Air Kraft: DTM preview
Audi, Mercedes and BMW are going racing, and whoever has the cleverest wings, wins
Posted: 15 Mar 2012
Aerodynamics is the darkest of the dark arts of engineering. Seemingly innocuous surfaces can have the most dramatic effect. Engineer and driver must be in constant synergy: one speck of a degree of change to any of the multifarious wings, and the balance of the car will be completely altered. Even those tiny dive planes on the front valance make a huge difference - if there's a need for a low downforce set-up, they're removed altogether. Everywhere you look there's a lip or edge. The cars are literally sprouting stuff all over the place and it's likely those surfaces haven't stopped breeding, either: those 25 wings are likely to multiply before the season kicks off on 29 April at Hockenheim. It's all about trying to direct the air, make it hit each body surface in a particular way to get the most out of the bulging, almost-recognisable shape.
As a result, a 2012 DTM car should produce about 1,000kg of downforce at the rear wing. That's like having a Ford Ka perched over the back axle. And that figure doesn't even include the effect of the diffuser. That's the big tray that stretches for 2m under the car - half the length of the vehicle - channelling air under the belly of the beast to aid stability. Because the diffuser is so long, it should make the cars very balanced around their centres.