Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wirth wants to showcase CFD technology

By Mark Glendenning and Pablo Elizalde,

Virgin Racing technical boss Nick Wirth is aiming to showcase the CFD technology outside of Formula 1 by building a successful grand prix car with it. Wirth is designing Virgin's maiden F1 car using CFD - Computational Fluid Dynamics - instead of the traditional wind tunnel method used by all Formula 1 teams. He had already used the method in Acura's the American Le Mans Series car.

Now Wirth is hoping to prove CFD can be used outside of racing to improve what he labelled as 'the real world'. "The miracle of the Acura programme has been the technology behind it - the simulator and the CFD," said Wirth.

"What we're actively looking to do right now - I've got an 11-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter, we'd really like to stop the ice caps slipping off Greenland and flooding everybody - we'd like to see applications of this technology help the real world. We didn't live in the real world, Formula 1 is not the real world. We're really determined to showcase this technology on a global stage and then use it in much more useful ways for mankind."

Wirth also highlighted the importance of CFD when reducing the costs of running a Formula 1 team. "It's absolutely critical," he added. "We did it because it's cheaper and faster. If there was unlimited money, I'd just employ loads of people. The point is that you can get more accurate aerodynamic answers for a given amount of money using this technology than any other thing. You can try more endplates, more rear wings and other things then the same money gets you in wind tunnel testing or full-scale testing."

He added: "We've done it - we've built race and championship winning cars since then, so we're very happy. We've also been doing open-wheel work in Formula 3 and IndyCar racing at the same time as the Acuras. We'll be using the same technology, so this isn't new to us."

"Can things go wrong? Absolutely, that's life. Brawn brought out the new front wing development for Jenson Button to run at Suzuka this year and it was a disaster, it didn't work and it screwed his race up. They have a load of aerodynamic technology which says that front wing is good, they put it on the guy trying to win the world championship at a critical race, and it didn't work. What must they be thinking about what they understand about aerodynamics? Everybody has problems and issues."

Check out the blog entry earlier this month on Wirth's Development in the Digital Domain philosophy:

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