Aerodynamic efficiency

CFD of Formula 1

A term used to describe the relationship between the downforce a car generates, and drag.
Straight line speed depend of aero efficiency. Normally, with more downforce generated by wings, more drag is generated.
Some specific parts of the F1 car can create an exception. Diffuser and undertray for example is very efficient in creating downforce with small drag penalties.

I have to say something about modern F1 cars. I doubt that there is any among all of them at the grid that has a complete correlation. A modern F1 car has so many difficult interactions between vortices, streams, wakes etc. This area is extremely sensitive, and you only need a vortex stream to move by a few centimeters and it can really change the characteristics of the car quite a lot. It is impossible to produce downforce without producing drag, but the job of the aerodynamicists is to produce as much downforce, for as little drag, as possible. At a given circuit, all the cars on the grid tend to set their drag levels to very similar values. However, at this same drag level, the front of the grid may have more than 30% extra downforce compared to those at the back of the grid.

You can often hear aerodynamicist talking about aero efficiency gain in "points". For example rear view mirrors shape can bring the gain of less than 0.005 in aero efficiency gains, downforce/drag ratio, or half "a point" in an aerodynamicist’s language, from one decent mirror design to another. However small it looks, one will still gladly take these half point gain.
For reference, 3 points of aerodynamic efficiency is around a tenth of a second in lap time.

Back to the top of the page


Books to read


Some useful links:

- f1technical.net, a great site with a lot of technical information’s and explanations. Site is updated daily with news from F1 word.

 - autosport.com, This site is a legend. A bible for racing lovers. News from all around the word. Unfortunately, to get access to all news, interviews and to open the site completely you should be subscribed to Autosport magazine. Anyway, great read.

James Allen on F1
- JA.F1 site (or blog) ovned by ITV Sport’s lead commentator on Formula 1 James Allen

Joe Saward blog
- joesaward is the Joe Saward official blog about Formula 1 world. Joe is an journalist, who write primarily about politics in and around motorsport, specifically on the FIA Formula 1 World Championship

Vital F1
 - vitalf1.com/ is another great site for Motor Sports fan’s like me. Site is relatively new, but great fun, with great discussion forum, Formula 1 news and forum.

 GP update
- f1.gpupdate.net, Site with fresh news from Formula 1

Planet F1
 - planetf1, another site with many different articles, news and statistics. Biased toward British teams, but anyway good read.

Gurney flap
 - gurneyflap.com, Great history site. You can learn a lot from this site. Pictures, cars and many many more. Great.

4ormula1 is a database of Formula 1 history and statistics of drivers, teams, grand prix, and all results since 1950.

Missed Apex Podcast
Enjoy range of Podcasts and Articles on Motorsport. Every week a Formula one chat on Missed Apex F1 Podcast with F1 journalist Joe Saward and tech Analyst Matthew Somerfield as guests. Also the exciting all electric racing series formula E on eRadio Show and Bike Show Lean Angle Podcast.

Racecar engineering
-Racecar Engineering, an online magazine with a lot to learn from, a lot of technical information’s and explanations

 - fia.com, La Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, representing the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users. Head organisation and ruler in auto sport.

 - wikipedia.org, I don’t believe that I have to tell you anything about this site. It’s not about Formula 1 technology, but you can learn a lot about that too.

Sutton Images

grandprix photo

 - carbibles.com, a great site for normal car users. Here you can find explanations of almost everything about your car and how it works. Technical reviews and explanations of some in-car gadgets.

Dare To Be Different
- Daretobedifferent.org Susie Wolff and UK governing body of UK motorsport have joined forces to launch Dare To Be Different, a high-profile new initiative which is about increasing female participation, not just on the track but in all aspects of the sport.

Giorgio Piola web site