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Thread: F1 car vs LMP1 car - downforce levels

  1. #1
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    F1 car vs LMP1 car - downforce levels

    I was just wondering how downforce levels compare between an F1 car and an LMP1 car.

    I have limited knowledge on LMP1s, but I understand there is emphasis on 'ground affect' and underbody aero. Also I understand that as these cars are tuned to race at LeMans, low downforce is important and will reflect in their aero package. So how close are LMP1s to the downforce levels of F1 cars?

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    Not got any recent data, nor specific modern F1.
    But as indicator ...
    Lola Champ open wheel - Mulsanne's Corner Race Car Aerodynamics Database: 2003 Lola B03/00 Champ Car
    Downforce:
    3039 lbs. @ 150 mph, with 966 lbs. of drag
    4376 lbs. @ 180 mph, with 1391 lbs. of drag
    5402 lbs. @ 200 mph, with 1718 lbs. drag

    Lift-to-drag ratio: 3.14:1
    Panoz LMP1 - Mulsanne's Corner Race Car Aerodynamics Database: 2000 Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S
    Downforce:
    2400 lbs. @ 150 mph, with 716 lbs. of drag
    3456 lbs. @ 180 mph, with 1031 lbs. of drag
    4266 lbs. @ 200 mph, with 1273 lbs. of drag

    Lift-to-drag ratio: 3.35:1
    "A woman without curves is like a road without bends, you might get to your destination quicker but the ride is boring as hell'

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    LMPs will tend to be a lot more efficient at making lots of downforce, simply because they are closed wheel, and have a much larger area to work with. Though modern LMP's scope of development might be even narrower than F1 car with now a largely spec floor, at the same time with current F1's double diffuser.
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    With less power the LMPs can't add too much drag to get downforce.
    The eternal issue when comparing drag and downforce between formulas
    "A woman without curves is like a road without bends, you might get to your destination quicker but the ride is boring as hell'

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    Thanks for the info guys. If an F1 car was to lap the modern LeMans circuit, roughly how much do you think the lap time will be? Amazing as an F1 car is I personally think a good car such as a 908 or R10 could potentially beat an HRT or Lotus around LeMans. Am I right?

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    I think around a track like Suzuka, a LMP car is doing something close to 20 sec a lap slower on a 1:30-ish F1 lap. So even an HRT or a Lotus will be faster than a LMP car seeing that they are up to 4-10 sec slower than the lead pack. Around Le Mans I'd expect the F1 cars to still be substantially faster.
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    Last time the LMPs raced at Monza was in 2008, when Minassian in the Pug took pole in 1.31.5. For the F1 in that year most of the practices, quali and the race was on a wet track, but free practice 1 saw a 1.23.8 for Raikkonen.
    In 2009 in Spa the Pug did a 2.01 while the pole for F1 was 1.46.3, but there were no factory Audis in Spa, so they may have taken it a bit easy.
    Last edited by henk4; 03-31-2010 at 01:28 PM.
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    Do you recall if 2003 was before or after CART implimented a number of down force reducing rules?

    For the OP, keep in mind that often the level of down force the cars can achieve is regulated by the rules much the same way the HP is often limited by rules. As some point CART change their rules and made the underbody aero much less effective at generating down force. Thus with almost no real change in the level of sophistication of the car in one season the teams all lost a good bit of down force.

    Another example would be to look at the downforce of some for the GTP cars vs a modern LMP. According to the site above, some GTP cars were approaching 10,000 lbs of down force in some configurations!

    Modern F1 cars are quited limited with respect to the under body. The reason why the cars have those high step noses is not because a stepped nose is fundamentally better. In fact it would normally be considered worse. However, with the particular rules of F1 it's important to maximize the front wing and splitter at about the front axle. Hence the cars sacrifice drag and optimal suspension geometry to get everything out of the way of the wing and front splitter.

    In comparison the Indy cars have different rules thus they never suffered the ugly high noses. Instead their front wings, when used on speedways, are used more to trim out the car rather than an a major source of front downforce.

    This is a bit of a tangent but I don't know if I should laugh or cry at all the sub F1 classes which use the stepped noses. Most classes between Formula Ford (almost the bottom of the Formula ladder) and F1 have very sadly moved to spec cars. In an effort to look like the top of the food chain they have stepped noses. However, given the spec nature of the classes (with a few exceptions) there is no reason to go for a step nose. These lesser classes could have a stronger chassis by forgoing the step and instead locating the front wing farther forward of the front wheels. They could also allow a bit more underbody aero thus reducing the need to get so much downforce from the front wing alone.

    It is interesting to look at the few exception classes. Indy is sadly now a spec class. I hate that but at least they aren't trying to be an F1 look alike. Really, they can't be since the safety and crash protection demands of an Indy car are much higher than that of F1. F1 runs a safe show in large part by giving the cars soft things to hit when they run off the track. Indy, even with the Safer bariers has walls they must deal with, has heavier cars and higher speeds. Thus the Indy cars need more crash protection built into the chassis. The up shot of this is they need a longer nose that channels crash forces into the tub more uniformly than you get with a high nose. Also, they simply don't have any rules mandated need for it so they never adopted it.

