Teams support wind tunnel ban

by Nov 19, 20200 comments


One of proposals put forward to team bosses at the recent meeting of the F1 Commission was the plan to ban wind tunnels by 2030.

Naturally, such a move would impact some teams more than others, with the likes of Haas not even having its own facility.

Though the move is mainly about reducing costs and sustainability, providing the ban isn’t introduced any earlier the teams appear to be in favour.

“There was broad agreement that over the long term that this would happen,” admits Toto Wolff, “but it’s such a massive regulatory change that also involves certain safety aspects.

“We must not forget that these cars are the fastest on the planet with the most downforce,” he continued, “and we don’t want to experiment live with drivers in the car based on CFD.

“As for our tunnel, it’s the same generation as a few others in the paddock. We’ve worked on the tunnel over the last years as has everybody else, and people tend to say there is a silver bullet, that the tunnel is very good or the tyre analysis is very good, or the engine is very good but it’s always the combination of everything.

“Therefore, I think setting a target like 2030 banning wind tunnels is a path that works for everybody and is going to help us make the sport more sustainable from the financial side.”

“It’s not a new topic, it’s been talked about for a little while,” added Renault‘s Marcin Budkowski. “I think the key on this kind of significant technical infrastructure is to do it with enough anticipation.

“Today, wind tunnels are an essential part of the development of a Formula 1 car and the risk by doing everything with CFD, so in numerical simulation, is that you get to the first race and the car behaves completely differently from what you expect and you have a hard time actually getting back on track.

“So the risk is that people just lose the correlation with the track and a tunnel is an important element of this.

“Now, Formula 1 loves a challenge,” he continued, “and I think if you tell us that in ten years’ time we’re going to move away from something that’s an essential part of the development, because we’re going to have to ramp up the simulation part of it, I think it’s do-able.

“Every time the topic came up before it was ‘let’s ban them in two years’, ‘let’s ban them in three years’, and that just wasn’t realistic. So as an objective for ten years’ time, which is in line with the sustainability message that we’re building around Formula 1, I think it’s a realistic prospect. It’s still, over that period of time, it’s a challenge and it will change a lot in the way we develop cars.”

“It’s very challenging for us,” admitted Frederic Vasseur. “We’ve discussed this topic a couple of times. The conclusion now is that we could imagine to do it for 2030 but even like this, to develop the car, full based on the cfd project, it’s very ambitious.

“Marcin spoke about the safety and so on and it’s true that it’s a characteristic of the correlation that to launch the car on the track at the beginning of February or March without doing any development in the wind tunnel or correlation in the wind tunnel could be a bit tricky. But we also spoke that we could imagine to have a wind tunnel time that a short period of development on the wind tunnel, 1-to-1 scale for example.

“For sure it’s a challenge, but I think the F1 is focused on the challenge and it makes sense to imagine something like this, if it’s sufficiently anticipated in ten years’ time is a good lead time for this kind of project, I think. So yes, why not? It could be ambitious for F1 but it makes sense.”

“Until 2030 there’s a long anticipation time,” said Franz Tost, “and CFD will develop quite rapidly. You can see it or you could see it in the last years, and A from harder side and B from the softer side, that means in part, nine to ten years.

“I expect that this technology has reached such a high level that you don’t need any more a wind tunnel,” added the Austrian.

“Everything is possible,” agreed Guenther Steiner, “and technology gets better, as we all know.

“Technology is advancing in big steps, so I think we don’t need to decide now, but going in that direction I think would maybe be the right thing to do. I think it’s too early to come to a complete conclusion but, if it is like this, if everybody is the same, this is what we are going do, I will support it.”


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