In motor racing, such as Formula 1, there are limited volumes in which to position airfoils, especially at the rear. It would be difficult to fit a single optimal airfoil within the rear F1 rule mandated box. Instead, fitting multi-element airfoils is a better compromise in generating the required downforce.
Downforce in F1 is always more important than drag, so the extra drag associated with multi-element airfoils is something for the engine developers to counter with more horsepower.
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