We compared the aerodynamic performance of two generations of F1 car under overtaking conditions in Part 1 of this blog.

In Part 2 we looked at why modern F1 cars lost significant amounts of downforce, particularly in the front wing. Plus why older generation F1 cars do not experience the same loss. This was related to the different wake structure that both cars generate.

For the third in this series we’ll be deep diving into the mechanisms of why these cars have different wake topologies.

Cross section of F1 SF16 wake
Cross section of F1 SF16 wake

F1 Ferrari 312T rear wing

Looking at the below CFD image, the Ferrari 312T main downforce generation is from the front wing and a large rear wing, with no diffuser. The rear wing underside induces an upwash which effectively results in the centred tall contour of low total pressure region.

F1 Ferrari 312T CFD side view
CFD sim of underside of the Ferrari 312t

More details of the Ferrari 312T aerodynamic features were covered in this blog post.

Modern F1-cars diffusers

Later generations of F1 cars possess a device called a diffuser. Located on the rear of vehicle, it enables an increased on the underfloor, generating high levels of downforce.

Due to regulation modifications in the late 2000s, the maximum height of diffusers were limited. This was to trim off the downforce levels by reducing the expansion. This has driven teams in the direction of achieving higher expansion on the diffuser by also directing the flow sideways, leading to higher levels of downforce generated on the diffuser and underfloor.

As you can see in the image below, the outwash generated from the diffuser of the SF-16H results in a wake with a wider topology compared with the older generation F1 cars.

CFD image of the SF16H F1 car from above

Tackling the over-taking problem

Due to modern F1 cars losing considerable amounts of downforce while following a leading car, their performance is affected, making overtaking more difficult. In order to tackle this issue and improve racing, new regulations were developed aiming to reduce the amount of downforce lost on a following car.

To be continued…

In Part 4 of this blog series we will continue by comparing how F1 cars under the new regulations fare while following a leading car. We will also show another way that the Bramble platform allows for setting up a following car simulation using the mapped inlet and donors workflow.

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