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Investigation into Air Flow Over Airl Foil of Formula One Car

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Engineering
Wordcount: 2827 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Front wing is an essential part of the formula one because the front of the car is the first part that coming into contact with the clean air and so the front wing needs to be able to channel this air around the car and make sure to use all the aerodynamic features to their optimum are on the vehicle. In this project I will design a front wing of a Formula car by investigating the flow over the air foil and the right height of a wing on the car. After that, I will use ANSYS Fluent to stimulate a front wing for a formula car in order to compare with NACA 0012 air foil.

What is Aerodynamics?

Aerodynamics play a fundamental role in the overall setup of a Formula One car. It is a study of how gases interact with moving objects. The two basic aerodynamics forces are drag and lift. Drag is the force air exerts again a car as it moves, while lift is a perpendicular force exerted by the air on the car. Lift includes both positive lift and negative lift. Air moves in a very similar way to liquid.

How Aerodynamics can apply to Formula one vehicles?

Aerodynamics is the signs of how the air flow around the car it makes a big difference because they can determine if you can win or lose a race. It is a big part of setup that have to turn the front and the rear wing to find a perfect balance. Every race car prefers more downforce, the more downforce apply on the car the more grip the car has and the quicker the car can go around the corners but the more downforces you have the more drag you have in the floor to the car goes in the straights so this is a big compromise depending on which tracks we go, to use a lot or to use a little and how much to trim into every little degree makes a difference.

Introducing Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) which is a numerical way of solving the problem at hand, the complexity of the geometry on the process, they can be easily handled if we have the right models in place. CFD provides a 3D picture of flow in the domain of interest. It can be applied to complex problems if the models are well established and it allows engineers to test out different designs on a computer and guide design and development work.

CFD in Formula one vehicles

In the early 1990s, two-dimensional flow simulations were used by the first F1 teams to optimize the profiles of rear wing elements. In the following years, the adoption of CFD within Formula One grow gradually with the increasing availability of computational resources. Today, more than 100 CFD engineers are working in F1, closely with design engineers and aerodynamicists to optimize the performance of the cars.

Even outside of Formula 1, there are hardly any racing cars that are developed without the use of CFD. Especially for circuit racing cars, where the aerodynamics have a high influence on the performance and lap time.

How Front wing works on a Formula one car?

Front wing on the Formula car basically work the opposite of what you see on the airplane. Downforce is wanted on a Formula one vehicle. The air come across the wing then enter and split around the wing so as it splits on the top it’s going to move along and push against this. As it sees resistance, it is going to slow down, and the air molecules are building up in order to have a higher density of air there and that density means having higher pressure so with that it is going to exert force down.

The front wing is also responsible for modifying the handling characteristics of the car. There are some components involved in the front wing, end plates are the vertical plates on the side of the wing, the use of those plates is to get the air to flow around the tires in order to prevent air hitting those tires because it’s going to become real turbulent and it’s not able to use it as it passes back so if the air passes around the tires then can use of it later for example in the side pods of the car. And, upper flaps are little flaps that are raised up a little bit from the wing, air is going to pass over these and it’s going to be forced up because of that angle and so that angle is going to push the air over the tires. Again clean air is not supposed to hit the tires and then going back to the rest of the car because it will become turbulent and then it can’t be used so as to be as clean as possible that’s what those upper flaps are going to do is pass that air right over the tires, keep it clean and then it can go right into the side pods and cool the vehicle. Adjustable wings which can be adjusted for different down forces. Also, it got the nose cone in the front which is all attaching to, the air flowing in from the front and the purpose of it is to send that air underneath the car and send it back clean back to the diffuser. 

Structure of Air foil

Air foil contains leading edge, trailing edge and chord length. It also got a lower chamber and two upper chambers. The airflow is arriving at the leading edge then separated by the upper and the lower chamber. Since the upper chamber is longer so this is a way through the air on the upper side is longer than on the lower side. The air on the upper side has to be accelerated otherwise it would not meet at the trailing edge. The result of this is that the acceleration is that the pressure drops because the air need some energy, we need to or we are increasing the kinetic energy and this energy is taken from the pressure.
Introducing CFD Packages   

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Design engineers have turned the process of product development into a precise science. Driven by simulation technology, the most innovation companies in the world are now able to create complete virtual prototypes. Simulating whole systems across multiple physical phenomena, pushing better products to market faster by bringing together simulation solutions in a single immersive user-friendly environment ANSYS is pushing this science to a whole new level. There are many CFD packages for example ANSYS Aim, ANSYS Fluent and ANSYS Discovery.


ANSYS AIM provides simulation-based guidance early in the design process templates early in the design process templates and an intuitive user environment guide engineers from design concept through validation built on the ANSYS workbench platform aim includes automation and customization allowing for workflow. AIM seamlessly integrates with other tools in your product development process enabling rapid optimization of your existing designs. Any simulation can be reused as the basis for a replayable user-defined template. Custom physics objects and loads can be used to tailor simulation definitions to your product designs. Pervasive parameterization of all model inputs and outputs supports rapid exploration of design alternatives and automated design optimization. All aspects of simulation take advantage of parallel computing to maximize your return on investment designed for today’s computing environment. ANSYS AIM helps engineers innovate next generation disruptive products that outperform the competition smart products.

