Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Bahrain International Circuit

Racing Point to use Mercedes wind tunnel

2019 F1 season

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Racing Point will begin using its engine supplier Mercedes’ wind tunnel for car development later this season.

The team previously known as Force India has used the Toyota Motorsport wind tunnel in Cologne since 2015.

It is not yet clear whether the team will lease time in Mercedes’ current 60% scale tunnel or its older 50% model. However as the team has previously used a 60% tunnel, the largest permitted under F1 regulations, it is unlikely to be prepared to downsize.

A Racing Point spokesperson told RaceFans the attraction of using the Mercedes wind tunnel include its proximity to their Silverstone base as well as potential gains in efficiency and cost savings.

However the move may prompt speculation the team is planning to move closer to becoming a Mercedes ‘B-team’ along the lines of Haas’s arrangement with Ferrari.

Haas makes full use of the rules which allow teams to procure ‘listed parts’ from rival teams and sources its power unit, gearbox and suspension components from Ferrari. Racing Point already obtains power units, gearboxes, hydraulics and engine electronics from Mercedes, but designs and builds its own suspension.

RaceFans understands Racing Point will begin using the Mercedes wind tunnel in the second half of this year, when it starts development of its new car for the 2020 F1 season.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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35 comments on “Racing Point to use Mercedes wind tunnel”

  1. This continuous flow of great news coming from Racing Point should give shivers to Renault fans, becuase I really think RP will be the one to beat in Formula 1.5 next year (maybe even this year, if they develop through the season). And if Renault is still not be able to close the gap to top runners while also getting beat by a non-works team that will probably be the last nail in the coffin.

    1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      8th April 2019, 22:47

      Nah. Haas still has their Ferrari parts, Sauber/Alfa Romeo are really looking to be back on their way up, as does McLaren. It’s gonna be tight.

      I’m worried about Renault though. They aren’t looking close to closing the gap with the top 3 and their engine looks to be the worst so far. Furthermore, their name’s been tainted by RB’s stream of complaint/whining. they started making excuses at the end of last year; Abiteboul complaining about Honda outspending them. The double retirement in Bahrain must hurt, and combined with Sainz’s retirement in Australia, they are making a far from positive impression. I might be a little but pessimistic, but I’m fearful. Unless they experience a sudden upturn in results, I could see them pull the plug as early as 2020/2021. they might sell the team or disband it, but I don’t expect them to last much longer, both as constructor and engine supplier.

      Hulkenberg and McLaren look quite good so far, but there is more than enough that Renault might be worrying about

    2. Hahahaha … you’re Canadian, right?

      1. no, not Canadian. I’m just a fan of Force India and the team behind.

  2. The “Haasification” of Racing Point – something Stroll Sr. had been pushing for, IIRC.

    If it helps their competitiveness and fiscal efficiency in the midfield, then more power to them.

    1. @phylyp

      Yeah.. I remember Papa Stroll pushing Claire Williams to go the Haas route and basically stop building their own cars. I think Haas sets a terrible precedent for the sport. It was only a matter of time before other midfield teams realise that it’s not economically efficient enough to invest in R&D, design and manufacturing of your own car or car parts. As long as there are teams like Haas on the grid, the midfield teams would always feel the pressure to go down the route of a B team.

      Sad to see Force India go this route. If Liberty doesn’t fix this asap, F1 will be a farce even before we get to 2021.

      1. @todfod – I’m in two minds here, to be honest.

        Yes, on the one hand, a B-team model is not good, since it makes them satellites of the parent team (not to mention drivers belonging to the driver programmes, think Ocon). On the other hand, the wind tunnel example is one that I’m comfortable with, since the investment required upfront and on an ongoing basis is something I wouldn’t wish on a B-team. So for them to piggyback on a richer team’s investment is good.

        What manner of fixes do you expect from Liberty/FIA? I think they’re already moving towards making additional parts mandatory for the constructor (e.g. brake ducts), but do you envisage something more significant from them?

        1. @phylyp Fully agree with this. It’s different and far better than Haas who just buying listed parts from establish team. Racing Point did leased other team facility, but for trying to design and built their own parts.

