With Formula One now entering a phase of restricted engines, specification ECUs and single tyre supply, one of the greatest areas of development and research by the teams has been left largely unchecked.
Aerodynamics is critical to a modern F1 car. Despite frequent regulations to reduce downforce, the teams claw the deficit back. The tools in this battle are wind tunnels and Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) - two very different solutions, each with its roots in different eras, now working side by side. So how do these solutions work, and how are they going to develop in the future? And will CFD trounce wind tunnels as the key tool for the teams?
Aerodynamics has always played a part in racing car design, even if the intention was not there to maximise its use. In the early days, aerodynamics was not understood and generally ignored, often to the detriment of a car's stability or performance. Any car travelling at speed is subject to lift and drag.