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CFD versus tunnel versus track – part 2

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As we saw in part 1 of this discussion, Formula One aerodynamics is driven by several toolsets – track testing, full scale tunnel, model scale tunnel testing and CFD. In part 1 we looked at the list on the left of the mind map below, so in this part I want to move on from there and work down the list on the right. Rate of change of car state: This is best illustrated by the braking event at the end of a straight. Here the car changes from a low ride height (high downforce pushing the...

CFD versus tunnel versus track – part 1

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Formula One aerodynamics is driven by several toolsets – track testing, full-scale tunnel, model-scale tunnel testing and CFD. The debate as to which method is most accurate or productive seems to be never ending; debate is healthy but sometimes it helps to step back and look at first principles. Of the four toolsets, only one – track testing – is truly correct, the rest being approximations of real-car aerodynamics at the track. But track testing is restricted, expensive...

CFD: why Formula One is creating its own (and less useful) branch of the science

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Formula One is often held up as an innovator, a creator of new technology and inventions. It is debatable to what extent this is true, but for CFD technology there have been direct benefits driven by Formula One over the past 10-15 years. This ‘sharpening’ of CFD tools – as in better accuracy, ease of use, speed and so on – has helped almost all other CFD users, from the more mainstream automotive engineers to Olympic cyclists, to do more. But there is a real danger...