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F1 plays its trump card with new car, new culture

23 July 2021

FORMULA 1 Managing Director Ross Brawn believes the 2022 F1 car, revealed at Silverstone, represents “a new philosophy, a new culture” which will transform the sport and safeguard its future.

F1’s motorsports team have committed an unprecedented amount of research to the project, with the aim of improving the racing by controlling the damaging wake generated by the cars.

They have run approximately 7,500 simulations, creating around half a petabyte of data. That’s the equivalent of 10 million four-drawer filing cabinets full of text documents.

Those simulations also took 16.5 million core hours to solve, meaning if they’d been done on a high-spec Intel i9 quad core laptop, it would have taken until the year 2492 – 471 years from now – to get the solutions.

FIA single-seater Technical Director Nikolas Tombazis said the clear focus of the work was to allow cars to follow more closely. But he also warned there was the chance that the rules upheaval could lead to a big field spread in the first year.

“All the shapes you see around the car are made in such a way to improve the flow to the rear car and to improve racing,” he said. “This is not just cosmetic of course — we’ve had a multi-year collaboration between the FIA and Formula 1 to review the aerodynamics. It won’t happen overnight, but we believe over time the racing will improve sizably.”

Aerodynamically, the biggest change will be the reintroduction of ground effect – which has been outlawed since 1982. While this won’t signal a full return to those heady days, with side skirts to act as seals, the 2022 cars will feature underfloor tunnels rather than the stepped floor of their predecessors.

The aim is that the underfloor downforce is better preserved within the tunnels, without the reliance on arrays of wake-sensitive, vortex-generating external geometries.

Research shows that current F1 machines lose 35% of their downforce when running three car lengths behind a leading car (approximately 20 metres, measured from the lead car’s nose to following car’s nose); closing up to one car length (around 10 metres) results in a 47% loss.

The 2022 car –developed by F1’s aero team with the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics and the Sauber wind tunnel – is said to reduce those figures to 4% at 20 metres, rising to just 18% at 10 metres.

“The whole objective behind this has been closer racing,” explained Brawn. “We want the best drivers to win but we went them battling wheel-to-wheel. This is the start of a new journey, where the raceability of these cars is going to be vital to the future of Formula 1.”

Read the full story in the September issue of RACE TECH out next week….

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