This is how slipstreaming differs from dirty air
Talk to any motorsport fan long enough and you’ll probably hear two things. First, dirty air is bad, and second, suction is good. In theory, it’s basically the same thing: one conductor follows another. But the reality is, like everything else, much more complex. And after a handful of races in the wake this year, it’s time to take a deeper look at these concepts.
To go along with our great conversation today, we have a video from Chain Bear that, as usual, touches on every aspect of physics, math, and science that I couldn’t articulate with so much. grace or clarity:
I think one of the smartest things Chain Bear is doing here is comparing air as F1 cars experience it to water; it is thicker and more durable when you travel faster. This helps to understand why F1 cars have the aero designed the way it is; you want to keep it as even as possible, because gluing pieces to one side will pull the car in that direction (which is, coincidentally, why many stock cars are designed so asymmetrically).
And, as physics requires, drag increases exponentially with speed. So the faster you drive, the more resistance you will feel on the car. This means that F1 cars also punch a pretty serious hole in the air around them. Folding back inside that hole behind a car in front means that the car in front takes most of the churning air and has to work harder to get up to speed. The next car, meanwhile, has to work a lot less harder and can even use that clear air to launch a slingshot around the front driver. The front driver experiences higher drag than the next car, which means the follower can enjoy better acceleration.
As you can see here, the wake is actually a kind of lack air; it is a low density pocket where the next driver does not experience the full force of the air drag.
Dirty air, meanwhile, is the exact contrary. Instead of creating a convenient hole behind it, the lead car sends air in all kinds of crazy, crazy directions, which then rock the next car. This changing air then disrupts the aerodynamics of the F1 car, which depends on a constant and constant air flow. In this case, the lead car has the advantage as it looks consistent while the followers try to gain consistent grip in some pretty chaotic situations.
The way F1 cars are designed, you are more likely to have chaotic airflow channeled to the rear of the car than to have a base car that only makes a base hole in the car. ‘air. This is why you will have dirty air where you think there would be an empty pocket; the car pushes all the turbulent air in strange directions behind it, making it difficult for a following car to get too close.
So, yes – you could sum it up to something as simple as “one car follows the other”, but as we all know, there is nothing simple about F1.