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We hope you enjoy the effort from a regular of the comments section, Oddball presents his article on aero. Enjoy!
For years the designers of our beloved F1 cars have found ever new ways to make them go quicker.
One recent wheeze was to ask for tyres with bubblegum like texture that were made to grip for only 3 laps. Prior to this we had engines so highly strung and containing so little fluid that they exploded if pushed beyond a dozen laps.
But nothing has changed the F1 game as much as Aero did.
From the first fumbling steps of polished bodywork the teams now sculpt their cars exterior to near perfection. Each little twist and turn, every seam and join funnels the once lazy air across the exquisitely contoured bodywork and this is to achieve one thing – downforce. And one individual became the master of this dark art; a once little known engineer called Adrian.
Newey is of course now the Maestro of Milton Keynes, but Adrian began his long journey in F1 with a small team of highly passionate designers. Adrian began his sketching career with designs for Cart and Indy car before landing a chief designer role at the F1 old guard team, March.
His design of the 1988 March 881 was pure simplicity. The car was tightly packaged and had very simple lines but under the skin its DNA was revolutionary. Few designers can write on their CV, “changed a sport”, but this shy graduate of Southampton is one of the few who can.
Newey has been responsible for some of the most radical cars in F1 sports history. At Williams he devastated the opposition with the FW14 and then at McLaren he crafted the championship winning MP4/13. These eras were followed by Adrian’s Red Bull Racing years, where his creations domination F1 in a way no others had before.
So why are Newey’s designs so good? He has access to some of the best computer software available and some of the brightest young talent that our sport can produce – so could this be the key? Then again, most teams have all this and spend millions tweaking a fin on a end plate and even more on underfloor airflow. Wind tunnel time isn’t cheap and many of them now share the huge Toyota monster in Germany, but none of this explains why.
Mr Newey in fact works with a stool, easel and pencil – and for the younger readers, a thing called paper. At Goodwood a few year ago I had the honour of meeting him and I asked these questions: “Why are your designs so effective? and, do you solve all the problems in the design stage or just test the problem out?”
With a slight shake of the head and a hint of a smile I knew the answer immediately. Newey had no idea why his designs worked better than those of the other teams, it was just him doing his thing. At this Damascus road moment of realisation, I bowed and kissed the ground before Newey ascended to the sky. I think I might have thrown him that weekend because not long after a certain E type was no longer in existence.
So we turn to 2017 and another set of ‘new’ regulations. We are told the designs will become more slippery than ever but there will be an increased focus on the rear wing area.
Yes this will deliver pretty awesome lap times, but will this prove to be the right way to go? I am not so sure because if I was a ‘Newey’ designing these new beasts, I would be focusing my skill on how to sap the energy from the air that cascades from the rear of the car and so hamper the following competition. And so maybe next year we will be watching a revision of the infamous ‘Truli train’ making a come back.