The front wing is the most important aerodynamic device on our car. That is a lot of exercises for one single device, and accordingly, a significant amount of time was and still is spent designing it. In comparison to the rear wing, the front wing is a lot more efficient. At the same time, due to the ground proximity, the induced drag of the wing is reduced because the ground interrupts the wingtip vortices.
The ground effect also is the reason that the middle main element of the front wing generates downforce. As it has a positive angle of attack, it would normally generate almost no downforce. But why are we doing this? The more interesting part of the front wing is the outboard part, which solves many of the above-mentioned problems. Next to the inner endplate, the airfoils have a reduced chord length and a small angle of attack.
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This ensures that enough is guided into the side box for cooling purposes. The part next to the outer endplate in front of the tire is the most aggressive part of the front wing. Therefore, the airfoils in this location have the longest chord length and the highest angle of attack. The last flap also has a Gurney in front of the tire to turn flow upwards and keep it attached. This target also dominates the design of the outer endplate. The endplate you can see in the picture above is an already updated version which will be installed in the car during the test phase before the events.
At the end of the endplate, there is a big vertical Gurney, which turns the air outboard and away from the front tire. Due to the pressure difference from free stream pressure to the low pressure under the wing, the flow is turned inside and the pressure under the wing increases. This pressure compensation makes the wing less efficient. But with the half-tube, the influence of this phenome is decreased. Inside the tube, a vortex, which works as a barrier, is formed due to the above-mentioned pressure difference. The flow that is turned inside must pass the vortex first before it can get under the wing.
This means that the amount of air flowing under the wing from the sides is reduced. Therefore, the low-pressure region under the wing is stronger and the wing works more efficiently. The undertray is the most efficient aerodynamic device on the car. Due to its very small frontal area and the ground proximity, the undertray generates downforce without generating much drag. Because of cost and manufacturing reasons, we decided at an early stage of the season that the undertray will have one cambered main tunnel under the monocoque and straight side plates.
This is not the optimal aerodynamic solution, but the best for our manufacturing possibilities. Nevertheless, it still increases the performance of the car. As with all aerodynamic parts, the undertray had to prove its worth in terms of performance before getting installed on the actual car. This increase in performance is proofed with lap time simulations, into which we can directly put in the aerodynamic values we get as results from the CFD simulations with SimScale.
After adjusting all other parameters that change e. If this time decreases, the new part is increasing the performance and therefore becomes the new basis of development. Even the straight side plates generate downforce. But how is it possible to generate downforce with a plate?
In front of the rear tire is a big plate, which works like a massive Gurney. The flow under the side plate is accelerated, while the pressure on top of the plate is increased.follow
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This is a rather unattractive but very simple solution to get some more downforce. With limited manpower, budget, and not so much experience, it is an even bigger challenge to develop aerodynamic devices for Formula Student race cars. SimScale not only provided us with computational power but also with great support in every phase of the season. We are very grateful for this support.
In the background, the development of the aero package has already started. There are a lot of things that we want to improve: the performance of the undertray for example, or the rather ineffective side of the vehicle.
a butterfly rising…
DRS will definitively be an option as well. It seems like there will be many changes again next year. If you have any questions or comments regarding this article, the aerodynamics of our race car or the team itself, feel free to send me an e-mail to niklas. We are always open to questions or any kind of suggestions! Get started with SimScale by creating a Community account or signing up for a day trial of the Professional plan.
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