Three teams are planning or building new wind tunnels. From 2030, Formula 1 wants to limit aerodynamic development exclusively to CFD. This does not prevent Red Bull from planning the construction of a new wind tunnel. strength.
McLaren and Aston Martin are building new wind tunnels, which should be connected to the grid in spring 2023 at the latest. Both teams are hoping their state-of-the-art facilities will provide the first outing for the 2024 season. This is a final step for both of them to catch up with the top teams. Since there is a budget ceiling, they differ only in the quality and quantity of tools.
Now Red Bull also has a new wind tunnel in sight. “We are in the approval phase,” confirms sporting director Helmut Marko. Construction is expected to take place in two years at the Red Bull campus in Milton Keynes. Everything would then be under one roof: Think tank, production, wind tunnel, simulator, engine factory. An English Ferrari, so to speak.
Newey promotes CFDs
Red Bull didn’t really want to build a new wind tunnel, but feels compelled to do so. The ever stricter limits for testing force the current vice-world champion to do so. Not only the wind time is limited, but also the time until the maximum wind speed is reached, with which reliable measurement data cannot be determined. Red Bull operates in a listed facility with many restrictions.
According to technical director Adrian Newey, the wind tunnel itself is of good quality. “It’s taking too long before we can get to the wind speed we want. And it’s robbing us of meaningful wind tunnel time that we’re actually entitled to.” Because you go over the allowed limit faster than others during the quiet ramp-up phase.
If Newey had been successful, Red Bull wouldn’t have had to build a wind tunnel at all. “I would limit everything to CFD development. Unfortunately, there are not enough votes for this, although it would be much more sustainable. The usual suspects are against it.” This likely means teams that are already building their systems. The wind tunnels cost between 50 and 75 million euros. An expensive pleasure with a predictable lifespan. In 2030, Formula 1 will no longer allow wind tunnels.