        2. @phylyp

          The way I see it, Liberty has two tasks at hand.

          The first one is making sure the teams earn more money through better prize distribution. Ideally, teams should be able to invest in their own R&D / Design.. and not have to source all their parts from a manufacturer. A grid full of B teams lending their support three to four A teams, both on track and off track… Well…neither is that not going to lead to closer racing throughout the field, nor is that going to lead to unpredictability, both of which are on Liberty’s agenda.

          Secondly, Liberty needs to try and reduce the costs for the entire grid by listing the standardised parts that will be used on all cars on the grid. Similar to Mclaren’s ECU, are there a list of other standardised parts that can used by the entire grid? Maybe they shouldn’t be parts that form massive performance differentiators, or there’s no way the big teams would agree. After the list of common parts, I believe they should then look at the list of parts required to be manufactured by each constructor. Haas’ solution is extreme, there is no way that same number of parts should be available to outsource. Maybe a suspension system should be designed by each individual team?

          It’s kind of hard to say how they’ll implement this and more importantly how they’ll monitor it, but let’s hope they’re not turning a blind eye to Haas’ impact on the F1 grid.

      2. Teams like Haas made the grid in the “good old days”

      3. I don’t mind at all if teams use the listed parts of the front runners. I only wish that those parts are available to all teams and for the same price.
        There are sufficient unique parts which the team can focus on and need to develop to move to the front of F1.5 or to close the gap to the front runners.

        PS I’ve got this feeling that even with the full monty of listed Merc parts Williams would have been last this year. They don’t lack smart engineers, but need a good management structure to bring it all together on time and be able to cope with setbacks (contingency planning).

        1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
          8th April 2019, 22:51

          except their cars evidently don’t work either.
          Both this year and last year’s car were apparantly absolutely woeful to drive

      4. I remember Papa Stroll pushing Claire Williams to go the Haas route and basically stop building their own cars.

        I don’t think Lawrence would have cared much about how Williams built their cars if he believed Lance was the cause of his poor results, but if he believed Lance was being held back by the Williams car, and he probably was, then he’d start wanting improvements. Williams’ results for the 2017 season (5th, 83 points) were much better than Haas’ (8th, 47 points), so if Lawrence was wanting a change in approach it must have arisen after the 2017 season. If we consider Haas’ results from Melbourne to Monaco (6 races) for the 2018 season, they had got 3 points earning places (plus blundered and lost two more almost guaranteed point earning results), whereas Williams had just one points earning result by the end of the Monaco GP. Williams had probably already consigned that car to history and would have probably been considering their 2019 car, so if Lawrence knew this (and he probably did) then it is hardly surprising that he’d be wanting Williams to change the way they do things.
        Again, if we consider the results up to the Hungarian GP, which was about when Force India ran out of steam, Haas had 10 points earning results while Williams still had only one points earning result. I don’t know what motivated Lawrence to consider buying an F1 team, but I think it was evident to him that Williams weren’t going to change the way they did things or take any of his suggestions seriously by that time, and that one guaranteed way to get a team to at least listen to his suggestions, if not actually do what he said, is to be a part owner of it.
        So far this year Racing Point have finished just ahead of Williams, but are still behind Haas in points. Lawrence didn’t become a billionaire by accident, he got there by hard work, so I’m expecting more from Racing Point this year.

  3. Well if it helps to create a more competitive team then I suppose we should welcome it.
    A part of me is disappointed at the prospect of B (and eventually even C?) teams though as the chances for race manipulation by the parent company grows ever more likely …. Ho Hum.

  4. However the move may prompt speculation the team is planning to move closer to becoming a Mercedes ‘B-team’ along the lines of Haas’s arrangement with Ferrari.

    Lawrence Stroll has made clear that the B-team route is something that he is comfortable with. I believe the rumours when Lance was at Williams came from there.

    However Haas is not a Ferrari B-Team, if anything Alfa Romeo is closer to that designation. Haas makes use of the rules to buy listed parts, which doesn’t make them a B-Team.

