The research work continues in perfecting the rules for F1 2021 and beyond as they had a latest windtunnel test with the new car last month.
Following the reveals of diagrams and models of what the 2021 F1 car could look like, the sport revealed photos and videos of the actual car being tested in the windtunnel of Sauber Motorsport in individual capacity.
The test took place under secret terms ahead of the German GP at the Sauber facility, where Alfa Romeo Racing were kept in a dark as well about the details of the programme. This was the third test since January.
The first run had 60% model of the 2018 car, while the second test in March had the 2021 car using the 13-inch tyres. The latest one had 50% model of the 2021 car with the 18-inch tyres, which will be used by the series.
F1 noted that the area around the sidepod and rear wing is expected to remain the same but the front wing will be developed further. “The wind tunnel testing we are doing is slightly different to what the teams might do,” said F1’s Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds.
“The teams concentrate solely on the forces on the car, through a variety of attitudes as they move the car around. While we naturally have an interest in what those forces are and particularly how those forces change as the car moves, we’re even more interested in what is happening to the turbulent air behind the car.
“For that reason, although we are doing most of our development in CFD, and that CFD is using some pretty advanced techniques which aren’t commonly used by the teams, we want to back up the virtual simulations with a physical simulation.
“We also chose to use a 50% model rather than a 60% model and we chose to run that model quite a long way forward in the wind tunnel, so this gave us the opportunity to best inspect the wake of the car.
“It also takes up less room in the tunnel and therefore it allows us to look, in terms of car lengths, further behind. If you imagine you have a full size car in there, you could only look at a tenth of a car when it is behind so 50% is a good compromise in that we can still get a good level of detail on the model but we still have distance behind.
“It’s true teams have tended to go more to 60% these days. There are advantages to that, in modelling, but modern manufacturing techniques, particularly additive manufacturing and stuff like that allows you to make very accurate 50% models these days.”
Speaking on the results from the windtunnel tests, primarily to check if the 2021 F1 cars can help more in overtaking, both Symonds and FIA head of single-seaters Nikolas Tombazis were encouraged by the it.
“The results are actually beyond what I thought we could achieve when we started the project. With the configurations we have got at the moment, the results are exceptional.
“Of course, this level of intensity, it falls far short of what the teams are able to do, in terms of sheer manpower you can throw at things, but we have a good – albeit small – experienced team of aerodynamicists, and we have access to an awful lot more computing power than any of the teams have as we’re not restricted in any way.
“Through our Amazon Web Services (AWS) connections, we’re using their super computers and they are running an awful lot more computing cores. In CFD, we have to split the environment up into lots of little cells and we solve equations for each one of those cells. In a typical team environment, they are using 192 cores to solve 95 million cells.
“In our current configuration, we’re using 1152 cores and we’re solving up to 550 million cells. And next year we have potential to move up to 2300 cores. We have more than an order of magnitude more of computer power that we’re throwing at it than the teams might use, and that allows us to use the two-car simulation.”
Meanwhile, Tombazis added: “The test revealed that fundamentally the CFD was correct. There have been no major surprises. So there is a 5-10% wake disruption, compared to the current levels of 50%, although it depends on the exact configuration you are testing and so on.”
F1 also noted that teams are as involved in certain tests so as to have the best possible set of rules ready for October deadline, when those will have to be finalised and sealed for them to prepare for 2021.
Not all teams are undertaking certain tests but all the information is provided in a particular matter. “The teams have been very good, the teams that have had the resources to do it, have worked on a number of projects for us, and they are all fully informed of what is going on,” said Symonds.
“We have meetings every few months, we send our geometry to them, they then run that in their own CFD environments and they feedback results to us. They have been as involved as they want to be. Some can’t put the resources in. All teams results are shared until we get to the cut-off point, where from that point on they have to operate within their declared rules.”
Apart from the three tests undertaken, there will be two more to be held in October and December – the latter taking place after the publication of the 2021 F1 rules. Even with the rules, the evolution will continue on.
“As with any set of regulations it is a constantly evolving process,” said Tombazis. “In October we will publish a full set of technical and sporting regulations which will come into force in 2021, and will not fundamentally be changed.
“If we do find an area where we feel some updates are necessary to maintain our goals for better raceability, then this is something that we will be able to do working with the teams within certain time constraints.”