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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 February, 2004, 13:42 GMT
Aerodynamics | Mechanical | Electronics | CockpitFlash version >>


Aerodynamics is the single most important aspect of Formula One car design. It defined not only the entire shape of the car, but also the positioning of all items within it, like the engine, gearbox and driver. F1 cars produce so much aerodynamic downforce that they could be driven upside down at speeds of over 100mph.

Controlling the airflow over the car in order to maximise the downforce is a black art that makes the difference between the front and the back of the grid.
Aerodynamics audio Mike Gascoyne, Toyota technical director


The front wing is vital as it is the first part of the car to come into contact with the air.

It affects the airflow down the full length of the car and even tiny changes can have huge effects on the overall performance.
Front wing audio Mike Gascoyne, Toyota technical director


The rear wing helps glue the rear wheels to the track, but it also hugely increases drag. This means designers are constantly working to use as little angle of incidence on the rear wing as possible without harming overall performance.
Rear wing audio Mike Gascoyne, Toyota technical director


The diffuser, or floor, is designed to ensure the smoothest exit for the air that is flowing under the car. Designers come up with a huge variety of complicated shapes because the quicker the air exits, the more downforce the car generates, and the faster it will be.
Diffuser audio Mike Gascoyne, Toyota technical director


Barge boards, or turning vanes, smooth out and separate the air that has been disrupted by the front wheels. They separate the flow into two parts - one is directed into the sidepods to cool the engine; the other is diverted outside to reduce drag.
Barge boards audio Mike Gascoyne, Toyota technical director


All F1 cars are fitted with a 10mm "plank" made of hardwood as a means of limiting performance to ensure they do not run closer to the ground than allowed. If the plank wears by more than 1mm, the car is disqualified.
Plank audio Mike Gascoyne, Toyota technical director

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