ANSYS Fluent

ANSYS Fluent is a state-of-the-art computer program for modeling fluid flow, heat transfer, and chemical reactions in complex geometries. It is written in the C computer language and makes full use of the flexibility and power offered by the language. Consequently, true dynamic memory allocation, efficient data structures, and flexible solver control are all possible. In addition, ANSYS Fluent uses a client/server architecture, which enables it to run as separate simultaneous processes on client desktop workstations and powerful computer servers. This architecture allows for efficient execution, interactive control, and complete flexibility between different types of machines or operating systems. It provides complete mesh flexibility, including the ability to solve your flow problems using unstructured meshes that can be generated about complex geometries with relative ease. Supported mesh types include 2D triangular/quadrilateral, 3D tetrahedral/hexahedral/pyramid/wedge/polyhedral, and mixed (hybrid) meshes. ANSYS Fluent also enables you to refine or coarsen your mesh based on the flow solution.

ANSYS Discovery live

ANSYS Discovery live is a first-of-its-kind virtual prototyping environment providing interactive design exploration early in the development process. It is tightly coupled with direct geometry modelling, offering a highly visual platform to interact in near real time with the simulation results, insight that updates immediately as you iterate any number of design alternatives. Rapid product innovation is the outcome, intuitive and interactive in nature. ANSYS Discovery life allows engineers to quickly switch between physics, adding new studies all on the same model. Engineers interact instantly with test results adapting a variety of parameters. Controlling, modifying and guiding the simulations, extracting the most insightful answers.  No need to wait for geometry modifications, remeshing or resolving. If you want to make a change to your geometry, recomputing starts immediately. The fidelity and accuracy of ANSYS Discovery live provides clear and directional insight, letting engineers see the impact of their design decision while they make them.

Reason that ANSYS Fluent is chosen for this project

The reason of ANSYS Fluent is using in this project is because it is the most powerful computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software. Optimizing the product’s performance faster. For sure ANSYS Aim and ANSYS Discovery live can do the same product as ANSYS Fluent but for this project, ANSYS Fluent is easier to understand and stimulate the design, front wing. ANSYS Aim is the easier version of ANSYS Fluent but after experienced ANSYS Aim, ANSYS Fluent sounds more confident to use in this project.   

Aim and objective of the project

  1. Study and learn aerodynamics of vehicles

Research and gain more knowledge about how aerodynamics applies on a vehicle.

  1. Apply CFD to investigate rear wing

At the beginning, ANSYS AIM was suggested to use in order to apply CFD to investigate front wing. But due to technical problem in the computer at university, ANSYS Fluent is used for the rest of the project.

  1. Gain experience of CFD packages

Following the tutorial for the ANSYS AIM in order to familiarize the software and gain experience.

Review of work done

Future work

  1. Meeting with supervisor

Every two weeks have an hour meeting with supervisor in order to discuss the work and understand what we need to do.

  1. Progress report

Handed in on the 6th December 2018.

  1. Familiarize with the software

Due to technical problem, we changed to use ANSYS Fluent. Although I have done two tutorials from Cornell University but for the purpose of doing the project confidently, I decided to take more time to familiarize the software.

  1. Poster

Produce an A2 size, landscape orientation, poster presenting aims, objectives and motivation and current progress.

  1. Poster (Presentation)

Assessed on the visual quality of your poster and your ability to verbally communicate the concepts and progress of your project with reference to the poster.

  1. Validation

After designed the front wing of a formula car, we need to do a comparison between the data of my design and NACA0012 air foil.

  1. Apply skills to the area interested in

After familiarizing ANSYS AIM, use it to apply on the project and simulate the rear wing of a formula car

  1. Final report

After all the designing, comparing and stimulating work we need to produce a knowledgeable report for the whole project I did in order to hand in on 11th April 2019.

  1. Project log

Every meeting I printed out a log sheet for my supervisor to sign it so as to record what have discussed during the meeting.

  1. Personal reflection report
  2. Oral Presentation

Required to give a short talk to an audience on your project work, using PowerPoint. It should last about 13 minutes, including 3 minutes for audience questions, and must fit in a 15-minute slot allowing time for changeover of speakers. The presentations take place on the period of 29/04/19 – 03/05/19.


  1. Totalsimulationcouk. 2016. Computational Fluid Dynamics | CFD | TotalSim. [Online]. [4 December 2018]. Available from: https://www.totalsimulation.co.uk/secrets-formula-1-part-3-role-front-wing/
  2. Aerospaceweborg. 2018. Aerospaceweborg. [Online]. [4 December 2018]. Available from: http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/airfoils/q0100.shtml
  3. Ansyscom. 2018. Ansyscom. [Online]. [4 December 2018]. Available from: https://www.ansys.com/products/fluids/ansys-fluent
  4. Ansyscom. 2018. Ansyscom. [Online]. [4 December 2018]. Available from: https://www.ansys.com/products/3d-design/ansys-aim
  5. Ansyscom. 2018. Ansyscom. [Online]. [4 December 2018]. Available from: https://www.ansys.com/products/3d-design/ansys-discovery-live
  6. Pes performance. 2018. CFD Aerodynamics Study. [Online]. [4 December 2018]. Available from: https://www.pes-performance.com/analysis-and-simulation/computational-fluid-dynamics/cfd-aerodynamics-study/
  7. Howstuffworkscom. 2009. HowStuffWorks. [Online]. [4 December 2018]. Available from: https://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/fuel-economy/aerodynamics.htm
  8. Ben iskander. 2018. Computational Fluid Dynamics in Motorsports – Quo Vadis?. [Online]. [5 December 2018]. Available from: http://www.racecar-engineering.com/advertisement/fluid-dynamics-in-motorsport/


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