F-duct: The most ingenious system of last times in F1

The equipment that is generating controversy, called F-duct (or snorkel) developed by Mclaren’s engineers is undoubtedly one of the most ingenious inventions in the history of Formula 1.
The system works like it: there is a small air intake on the nose of the car that should serve to cool the cockpit providing more comfort to the driver. But why all this worry about it? The engineers are nice guys? Of course they aren’t! That was just an excuse. In fact, the air enters the cockpit, but the duct extends to the rear wing, where the magic happens …

The scheme of the figure above shows the path of the air, the hole is close to the pedals and when the driver enters the straight, he closes the ventilation hole with his knee or foot, the air is channeled to the rear wing, the air flow increases in the wing which decreases the downforce up to 15kg. What does this mean? Around 10km/h in the end the main straight line (which is an absurd gain).
The ingenious system considered as brilliant and is easily explained by Bernoulli’s equation (which talks about fluid dynamics):


Where: P1 is the pressure above the wing, P2 the pressure below the wing, Rho is the density of the fluid (air in this case) and V1 and V2 are the velocities of the fluid (air) above and below the wing respectively.

So, how it works? Assuming that the product Rho * g * h is the same for both sides of the equation, we can cut it from our equation:


Let’s write it in a friendly way:


As Rho is a constant (assuming that air density does not vary), we conclude that the difference of downforce (P1 – P2) depends only on the difference of the squares of air velocities (v2² – v1²) that go above and below the wing. The higher the speed above in relation to the speed below, less pressure is generated on the wing, which makes the car gain speed.

On a turn when the driver clears the hole and the air passes under the wing in a lower speed, the ratio of these air speeds above and below the wing decreases and for consequence the pressure increases and the car is glued to the floor again by the downforce, in a few words: the engineers have invented a system that cancels the effect generated by the rear wing on the straight.

this is the first blog post F1visaotecnica in English, I will translate the other posts and post new things also in English.

I hope you enjoyed,

Rafael Basilio

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