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Guest column: Wings

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Guest column: Wings

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The problem is this: I know that the wing on an F1 car works like an upside-down airplane wing, but I don’t know exactly how an airplane wing works. As an aerodynamic layman (but at the same time an aerodynamic enthusiast), I came across a lot of different explanations of how an airplane wing works. No explanation made sense to me.

For me, the key to understanding the secret of the wing is in understanding the properties of the air that surrounds all living beings on Earth.

Air particles have some properties that make them very similar to Shimi (my cat). Temperature-dependent expansion / contraction. This property is not so important to explain the wing. Trying to escape from the high pressure zone to the low pressure zone. This is already essential to explain the wing. Low viscosity, ie adaptability to the surface on which it lies. This is even more important, and the most important thing to explain how a wing works is mass. Air particles have a certain mass.

The mass of a body determines inertia - the force that seeks to keep the body in its current kinetic state. If the cat is lying down, its inertia will keep it in a stationary position. If he is moving towards the food bowl, his inertia must be overcome by the one who wants to stop him.

How heavy is the air? When we are at sea level, on our head and shoulders stands a pillar of the Earth's atmosphere weighing about one ton. We do not experience this mass because we "swim" through the air like a fish through water - atmospheric pressure acts on us from all directions, not just from above. Let’s just say the air is pretty light, I think we all agree.

I can only imagine how people before 1783 were jealous of birds. That year, the first hot air balloon took off in France. Also, I can imagine how frustrating it was after 1783 to watch birds fly while people could just hang in the air. Putting propulsion on a spacecraft helped a little, but when the spacecraft relies on the fact that it is lighter than air, it is still not a real flight but a voyage.

How can a swan take off? It is not filled with helium, so it is heavier than air. What exactly happens when a swan flutters its wings? Movements of the front limbs up and down with the aim of lifting your own body… so it reminds of the joints, right?
Imagine doing zigzags. Pull the bar down to push your body up because you are aware of Newton’s Third Law. This bar is part of a device that stands on the floor of the gym, which is on the first floor of an office building, which is built on solid foundations. This means that when you pull down, you are fighting the inertia of planet Earth. The mass of the Earth is huge so every joule that your muscles put in - directly results in your body going upwards.

The swan moves the air particles down to soar itself into the air. Air particles have a very small mass, and therefore a small inertia. One swing of the wings will result primarily in moving a lot of air particles down, and very little buoyancy for his body. That’s why a swan has to flutter its wings very quickly to move as much air as possible. The low viscosity of the air does not help the feathered aircraft because most of its particles slide from under the wing upwards.

Inertia is a force that needs to be overcome when we want to move (or change the direction of movement) something with mass. It could be said that a swan is easy to fly because moving air is not difficult because the air has a small mass. Let’s not forget that the swan must overcome the inertia of its own wings which must change direction quickly. Every part of the swan.

Any of us can fly if we move down enough air for the inertia of air particles to overcome the weight of our body (whoever has a formal physics education will probably end up on apparatus after reading this sentence, but to us laymen this is logical enough). Swans, helicopters and planes can do this. We are interested in airplanes because they have (almost) fixed wings.

The wing of an aircraft moves the air downwards and thus lifts the aircraft upwards - just like a swan. In my opinion, this is the most intuitive explanation of the air profile principle. I’ve listened to that most famous story for years: the upper wing generates low pressure, and the lower generates high pressure that pushes the plane up. This is the most common explanation you will come across (full intended) on the Internet because it is the "laziest" explanation. I’m not saying this explanation isn’t correct, but without understanding Bernoulli’s equation it doesn’t mean much to me.

It’s interesting how few people understand how a plane flies, and how many people believe in chemtrails.

I would describe the air profile as an elongated tear (or drop) cut off from the underside. The wing sends air down in a way that forces the air current on the upper side of the wing into a downward trajectory. At this point, inertia is key to understanding: air particles moving along the upper side of the wing (slight downward direction) want to maintain their direction of motion. This means that once they leave the wing, they continue to move downwards. Voila. We explained how the wing sends air down.

