Flomerics proclaims F1 CFD restrictions could be beneficial

  • 06-Aug-2008 12:38 EDT

Flow trajectories based on the surface velocities of a racecar body are shown in Flomerics’ EFD.Lab.

Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Formula One (F1) racing’s governing body, announced its plans late last year to reduce costs within the sport. Included in those plans are a series of measures to restrict aerodynamic testing.

The new measures will limit teams to using just one wind tunnel, with teams only permitted to carry out 15 runs over the course of an eight-hour day. Weekend wind-tunnel testing has also been banned, and FIA is also expected to introduce limitations to prevent teams from diverting wind-tunnel resources into CFD.

Upcoming restrictions are also expected to be related to rig testing, design and manufacturing, suspension and brakes, hydraulic systems, bodywork, weight distribution, circuit testing, and the number of personnel at races.

Flomerics, a provider of virtual prototyping and CAE software, has responded by stating that these restrictions might increase the use of more-efficient CFD tools that automate the modeling process.

“We believe that the FIA’s limitation on CFD and wind-tunnel testing will accelerate the trend towards use of CFD tools that accomplish more in less time by integrating simulation with the design process,” said John Parry, Research Manager, Flomerics.

CFD is used by nearly every F1 team to optimize the aerodynamics of vehicle bodies and design parts where fluid flow or heat transfer is critical. The impetus for these restrictions is FIA’s fear that better-financed teams have an unfair advantage through their ability to utilize CFD along with wind-tunnel testing to tune vehicle aerodynamics to ever higher levels.

“We understand and accept the FIA’s reason for restricting wind-tunnel testing since its high cost acts as a barrier to smaller teams,” Parry said. “The restriction on the use of CFD acknowledges both the power of CFD and the fact that it has become widely accepted as an essential design tool. Since the restriction is on the number of people involved in CFD, teams should respond by making sure the people that are still allowed to work in CFD are operating at the highest possible levels of productivity. This can be achieved with CAD-embedded CFD software, such as our EFD suite, in which the geometry never leaves the CAD system so the design can quickly be changed and reanalyzed.

“CAD-embedded CFD may not replace the existing software for full-car aerodynamics simulations requiring massive parallel computing,” Parry concluded. “But it will provide major productivity improvements in optimizing the design of components such as wing mirrors, wings, spoilers, suspension struts, intake and exhaust systems, clutch, brake, and fuel distribution systems. As a result of these restrictions, perhaps F1 will now drive the development of CAD-embedded CFD software as it has traditional CFD in the past.”

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