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Formula One Software Restriction May Improve Software

Formula One Software Restriction May Improve Software

Surface velocities on race car body showing flow trajectories

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis currently is used by nearly every Formula One racing team to optimize the aerodynamics of vehicle bodies and to design other parts where fluid flow or heat transfer is critical.

Recently, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) announced restrictions on the use ofcomputational fluid dynamics analysis. Normally, such a move would have a stifling effect on continued development ofcomputational fluid dynamics software, but one company, Flomerics Group PLC (, believes it may actually makecomputational fluid dynamics software more efficient.

“We believe that the FIA’s limitation oncomputational fluid dynamics and wind tunnel testing will accelerate the trend towards use ofcomputational fluid dynamics tools that accomplish more in less time by integrating simulation with the design process,” said John Parry, research manager for Flomerics.

The FIA is concerned that better-financed teams have an unfair advantage through their ability to use computational fluid dynamics along with windtunnel testing to tune vehicle aerodynamics to ever-higher levels. The new restrictions will limit the number of people involved incomputational fluid dynamics analysis and the hardware performance ofcomputational fluid dynamics computer systems.

“The FIA decided to restrictcomputational fluid dynamics since it was concerned that resources would simply be shifted from wind tunnel testing tocomputational fluid dynamics if it did not act. High-profile applications such as Formula One racing have helped to drive the development ofcomputational fluid dynamics and provide wider benefits. Computational fluid dynamics has had a major positive impact on the environment through its use to improve aerodynamics, fuel efficiency and hydrocarbon emissions in mass market automobiles,” Parry said.

“The restriction on the use of computational fluid dynamics acknowledges both the power ofcomputational fluid dynamics and the fact that it has become widely accepted as an essential design tool. Since the restriction is on the number of people involved, teams should make sure the people that are still allowed to work incomputational fluid dynamics are operating at the highest levels of productivity. This can be achieved with CADembedded computational fluid dynamics software in which the geometry never leaves the CAD system so the design can quickly be changed and re-analyzed. Creating the computational mesh also requires no manual intervention —this is a time-consuming, tedious and error-prone job in traditionalcomputational fluid dynamics software,” he added.

“CAD-embedded computational fluid dynamics may not replace the existing software for full-car aerodynamics simulations requiring massive parallel computing. But it will provide major productivity improvements in optimizing the design of components such as wing mirrors, wings, spoilers, suspension struts, intake and exhaust systems, clutch, brake and fuel distribution systems. As a result of these restrictions, perhaps F1 will now drive the development of CAD-embeddedcomputational fluid dynamics software as it has traditionalcomputational fluid dynamics in the past,” he concluded.

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