Have you ever wondered how a Formula E single-seater is able to reach speeds of up to 225 kilometers per hour without flying through the air? I’m sure you have. This is due to science at its finest, specifically a branch of physics called aerodynamics.
Aerodynamics is an extension of physics which studies the behavior of air fluids over various objects. In the case of Formula E, it is responsible for keeping the single-seaters adhered to the asphalt of the track to avoid losing grip or causing accidents as a result of high speeds.
In fact, the competition aerodynamics is the same applied to an airplane’s aerodynamics, but in an inverted way: that is, on an airplane the desired effect is to lift, while in Formula E is the opposite, the objective is to keep them on the ground.
Practically, a Formula E car is an airplane with four wheels. In competition aerodynamics, there are multiple elements responsible for keeping the single-seater on track.
Mainly the front and rear wing. The front wing is the first part of the car to make contact with the wind, so its function is based on distributing air fluids throughout the rest of the car intentionally, according to the configuration desired by the teams’ engineers, as well as providing stability to the car.
On the other hand, the rear wing is in charge of fixing the single-seater to the ground, which is like the tail of an airplane. In addition to these main elements, there are small, medium and large parts that also fulfill important functions such as vortex generators, endplates, flaps and other important elements to obtain the maximum potential in the most demanding tracks of motorsport.
Race after race, it may seem that the cars on track are configured similarly to the previous event, but this is not the case. There are several configurations adapted according to the type of circuit, complying with the principle that the more downforce, the greater the grip in turns, and the lower the speed on straights, while the opposite is true with less downforce.
Applying this knowledge, a high downforce setting is required at the Monaco E Prix because of the low importance of top speed, but grip is necessary for its fast-acting corners.
Written by | Ronald Ortega