Although the demands of the racing season are relentless, an F1 team with any ambition for the future must make a steady flow of long term investments to ensure a solid technical foundation for the coming seasons. To guarantee that LRGP can continue its climb back to the top and remain competitive in the sport for years to come, we have made three significant investments in 2011 at our factory in Enstone.
With in-season testing all but extinguished from the sport, the teams have sought to create a virtual testing environment using sophisticated driver simulators. Achieving this has proved to be a significant engineering challenge and there have been several false starts made and blind alleys pursued trying to create a simulator capable of mimicking the behaviour of the car accurately. Here at LRGP, we have judged that the technology is now sufficiently mature and the time is right to make a considerable investment in a state of the art simulator. The facility will be brought online towards the end of 2011 and will be a valuable performance tool over the coming seasons.
Upgraded wind tunnel
The wind tunnel that was built at Enstone in 1998 was the first of a new generation of Formula 1 wind tunnels. At the time, it was a ground-breaking development, but after 12 years of sterling service it was in need of a midlife upgrade. At the end of 2009 we took the first step in upgrading the facility when we fitted the tunnel with a new rolling road. In the first quarter of 2011 we have completed the upgrade by modifying the tunnel to accommodate a bigger model and installing a much more capable 60% scale model into it. The term “model” does not really do justice to the sophisticated piece of engineering that we use as the backbone of our wind tunnel testing. The new model has many man years of design and hundreds of thousands of pounds invested in it. It is stuffed full with new sensors and equipment that will allow us to perform much more accurate experiments than our old 50% model. We are looking forward to reaping the benefit of this investment over the coming months and years.
Faster CFD Supercomputer
In Formula 1, Computational Fluid Dynamics is a vital complementary tool to traditional wind-tunnel testing. LRGP was one of the first teams to invest heavily in this technology. Our CFD Centre, supported by a strong network of technical partners and suppliers, has been able to push the boundaries of CFD use, capable of simulating on-track conditions to an unprecedented degree of accuracy and enabling an accelerated aerodynamic development programme. With computing, nothing ever stands still, and although the original CFD Centre Supercomputer was only two years old, the time was right to invest in new hardware.
In January we installed a new Supercomputer cluster using the latest chipsets. Our new cluster has been designed to work optimally within the FOTA Aerodynamic Restrictions, delivering us greater computational efficiency and saving us money on our electricity bill. While the electricity bill reduction is welcome, the real prize is the improvement in efficiency. Aerodynamic downforce rules in F1 and this investment will pay us back very heavily in improved on track performance.