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In days of yore, aerodynamicists were burned at the stake for practicing their black magic. Now, though, the black magic of aerodynamics is seen increasingly as a good thing that allows pokey little companies like Lamborghini to set lap records at big tracks like the Nurburgring.
Of course, attempts to understand black magic are fundamentally flawed, because there can no understanding it, but the nature of humanity to seek to know the unknowable, dream the impossible dream, etc. And so, the wizard Jason Fenske has created a video for his popular YouTube channel Engineering Explained to explain Aerodynamica Lamborghini Attiva.
The above introduction was written with a tongue in a cheek, but let it never be forgotten that Lamborghini’s achievement at the the ‘Ring caused the internet to accuse Lamborghini of quoting a lap time that physics did not allow.
What, in fact, allowed the Huracan Performante to beat the best in the world, as Fenske explains it, was the cunning use of vortices, to create lift when downforce was not needed.
A regular fixed wing, you see, is always causing drag and downforce, even when that’s not ideal. The benefits outway the costs, but actively controlling the parts of the body that are directing the air means that Lamborghini can tip the scales even further in the benefits’ favor.
Active aero is nothing new, mind you. Other companies have used it (McLaren, notably), but Lamborghini’s real advantage is how it’s implemented the system. Whereas other manufacturers use heavy hydraulic pumps to move whole wings up and down, the Huracan simply uses electrically activated flaps in the body to change how the air flows around the wing, making the system lighter and faster.
Lamborghini also argues that because it has placed its active flaps over the four corners, it allows for even greater control of the air. Not only is the Huracan Performante slipperier coming out of the bends, it has better traction going through them, too.
Although he agrees that the theory is sound, Fenske argues that the advantages of these are probably inconsequential in this case.
Whatever the case, the result is an amazingly quick car. Check out the lap that challenged Jim Glickenhaus’s understanding of physics below.