If you want downforce on a car, slapping on big bits of pokey-out aero bits is generally the way to do it. The only problem is, you have to get up to some fairly high speeds for such devices to work, and the rest of the time, they’re just producing drag. One solution is active aero that only deploys at speeds where it’s effective, but Ariel has done something much more interesting: it’s using fans tosuck this ‘Aero-P’ Atom prototype to the tarmac.
F1 fans will know this isn’t a new idea - Gordon Murray’s short-lived Brabham BT46B ‘fan car’ used the concept to great effect way back in 1978, using a massive fan which was ‘officially’ for cooling.
This Ariel on the other hand uses a pair of very small fans, which suck the car - now nicknamed the ‘Vacuum Cleaner’ - to the ground thanks to a rubber skirt mounted under the tub. Yep, we’re talking proper ground effect stuff here.
Ariel has remained pretty tight-lipped on the details, but it does say that by using the fans, the Aero-P can produce downforce from a standstill. Not only that, but drag is substantially reduced. Power consumption should be minimal too, as the fans only turn on when required - for instance in hard cornering or under heavy acceleration.
It’s early days for the project, but it’s certainly something worth keeping an eye on. Speaking about the Aero-P, Ariel director Simon Saunders said: