Large-scale Computational Fluid Dynamics

This project evaluates the proposed FIA Formula 1 World Championship aerodynamics rules changes intended to be introduced between in 2009 to improve passing opportunities - particularly, the Centerline Downwash Generating (CDG) rear wing, which has been suggested by the FIA as a means for reducing the downwash imposed on following cars. Using computational fluid dynamics, the CDG wing is simulated as an integrated component and wake surveys are made at typical race following distances to determine the effectiveness of the proposed rules changes. Flow conditions at following locations are compared with full car models of cars created under current regulations, and suggested modifications to the CDG are made to enhance its effectiveness. In the absence of full car experimental data, key individual components are simulated and correlated with experimental data.

As a spectator sport, Formula 1 has for years been one of the most popular in the world. Bringing the world's best drivers as well as its most talented engineers and scientists into a single realm, Formula 1 provides the human and technological spectacle that captivates audiences worldwide. However, as budgets have increased into the hundreds of millions per season, technological development, particularly aerodynamic performance, has stifled driver competition. Aerodynamic downforce has become so great that the cars produce significant upwash which dramatically reduces the performance of following cars. These wakes prohibit passing, to the extent that a faster driver may turn higher lap times and remain uncompetitive because of the wake of the car in front of him. This presents a challenge to the sport's marketability, as lack of passing opportunity detracts from the entertainment appeal.

A proposed solution to the wake problem will be forced upon all competing teams through rule changes2 for the 2009 season by Formula 1's governing body – the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA.) While the solution includes some minor changes, the centerpiece of the solution is what the FIA refers to as the Centerline Downwash Generating wing, or CDG. The purpose of the CDG is to produce downwash along the center of the car's wake, which would improve flow conditions for following cars. By replacing the single full span rear wing with two smaller CDG wings in close proximity to the rear wheels, the FIA hopes to facilitate similar levels of downforce and balance while decreasing wake severity and upwash considerably.

Below are two diagrams obtained from simulations on PolyCluster.


Graduate Students