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F1 shows 2021 car during wind tunnel tests

Mat Coch

Friday 23rd August, 2019 - 8:42am

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Formula 1’s 2021 wind tunnel model pic: Formula1.com

Formula 1 has shown off a model of a car designed to the proposed 2021 technical regulations being put to work in a wind tunnel.

While previously artists impressions have been used, it is the first glimpse of a tangible design showing how the future of the sport will likely look.

The car’s prominent features, and obvious differences to current cars, include larger wheels, sculptured floor and sidepods, and revised rear wing.

The nose has also reverted to a lower design, more typical of what was seen in the sport until the mid-1990s.

Rear images of the car also clearly show two ‘ground effect’ tunnels underneath, a key development as the sport looks to increase on-track action.

Currently, following another car results in a downforce loss of up to 50 percent, but for 2021 it’s predicted that loss will only be 10 percent.

The model was first run in January, before being taken to the Sauber wind tunnel last month with results shared with teams.

“The wind tunnel testing we are doing is slightly different to what the teams might do,” F1’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds told the sport’s official website.

“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.”

The wind tunnel is run by Sauber, which owns an advanced commercially available tunnel alongside its F1 team.

Having developed the car using computational fluid dynamics (CFD), the wind tunnel offers a means of validating that data.

“In that way we can make sure that what the CFD is predicting is correct as the bulk of the work, 99% of the work, for these configurations has been done in CFD,” Nikolas Tombazis, the FIA’s head of single seater technical matters, explained to F1.com.

“The fundamental point of all of this is that we are trying to reduce the losses that the following car would face.

“The simplification of the leading car’s aerodynamics also helps for wake performance because on the one hand the front car doesn’t have as many methods to control its wake.

“On the other hand the following car, not having all these little, very sensitive devices is less susceptible to disruption.

“There have been no major surprises,” Tombazis added.

“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.”

Though testing is well underway by the sport’s technical staff there remains no formalised regulations for 2021, with a decision in may pushing their release back to October.

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