Adelaide-based hypercar constructor, Brabham Automotive, has published a range of fascinating technical details on the aero credentials of its first car, the track-ready BT62.
Offered as a self-described “diversion” from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Brabham’s engineers have described a selection of the BT62’s impressive aerodynamic capabilities.
As is the case with any high-performance automobile, engineers seek to balance aerodynamic efficiency. Striking a beneficial balance between downforce and its ability to enhance grip, without producing too much drag in turn slowing the vehicle down, is crucial.
The BT62 talks a big game, headlined by a claimed 1600kg of downforce, essentially a 1.6-tonne hand-of-god holding the Brabham steady in high-speed racing and enough to allow the BT62 to pull a remarkable 3.5G of lateral cornering load. That’s the same as a modern Formula One car.
Take a look at the Computation Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models provided, above, and you can see a heat-map representation of air pressure across the car. Sections in red show the highest air pressure zone and represent the biggest contribution to total downforce.
No surprise then that the front of the car is mapped out in red, but that a look at the rear wing. Its lift to drag ratio 5:1 means every Newton of drag across its surface results in five Newtons downforce, allowing the impressive cornering potential at speed.
While high pressure air at the front and rear of the car is used to maximise downforce, low pressure air is shaped around the car with the dual aim of keeping the low-pressure flow from inhibiting downforce, whilst also channeling it for use in cooling.
The low pressure airflow maps (below) reveal how air is sent around the front of the car, used in part by the radiator and front vents, but mostly sent to the sides of the car. This airflow is shaped by end plates on the front splitter to direct along the vehicle sides and keep it from impacting air under the flat floor and rear diffuser.
The car’s underside is another contributor to overall aero performance. Low pressure under the car is instrumental in preventing lift, providing high-speed stability.
Check the corner of the front bumper and you can see where this representation shows how the vortex-generating outboard vent shapes airflow to assist in managing front wheel wake.
The resulting 1600kg of downforce (which is up from the 1200kg of claimed downforce when CarAdvice drove a BT62 prototype in 2019) compresses the car under aerodynamic load. Up to 8mm of deflection at the front and 18mm or deflection at the rear occurs at 300km/h, the allowance for which is factored into the BT62’s suspension and spring rates as part of the overall engineering approach.
While claims of cars that generate enough downforce to be hypothetically driven upside down are nothing new (Saleen S7, anyone?), Brabham has even thrown the figures into its simulation data set.
The car, plus full fluids and a driver onboard should be able to pull off the feat at 265km/h – although the company stops short of suggesting how long its V8 engine will last with gravity pulling its vital fluids in the wrong direction.
As a measure of downforce alone Brabham has rated the BT62 alongside its track-focussed competitive set topping the table with the McLaren Senna GTR managing ‘only’ 1000kg of downforce and the Ferrari FXX-K Evo pulling 830kg.
The difference comes into play when you compare outright power figures with the Brabham’s 522kW falling short of the Senna GTR’s 606kW claim and well behind the FXX-K Evo’s 772kW. Add in dry weights and the 972kg BT62 undercuts the 1075kg Ferrari and 1188kg McLaren as well.
In theory higher downforce allows the Brabham to carry higher cornering speeds, saving time on the track. Higher speeds also mean outright power becomes less of a factor though on power-to-weight the 718kW/tonne FXX-K Evo monsters the other two, but with 537kW/tonne the Brabham sits ahead of the 510kW/tonne McLaren.
As more details of the Brabham BT62’s ability comes to light, it’s going to make for an interesting race.
Brabham BT62 key stats
- Engine: 5.4-litre V8
- Transmission: Six-speed sequential, RWD
- Power: 522kW at 7400rpm
- Torque: 667Nm at 6200rpm
- 0-100km/h: 2.8 seconds (estimated)
- Top speed: 330km/h (dependent on gearing)
- Weight: 972kg (dry)
- Price: £1,000,000 UK, before tax – around AU$1.96m at current exchange rates
While the BT62 has been designed primarily as a track weapon Brabham Automotive can, at a customers behest, provide a road-going version. The circa-$295,000 option pack adds a front and rear axle lift kit, air conditioning, door locks, and extra upholstery for the interior among other features.
The company also has its eye on endurance racing, with a view to tackling Le Mans in 2021 as part of its growth strategy as it strives for attention in the world of high-performance, high-dollar automobiles.
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