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Our latest Tech Tuesday article continues to examine the sweeping changes made to the 2022 Formula 1 rule set. This week, Mark Hughes looks at the floors of the new F1 cars and why they will make such a difference to teams’ philosophies. and the action on the track.

The floor is central to the whole concept of the new aerodynamic regulations for 2022. Gone is the flat floor, which has been regulated since 1983, and in its place is a floor that features two large channels running from front to back on both sides. of the center plank.

LOOK: Everything you need to know about the new 2022 F1 car

These will enhance the downforce created by the underbody which, together with the limitations imposed on the upper surfaces of the car, will result in a much higher proportion of the total downforce created coming from the underbody.

Total downforce generated will be more or less comparable, with any shortfall expected to be made up by the end of the season as teams develop their understanding of the new cars. But it is the ratio of downforce under and above the bodywork that will be crucial to improving racing.

The floor channels are ‘venturi’ shaped, with a wide inlet, a narrowing central constriction and a wide outlet. With the ground forming the bottom surface of this shaped tunnel, the effect on the air pressure of the expanding section to the rear is that it pushes air through the constricted section much faster than it would otherwise. manner.

The faster the air moves, the greater the pressure difference between the ground and the outside, and the stronger the car is sucked down the track.

READ MORE: How the front wing on the new 2022 cars has been designed to improve overtaking

The tunnels start at the front of the pontoons and those wide entrances feature up to four small fences that teams can shape and angle within prescribed limits. These are there to help push air into the intake, minimizing the amount of air being pushed out of the car.

It is the outside draft that creates the dirty air that makes things so difficult for the following car, and minimizing the extent of this outside draft has been the number one priority of these regulations. Fences use the pressure difference across them to draw air into the intake and generate vortices that accelerate air intake, again creating more downforce under the floor by increasing the speed of air traveling through the tunnels.

Maximizing the suction effect of these tunnels means forming a seal around them to prevent side leakage. The vortices help to do this, as do the new outer side wings along the outer top surfaces of the floor.

As the tunnels ramp up to form the exit, the angle of that ramp continues at the bottom of the beam flange. This, in combination with fences on each side, launches the airflow upwards, much higher than from the previous diffuser outlet, when it was spread low and wide.

This brings most of the air above the level of the front wing of the car behind, allowing that wing to work much more effectively as it is in higher pressure air. That higher pressure will spread throughout the car, allowing it to work much more effectively than before when following you closely.

READ MORE: 8 reasons the pecking order could change in 2022

Downforce loss compared between the 2021 car and the new 2022

The tunnel exit ramps are much further forward than the previous diffuser and this would move the center of pressure (the aerodynamic equivalent of front/rear weight distribution) forward. But because the front wing is producing less downforce than before, these cars will actually be aerodynamically balanced fore/aft in the same way as previous cars by about 40/60% when racing in open air. But that aerodynamic balance changes much less when following another car.

READ MORE: The 2022 F1 calendar and F1 car launch schedule

Because most of the downforce acting on the front tires is generated by the ground rather than the wing, the car is much less sensitive to any turbulence from the car in front.

In this way, the tunnels keep the secret of what should be much more wheel-to-wheel action between the drivers and more changes of position on the track.


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