The Formula 1 Racing Car has a single purpose: to win the Grand Prix, a series of sixteen races held each season in different parts of the world. This high-performance car designed exclusively for professional racing made its debut in 1990 at San Marino, driven by Alain Prost, one of the most talented racers for Ferrari.
State-of-the-art technology and engineering coupled with the designer's intuitive abilities inform the car's shape. There is nothing superfluous in this sophisticated machine. The greatest challenge is to move the driver at the fastest possible speed without compromising safety. Aerodynamics, as well as sophisticated wind tunnel studies and computer calculations, influence the car's shape. Air flow is a critical factornot only to minimize drag and resistance but also to cool the engine and brakes and help maintain stability. The wings in front and in back produce the necessary downforce to keep the car from becoming airborne. The black panel hovering over the road surface creates a narrow space through which air is forced. This feature simultaneously increases the car's speed and creates a vacuum that effectively sucks the car to the ground. The monocoque (driver's cockpit) is fabricated with innovative materials (carbon fiber and Kevlar, originally developed for the aircraft industry) that are stronger, stiffer, and lighter than aluminum, which was common in earlier cars.
The engineer, John Barnard, was responsible for the overall design of the car, with the exception of the engine itself. Barnard explained: "I always try to get to the point where everything has been thought about before we commit to the final shape. I always feel the shape should be very homogenous. Unless there's a really strong reason to have a break in a line, with an eyebrow or a blister or something like that, then the lines should all be flowing. I think there's an inherent aerodynamic quality to that."