Sauber commissions $55m F1 wind tunnel

The Sauber Petronas F1 team unveiled its new, state-of-the-art full-size rolling-road wind tunnel yesterday at its base in Hinwil, near Zurich, Switzerland. Sauber has invested CHF70m (US$55m) in the closed-circuit facility, which has a total length of 141m and a test section of 15sq.m. It can achieve wind and rolling-road speeds of 300kph. "The top teams have made enormous progress in aerodynamic development in recent years, and we have a lot to catch up on," noted Peter Sauber

Sauber commissions $55m F1 wind tunnel

Sauber's plans for an in-house wind tunnel date back to 1999. Construction started in January 2002, the calibration phase was completed in February, and the final technical equipment of the facility was installed last Friday.

The entire rolling-road platform can be rotated to simulate cornering or side-slip conditions up to a maximum angle of 10deg. Load cells underneath the steel belt enable constant measurement of wheel lift.

Although certain measurements will be made on full-size F1 cars, in most cases Sauber's aero engineers will work with 60 percent scale-models. The test section offers the possibility of performing tandem tests of 60 percent models to simulate air turbulences and slipstream conditions.

The new facility, measuring 65x50m, comprises two elements, separated by a glass wall. These are the wind tunnel hall itself and a multi-storey wing accommodating work areas, a platform for special events and the Sauber museum.

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