    Another class to look at is FB. In the US FC and FB basically represent the highest level of racing that can still honestly be called a formula class. The classes above FB are F Atlantic and then one make classes such as Pro Mazda and the Infinity Pro Series cars (similar to F3). These classes are all single make so the engineers can design what looks good rather than actually having to compete. FB is currently an up and coming class in SCCA racing. The cars are tube framed, open wheel racers using 1L, stock motorcycle power. When the class was originally founded the idea was to replace the old 2L Ford motor used in the Formula Continental cars with a bike motor and go racing. However, some manufactures saw the opportunity to run newer looking cars thus the rules were modified to allow more body work options than FC. At this point the class seems to have split into two camps. One camp is comprised of Formula Continental like cars. These are not much more than FC's with a new motor and minimal other changes. This includes conversion cars such as a number of Van Diemens and new cars such as the Citation and Piper which are both sold in FF, FC and FB versions of the same basic car.

    The other camp is the new FB cars. These cars have body work which is often much different than what is allowed in FC. Additionally, the stepped noses of these cars would not be allowed in an FF/FC class. The stronger makes in this second class would be Stohr, Phoenix and RFR (the same designer as the Van Diemen FC). After two years of racing it appears the cars which were designed with mid 1990s ideals are faster. The low nose cars are currently setting the faster laps in large part because they can go faster down the straights. It was interesting talking to at least one designer. He said, F1 cars had evolved to where they are now because the rules evolved in the 1990s. The rules for FC didn't change so why should the cars? FB rules are similar to FC so again why wouldn't an FB look like an FC with some allowances.

    Anyway, I know this was a long tangent but do keep in mind that much of what these cars are capable of is dictated by the rules.

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    Interesting info Culver.

    Quote Originally Posted by RacingManiac View Post
    Around Le Mans I'd expect the F1 cars to still be substantially faster.
    I would have thought that the low drag requirements of LeMans would favour the LeMans cars? Why wouldn't the gap be smallest here?

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    Grip level is still MUCH higher on a formula car. Given Monza downforce level they are still hitting 210mph on the shorter straight on Monza. Where as fastest Le Mans car last year(Peugeot) were only doing 212mph. F1 car would still have significant braking and cornering advantage at the chicanes and Porsche curves also....

    Granted, its unlikely that F1 car can last a 24 hour race. But then they weren't designed to...
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    I don't think F1 downforce is higher. I think F1 power to weight ratios are much better, the cars are much lighter and currently I believe they have a lot more power. Again we are talking about regulations vs fundamental technology differences. I do strongly suspect that a racecar could be made which goes just as fast as an F1 car but costs a fraction as much. In a sense, the impressive part about F1 cars is how fast they are despite the rules they are forced to run with.

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    I don't think their downforce is higher also, but they have much less weight to push around with more exotic tire....powerwise though the gap isn't as big as it used to be. By all account the diesels are probably still pushing 650+bhp if not more. F1 cars' rev limited V8 probably makes closer to 750. A far cry from V10's 900+.

    As you say, the amount of speed gained by the engineering in F1 is astounding. Last week's pole time in Australia was faster than the record set in 2004, when they had unlimited V10 with no multiple-race life, tire-war tailor made tire, more open aero reg, TC, lower minimum weight, and proprietary engine controller. All the rule change was supposed to slow the car down and make it cheaper but I don't think that actually happened....
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    Quote Originally Posted by culver View Post
    I don't think F1 downforce is higher. I think F1 power to weight ratios are much better, the cars are much lighter and currently I believe they have a lot more power. Again we are talking about regulations vs fundamental technology differences. I do strongly suspect that a racecar could be made which goes just as fast as an F1 car but costs a fraction as much. In a sense, the impressive part about F1 cars is how fast they are despite the rules they are forced to run with.
    In this respect it is still interesting to note that the Jaguar XJR14 (see main page article), was quoted to about as fast as contemporary F1-cars when tested at Silverstone. (And the Cosworth was not the fastest F1 engine).
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    Contemporary then.....not now I don't think.

    I did look up the time set back in 1991 I think. The pole time for the Sportscar race at Silverstone would've put the car in 6th or 7th place in that year's British GP. Back then the minimum weight for the sportscar is lower though, and they also have much more open aero rule than the F1 car back then....

    I do think though cars like the Peugeot 908 is probably as fast as the Group C 3.5 liter cars back then, what with the modern tire and other technology advancement now(despite the higher weight and more restricted rule). But F1 car have moved so far beyond the speed level of early 90s that the gap is bigger now.
    Last edited by RacingManiac; 04-01-2010 at 06:57 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RacingManiac View Post
    Contemporary then.....not now I don't think.

    I did look up the time set back in 1991 I think. The pole time for the Sportscar race at Silverstone would've put the car in 6th or 7th place in that year's British GP. Back then the minimum weight for the sportscar is lower though, and they also have much more open aero rule than the F1 car back then....
    So the answer to the fundamental question remains dependent on the regulations and may differ from time to time....(I am sure the Pugs and Audis could be much faster if the restrictor rules would be less stringent)
    "I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting, but it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously." Douglas Adams

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