newey knows that the vast majority of the calendar favors high cornering speeds, as opposed to top straight line speed. there’s only monza and spa to sacrifice, and monaco is all about qualifying. everything else is playing to their strength.
bernoulli’s principle states that a fluid has less lateral pressure as its linear speed increases. the underside of the car (indeed, the whole car) is designed to accelerate the under-car airflow as much as possible from front to back, thereby reducing its pressure left, right, up and down. the air going over the top of an airplane wing has to move faster than the air under it, so it has less pressure, and the wing is sucked up from the top and pushed up from the bottom. race cars do this upside-down.
skirts, like a wing’s up-turned tips, improve the efficiency by making a boundary that seals the low-pressure zone. skirts are banned, but the effect is reproduced by miniature tornadoes that run along the edges of the car. icing on the cake, not the cake itself.
the ground effect takes it a step further. as you reduce the amount of space a volume of air has to move through, it has to speed up to get the same amount of air through that space (in the same amount of time). by lowering the ride height, not only is the center of gravity improved, but air is forced to speed up to get through the smaller gap and you get crazy amounts of downforce. that’s why the word “diffuser” is used non-stop in all things f1.
draggy things on the top of the car, like scoops, mirrors and heads, increase the difference (or delta ;) ) between the top and bottom velocities, adding even more downforce. there will always be more than enough drag to generate this difference, so streamlining will never go away.
modern f1 cars with their “flat” bottoms produce way more downforce than the 80′s cars. skirts would help, but you would lose downforce (and screw up the rest of the car) if you tried fitting a fan like brabham did.
if you think that’s messed up, wait until you hear how f1 engines work ;)