    But why believe me when there’s this in the article:

    Haas makes full use of the rules which allow teams to procure ‘listed parts’ from rival teams and sources its power unit, gearbox and suspension components from Ferrari. Racing Point already obtains power units, gearboxes, electronics and hydraulics from Mercedes, but designs and builds its own suspension.

    I would say that the prime example of a B-Team is STR, even though at times they didn’t use the same engine as the A-Team, hence my reference to Alfa Romeo.

    1. Alfa is definitely a Ferrari b team. Ferrari even send some of it’s own engineers to work for alfa Romeo. In fact my big question about ferrari/has and alfa is how much data is shared between them. How much wind tunnel data is getting shared.

  5. Scott Hampton
    8th April 2019, 13:20

    Why are the air flow sim’s limited to smaller scale? is this a cost cutting measure?

    1. Yes. Its another pointless cost cutting measure.

      Haas have a 100% wind tunnel in the US, which i expected them to use and get an edge. But no.

      The amount of money the teams spent on developing CFD completely dwarfs everything though.

      They keep arguing they need to limit costs to keep the sport sustainable. But all that happens is that the fans get less and less, and have to pay more and more. The reason why the sport is unsustainable is because corporations like Liberty, Ferrari and Mercedes grab all the money for themselves. Any amount of cost cutting wont help if the revenue is not distributed fairly. And if the owner of the sport is there to make $$

      I predict that every step that Liberty take from now on will be getting closer and closer to a spec series. Its much easier to manage, if the fans will swallow it. And most of the their budget will be spent on marketing, advertising, trailers, theme songs, and endless tinkering with the graphics and things that dont need changing like qualifying.

      1. @vjanik

        I think you summed up my understanding of it.

        All around I see unsustainable profits being taken, and I think Liberty is going to milk F1 dry.

        1. @vjanik Liberty are not dictators and they well understand the DNA of F1 and they also know that the teams and the fans would not accept a spec series. I think you are not absorbing carefully enough what Liberty is saying and rather you are making assumptions that do not jive with what Liberty and Brawn are actually saying.

      2. @vjanik, the decision not to use the Windshear facility is an economic one – Gene has said that, in the past, he was considering using the Windshear facility, but currently it is more cost effective for him to carry out wind tunnel testing either with Dallara or with Ferrari than it is to use the Windshear facility.

        You might claim that it is “another pointless cost cutting measure”, but it was actually the case that, before the current restrictions kicked in, most teams did most of their wind tunnel testing on smaller scale models anyway because it was cheaper than using a larger scale model or a full sized car.

        Lotus, now Renault, was using 50% scale models until 2011, as was Ferrari (and it was a rather expensive and difficult process for Ferrari to finally make the upgrade to 60%), and Mercedes still used 50% scale models until late 2012: Toro Rosso was still using 50% scale models as late as 2014, and it’s not clear if they’ve ever upgraded to 60% models.

        Mercedes have pointed out that there are a reasonable number of benefits from using smaller scale models, particularly as you can produce parts by rapid prototyping methods (laser sintering or 3D printing) which couldn’t be used at full scale, but actually work quite well at 50% or 60% scale – there are noticeable cost benefits as a result.

        The number of wind tunnels which have a rolling road, can accommodate full scale cars and can operate at high speed are actually fairly limited because of the investment and operating costs. Haas’s facility at Windshear is quite possibly the only high speed full scale rolling road wind tunnel in the US, and I am not sure if there are that many in Europe either (Audi’s wind tunnel is the only one that comes to mind, and even then they mainly use it only for their road cars).

  6. With teams like Haas, Alfa and STR making progress with cooperation, and the struggle of Williams due to refusal to cooperate more, it was inevitable that new team owners would push the team in this direction. It may be a ‘grey’ decision, but for a team that has managed to survive through so much and has adapted to different circumstances, it seems to be the only way to go to prevent dying a slow death.

  7. It would be ironic if the closer ties to Mercedes resulted in Ocon back in the team at the expense of Perez.

    With Strolls money and closer Mercedes ties, will they still need Perez’s Mexican money?

    1. @eurobrun Maybe, maybe not, but Perez (in general) brings the results and points to the team when it matters.

