The Audi R18 Just Lost Some Downforce To Be Blindingly Fast At Le Mans

After winning the FIA World Endurance Championship season opener at Silverstone, Audi changed the R18’s bodywork significantly before hitting Spa to prepare for dominating at Le Mans once again.


As Jan Monchaux, Head of Aerodynamics at Audi Sport explains, the car had to be changed to better suit the average speed figures at Le Mans, which are exceeding 150 mph. In contrast, the R18 E-Tron Quattro only had to deal with an average of 110 mph in Shanghai.

The 25 percent difference is big enough to demand a new bodywork, so Audi set out to lower drag by omitting downforce in order to reach higher speeds at Circuit de la Sarthe:

Because downforce at Le Mans is not as important as it is at other tracks, we developed other solutions and new body shapes. In this way, we reduce the drag. All the turning vanes, wings and similar elements are no longer mounted so steeply in the airflow; the curvature of the wing profile is less.

The cooling system’s requirements are different. We were able to reevaluate and adapt the flow across the cooler, because at Le Mans less air mass flow is necessary due to the higher speeds.

A new suspension also restricts the spring displacement on the car to a smaller range, reducing the turbulent airflow under the car in the process.


Don’t forget kids, this thing corners above 200mph and sounds like a freaking spacecraft.


That’s mostly because it is.


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