How do you stop teams from using wind tunnels?

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The latest Max Mosley master plan to cut costs in F1 involved banning teams from using their wind tunnels.

On January 11th proposals will be put to the team principals requiring that they reduce their wind tunnel use as follows: Each team may have only one wind tunnel operating five days per week, eight hours per day, with a maximum of eight ‘runs’ with one car at a time each day.

Wind speed will be restricted and only 60% scale models can be used. Many teams already use full size models and some already have more than one wind tunnel. Modelling the tests on computers using Computational Fluid Dynamics will also be restricted.

But exactly how can the FIA do this? I don’t see how they can enforce it short of putting an ‘FIA spy’ in every team. And will teams with ‘B-teams’, like Honda/Super Aguri be allowed two tunnels?

This seems to have a couple of worrying flaws that makes me wonder whether this is a serious proposal. Is it another use of the classic Max Mosley tactic of demanding an utterly unreasonable innovation in order to get the teams to agree to something less severe?

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “How do you stop teams from using wind tunnels?”

  1. A wind tunnel is an expensive operation to run – those teams with them would be reluctant to stop using them as we al know 6/10ths of a sec can be expensive and give that team the edge – Yes I think Max is at it again and after last year – he may get away with it as they have seen what he did to macca – but the possible biggest user may be ferrari – we know they are designing cars for other formula’s which have similar constraints that the knew F1 cars will have soon – nothing to stop them using info for one type on another – seeing it would be their intellectual info

  2. This one has me puzzled as well. I’m sure this will involve putting some sort of electronic monitoring on the wind tunnels and CFD computers, even though it would be child’s play for the tech’s at these teams to get around it. I thought I read somewhere that it actually might not be enforced at all, and it might be a sort of “good faith” agreement, sort of like the testing mileage limit.

  3. As long as the wind tunnel monitors wear little blue hats. That’d make it all ok.

    While Max is at it, here are a few things he should outlaw along with wind tunnel time (that companies have already paid for).

    simulator time (because no F1 team can break down and buy and Xbox)

    Unicorns, they have no place in F1

    Drivers with oversized heads who are Scottish,, (I like him,, I’m just saying,, it can’t be aerodynamic and it’s got to be giving Red Bull fits!)

    Tire Warmers,, oh wait they did that,, so now tires aren’t safe,, thanks Max.

    Kicks to the nuts,, except those already reserved for Max.

    If they outlaw CFD time they might as well! They can just put together some ad hoc networks and have kids at home with their screensavers running cfd for them as part of their “free team screensaver kit”. limiting wind tunnel use is riduculous and doesn’t serve much of a purpose, all the teams know it’s the only place to innovate. If they want to limit aero,, then make a mandatory body kit and make them use it (now where’d my homologated engine electrics box go,,, oh there it is!)

    Note to self,, kick Max in the nuts for putting the amazing F1 engineers out of work (that’s what he’s doing right?)

  4. Fred Schechter

    Quote: “Note to self,, kick Max in the nuts for putting the amazing F1 engineers out of work (that’s what he’s doing right?)”

    Man, you are echoing my sentiments. First, the engine specific rule changes, then the FREEZE. Nevermind Max, you think you still have cars and the viewers. Even hardcore addicts would switch of the telly. Why? It is Formula 1 we are vying to watch, not “Formula Dumb!”

    You have to be politically correct, we see no reason. F1 gained popularity, as it was, somewhat is (inspite of all FIA’s & Max’s meddling). It definitely would not remain so, in the near future. That, would be the demise of F1. An industry, a sport, an engineers playground, all this would just vanish into thin air, with viewership plummeting owing to these ridiculous bouts of fits(?).

    I’ve applauded Max’s common sense over all these years of rule changes. Now, am to be given a reason, to believe that F1 will remain the same. A technical summit. Difficult to climb and even harder to reach the top. What then otherwise be the difference between any other formula and F1?

    A worried F1 fan!

