Supercomputers power the design of new Formula 1 vehicles!

During the 2022 Formula 1 season in March, teams will welcome fans and F1 They took to the race track with their newly designed cars to create the competitive environment their drivers had long sought. head in Formula 1 aerodynamic expert Simon Dodman explains:

This sportEveryone who followed listened to the drivers’ complaints that they couldn’t get close enough to the car in front of them during their radio conversations. Often, drivers complain that the grip and downforce of the vehicles are reduced.

Aerodynamics of an F1
Aerodynamics of an F1
Wikimedia Commons

F1 cars are the fastest track cars in the world whose design is regulated. These open-wheel cars are only 20-30 km/h faster than high-end sports cars, while creating strong aerodynamics. deletion Due to their strength, they can corner 5 times faster than sports cars. This deletion the forces are exactly like the lift forces that occur in the wings of airplanes and allow them to take off; however, unlike airplanes, in F1 cars these forces exert forces in the opposite direction, towards the ground.

When cars approach the rear of another car during the race, the turbulence created by the wings and body of the vehicle in front whirlwindThey lose up to 50% of the support in question due to their impact. The turbulence created by the car in front causes the following car to skid and lose traction. The driver of the following car realizes that he has lost grip earlier than the driver of the car in front of him and must finally take his foot off the accelerator pedal.

F1 racing cars
F1 racing cars
Chris Peeters

Neil Ashton, former Formula 1 engineer and chief expert in computational fluid dynamics (or “CFD” for short) at Amazon Web Services (AWS), summarizes:

Even the best drivers in the world are unable to overtake the car in front of them when they lose downforce.

Dodman explains:

It’s as simple as a fluid such as air or water creating a disturbance behind an object moving through it. The faster the cars go, the more downforce they create, so the greater the vortex effect they create behind them. This eddy effect reduces the performance of the cars behind. Imagine trying to drive another speedboat right behind a speedboat and bouncing on the water. It’s the same with cars.

No one wants to design a “second best” car!

Since 2019, the F1 engineering team and AWS have been closely monitoring vehicle-to-vehicle interactionThey began working together to explore the science behind the technology and ultimately develop new design features that would allow fans to deliver spectacular competition while keeping riders safe. Dodler has this to say about the state of the races:

Formula 1 racing is often criticized for being a sport of parade and cyclical competition, making it easy to predict who will win. Fans want to see exciting races with lots of overtaking; but they can’t see it in the races. We realized we needed to change something to give them a more engaging experience and to ensure a level playing field in races.

The F1 engineering team’s task was to design a car that could create smaller vortices behind it while maintaining the highest speed and downforce the vehicle could achieve, unaffected by the vortex created by the car in front of him. Formula 1 Chief Technology Officer Pat Symonds conveys his observations as follows:

No one designs a car to be incomparable. For this project, we looked at car performance in the back of another car rather than driving in the fresh air.

Rather than relying on time- and cost-inefficient physical testing, the F1 team is taking advantage of computational fluid dynamics, where they can study fluids such as the air around their racing cars. F1 in a virtual environment. Thus, it is not necessary to manufacture a part of the car. Companies like Formula 1 use the Navier-Stokes equations (the movement of fluids). diagnosticBy solving a variant (a set of equations for understanding) numerically, he can study the complex nature of turbulent flows through his laptop computers.[1]

Complex physics and supercomputers

Ashton says this about the necessary calculations:

Measuring the cornering performance of an F1 car is only possible by calculating a huge matrix of scenarios. For this reason, F1 needs access to a large number of high performance computers (Eng: “high performance computer” or “HPC for short”).

For such a large calculation to be carried out continuously, only dedicated supercomputers were used. Dodman says:

This way our time to get results, evaluate and take the next step has been shortened. We were able to take care of most of the process in a short time.

Think of the processing power used like this: the most powerful desktop computers had 64 CPU cores, while F1 engineers had access to over 2,500 CPU cores for every simulation they ran. Thanks to these ultra-fast calculators, the average simulation time has fallen from 60 hours to 12 hours. At the same time, higher PC performance, purchased for a small fraction of the allocated budget, also reduced operating costs by up to 30%.

Initially, F1 had planned to do 20 or 30 simulations per week; However, thanks to high-speed computers, that number jumped to between 80 and 90. According to Dodman, even F1 racing teams were able to run simulations involving two cars with their access to more powerful computing power than they could imagine. did, and they were able to look at this problem in a way that no one had considered before.

Headquarters of the International Automobile Federation in France
Headquarters of the International Automobile Federation in France
Wikimedia Commons

Simulations and big data

In just six months, the F1 team has run over 5,000 simulations of one or more cars. These data obtained, FIA (En: “Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile), Type: “Federation Internationale de l’Automobile”, the international governing body for motorsport) has pioneered the design of vehicles for the next generation of cars that experience only a 15% downforce loss at a distance of one car length. F1 teams followed the regulations prepared in light of this data in the cars they designed for the 2022 racing season.

New aerodynamic features added to the cars include devices that control the vortex created by the wheels, a simplified front wing that deflects airflow from the front wheel, a rear wing designed to draw air in from the sides and carry it over the following vehicle, simplified suspension, and air ducts under the floor. In light of these regulations, all F1 cars raced for the first time with 18-inch wheels and low-profile wheels instead of 13-inches.

With the addition of these features, turbulent air caused by the vehicle ahead flowIt was ensured that the downforce of the following vehicle was reduced and the downforce of the following vehicle was increased. Thus, the vehicle behind was allowed to close the gap, maybe even move forward. Regarding these innovations, Dodman says:

This new design takes the vortex created by the car higher, allowing the following vehicle to pass under this vortex instead of through it. This way, riders will have a lot more overtaking opportunities by running closer to each other. Also, with less distance between the fastest and slowest cars, different teams are likely to win from week to week.

An F1 car simulation using computational fluid dynamics
An F1 car simulation using computational fluid dynamics
Wikimedia Commons

Of the F1 team testing their new design in a wind tunnel, Ashton says:

The overlap of test results and simulations was received very positively. With this project, it has been proven that complex, high-quality engineering design projects can be achieved using computational fluid dynamics.

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