Mike Elliot, who is a technology director for Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team clarified few questions to simplify some of the main things that we hear & spoken about a lot in Formula One. Though Mike is a technology director now, he was historically an aerodynamicist.
What Is DownForce:
In simplest terms, the fact that the car is moving through the air means that it's subjected to aerodynamic forces and like an aircraft generates lift to fly and a Formula One car what we're trying to do is to push it into the ground to generate downforce. So effectively the wings on an aircraft we have but we have them upside down, which are used to push the car down into the ground.
There is some common misconception on the downforce. You look at the pressure distribution over a wing, which we call dynamic pressure so that's the pressure if you stop the air and got a certain amount of airflow traveling through. In terms of the way pushing the car to the ground what they're trying to do is create the balanced amount of force brick in the front tires and won't rip in the rear tires making the downforce reasonably distributed across the front and rear axle.
Why Is It So Important To Generate DownForce?
Until the late 60's people didn't understand that something can be achieved through DownForce. In terms of the way, a tire generates grip is through more they're pushed to the ground to generate lateral loads. If the same has been achieved through weights by pushing the tires to the ground, it needs more energy and efforts from the engine to achieve the same speeds, which is not efficient but with the DownForce, you're not adding any weights but using the aerodynamic wings instead to push the car towards the ground for better grip at slow & high-speed corners without taking additional effort from the engine.
Can An F1 Car Go Upwords?
Theoretically speaking YES, as the latest Formula One cars have huge DownForce and when the car is in upward, it should be able to stick it to the surface. But here we need to account for no just the normal DownForce, we also need to add the DownForce that is capable of lifting the entire car's weight and generate grip to the tires to rotate. More or less the engine and gearbox should be able to get better lubricated when the car is upside down too. No one in F1 history has ever done it but that being said we might hope to see it done in the future as the advancements in aerodynamics and technology progress.