Downforce is important when it comes to going around corners fast. Extreme aero is the most common way to achieve significant downforce, but quite some time ago, there were two cars – the Chaparral 2J and Brabham BT46B Fan Car – that made use of another innovative strategy: fans.
Ariel has decided to take a leaf from this book and make use of it on the Atom, with the result being called the Aero-P. It’s quite curious why this sort of technology hasn’t been explored more deeply.
Stability, safety and lower CO2 emissions are the three main goals for the project.
Developers of the Atom say since they had reached the final frontier of mechanical grip, they needed to resort to this so-called taboo innovation. Both the 2J and BT46B were banned in their respective classes because of the apparent unfair advantages that suction downforce provided.
Ariel says that using a fan for downforce is effective because it won’t load the Atom with unnecessary aerofoils, which would make it slower in a straight line and heavier on fuel.
The Aero-P employs two lightweight high-speed fans powered by a battery pack. These fans can be controlled manually for brief amounts of time when downforce is required.
With the Aero-P being just a test mule, Ariel is still very much in the early development process, but claims that the tech already makes around three times the amount of downforce one could achieve with a traditional aerofoil.
We’ll be sure to watch this development closely as it unfolds.