This Car Sucks: Ariel Aero-P Atom Uses Powered Ground Effects

By Winding Road Staff

September 14, 2016

Ariel has shown the new Aero-P Atom Aerodynamic Efficiency And Optimization Project car has been shown with interesting aerodynamic ground effects powered by fans. The idea is to generate downforce without drag by using fans to extract air from underneath the car, whose bottom is "sealed" by rubber skirts. This approach is reminiscent of the system used by Jim Hall on the famous 1970 Chaparral 2J "sucker car". 

Photo credit: Autoweek

The 2J was controversially banned after its first season when other teams realized its series-dominating capability (based on qualifying times, not race results) and complained ardently. You can read more here

 A similar system was used subsequently by Gordon Murray on the 1978 Brabham BT46 F1 car.  

Photo credit: Wikipedia 

The brief story of the Brabham is outlined here. There are obvious parallels to the experience Chaparral had with the 2J in that Brabham was only raced once, won, and the ensuing uproar led to de facto banishment. Interestingly, Bernie Ecclestone ran Brabham at the time but was also head of FOCA and the threat was to prevent him from re-election. Bernie, always a long-term thinker, chose F1 management over domination of a few races. The rest is history?  


The Ariel Atom-P uses a battery to power the fans. These can be operated automatically (e.g. under braking) or activated manually upon driver demand. More details are here.