The custom carbon fibre parts developed and supplied by CarbonWurks are all about making your car look better – but increasingly bodywork is about performance too.
CarbonWurks director Daniel McKenzie, a championship-winning racing driver, says the Formula One season opener in Melbourne showed how aerodynamic design for race track and road are converging.
New F1 regulations have seen the teams try different approaches to finding the performance sweet spot, with Ferrari’s race-winning car being a particularly good example.
He said: “What Ferrari are doing echoes what’s on their road car and shows how it’s getting to the point where what’s happening on the road cars is intertwining.
“This approach is needed more and more as road car design maxes out – the aero is needed to keep them safe to drive, and you’re seeing not just the styles of GT racers and LMP but even Formula One.
“With road cars so mechanically advanced, the active aerodynamics of F1 cars are the next frontier. That’s the only way you can make these road cars faster now – they need aerodynamics to stay on the road.
“What we do at CarbonWurks is make parts that are cosmetic, but inspired by race performance. They are aesthetically pleasing but some parts we’re developing do have aerodynamic properties to help the car they’re going on. We’re trying to build parts that don’t just look good but also give you more grip and downforce.
“For example, few road cars have downforce and some actually have lift. They would be helped by front spoilers with aero features to produce more downforce at the front. Similarly, a rear diffuser helps with air flow and holds the rear steadier through high speed corners – it’s a similar principle to F1 and GT cars where you can affect the handling of a car through diffusers.”
Sometimes these parts are custom-designed by CarbonWurks, while others are adaptations of existing products: “We take parts that are made for a large market and mass production, and we improve the design – tweak it to improve the concept and make them lighter, stronger, more aerodynamic. We improve what’s already there, and if there isn’t something already there then we make it.”
An example is CarbonWurks’ new front spoiler and canard for the Mercedes A45: “It’s more aggressive, with aerodynamic advantages. It gives downforce and helps put more of the wind around the car. This makes the front feel more positive and reduces lift, which the car would otherwise still produce.”