Season 3 Gives You (Broken) Wings

There has been quite a bit of interest surrounding the new ‘futuristic’ front wings for Formula E in Season Three.

While they do bare a remarkable similarity to the design concept behind the autonomous RoboRace series (that will be running in support to Formula E), there have been questions raised over the practicality of the ‘double decker’ concept.

Japan’s Super Formula promoter, Sid Ogura likened the new wings to the aero package used in the series’ former incarnation – Formula Nippon – and believes the close contact of the formula posed significant problems when impacts were made.

“We have employed such kind of double decker front wing design in Formula Nippon / Super Formula 2009-2013” explained Ogura.

“It looked futuristic and iconic but it was very costly.”

“Because, the upper element damaged the side of the nose cone - the frontal impact structure, when the wings received a lateral impact. In those cases, it required to change not only wings but also expensive nose cone.”

Super Formula has since abandoned the double decker front wing design from 2014 onwards, favouring a simple mono plane with a pair of flaps.

After reviewing its inaugural season, Super Formula introduced a new chassis from 2014 (the SF14). The design brief for the SF14 was that it had to be very quick and light. The predecessor, the SF14 (or Formula Nippon SN09) was very heavy with high levels of down-force, but as such had a large turbulent effect on cars travelling in its wake.

The car offered sufficient aerodynamic down-force from low-speed to high-speed corners, but in an effort to boost racing, series’ chassis provider Dallara and Japanese Manufacturing Promoters (JRP) decided a new car with a smaller range of trailing turbulence was required.

The trick was designing the end-plates of the rear wing to direct dirty air from both sides of the diffuser, thereby creating a smaller turbulent area behind the car.

While Formula E’s cornering speeds don’t yet warrant the same levels of aero as Super Formula, the template is certainly something to consider for the future. In the meantime however, the high-contact nature of the premiere electric open-wheeler series could take a few tips from its Japanese cousin if it’s to reign in team expenses.