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While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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Skirting the Rules: How Formula 1 Engineers Grappled with Ground Effects in the Early Eighties

Posted October 11, 2021 7:38 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: Formula 1

Formula 1 generally appeals to two types of fans: those who love the pomp, the liveries, the personalities, and the drama and those who focus on the engineering and how far the teams push the limits of what's possible under the rules. The producers of "The Grid" had the latter group in mind with their documentary focusing on the Williams team's efforts up to and during the 1981 Spanish Grand Prix.

While many accounts of the race portray it as a Gilles Villeneuve tactical masterpiece, "The Grid" shows in candid detail how ground effects dominated practice, qualifying, and race day despite rules banning their use. We see Gordon Murray explaining why he found it perfectly acceptable to create active suspension that followed the letter - if not the spirit - of the rules. We see diagrams and simple animations showing how such devices work. We see Frank Williams pointing out the ludicrousness of the situation. And we see what happens when plans go awry and such devices don't work as intended. It's an in-the-weeds topic that could otherwise make for a dry documentary but is instead presented simply and engagingly.

To continue the explanation of ground effects, we found two more videos, the first featuring Clive Chapman telling the story of how Team Lotus discovered ground effects, and the second leaning on Sam Posey's engineering experience and some props to make it high-school science class-level understandable.

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Re: Skirting the Rules: How Formula 1 Engineers Grappled with Ground Effects in the Early Eighties

10/12/2021 6:14 AM

Okay, so what are the two types of Formula 1 fans? That opening sentence is a little difficult to parse.

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Re: Skirting the Rules: How Formula 1 Engineers Grappled with Ground Effects in the Early Eighties

10/12/2021 3:54 PM

It sure seems like cheating by modifying the suspension when the ground clearance isn't being tested. Volkswagen sort of used the same idea for passing emissions testing.

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