The Aerodynamic system is probably the most noticeable on the car. Almost every visible surface is influenced in some way by this subsystem. While the aerodynamics package is in no way essential to making the car drive, a well-developed package can lead to significant improvement in the car’s performance.
What We Do
The main goal of the aero subsystem is to generate downforce in order to increase maximum cornering acceleration. A force that pushes “down” on the car increases vertical force on the tires, enhances tire grip and allows for faster speed. Downforce is generated through three main devices: the rear wing, the front wing, and the undertray/side wings. Aero’s task is to develop, analyze, and test these devices to optimize car performance.
In addition to this primary task, there are a few secondary goals for which the system is responsible. Aerodynamic elements must not compromise the car’s cooling capabilities and should have minimal drag and weight.
This subsystem is relatively new, only in its fourth year of operation. The team designed its third aero package for F2017’s car 43, making it the second package to be taken to competition. The complexity has increased each year, but its real-life effectiveness has never been correlated to our simulation data.
The current package is comprised of three main components: a Rear Wing, Front Wing, and the Undertray.
The Rear Wing of a three-element airfoil design consists of a main plane and two flaps. It features an innovative concave endplate design that increases downforce by about ten percent and is attached to the chassis using a “swan neck” mounting system to minimize air disturbance and weight.
Our Front Wing is also constructed with a three-element design, but is significantly more complex than the rear wing. It features a curved main plane with a lower center section to maximize airflow underneath the car, which increases the undertray’s performance, and two flaps on the outer edges of the main plane. The flaps in front of the tires have a lower angle of attack to comply with FSAE rules, while the inner flaps are more aggressive to effectively balance the rear downforce. The front wing endplate is also curved to manage airflow around the front tires.
The Undertray is the most efficient downforce producer of the three components. It features airfoil front sections that lead into two venturi tunnels at the rear. It operates in extreme ground effect allowing it to produce significant levels of downforce. The undertray is also the most challenging part to understand and is sensitive to small changes. Hence, this component requires the most R&D time to produce an effective design.
Future Goals and Projects
Future goals to improve the aerodynamic package include: refining the DRS (Drag Reduction System), optimizing current components, furthering manufacturing techniques to improve leading edges, developing a new undertray design, and improving stiffness and stability of all components.