Aerodynamics is one of the most important topics of the dynamics of your car
For a race car, the aerodynamic design is fundamental to its performance. For a roadsports car too. And for your daily commute, fuel saving or energy saving is what matters.
But, there is a ton of misunderstanding of what working on aerodynamics means.
Many people believe that adding spoilers or wings is enough (although it looks cool). Others go beyond and add some specific components to reduce drag, but the truth is, that every car, every road or circuit, and every situation is different.
F1 teams, WRC, WEC and many other categories rely on wind tunnels, which are the best tool (so far) to simulate wind pressure on the surface of the chasis. Accessing to these machines is expensive, so when a team doesn’t have enough money, they’re forced to theorize and trust the computer simulations to manufacture the right configuration of the aero package.
For people like us, who want to improve the performance of our cars by modifying the aerodynamics of them, we have to at least understand the fundamentals, and fortunately, there is a ton of reliable information on the web that can guide us when tuning our cars.
It is important to know that any proper aero work on your car may need prototyping, measuring and investment. In any case, the next group of sources will help you to understand the engineering side of aerodynamics.
Table of contents
Racecar Engineering is the first place. The topics are, well, profesional. But the explanations are very good.
If you’re trying to have a clear understanding on why race cars use specific aero packages, or if you are working on a racecar as engineering student, here you can find the answers to your questions.
Next we have waveydynamics.com. Its blog provides enough information to have a deeper understanding of the aerodynamics of racetrack cars. You may need to know or remember your physics classes to fully comprehend the topics treated here, but the explanations on things like diffusers and long tails are pretty good and quite understandable. Some examples are: Aerodynamics: Vortices, and Understanding Diffusers.
There are very good articles about car balance, suspension and vehicle dynamics in general, all of them are totally worth reading, like: Vehicle Dynamics: What Makes a Car ‘Balanced’?, and Brake Disc Technologies; A Performance Comparison.
Another good blog about aero but specialized in WRC is WRCWings. The blog covers many of the iterations made by the teams across different years. It is well explained and it helps you to stay in touch with this thrilling category.
Now, if you want to go full nerd on the topic and are willing to invest time and effort in learning how many of the aeropackages work in roadsports cars, then you should read “The Answer is 27“. A very good blog about aerodynamics engineering.
Yes! the author of the blog actually makes CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) analysis, which is pretty nerdy and necessary when analyzing the aerodynamics of any surface of a car.
Of course YouTube is a better place to find information about aerodynamics. The problem is, there are way too much videos, and many of them are not necessarily accurate.
But if you want to understand the basics I think you should start with Julian Edgar channel.
He speaks of the basics, and by watching his videos you can definitely start thinking of your regular road car and other cars in a new level.
I haven’t tested all of his techniques for improving the aero performance, but I find very simple his explanations, and I think they give a clear understanding of the basic things you have to improve on your car.
But if you know already about aerodynamics and want to go deeper, the place to go is Kyle engineers.
I don’t find their videos enormously practical for working on your road car, but the explanations on their videos help you to understand some phenomena seen in race cars.
Yes! Twitter is not always a source of bad news or fake ones. Thanks to Twitter I found some aerodynamicists that talk intensively about the this topic on race cars.
One of them is Timoteo Briet.
He is a professor of engineering and have published independently a couple of books about race cars. Now, I downloaded and read his book, is far from perfect, but his tweets are illustrative and he’s open to questions, which is important.
Also, he tweets both in English and Spanish.
And finally, the last one is the famous Craig Scarborough. You may know him by the F1 Youtube channel – Tech videos.
He talks about many topics, but his understanding of aerodynamics is clear and professional, so if you want to stay updated on the aerodynamics of Formula 1, you should follow him.
I know, it is hard to work on your car aerodynamics. If you have the resources, you should definitely go to the professionals and hire them. But, if you can’t do that, well, the good news is that there is a lot of good information that may help you to understand and make your aerodynamics experiments.
These are just a few examples.
In any case, I think the more you know, the less you are susceptible to bad information and biases. One thing I’ve learned these last two years studying the topic is that you have to know the data both of the car and the situation it will race to know better what is necessary. Adding parts and just having the basics covered won’t make you better at modifying your car and improving its performance.
If you combine what you find on this sources of information you can develop a better sense of what is needed for your car.
I hope you find them useful.
P.S. If you have another sources please share them in the comments area.