Thursday, June 2, 2011

CFD Not Wirth Exclusivity

...ok that was a bit belabored.

Virgin Racing has split with Nick Wirth:
Following a board meeting post-Monaco, Marussia Virgin Racing has halted its technical collaboration with Wirth Racing Technologies and boss Nick Wirth, the designer of the Virgin race chassis.
This represents a serious setback to those backing Computed Fluid Dynamics (or CFD) as a primary driver of chassis aerodynamic design.

CFD theoretically eliminates the need to spend expensive time using wind tunnels and models to study the effects of aerodynamic elements on a car. If a team can rely on CFD, it either reduces the potential design and development costs for the team, or it frees up money for other parts of operating the race team.

Many of the current teams use CFD as part of their process, however the bulk of the work is still done in wind tunnels.

Virgin was the first team to commit to using CFD as the primary source of aerodynamic design information. Both cars that the team produced have come from this method.

The results have been lacking. This year the Virgins are still struggling in Q1 with little to show that they are ready to take on even Team Lotus, let alone the other "3rd tier" teams that have longer histories in the sport.

This is the time of year to be taking decisions which will affect the 2012 campaign, and Virgin has decided to return to a more traditional way of developing cars.

In the long run, development of more advanced CFD systems coupled with cheaper and faster compute cycles will lead to CFD being a more reliable source of aerodynamic information; however I think the state of the art still has much further to go before it can replace the wind tunnel.