works in formula one is essential.
When I first started watching formula 1, I did not know the role aerodynamics plays in the sport.
It has taken me a while to learn the important of this concept in F1, as well as in other fields like airspace or in aeroplanes.
Now, let me say this; if you studied physics in school, you might find this quite interesting.
Formula one is a fun and interesting sport to watch.
If you are curious, I am sure you would want to understand aerodynamics in the sport.
So, what is aerodynamics in F1?
In this article, it is my objective to help you understand aerodynamics in the context of formula one racing.
You will get an easy-to-understand version of aerodynamic engineering. Hahaha!
Importance of Aerodynamics in Formula 1
The most important role of aerodynamics in F1 include;
- To reduce drag
- Increase car stability.
For this to happen, aerodynamics in formula one racing focuses on production of downforce.
That is what all the aerodynamic parts and elements are supposed to achieve.
Having downforce is critical for an F1 car.
It helps in creating traction to increase cornering speed. Downforce also reduces tyre wear, despite increasing drag.
How Aerodynamics in F1 Works
As I have mentioned above, aerodynamics is based on the idea of creating downforce.
This concept is very common in aviation.
In formula one, this principle works in reverse to what happens to an aeroplane.
F1 car creates downforce in two areas; the front and the rear of the car.
At the front, you should know that front wings and bargeboards (have since been outlawed) generate downforce.
The rear wing and the diffuser produces downforce at the rear.
Since bargeboards are not in use today, you have a ground-effect floor and sidepods playing an aerodynamic role in F1 cars.
Related: Mercedes Unveils a Sidepod-less Car in 2022.
It will be interesting to see how the development and innovations around sidepods beyond 2022 turns out.
How New Regulations Impact Aerodynamics in F1
As you have read, aerodynamics play a big role in formula one.
The introduction of new regulations in 2022 brings changes to aerodynamic application on a formula one car.
In this section, you will learn the different aspects of aerodynamics affected by new regulation changes in 2022.
The following are the things you should understand;
Formula one cars in 2022 have a ground-effect floor with two long tunnels in place of the former flat floor.
The idea here is to ensure that a greater proportion of the F1 car’s total downforce is generated from the underbody.
What this does is create a much cleaner wake, and an aero platform which is less sensitive to wake.
As you might expect, the upwash of air from the floor is create or developed to be a little bit higher.
This would allow the air more time to dissipate its energy before falling upon the car behind.
Front Wing and Endplate
If you read the new regulations, you will realize that the front wing and endplates are simplified.
They are not standardised, but you find them highly prescriptive.
What you get from this element are four-element wing attached directly to the nose, which transitions into a much-simplified single-piece endplate.
Compared to the 2021 designs, this new design is intended to be less sensitive to wake. F1 cars can therefore follow each more closely.
What you are seeing today are prescriptively-shaped rear wings.
They have an incut wrap-round connection between main profile and lower beam wing.
Effectively, this design banishes rear wing endplates and the strong vortices they shed.
What are bargeboards? I can hear you asking me this.
Well, I have covered bargeboards in detail in another article in this website. I will share the link below;
Related: What is a Bargeboard in F1?
However, it is good to know that bargeboards have been outlawed and the 2022 formula one cars do not have them.
Flush Wheel Covers
As part of the aerodynamics today, you will find that flush wheel covers are standardised.
The concept here is to banish using the wheel/axle to create downforce
Front Wheel Deflector
Front wheel deflectors are used today to limit ‘outwash’ of airflow.
- There are limits placed upon brake duct shaping for downforce creation.
- Geometry of the car and engine cover is defined within quite tight templates. This was done to create as clean and as unsensitive airflow as possible.
Future of Aerodynamics in Formula 1
One of the pinnacle things in formula one remains innovation
You can expect that formula one teams and the sport as a general will continue to bring innovations in aerodynamics.
What I would expect are ideas and innovations to maximise ground effect
This would come with shape-shifting aerodynamic part to reduce drag on the straights and increase downforce through the corners.
For example, McLaren F1 team have already created a concept of F1 in 2050.
It will be interesting to watch formula one development as the year progresses.
In the near future, the focus is on changes in 2025-2026 F1 season.
In conclusion, it is clear that aerodynamics is now an integral part of formula one racing.
F1 teams have pushed the envelope of aerodynamics, all to ensure they get downforce.
That is the central tenet of aerodynamics in formula one.
Teams work hard to ensure that F1 cars have less drag and are stable.
You would not want to have an unstable car on the track. This would be a hazard to other drivers as well as the driver.
When you look at the new cars in 2022, you will notice that aerodynamics is at the centre of the regulation changes.
That is how you have f1 cars with different concepts of sidepods.
Each time is trying to get the best airflow movement, and maximum downforce for best performance.
Aerodynamics in F1 will continue to play a big role in formula one racing.
I hope this resource has provided you with value.