      1. @jerejj
        I totally agree, however in F1 stranger things have happened.
        If Stroll jnr actually turns out pretty good this season, Perez will have less to bargain with.
        Will be interesting to see how it goes, but think will be more related to Racing Point committing to closer ties than anything in the current driver’s control.

        1. digitalrurouni
          8th April 2019, 18:34

          Yes stranger things have happened but not strange enough to see Stroll Jr. doing a good job in an F1 car.

      2. @jerejj Perez only had more points because he punted Ocon off track more often than the other way around.

        The races where they both finished, Ocon was well ahead of Perez. Plus Ocon is much better at qualifying.

        1. @f1osaurus Not really. Yes, he might have punted Ocon off track a couple of times (in Belgium in 2017, and Singapore last season), and yes, Ocon out-qualified him, but the races are where the points are given out, so those are where it all matters in the end, and that’s the area where Perez has maximized the chances better, most notably in Baku last season where he kept out of trouble to achieve a rare-ish podium-position, while Ocon destroyed his chances already on the opening lap by unnecessarily taking all room away from Kimi, thus, leaving him nowhere to go but hit him, i.e., failing to leave sufficient space for a driver who was clearly side-by-side with him by more than half the car length. He could’ve been the one achieving that rare podium-chance instead of his then-teammate had he had better spacial-awareness as he should’ve had given it was the opening lap when everyone’s close to each other.

          1. @jerejj Well Ocon was much better in racing then Perez was, he had more technical issuers and he got rammed off by Perez a lot.

            The only reason Perez is still in that car is because he handed the team to Daddy Stroll at a bargain price

  8. Racing Point will begin using its engine supplier Mercedes’ wind tunnel for car development later this season. The team … has used the Toyota Motorsport wind tunnel in Cologne since 2015.

    One big difference I see is if Racing Point use the Mercedes wind tunnel then Mercedes will probably get to see the results of their wind tunnel testing, whereas if they use the Toyota wind tunnel then it is up to Racing Point as to whether or not they share that information.
    I do wonder if wind tunnels do date, and that maybe the Toyota wind tunnel is somehow holding Racing Point back compared to if they used even the Mercedes 50% scale model tunnel.

    A Racing Point spokesperson told RaceFans the attraction of using the Mercedes wind tunnel include its proximity to their Silverstone base as well as potential gains in efficiency and cost savings.

    I’m guessing that somewhere in the background of this decision is Brexit, and that the cost and time taken to ship parts from Silverstone to Cologne are expected to increase. I did wonder about Toyota setting up a 3D printer and Racing Point just emailing the shapes they want tested to Cologne, but of course there’s no guarantee the shape will be exactly identical to what Racing Point envisaged.

    1. @drycrust, I believe that Toyota have continued to invest in their facilities in Cologne for a number of reasons.

      Firstly, they continued to invest in it because of their involvement in the WEC, particularly when you had Audi and Porsche competing. However, I believe that Toyota’s main incentive for maintaining the TMG facilities was to lease it out to third parties for specialist testing, including most of the F1 grid – it certainly used to be pretty common for even top teams, such as McLaren or Ferrari, to spend a bit of time testing a car at the TMG wind tunnel as a way of calibrating their own wind tunnels.

      It’s probably not the tunnel itself that might have been an issue, but it is more likely that transportation costs and restrictions on availability due to other companies booking time at the TMG facilities that are likely to have influenced Force India.

    2. @drycrust I’d be surprised if Mercedes had any interest in RP’s wind tunnel results since the cars are different. Mercedes will only glean useful data from having their own model in there. RP’s car is different therefore nothing would be worth translating unless of course RP’s cars is so much better aerodynamically that Mercedes would be tempted to copy it, which as we know would mean from the front wing back.

      1. My thanks to Anon and Robbie (@robbie) for correcting my wrong assumptions.

  9. 2019 … the year of the B teams.

    Gunther is going to be less enthusiastic about the Haas model once a few other teams start doing it better than them, & he’s shuffled back through the pack.

  10. Just made a small amendment to the article clarifying Racing Point obtains engine electronics from Mercedes (i.e. not all electronics).

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