Autostyle XIX + Design Edition –  Dallara; Creating style in motor-racing car design


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Dialma Zinelli, Director of the Dallara Automobili Aerodynamic Department, made a bold statement at the 19th Autostyle+ Design Edition at the Villa Schiarino Lena in Mantovano, Italy. He began his address to the invited audience in reference to motorsport car design: “Style and Motorsport: The Time has Come’ and made reference to a famous quote by the legendary Enzo Ferrari – ‘A car is beautiful if it wins!”

With a broad portfolio of motor-racing car designs in the Varano de’ Melegari (Italy) company’s 50-year history and its current line-up stretches from IndyCar, to Formula 2 & 3 to ELMS and NASCAR, all bearing the Dallara badge, Dialma enthusiast passionately about the subject. In talking about the shapes of race cars in general, he said: “When every car detail is driven by a technical regulation, and the pure performance remain the only target, the meeting point is translated into a uniformity of geometries. The car identities cease to exist. Actually, the body shapes of a race car may be determined by four items: performance, style, race-ability and stability.”

He noted that the first tentative to introduce small non-technical features appeared in 2007 and said: “Over the car generations, some style has been introduced even in Formula 1, which is historically devoted to pure performance.” And cited the Ferrari F2007, that won both the constructors and drivers World Championship titles, as a perfect example. He then crossed the Atlantic to IndyCar, the top single-seater race series in the United States and said: “It’s not only the aerodynamic performance that counts, together with performance, race-ability and overtaking has always been an extremely important item in Indycar.” On screen was a Honda powered Dallara IndyCar from pre-2011 and for the 2012-2014 era, and he added: “For this car generation the body shape has been mainly driven by the stability research at 90°, more than by the pure performance.”

On the current ‘Indy’ car designs, he commented: “Given the commercial environment, IndyCar is probably now the example of the most integrated body design in the motorsport, including all the different elements.”

Dialma then moved to a relatively new series, the electric powered Formula E (from 2014), referencing; “Through its different car design generations, it has more and more reinforced the message of ‘diversity’ of an electrical car, making an effort in matching performance with style.”

Another zoom back to the US to discuss the Le Mans Daytona Hypercar series under the topic: ‘The 2023 LMDh: When Style joins the Competition’.

“Starting from the 2023 season, the major class of the Daytona Prototype championship, due to a huge regulation change, will be called LMDh and the competitors will be able to compete both in Le Mans and Daytona/Sebring races. Aiming to make the series more attractive, for the first time in Motorsport history, the rules foresee a wide freedom for the style interventions on the car body, in order to express the brand identity: in this respect, to be homologated, the cars must fullfill a style commission judgement. Furthermore, the car bodies must also respect strict homologation parameters for aero stability. As a result, the LMDh will be the first competitive championship in which aero performance, stability and brand identity are explicitly requested for car homologation. The series competition is based on a Balance of Performance philosophy and the performance window is small but reachable: this to leave enough space to any style and stability integration.

Regarding the front splitter, the plan view shape is free: the rulebook states only the area.”

“For instance, same degrees of freedom are given to the mandatory top holes over the front and rear wheel arches. Only the minimum rear-end area between upper bodywork and rear diffuser trailing edges is indicated.

Such a series philosophy resulted in a radical change in the development process. Any development step on the top body is shared between style and function and the car homologation is based on a Style Commission approval as well as on the Technical requests. Brand identity is the key for the Style Commission approval.”

He concluded: “The European counterpart of the IMSA LMDh class is the WEC LMH. In this championship there isn’t an official Style Commission, but the presence of the same LMDh BOP aerodynamic window, together with more freedom on the underfloor, let the constructors important margin for style features implementation.”