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The water tank method of testing wing airflows

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When one thinks of aerodynamic testing, CFD, wind tunnel and track testing are the forms that most readily spring to mind. None of these are foolproof, however, and Formula One teams sometimes need to go to unusual lengths in order to validate data gathered using these methods. In one case, the Honda F1 team opted to use a water tank – more normally home to boat hulls – to test some characteristics of rear wing flows. The reason for this unusual choice was that data obtained...

On-track analysis of rival cars

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On-track running is obviously of vital importance to Formula One teams, allowing them to gather real-world data on which to base and validate their performance simulations. However, beyond their own cars, teams are also interested in what the competition is up to and, as such, are always on the look-out for any ideas they may have missed during their own development processes. A lot can be gleaned simply by looking at the cars as they sit in the pit lane, for example McLaren’s...

Crash tests

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Although it is not often remembered these days, 1985 marked a seminal moment in the advancement of driver safety in Formula One. It was the year that saw the introduction of a mandatory frontal crash test for cars, and followed on the heels of a number of other safety advances in the preceding years, not least the introduction of a compulsory reinforced survival cell around the driver in 1981. Since that first round of testing, the crash tests a chassis must pass before it is accepted for...

Cooling calibration

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The 2014 Formula One regulations present engineers with a host of challenges, not only in terms of designing all-new power units and energy recovery systems but in ensuring they are integrated as efficiently as possible into the car packages. One area of particular concern is the cooling systems, which must accommodate the heat rejection needs of both a turbo-supercharged internal combustion engine and two energy recovery systems. By and large, modern racecars still rely on water-to-air...

Tyre wind tunnel simulation

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Formula One cars are probably the most definitive example of detail engineering taken to the nth degree anywhere in the world. This is not through choice for the engineers involved in designing the cars but a necessity in order to remain competitive under a stable regulation regime. Without the scope to introduce big changes to components, they instead have to optimise the areas they can develop in pursuit of tiny percentage gains. A close look at the floor of cars such as the 2013 Red...