Welcome to Francis Academic Press

The Frontiers of Society, Science and Technology, 2020, 2(12); doi: 10.25236/FSST.2020.021217.

Design of F1 Race Car Rear Wing Airfoil: Optimizing the Lift to Drag Ratio through Numerical Simulation


Zihao Zhou

Corresponding Author:
Zihao Zhou

Beijing National Day School, Beijing 100039, China

[email protected]


The rear wing of a Formula One race car generates both aerodynamic downforce and drag. While downforce improves cornering speed, drag impedes straight-line speed. Race car engineers have long struggled to balance downforce and drag, often sacrificing one in pursuit of the other. In this work, we address this problem by designing a constant-chord-length inverted rear wing airfoil that has an optimal lift to drag ratio. Using an elliptical airfoil as a base for modification, we examined how variations in maximum suction-side and pressure-side thickness, location of suction-side and pressure-side vertices, and leading edge-radii affected the airfoil’s lift-drag ratio. We computed the lift-drag ratio and the flow field of over 40 test airfoils through finite-element numerical simulation using ANSYS FLUENT. By comparing these simulation results, we identified distinct design trends and produced an airfoil with a high lift-drag ratio of 62 at the average speed of formula one cars. This high-performance airfoil has the potential to be effectively applied to race cars, and even to regular cars to enhance grip and improve driving safety without sacrificing fuel economy.


F1 rear wing, Airfoil, Lift-drag ratio, Optimization, CFD

Cite This Paper

Zihao Zhou. Design of F1 Race Car Rear Wing Airfoil: Optimizing the Lift to Drag Ratio through Numerical Simulation. The Frontiers of Society, Science and Technology (2020) Vol. 2 Issue 12: 116-122. https://doi.org/10.25236/FSST.2020.021217.


[1] Dj.Kamari, M.Tadjfar, A.Madadi (2018). Optimization of SD7003 airfoil performance using TBL and CBL at low Reynolds numbers, Aerospace Science and Technology, no.79, pp.199-211.

[2] DENG Lei, QIAO Zhi-de, YANG Xu-dong (2011). Multi-point/objective optimization design of high lift-drag ratio for NLF airfoils, ATCA AERODYNAMICA SIICA, vol.29, no.3, pp.330-335.

[3] Talluri Srinivasa Rao, Trilochan Mahapatraa Sai, et al (2018). Enhancement of Lift-Drag characteristics of NACA 0012, Materials Today Proceedings, vol.5, no.2, pp.5328-5337.

[4] Liu Zhou, Zhu Ziqiang, Fu Hongyan (2004). Design of Airfoil with High Ratio of Lift over Drag, ATCA AERODYNAMICA SINICA, vol.22, no.4, pp. 410-415.

[5] Joseph Katz (2006). New Directions in Race Car Aerodynamics, 2nd Edition, Bentley Publishers.

[6] Yu Kai-nan, Xie Shi-bin (2018). Rear Wing Design and Optimization for Formula SAE car based on CFD, Journal of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering, vol.35, no.1, pp.16-21.