The rules for aerodynamics have changed over the years to limit the performance gains possible using aerodynamic forces. In parallel, teams had realised just how massive lap time reductions from aerodynamic upgrades could be and were increasing investment into both facilities and people. Models tested in hired wind tunnels started as simple wooden structures but have become sophisticated robotic marvels run in dedicated specialist facilities.
By the mid-nineties cornering forces were so high that car failures or driver error were making the cars dangerous to both drivers and the public, so more dramatic regulatory steps had to be taken. However, every time the rules changed, investment into aerodynamic research was proving a real winner on track so teams continued to invest. When talk started in the 2000’s of engine freezes, investment in aerodynamics really soared – engines had been the biggest spend on R&D for teams building the whole car up to that point. The quality of research tools / facilities both physical and simulated has improved out of sight during this timeframe. Regulated aerodynamic testing restrictions and financial constraints are now someshat curbing investment into aerodynamics. First to go were full scale and full speed wind tunnel testing, then computer power and wind tunnel time were squeezed.
This is reblogged from Willem's LinkedIn account with his permission: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-did-i-do-formula-1-willem-toet?trk=mp-reader-card
For UK followers of the blog the following opportunities exist for anyone interested in Willem's work...
2 Dec 18:30 to 20:30 plus Oxford - Free public lecture - F1 Performance, Design and (maily) Aerodynamics see toet.eventbrite.co.uk There will be some entertaining stories and time for questions. Free, book early. This is the one to aim for if you work as it starts at 6:30 pm for 7 pm talk start point. Organised by the IMechE. Some refreshments available from 6:30 pm. Questions and discussion due to finish at 20:30 but I'm happy to discuss any questions you may have for a bit longer. I will bring additional material so we have the potential to illustrate answers to questions.
4 Dec - 13:00 - 17:00 approx. Southampton University (Building 45 room 0045 which should be on the ground floor and is a large lecture theater - see site map here https://www.southampton.ac.uk/assets/sharepoint/groupsite/Administration/SitePublisher-document-store/Documents/About/visit/highfield_accessible_routes.pdf). Guests welcome and free. First lecture is similar to the one on the 2nd - Formula 1 performance, design, & aerodynamics. This does not require specialist knowledge. Would be suitable for higher school pupils, motorsport enthusiasts, engineering students and engineers. After the first lecture we then focus more on the use of CFD to develop a race car (aimed at university students but anyone using CFD may find it interesting) and how new aerodynamic testing restrictions (in the FiA regulations) are changing the approach F1 teams are taking to aerodynamic development. There will also be discussions with the Formula Student team which are probably not open to all.