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  • Marcus Schurig on the question: Who needs downforce ?: Comment: Downforce as wrong way?

Marcus Schurig on the question: Who needs downforce ?: Comment: Downforce as wrong way?

Marcus Schurig on the question: Who needs downforce?
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A btrieb is the wet dream of racing -Engineers. The exact coordinates of its creation have been handed down. The year: 1966. The car: Chaparral 2E. The series: Can-Am. The inventor: Jim Hall. The good man found that at 200 km /h he could turn the steering wheel without his car changing direction - lift. He then applied components to the front that were reminiscent of snow shovels. Now the car turned precisely, but it oversteered horribly. Hall corrected the aero balance with a monstrously high rear wing. In doing so, he simply turned the wing profile from aeronautics around, lift became downforce - Eureka!

Downforce equals performance

This design path has not been questioned in motorsport for half a century. Downforce, say the engineers, equals lap time, equals performance. The equation is sacred, in Formula 1, the DTM, but also in long-distance and prototype racing. The engineers can no longer do otherwise or without. This is how you build Le Mans prototypes that need 600 hp and 1000 Nm to push the wing stuff against the air flow. In the century of efficiency, it's like trying to get a stealth bomber out of the sky with a slingshot.

Concepts that shake this traditional creed are being talked about. The Delta Wing in Le Mans also had downforce, but it did not get it as usual through classic air transfer and wings, but almost exclusively through the underbody, which is much more efficient. What impact will that have? Absolutely none. The next prototype regulations have long been signed, the wind tunnels for the motorsport departments have been built and the unemployed aeronautical engineers hired. Willingness to reform looks different. One is only surprised that the manufacturers do not wake up - because in the end it is their nice money that is spent there.

Up until the 1960s, the endeavor in motorsport was aimed at reducing air resistance. Streamlined bodies had a direct feedback on the road: less drag equals lower consumption and lower noise levels. There are enough examples in history when automobile manufacturers learned from motorsport and customers benefited on the road - from disc brakes to dual clutch transmissions.

Transfer from motorsport to production vehicles

The beautiful tradition of verbally communicating the added value of motorsport for road development is still there - only the added value seems to be lost The press brigades of the automobile manufacturers praise the synergy effects with flamboyant pathos, but if you look critically, you will find that the two storylines are largely decoupled. Motorsport as a drive for automotive progress - that seems long gone.

In fact, the opposite is true: the innovations are only just getting onto the road today and splashing around on the racetrack. ABS and ESP were developed as safety features for everyday drivers; today they are performance tools in motorsport. The same applies to hybrid drives or turbochargers with variable geometry. There is no convincing counterexample for this trend. The synergy chain has reversed - and the Motorsport is driving into a dead end.

This statement also describes the current crisis of meaning in motorsport: If you don't learn anything in racing, it degenerates into a hollow marketing tool - a little hum-hum, sweetened with it Pinot Noir and hip appetizer culture in air-conditioned hospitality castles.

Abtrieb serves no purpose in itself

The Kauz Abtrieb is a reflection of this development. Downforce has remained without feedback to the road to this day. Downforce does not serve a purpose in itself, because it is not needed outside of the special application of motorsport. Sometimes downforce is even dangerous: When different vehicle classes start in the same race, as in Le Mans, the differences in cornering speed are so great because of the different downforce levels that it often rattles.

Downforce improves the Lap time - and worsens the show. Downforce cars create turbulence and the aerodynamics of the vehicles behind are impaired. These lose downforce, whereupon their front tires are cooked until any chance of an overtaking maneuver dies. The fans could well live without downforce, because lap times are not a measurable pleasure parameter for them. They want to see racing - but downforce prevents duels and leads to embarrassing processions.

Then it takes artificial means to break up the problem, as in Formula 1. It all started when Bernie Ecclestone seriously considered artificial rain as a solution suggested that in the end one made do with less bizarre means: tires with different grip levels, drag reduction system (DRS) and hybrid power as an overtaking aid. The DRS system is particularly absurd because it is not available to all participants at all times, but only to the disadvantaged. So engineers are inventing new crutches at ever shorter intervals to save downforce.

Time for a new reflection

It's time for a new reflection. That should actually come from the world motor sports authority FIA, but you can safely forget that. Motorsport needs innovation with efficiency, otherwise the question of survival arises. Progress could be a step backwards: By draining those damp dreams of motorsport that are solely an end in themselves.


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