Happened to be reading Arthur Mallock’s article about his FJ car of 1960, and was intrigued by this statement:
Drag: Anything approaching “lamina flow” is impossible, on an open-wheeled car, so the object should be to keep down the overall frontal area and minimise air disturbing projections. In 1960 Coopers proved that cutting down the body width doesn’t help a lot, their “full width” Formula 1 car having a lower drag than the much narrower Lotus.
I am not certain whether he is referring to the results of wind tunnel tests, or to speeds measured at fast circuits (Spa? Reims? Monza?), and am wondering if anyone knows the basis of the last statement? The latter seems more likely to me, for 1960.
(Although the Cooper of that year was the famous “Low Line” model, noticeably lower and narrower than its immediate predecessor, it was most certainly wider than the Lotus 18).
Interestingly, Colin Chapman would continue to pursue low drag by narrower, lower bodies and by moving suspension units inboard, despite the results obtained by the 1956 Lancia Ferrari and the 1958 Vanwall, both unusually “full width” cars. And again, in the mid-seventies, the similarly “full width” Ferrari 312T series would triumph over the notably slim Lotus 72/76/77 as well as others of the same ilk.
There is nothing quite so baffling as aerodynamics, is there? Even when you have accounted for other factors such as weight, power, handling, tyres etc which also play a major role.