F1 aerodynamics mean no big wings on British sports car


The British company Elemental revealed its RP1 sports car at last weekend's Goodwood Festival of Speed. The RP1 is built around a carbon composite tub, and buyers have a choice of two Ford EcoBoost engines: a 180-horsepower 1.0-liter 3-cylinder or a 320-horse 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. What makes this car unique, however, is its use of Formula One-proven aerodynamics to generate downforce without the need for big wings that create drag.

Elemental refined the shape of the car using computational fluid dynamics software and wind tunnel testing, then validated it on both the track and street.

The company says that the car's aerodynamic performance is due the the downforce-generating floor and underbody. 

Elemental Rp1

Elemental Rp1

Enlarge Photo

Made possible by a race-inspired "feet up" layout, the underbody features a machined marine plywood front splitter that guides airflow as it hits the car, and a large, aerodynamically clean central flat floor panel.

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Below the driver's feet, two large front diffusers create a low-pressure area that sends underfloor air out behind the front wheels, thus creating downforce for the front of the car. This allows the Elemental to create more rear downforce without upsetting front to rear balance. Elemental uses a large double-stage rear diffuser to control the remaining rear airflow and reduce air pressure under the rear of the car.

2016 Elemental Rp1

2016 Elemental Rp1

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Without air pressure below the car, the normal air pressure above the body pushes the car down onto the road, eliminating the need for big wings.

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Elemental claims the RP1 is capable of generating 880 pounds of downforce at 150 mph just due to the aerodynamic design of the underbody.

At speed, the car's light weight, enabled partially by carbon fiber body panels, allows the car to have the low inertia of a lightweight car with the vertical load of a heavier vehicle due to the downforce it generates.

The company is now taking orders for the RP1 with a price of £77,250, roughly $102,624 at today's fluctuating rates. There is no mention of a plan for sales in the U.S. at this time, however.

 
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