# Can you really believe that a formula car can drive upside down?

I heard an announcer on TV say that Formula 1 cars go so fast they can defy gravity and drive upside down. Is that right?

I heard an announcer on TV say that Formula 1 cars go so fast they can defy gravity and drive upside down. Is that right?

At high speeds, a Formula I racing car creates a downforce equal to 3.5 times the force of gravity.

It is the streamline shape that creates this pressure or “downforce” as the phenomenon is called in English. The front flap and rear vane work much like airplane wings.

Airplane wings create lift, but this design pushes the car down and practically glues it to the track to improve grip.

#### 180 km/h is enough

The vane splits the air into two currents and it is shaped so that the air moves faster below the vane than above. This causes more pressure on top of the wind vane and the car is pushed down on the track. The faster you drive, the higher the pressure.

Students at the University of Leicester in England calculated how much speed is needed to keep a formula car upside down. The result was that a speed of 180 km was sufficient to overcome gravity and drive, for example, on walls or ceilings in tunnels.

#### The speed sucks the car up to the roof

In theory, a formula car could be driven along the air in tunnels – just at enough speed.

##### 1. Acceleration of a formula car

Formula car driven into a long tunnel and the speed increased. While the car is on the road, gravity (blue) and air compression (yellow) push it down.

##### 2. Gravity defeated

The shape of the car and the wind scoops – at the back and front – push the car against the roadway. When a speed of 180 km is reached, this pressure is stronger than gravity and the car reaches the side wall.

##### 3. The car was driven upside down

When the car is driven into the air in the tunnel, gravity and the air pressure pull in opposite directions. If you go to maximum speed, the air pressure is up to 3.5 times more powerful.

The cars in Formula I reach a speed of more than 360 km, but an attempt to drive such a car upside down will hardly ever be made. This would require a very long tunnel, a machine that ran upside down without interruption – and then an extremely brave driver.