Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool
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Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool

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Wind tunnel work forms the bedrock of aerodynamic development in Formula 1. But as Pat Symonds explains, advances in virtual research are signalling the end of these expensive and complicated relics.

The wind tunnel has been an essential tool in the development of F1 cars for around 50 years, and it is said that Brabham used the then-new full scale wind tunnel at MIRA as early as 1964. Since the 1980s it has been the primary tool in adding performance to cars. The level of sophistication has developed enormously since those early days.

It might come as a surprise, therefore, that eight of the 10 teams recently agreed that a notional target of eliminating the use of tunnels 10 years from now should be pursued by the FIA. Before discussing what might have led to such a strategy, it is perhaps worth examining how wind tunnel testing has developed over the years.

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