  5. unless Max Mosley has James Bond on his payroll he has no way to police the use of wind tunnels and computer simulations etc etc …

    He hasn’t learnt or he does not want to learn – There is no way he can make the teams to stop spending money … They will spend the money no matter what as long as they are in F1. When they feel like no more spending, they leave (like Ford) and let an eccentric billionaires to come in their place (Mateschitz, Mallya… ). The spending will go on and so will the flow of stupid Max ideas …

  6. Universal F1 paint scheme is soon on its way.

    To think, ForceIndia is just trying to get its wind tunnel working in full. Let teams spend the money as they like, if they go bust, a new team replaces them. Apart from the wasteful engine development and endless tyre testing, what else is left for teams to seek performance, lets not forget major electronics have also been banned.

    There is no such thing as perfection, the right amount of team personnel, the right amount of working hours, the right number of wind tunnel usage, teams are seeking to improve and earn more money. IF you want development to stop, then do not have winner takes all approach to F1, share the prize money equally and watch innovation die, costs will come down drastically, there wont even be any need for speed, teams will not build new cars, they wont need much personnel, just the one or two to strap the drivers into the car. Perhaps the driver may do it himself, he will have plenty of time.

  7. i think max really is mad! this is a stupid idea!

  8. Quote:” Note to self,, kick Max in the nuts for putting the amazing F1 engineers out of work (that’s what he’s doing right?)”

    such a good point!

  9. uniformity – conformity – the whole ethos of the fia’s outlook on motor racing development for the forseeable future – we are living through one of F1’s most rigid and depressing era’s – if man does not invent things his civilisation dies as well – the trouble is that F1 is in the hands of two elderly/senile gentlemen – both well past their sell by dates.
    You wont be able to get rid of them they will die at their posts(sooner rather than later hopefully?) – they might need to put stakes through their hearts to make sure they dont come back though???

  10. For 2009 MadMax has new “cost effective” formulas for PAINT, he will introduce “standardized” lubricants and
    healthier menus for company cafeterias! When’s it gonna end?

  11. Why do we allow computers to do the work anyway? We don’t want them IN the car so why have them to DESIGN the car?

    I must say, although I don’t see how he would enforce it, I like the idea of limiting the size of the models and computer power they are allowed to use. This should give areo more of that ‘black magic’ feel. It would allow one team to be aggressive with what they try and possibly benefit but take the chance of failing badly.

    It should also keep the areo copying to a minimum. Not everyone would want to run wheel hubs because they may have to waste precious time in the tunnel to develop them (just an example).

    Like has been stated, any team could use a mass network of volunteer computers to crunch numbers, they wouldn’t own the computers and the FiA would have no way of monitoring or stopping the average fan from contributing his computer.

    They already do this with the PS3 a very powerful game system. Scientist ask people to run a program while they are not using their PS3. They then send simple problems to each PS3, when you consider that hundreds of thousands could be doing this BMW’s super computer doesn’t look like that much of an advantage.

  12. The SETI project did the same with spare PC computational power. That would be a really great way of expanding CFD capability – though it would be prone to “espionage” as different teams attempt to intercept and interpret each other’s behind-the-screensaver software.

  13. As soon as I read the proposals my first thought was that it cannot be policed. How is anyone going to know what size model someone puts in a wind tunnel? Given that Stewart used to use a tunnel in California what is to stop a team setting up a wind tunel anywhere in the world? CFD is even harder to police. A wind tunnel is a large object and difficult to hide. But an office with a couple of dozen people sitting in front of computers. It is insane.

    Apart from anything else before CFD arrived on the seen car companies were looking at using water tunnels instead of wind tunnels. Water is 15 or 16 times as viscous as air so you get more accurate results. There is nothing in these rules to stop a team building a 500% water tunnel. Or any other fluid.

    Either Max is getting dumber or this is another one of those things he introduces to be negotiated away to get what he really wants.

  14. Why doesn’t Max simply give 22 cars and get 22 people to race it. No teams.. just test the drivers.


  15. Is it my imagination or are these proposals moving further away from the tech specs they can actually impose on the developement of a car to reduce cost,speed, whatever the catch phrase of the day is and heading into fascist territory? I don’t use the term lightly, either.