The air profile requires air current - it cannot function if air particles do not move quickly on the surface of the profile. That’s why an airplane can’t take off from a place like a helicopter or a pigeon. You thought I'd write "swan"? No, the swan is too heavy to take off. Therefore, in part, it must rely on the air profile of its wings in a way that "runs on water": The swan literally can’t dry out.

It would be interesting to analyze how the entire airplane wing manipulates air current, but this is an F1 column. Let's turn the air profile upside down and talk about what the engineers in F1 are breaking their heads over.

Although they work on the same principle, the wings on a car are very different from those on an airplane. First: they send air in the opposite direction (upwards). Second: the wings are on a car of relatively fixed inclination (except for the DRS). Third, they are smaller than an airplane wing. Fourth: they swallow less air because the car can only reach about 300 km / h. Fifth: they are colorful with all kinds of inscriptions.

Weaker current and smaller surface area means that the wing on the car is very difficult to throw enough air up. "Well, let's bend it harder upwards" - it would be logical to say. The problem is again that air has mass and thus inertia! Once an air current has its own direction of movement, it does not change it just like that. If your surface is too steep, the current will not want to follow it but will separate and continue its direction of movement down the car. When this separation occurs, a "gap" is created behind the wing between the two beginnings of the current. This void is filled with turbulent air, and such air has low pressure.

Leaving behind a low pressure zone that tries to suck you back is normal - it happens to you in your car, when you ride a bike and it happens to an F1 car. However, if we focus only on the wing, this should not happen because instead of downforce and resistance you only have resistance.

Another effect contributes to the separation of current from the lower surface of the wing, and that is the fact that the car is close to the track - this means that if we want to send air up we force the same amount of air to take up more space. An equal amount in the same space results in a reduction in pressure. Just like my grandmother, the air has low pressure problems. Instead of taking medication, the air very quickly wants to equalize the pressure, and it can do so because it is low viscosity.

To prevent air from overflowing from the front of the wing to the rear due to the pressure difference, the wings have gaps, i.e. the wing is divided into several elements. These breaks in the wing help to equalize the pressure and thus help maintain airflow at the rear of the wing.

We notice that it is a very big challenge to keep the air current stuck to the lower / rear part of the wing. Makes sense. The current will have no problem being attached to the front of the wing because the inertia of the car and the inertia of the air directly collide. Just as an excavator has no problem making ground contact with the front of the shovel. Keeping the air clinging to the back of the wing is a much more delicate task - the curvature of the wing must be gentle enough to attract air that wants to continue on its way. Aerodynamics teaches us love relationships, who would say.

We will only touch the swan once more. It is preferred to mount the rear wing on the so-called. swan neck - a bracket that holds the wing to the upper part of the aero-profile, not the lower. In this way, the air flow on the more sensitive - lower side is not interrupted.

So far, we’ve been looking at the wing from profile and pretending there are no edges. Because high pressure accumulates at the front and low pressure accumulates at the rear, we know that these pressures must somehow equalize. If our wing successfully throws air in the air, the fastest way to equalize the pressures is the one at the very edges. In order to mitigate the formation of vortices on the wing tips (and thus reduce the "trailer" of turbulent air) we will put the so-called. endplate (plate at the edge of the wing). Even aircraft have something similar on the wing tips and thus significantly reduce air resistance.

We’ve come to a whirlwind and aerodynamic drag - it’s time to stop and leave those topics for another time. It is important that we find out why F1 wings have more elements and why we have them on the edges endplate. Also, I hope to have explained the principle of the aircraft wing in a clear way without going into depth with terms like laminar current, boundary layer, velocity / density / pressure / viscosity of fluid and other very intricate parts of fluid dynamics.

