Aerodynamics of racing cars.

Essay by BouUniversity, Master'sB, May 2003

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By studying the trends of the last thirty years we see that aerodynamics is a reason behind the success of a racing car, since tire and engine technology have made a comparatively small progress. Furthermore, tires are not manufactured to fit the particular needs of a single racing team, while engines often are developed in series for more than one team. This conclusion leads us to the analysis of the aerodynamic tools: computational aerodynamics (CAD), wind tunnel testing and aerodynamic design and optimisation.


Racing teams have been devoting more and more time to the development of the aerodynamics of their cars. They have done so with track and wind tunnel testing. Track testing is widely recognised for being too expensive and dependent on many casual events. The advantage is of course that the car is tested in its actual configuration in a real world situation.

The wind tunnel is the technical answer of the aerodynamic engineers. The wind tunnels are nowadays very sophisticated, and allow a wide range of studies including modelling of the car in compete configuration, ground plane simulation, etc.

Figure 1: Racing car in the wind tunnel

Figure 2: Representation of the wind tunnel


Recent progress in software and computer hardware has made available sophisticated methods for real time simulations of full configurations. Integrated CAD- grid generation- and finite element systems have placed the design to a very rational level from a cut-and-try approach followed for many years. The computer approach is probably only limited by the hardware power, although there are still enormous difficulties in treating a large class of problems.

Figure 3: Formula1 racing car designed in autocad2000


Aerodynamic design may as well be the largest and the oldest...