Formula 1 is often called a circus. While that's a good analogy regarding the logistics of moving the cars, teams, and all of their equipment around the world for each race, it doesn't capture what's going on behind the scenes to win races. That sort of activity, most often performed back at a race team's headquarters, is more like a spacecraft launch.
An incredible amount of sophisticated, leading-edge technology goes into producing an F1™ car that's ready for launch on race day. Episode 1 of Driven by Simulation, an Ansys online docuseries, gives some insight into the tools the sport's most dominant team has been using to win races and break records this season.
Oracle Red Bull Racing has been partnered with Ansys since 2008. Ansys makes advanced simulation software that enables Oracle Red Bull Racing to develop and test new innovations digitally before they're ever introduced in the real world. The team is using Ansys' software to quickly experiment with the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) of its cars. CFD is basically the numerical analysis of fluid flows, including airflow. Optimizing aerodynamics in Formula One is what reduces drag and improves cornering speed around the track. Teams need to constantly develop and test new components and systems throughout the season to improve their car's aerodynamic performance.
Formula One teams are also limited by aerodynamic testing restrictions (ATR) that limit wind tunnel testing time, so they need to be as efficient as possible with their upgrades. Ansys' simulation software is one of the ways that the Oracle Red Bull Racing team achieves this efficiency, ensuring that each upgrade provides valuable performance to stay ahead of the field. This has led to the most dominant opening to a Formula One Championship, by any team ever!
The most interesting question asked in this video is what would Oracle Red Bull Racing's work be like today if this simulation technology didn't exist? The answer, given by Zoe Chilton, Head of Strategic Partnerships for Oracle Red Bull Racing, is rewinding the clock back nearly 20 years when there were nearly as many testing events for F1™ teams as there were races. Testing data back then was collected in the real world, which meant every new idea required either a giant, expensive wind tunnel or actual track time.
Ansys' simulation software makes testing more cost-efficient, faster, and more reliable than it was back in those days. It's one reason why Oracle Red Bull Racing can basically launch a pair of rockets every race weekend, 23 times per season, and do it with better and more consistent results than its competition.