Additional reading

We explained aircraft flight based on Newton’s Third Law (downward movement of air) because this principle is used by both swans and F1 cars. However, let's explain the lazier explanation "the aero profile on an aircraft generates low pressure above and high pressure below the wing" (http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Fluids/airfoil.html). Bernoulli's equation tells us that a fluid that is forced from a wider to a narrower space accelerates and thus loses pressure. This happens on the upper surface of the wing, which with its curvature creates a kind of "bottleneck". This effect is pronounced enough in aircraft to serve as an explanation for flight, however it definitely cannot be used on swans, and very likely not on F1 wings either as the cars do not develop enough speed and the wing does not have enough surface area. Bernoulli's equation in F1 can be used (again, I guess) only in the case of flooring because the track surface is used as a solid boundary for a "bottleneck".

Brazilian Mass

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Comment

21 comments

  1. Fernando Alonso 14 Orao Show

    Bravo again a great column, very interesting and instructive as the last one. 👍



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  2. David Croft Frantic Donator Show

    Great, every part! :beer:

    "Hello" and Shimi: mrgreen:



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  3. Sebastian Vettel 5 Crash Donator Show

    Well done…
    Very interesting….

    This "ripped me off"
    "It's interesting how few people understand how a plane flies, and how many people believe in chemtrails."



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  4. Niki Lauda wapi Donator Show

    Some physicist would massacre you for saying that Bernoulli's equation is not valid for F1….
    But if one understands some of the aerodynamics from this article it has achieved its purpose.

    I would also mention the link between buoyancy and air resistance, as a major trade-off in car aerodynamics design….

    In any case, a nice article with already traditionally beautiful illustrations.



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    • Felipe Massa Braziliscanec Masa Show

      Thank you :)
      I am not running away from the fact that I have stepped into “too deep” for my capacities.



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      • Sebastian Vettel 5 Pastor Show

        I’m not really sure about the endplate explanation. From 2022, it will not even be above the wing… And the wing from several parts, ie two, is due to the rules, ie the introduction of DRS? What is the difference in the slots on the endplate above the wing, which were recently banned, so similar solutions started under the wing?



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        • Felipe Massa Braziliscanec Masa Show

          -True, as of 2022, the rear wing doesn't seem to have an endplate. Maybe they abolished it precisely because it is very important for the efficiency of the wing.
          -The back kilo has two elements due to the rules. The front wing, before it was strictly regulated, had up to 6 elements: https://cutt.ly/ShC6c2J the angle point to me was that more than one element is better than one element.
          -the title drawing shows a wing that has slits above. These slots served to make it easier to equalize the pressures below and above the wings and thus alleviate that vortex seen in the last drawing on the left. I guess the teams simply replaced those upper slots with lower ones because again it makes it easier to equalize the pressures, this time in the other direction.



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        • Niki Lauda wapi Donator Show

          The endplate explanation is ok. The endplate (on winglet planes) prevents a short circuit of the two sides of the wing.
          if you do not have a winglet / endplate then the effect is to make your wing a little shorter because its end part is short-circuited and does not contribute to buoyancy but only resistance.

          Preventing this short circuit will also achieve an endplate that is just below the wing (as on airplanes it goes just above the wing). What is obtained by removing the endplate above the wing is less directed air behind the car. so I guess they are hoping for less dirty air and easier tracking. It will also surely drop downforce that wing because part of the air will escape from the wing to the side before it crosses the whole wing…



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    • Jenson Button Lotus Show

      I would also mention the link between buoyancy and air resistance, as a major trade-off in car aerodynamics design….

      It is not necessarily trade-off, with the diffuser and the floor a downforce is created without any drag



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      • Niki Lauda wapi Donator Show

        It depends on how you look at the thing and how you share the car. Floor j along the entire car that has a frontal resistance. You are trying to reduce it with a diffuser, blowing the exhaust… ..

        There is no use in old grandmothers either.



