Lots of people say that F1 “should use ground effect in 2021.” It should be said before discussing this further that ground effect plays an important role in F1 aero currently. I think this confusion is a result of the media talking about something they don’t fully understand. Ground effect is the increase in downforce and decrease in drag when an aerodynamic device is close to a fixed surface. So the front wing, floor and diffuser are all use ground effect aerodynamics. What most people mean when they say this is the percentage of the cars downforce produced by the floor should be increase. This is stated by many as if it is a fact that it will produce better racing, however research suggests otherwise. The floor is already the largest contributor to downforce. And the work done by Newbon, Dominy and Sims-Williams (2015) concluded that “The upwash in the wake appears to be an important factor in pushing the wake over a following vehicle which reduces loss. Removing the upwash from the wake has the most negative effect on the trailing vehicle, upwash is not simple to decouple from secondary flows.” When increasing the ‘power’ of the floor/diffuser and relying less on wing aero, the upwash will be greatly reduced. From their work, this will have a negative impact on racing.
Citation: Newbon, Joshua, Dominy, Robert and Sims-Williams, David (2015) CFD Investigation of the Effect of the Salient Flow Features in the Wake of a Generic Open- Wheel Race Car. SAE International Journal of Passenger Cars - Mechanical Systems, 8 (1). pp. 217-232. ISSN 1946-4002