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Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19
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Special feature

The numbers that reveal F1's aerodynamic efficiency improvements

Pat Symonds examines the historic difficulties in measuring aerodynamic efficiency and the astonishing levels that Formula 1 cars now achieve

Feedback is always welcome but when one of our loyal readers, Ben Halford, asked me to write about the historical development of aerodynamic efficiency, I hadn’t appreciated what a rabbit hole
I was about to disappear into.

Firstly we need to establish what we mean by aerodynamic efficiency and how we express it. In this context efficiency would be expressed as the total downforce divided by the total drag. Here comes the first problem. While it’s been possible (albeit difficult) to pull together some numbers for downforce, it’s been much harder to get drag figures – so for the most part we’ll focus on downforce here. 

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