    If the use of these tunnels is restricted to the hours Herr Mosely likes best, if I were one of teams who footed the multimillion dollar price tag to build one I’d be one angry sporting member. The FIA needs to impose limits on themselves.

  16. cost cutting is not true in f1. Ok make the engine last… that probably cuts costs…BUT when you restrict windtunnel use, they will look for new methods for investments and more cost again…
    And likr you said,what about sattelite teams…every top team is going to want one for the extra time they get… cost cutting?

  17. It’s quite easy, actually. Every team has to hand the keys of their wind tunnels to Max and then apply to him whenever they want to do some wind tunnel work. :D

  18. Versaki I dont know if it was by accident you used Herr Mosley – but have a look at his upbringing/childhood – merely for information purposes of course!!

  19. I think this time Max’s right… Running a wind tunnel costs so much money that using even 2 wind tunnels doesn’t seem very fair for the small teams that have a very restrictive usage…

    I really agree this time… How extreme this aerodynamic research will go??… Honda for example, ran 2 wind tunnels and had nothing good this year… :S So much work and money for nothing worth ir…

    I belive this will have a good effect on future F1 plans…

    However, i see this as a nice idea if they don’t turn back to the engine proposal… That small v6 engine they want is a joke…

  20. I am not one to paint the son with the sins of the father, but Max is bent on imposing his own standards as opposed to regulating the series.

    Seig Heil Max, leave before you bring down the entire sport. Daddy may be proud but we don’t appreciate your lame efforts at self aggrandizement.

  21. Thanks Alianora La Canta I should’ve referenced Seti @ Home (I was on it as far back as I can remember 1999 for sure, so yes,, I love their work!) Also the PS3 one is protein “Folding at Home” if I remember correctly.

    As for moving forward (past said Mr. Mosley and his nether-regions), here’s a decent suggestion for moving forward, employing engineers (apparently a favorite of everyone here’s), and developing useful technology.

    Switch the engine formula away from I.C.E. engines.

    Ta daa!!

    Insert a new starting point that everyone has a fair and open playing field.

    New limitations are:
    No more than 330,000 Kilowatt Hours of energy storage (equals the power of 10 gallons of pump gas 87 octane-ish (someone will correct me). Method of power generation is to be open limitations are of particulate emissions,, put a CO2 cap on output over a race distance.

    Keep tire changes (they’re fun and exciting).

    Go back to slicks (higher contact patch means lower efficiency (more to work against, plus they’re safer in corners)).

    Keep tire warmers (they work, they’re safer).

    Aero rules,, keep the current dimensions (they’ll have to lean them back for efficiency anyway at first).

    Safety rules,, keep em! Add more (mourning our favorite driving heroes sucks, I’d rather get their autographs).

    Ceremonially kick Max once at start of race, then drive off (we don’t need to bring his lineage into this, he’s done enough on his own).


  22. The whole idea to do away with rule changes is to stabilise the costs. More the changes, more areas of research open up. Consequentially more expenses.

    My proposal is to stop the rule changes. Leave limitations in effect this year, as it is and let them work at it.

  23. I have argued for years that aero was way too important in F1 and should be chopped back but trying to police wind tunnel use is stupid. Write the rules in a way that dratically limit the aero development potential and teams will stop using them. Max’s green agenda was always going to have to address the use o wind tunnels because they use enormous amounts of energy. One tunnel uses many times that of all the cars on the grid.

    I was impressed by the aero rules that Gary Anderson proposed in Autosport a few weeks ago. They are light years ahead of anything the Overtaking Working Group has proposed or Max’s idiotic Centre Downdraft Wing.

    I am with Gilles Villeneuve on this issue. Rip the wings off and put big slicks on.

  24. If they can’t use a wind tunnel, they can just use a tunnel:

  25. very interesting article that, john.

  26. Fascinating, thank you very much.

  27. Makes you wonder what else people are doing that we don’t know about.

    Thanks for that John.

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