Even with all the emission reduction pressure affecting performance road cars and even race cars, 2022 is a brilliant year for speed, especially if we’re talking aero. Not only do we have street vehicles with all sorts of extreme aerodynamic solutions that used to be reserved for motorsport, but Formula One made the ground effect legal after a ban that was almost four decades long. But what is ground effect and who made it popular in F1? As it turns out, we can now discuss that with the help of an elaborate 3D work showcasing the legendary Lotus 78 F1 car hanging upside down from the ceiling of a Parisian-style room.
Yes, this is a rendering, but the sheer amount of detail (would you look at the Ford Cosworth Double Four Valve V8!) and photorealism, not to mention the aero symbolism behind it, recommends it as food for thought and (why not?) inspiration for us enthusiasts.
The digital artist behind the work calls this carchitecture
Digital artist Alex Bowen (aka abowen3d) took the perfectly 3D-modeled Lotus 78—an effort covered by fellow artist Rex Fu—and placed it smack dab in the middle of the room. However, since a splendid 8-person dining table had already claimed the spot, the pixel master had no choice but to attach the Formula One machine to the immaculate white ceiling.
Would you be comfortable having dinner under the apparent threat of that mechanical monster? We don’t imagine that too many people outside the die-hard enthusiast community would answer with a “yes”, but keep in mind that the Lotus has a strong argument in favor of this, which brings us back to the aero point made in the intro.
F1’s ground effect
Back in 1977 when it was released, the Lotus 78 secretly introduced F1 to the ground effect. The principle here involves directing the airflow on the underside of the car in a fashion that generates an area of low pressure. This effectively sucks the vehicle onto the road, generating downforce with reduced drag effects.
While the 78 only took partial advantage of its innovative construction, its 79 successor (the two overlapped for the 1978 season, hence the count in the title) became the first ground effect car to grab a championship. The original underbody designs were crude by 2022 standards, involving basic airfoil surfaces under the car with flexible side skirts that aimed to touch the road and thus seal off the area. However, they offered a notable advantage and were further developed until their 1983 ban.
FIA (F1’s governing body) ended up outlawing ground effects because suddenly losing the underbody seal (e.g. the car jumping when hitting something) meant instantly losing downforce and spinning. Besides, the aluminum chassis construction of the era mean that, at times, the structure couldn’t withstand all the downforce.
Of course, with the modern, fully computerized techniques of present times, there have been no such issues during the now-concluded 2022 F1 season (Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is the champion).
Speaking of winners, if that didn’t convince you it’s okay to affix a Formula One car to your ceiling, perhaps the perspective of doing so allowing you to one-up a former F1 champion will. As you can see in the second Instagram post below (pixel tip to petrocamp), three-time F1 champ Nelson Piquet keeps his championship-winning 1987 Williams-Honda F1 car in his living room, but not on the ceiling.
Of course, out here in the real world you could always take things “down” a notch and decorate your home with this Honda F1 V10 engine from twenty years ago.