We delve into how and why a setup like this works.
Wings and spoilers are a major part of modern-day automotive design, particularly when it comes to high-performance cars. Even on regular cars, a simple spoiler can adjust the way air flows over a car's body, making it slipperier and more efficient. For a sports car or supercar, making it slip through the air better makes it faster, but these wings and spoilers also enhance downforce, making them more stable at speed and more capable of taking corners at higher speeds due to enhanced grip levels. So why is it such big news that the 2023 Porsche 911 GT3 RS is going to be getting an active rear wing? And why do we care so much that it's going to be a Formula 1-styled wing with a DRS system? Allow us to explain:
Earlier this week, CarBuzz uncovered a patent filing by Porsche for a new active rear wing. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this design looks identical to what we've seen on prototypes of the new GT3 RS lapping the Nurburgring. But how does this wing differ from the one on the standard GT3 or the 718 Cayman GT4 RS? Both are top-hung 'swan-neck' wings, so at first glance, you might not notice the difference, but the difference is important.
In the patent, we can see how Porsche has hidden an actuator in the base of the wing, or rather beneath the bodywork of the rear of the 911. A single linear actuator pushes out which in turn prompts the movement of several rods and rotators, ultimately resulting in a plane of the rear wing twisting to change the angle at which it faces oncoming air.
The principle is not at all that different from what we've seen on many supercars including the McLaren Senna, P1, Ford GT, and various Koenigseggs to name just a few. So how does Porsche's design differ?
Well, many of these active wings are bottom-mounted, with up to four actuators underneath the wing that can adjust its fore and aft pitch, allowing the car to become slippery at high speeds, grippy in the corners, and use the wing as an air brake under hard deceleration. The Porsche design is top-hung, much like we've seen on the Koenigsegg One:1, Jesko, and the McLaren Senna, but unlike these, only one portion of the wing moves, while those examples change the entire wing angle under different circumstances.
To break down why Porsche's design is significant, we need to look at two key areas:
For the longest time, many people thought aerodynamics worked only one way: air pushing over the top of a car generated downforce. But engineers later realized that the airflow underneath a car is just as important. Keeping the underside of a wing or diffuser clean and free of mechanical actuators cleans up the airflow here and allows it to suck the car down to the road surface, as opposed to air above the wing pushing it down.
Typically, the main principle behind this is the venturi effect. The idea is that when flowing fluids, or in this case, air, are forced into a bottle-neck situation, they pressurize to maintain velocity. As the bottleneck releases, the velocity increases, and as the air is rapidly sucked away from the back of a car, a vacuum is created which sucks the car towards the road surface. This principle has been used in race cars for years, particularly in Formula 1, and it's the reasoning behind prominent rear diffusers on cars that taper upwards towards the rear of the car. In keeping the underside clean, engineers can allow more air through with less interference as it flows over the surfaces of the wing.
Top-hung wings can also be active, so why has Porsche elected to mimic F1 race cars with a split wing and a DRS-style opening? Well, by enabling a wing to flatten and reduce the frontal surface area, you make a car more slippery. On F1 cars, opening the wing reduces drag and lets the cars increase their top speed by around 15 mph. Technically, a regular adaptive wing can do the same thing, though. But - and this is why Porsche is being very clever - when a single wing changes its entire attack angle, you remove the venturi effect acting on the lower horizontal plane. With the DRS-style split wing, the GT3 RS will be able to retain the downforce generated by the underside of the wing, while adjusting the drag and downforce generated over the top of the wing by opening or adjusting the angle of the upper plane.
Porsche has been clever with the new GT3 RS. The GT3 has never been about outright power - that's GT2 RS territory - but has instead been about making a road car the most capable track tool it can be. The regular GT3 already has suspension and a wing taken directly from Porsche's GT3 Cup car, and in RS guise, where it will ditch the manual gearbox for a quicker-shifting PDK, it will become even more potent than ever before. Porsche can increase the aerodynamic efficiency and grip of the RS, but allow it to hit higher speeds on open tracks like Monza and Le Mans. This can happen without compromising downforce on tight twisty tracks, or tighter sections of a high-speed track, making the new wing design more versatile than ever before.
Instead of manually setting the wing angle and having to suffer from the potential negative ramifications if a track isn't biased heavily towards either speed or handling, you can now set an overall angle, but have the benefit of adjustment on the fly. In theory, the DRS wing can even be programmed to a push-to-pass style button, so you can choose when you want the rear wing to open up.
Engineers among the readership will know that there's a lot more to it than the few key points we've highlighted here, but the above explains the basic principles of why Porsche has chosen to go this route and how it will be beneficial in making the new 911 GT3 RS even better than ever before.