The topic of proposed wind tunnel ban from 2030 is back on as F1 teams still have a mixed view, but majority support the idea.

The idea of banning wind tunnel in F1 has been around for some time, with the year 2030 fixed upon, to give time to teams to overcome the hurdles to replace them. The tried upon method of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is back in discussions.

CFD is not new in F1, as few teams have tried the method in past, but without much success, considering the rawness of the method. But as time goes by along with research put into it, it is slowly catching up and providing results too.

Considering the higher costs of running wind tunnel and their not so environment-friendly usage, F1 teams are somewhat in agreement to remove it in a long-term view. The deliberations are on behind the scenes, as a final decision is yet to be taken.

Here’s the handful of F1 team bosses sharing their views on the matter: 

Laurent Rossi (Alpine): “Eventually, if it helps curbing the cost obviously it’s a good measure. Now, it remains to be seen what the CFD to track reliability is, and I think we’re not there yet, to the point that we can just get rid of the wind tunnel altogether. So, I guess at some point we might phase it out with progress of simulation but in the meantime it will probably rely on the measures that are in place now – the ATR and such – which are limiting the number of hours, which is already a step in the good direction.

Mattia Binotto (Ferrari): “Banning the wind tunnel has been discussed for F12030, not earlier. That was the proposal. So, it’s a long time from now to there. I think that all the teams are open to the discussion, and open to accept it eventually because it’s a long time from now. Are we today ready to ban the wind tunnel. Not at all. I think in general it has always been about design simulations and testing and testing is still very important, whatever it is: aerodynamics, power units etc.

“I think that in terms of cost reductions, we are already reducing at the moment the hours in the wind tunnel, which is a step in the right direction. Banning it completely, if you would do it today, the testing would be on track and that would be even more expensive, rather than doing it in the wind tunnel – so I don’t think the times are mature today for a decision. I think it’s right to discuss it but I think the testing is part of our normal engineering process, so for today, it’s important to have.”

Christian Horner (Red Bull): “Well, it’s a topic I brought up a few months ago to say take a longer term view because a wind tunnel isn’t particularly efficient, it’s not very environmentally friendly and with the world evolving in simulations, the tools, the way that CFD is evolving so rapidly – for example, the Valkyrie was developed… it never went in a wind tunnel once during its whole development phase – and I think if you take a 10-year view on this, so it’s far enough out that these effectively dinosaurs of machinery that are heavily consuming electricity and power become a thing of the past and F1 should be the cutting edge of technology – we’re seeing more and more investment from the tech sector, so why not be the showcase for that tech, with Formula 1 and I think if it is something like 10 years away, then there’s a glide path towards it that every team knows it’s coming and you adjust your investment over the period of time accordingly.”

Andreas Seidl (McLaren): “I fully agree with Christian, it’s something we supported, just important to have let’s say, a good medium- to long-term plan in place with a glide path of introducing this. At the moment, we discuss, at the earliest introduction of banning the wind tunnels from 2030 onwards, which is something we support as well.”

Jost Capito (Williams): “I think it’s a very complicated and difficult discussion, when the time is evolving, when you see the technology and digitalisation has evolved in the last 10 years. Ten years ago you would have never imagined where we are now and this technology is evolving even quicker. Just to say F1 2030 is the time to ban wind tunnels; it needs discussion, is that the right timing, yes or no, but these kind of technology discussions have to happen within the FIA Commission and we have to look forward, sustainability, for sure, is very important for all of us.

“But it’s more than just wind tunnels, there is a lot, it’s also when you look at computing, it needs a lot of energy as well, so we have to look at all the details and then come up with a well-thought and agreeable decision on that. At the moment, I think we all use wind tunnels and it’s all still a very important tool and we also run more efficiently because the wind tunnel time is reduced so for us, I can say we run it very efficiently but the future with definitely be different but how the future looks, I think it’s too early to say.”

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