Why Aero Development?

Why should a racing team spend time and money on aerodynamic development?  

The simple answer is because it has proven to be the most effective method for improving vehicle performance and reducing lap time.

The lap time of a racing vehicle is governed by four basic factors:
  • Tyres
  • Engine
  • Driver
  • Chassis (encompassing structural and compliance effects, suspension effects, transmission, engine installation and aerodynamic effects).
Generally speaking, a race team will be able to make a choice of tyre, engine and driver, but they will not be able to control or modify the characteristics of these choices. The chassis is the only part of the car that the race team can design and develop to their own performance targets.  Of the various influences on the chassis design, aerodynamics will have the largest influence on the forces acting on the vehicle and hence the greatest effect on the vehicle's performance.

The primary aim of a racing car aerodynamic development program will be to optimise the aerodynamic forces acting on the car as it laps a track.  Secondary aims may include providing sufficient cooling to brakes, engine, electronics and driver and the management of engine intake and exhaust flows. 

The typical aerodynamic forces acting on the vehicle are illustrated below:

How well an aerodynamicist optimises these forces and their characteristic variations with car attitude (front and rear ride height, roll, yaw, cross-wind, front wheel steering and possible tyre deformation) will determine the effectiveness of the aerodynamic development program as a whole.  The input of an experienced engineer with a proven track record of success will be invaluable.