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Next online module is taking place 16 July 2022

How teams use F1 aerodynamics to win

Today’s Formula 1 cars are some of the fastest in F1’s history. In 2020, Lewis Hamilton set the record for the fastest average speed 264.36km/h (164.27mph) during a lap in Monza. Although previous cars have reached higher top speeds, Hamilton’s record highlights the impressive cornering speeds of modern F1 cars.

To maximise speed in the corners, you need to increase tyre grip. In F1, the majority of this grip comes from the downforce generated from the aerodynamics package. This load forces the tyre into the track’s surface, increasing the tyre’s contact patch and available grip.

CFD image showing total pressure clouds on an F1 car
CFD simulation showing total pressure

Without downforce, F1 cars only have enough grip to corner at lateral accelerations of around 1.5G. Whereas, a high downforce set-up can achieve up to five times more at 7G. This allows drivers to push much harder in the corners, resulting in much higher cornering speeds. It’s this hunt for downforce that has led to large wings, complex underfloors and intricate winglets.

Unfortunately, the first rule in aerodynamics is an increase in downforce leads to an increase in drag. It’s the job of the F1 aerodynamicist to design legal parts that extract downforce yet minimise drag.

F1 aerodynamics online module - 16th July

Want to learn more about F1 aerodynamics from F1 engineers? 

Expert tutors will provide exclusive technical content along with interactive polls and Q&A sessions. Delivering a comprehensive learning experience whatever your level. 

Tutors confirmed include:

Willem Toet Aerodynamics specialist at Sauber Aerodynamics
Willem Toet

Aerodynamics specialist

Willem Toet

Willem Toet is a renowned aerodynamicist who has headed aero departments of 4 F1 teams including Ferarri and most recently Sauber. With over 30 years' experience in F1, Willem not only knows all the aerodynamic tricks used in racing but he's pioneered them too!

Wouter Remmerie headshot
Wouter Remmerie


Wouter Remmerie

Wouter studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leuven and has since studied a variety of Automotive courses and completed a Postgraduate degree in Product Design. In 2011, he joined Voxdale as a Development Engineer where he was then promoted to Project Manager and was involved in a variety of CFD projects. In 2013 he founded his own company called Zastrugi and two years later he launched AirShaper – an online aerodynamics platform that allows users to run complex CFD simulations on 3D models within hours.

AirShaper logo
Paul Crowhurst Director at Evolution Measurement
Paul Crowhurst


Paul Crowhurst

Paul has been involved in the engineering behind complex measurement solutions since 1990, working for a variety of companies in several different roles. In 2005, he became Managing Director and Co-Founder of Calibration Dynamics and in 2016 founded a new company called Evolution Measurement where he still works today. 


"Really engaging and enjoyable. The F1 specific content put the principles into context and everyone who answered questions were very knowledgeable. The large chunk of Q&A was very useful and I'm glad a lot of time was dedicated to it. Thanks!" 

"Thank you everyone, it was a really interesting module that allowed me to learn more about F1 aerodynamics, through technical information and practical examples that I couldn't have found anywhere else." 

"As a fan of F1 and an engineer working in the automotive industry, I found this module absolutely valuable as it creates an opportunity to meet with professionals in the sport and ultimately bridges the gap for people outside the F1 bubble. It has really fuelled my interest for looking at an opportunity in motorsports. Looking forward to the next modules!" 

The power of CFD

To optimise aerodynamic performance, teams run wind tunnel programmes, CFD studies alongside track testing. However, to control costs, the Aerodynamic Testing Restrictions (ATR) limit the amount of wind tunnel and CFD time a team can utilise in every eight week period. For 2021, this equates to a maximum of 400 wind tunnel runs and 6.0 Mega Allocation Unit Hours (MAUh) of CFD. Find out the latest ATR limits in the FIA Sporting regulations.

‘In F1 there’s a very public battle that goes on at the track, but every day at the factory there are competitions happening,’ says Jack Chilvers, Aerodynamicist at Williams F1. ‘CFD is just one example of where we’re trying to beat our competitors. As a team, we’re always trying to develop the technology and improve the accuracy and efficiency of our CFD simulations.’

Coefficient of total pressure CpT slice of an F1 car
Coefficient of total pressure CpT slice of an F1 car

CFD is a vital tool in analysing and improving the external aerodynamics of an F1 car. But arguably a more important application of CFD is internal aerodynamics. Evaluating brake cooling, sizing radiators and improving the flow of internal fluids are all essential to the car’s health. After all, a driver can finish a grand prix with half a front wing, but not if the brakes overheat.

One of the major benefits of CFD when compared to the wind tunnel is turnaround time. Modern computing power alongside optimised processes means that teams can now run complex CFD simulations within a day. CFD also allows engineers to interrogate flow fields in much greater detail then with physical testing.

However, CFD is fundamentally a mathematical model based on the Navier stokes equations. Therefore, modelling complex phenomena such as turbulence and vorticity will lead to inaccuracies. These can be improved but this often requires more processing time. Teams constantly have to balance the accuracy of CFD with the efficiency of the simulations all within restrictive regulations.

On successful completion of the Online Module, graduates are awarded an industry recognised certificate of completion from the MIA. This online module will take place on Saturday 16 July, via Zoom and the MIA Campus platform. The cost for this industry recognised learning opportunity is just £295*. This price includes exclusive technical material, the opportunity to put forward questions to the tutors, access to the webinar recording and a certificate of attendance.

*Bundle packages are available if you enroll on multiple modules and there is a special
loyalty offer for MIA Members and past participants. Contact elinor.morris@the-mia.com for more information.

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