Authors: Timoteo Briet Blanes
The performance of an F1 race car is greatly influenced by its aerodynamics. Race teams try to improve the vehicle performance by aiming for more levels of downforce. A huge amount of time is spent in wind tunnel and track testing. Typical wind tunnel testing is carried out in steady aerodynamic conditions and with car static configurations. However, the ride heights of a car are continuously changing in a race track because of many factors. These are, for example, the roughness and undulations of the track, braking, accelerations, direction changes, aerodynamic load variations due to varying air speed and others. These factors may induce movements on suspensions components (sprung and unsprung masses) at different frequencies and may cause aerodynamic fluctuations that vary tires grip. When the frequency of the movement of a race car is high enough the steady aerodynamic condition and the car static configurations are not fulfilled. Then, transient effects appear and the dynamics of the system changes: heave, pitch and roll transient movements of the sprung mass affect both downforce and center of pressure position. The suspension system have to cope with them, but in order for the suspension to be effective, unsteady aerodynamics must be considered.The main objective is to model the effects of unsteady aerodynamics and know really the car dynamic, with the aim of optimizing the suspension performance, improving tire grip and finally reducing lap times.
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