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  5. Ferrari sisavac Donator Show

    I join in praising the article. Excellently explained without complications. And the drawings are great. 👍
    I was stabbed in the eye by the same thing as Benoulli's equation, but I'm sorry. 😉



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  6. “I came across a lot of different explanations of how an airplane wing works. No explanation made sense to me. "

    Engineers waste time in schools. Let them call you. He didn't find a meaningful explanation for how an airplane wing works, ahahaha



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  7. Mercedes Jester Donator Show

    The wing of the aircraft moves the air downwards and thus lifts the aircraft upwards…

    Completely wrong because the wing doesn’t move the air down, or anywhere. The wing separates the air currents and the angle of attack and the curvature of the airfoil create a pressure difference between the upper and lower surface and, depending on the speed of its movement, generate a greater or lesser amount of buoyancy.

    If you are interested in more, you have on this link and it is well explained https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Aerofoil

    Otherwise, a totally ok study page.



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    • Felipe Massa Braziliscanec Masa Show

      How, then, did the Wright brothers fly with wings without an aero profile (flat surface, curved downward)?
      Furthermore, when a passenger plane takes off, it lowers those “flaps” to maximize downwash. When he needs the most elevator he goes for max downwash - that's why it's still only logical for me to blame downwash for the elevator.


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      • Ayrton Senna OffLiberyMedia Show

        Fold the "flaps" to achieve greater air expansion and thus create an additional pressure difference.


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        • Felipe Massa Braziliscanec Masa Show

          Why then are the wings on the F1 car multi-element, ie such that they intentionally allow the difference in pressures above and below to be mitigated?


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        • Ayrton Senna OffLiberyMedia Show

          Where did you read that? The wings prevent turbulence and serve to create a pressure difference rather than a reduction
          Why F1 goes through the curve so fast is one answer - downforce

          Now the center of mass plays a role in all that, of course. The goal is to ensure the homogeneity of the car with the pressure difference, when it is not achieved then the drivers complain about the balance, etc. All in all, the point is that the aerodynamic forces are opposed by centrifugal, not mechanical friction.


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        • Felipe Massa Braziliscanec Masa Show

          I meant this by multi-element wings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVF3tERIl7w
          Thus, wings that have multiple “layers” (e.g., today’s front wings with that “fan”) that are such as to mitigate the difference in pressures above and below the wings. Deliberately equalizing pressures with the goal of more thrust - contrary to your explanation that the goal is just a big difference in pressures.



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        • Ayrton Senna OffLiberyMedia Show

          My friend, in order to achieve thrust there must be a pressure difference.

          F = p * A

          If we assume that A (surface) is the same, then where the pressure is higher, the resulting force will act in the direction of its action. F = (p1-p2) * A

          What you have sent is approaching the ideal flow, avoiding breaking the sound barrier, and directing the air flow. The air that passes through the channel drawn by the man from the piston will expand when it exits and a vacuum will be created again. So if you connect the upper and lower part of the wing it does not mean that the pressure is the same. On the contrary, if it were the same, there would be no flow. The property of the fluid is that it goes from the environment of higher to the environment of lower pressure and that there is a spontaneous equalization of pressures.

          So the fact that the upper and lower part are connected does not mean that the pressures are the same. Look at the role of diffusers and nozzles in fluid mechanics. The only thing that remains the same when passing through such channels is static enthalpy, but it is irrelevant to this story.


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  8. Blue Flag dFixxx3r Show

    Fun fact: a glider works like an airplane.
    The wing profile / sail shape causes air to pass faster on one side and slower on the other.
    This difference in air velocities in front of / behind the sail or above / below the aircraft wing creates a pressure / pressure difference and the wing / sail is pulled to the lower pressure side - where there is a tendency to create a “vacuum” / pocket of low air pressure. because of this the plane goes up and the glider forwards and the wing of the car presses down.



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  9. Ayrton Senna OffLiberyMedia Show

    Solid for amateurs, but can do better. If you are interested, I suggest books on theories of flight 1, 2 and 3 in more detail.


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