AWS & Formula 1 Collaborate on Design and Compute

Fueling innovation with the next generation race car

To design a revolutionary new car to create the most exciting wheel-to-wheel racing action, Formula 1 required immense amounts of compute power. Their advanced Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) simulations required over 1,150 compute cores to run transient simulations of over 550 million cells that model the impact of one car’s aerodynamic wake on another. Using AWS, and the scale of the cloud, Formula 1 was able to reduce the average simulation time by over 80 percent—from 60 hours down to 10. 

The project took several years to refine using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances and delivered performance equivalent to that of a supercomputer costing millions of dollars. With the insights gained from these simulations, Formula 1 has been able to create a car design with only 18 percent downforce loss at 10m car distance, compared to 46 percent previously. The resulting car will feature a brand-new bodywork design and will run on 18-inch wheels, with low profile tires for the first time.

“We are incredibly excited to have collaborated with Formula 1 on the launch of F1’s next-generation race car that will be used by teams in the 2022 season,” said Pat Symonds, chief technical officer for Formula 1. “It is set to create more wheel-to-wheel racing and more action on the track.”

Neil Ashton, Principal CFD Specialist, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Formula 1 revealed its next-generation race car to be used by teams in the 2022 season. The intent for the more aerodynamic vehicle design is to create more wheel-to-wheel racing and more action on the track. The project was run using CFD and thousands of compute cores on Amazon Web Services (AWS), saving F1 both time and money to deliver this new design.

Downforce is a crucial element to F1 racing. It aids traction to increase cornering speeds and reduce tire wear. Currently, F1 cars face a loss of downforce when racing close to each other, with a following car losing huge amounts of its downforce when racing close behind another. In addition to running on 18-inch wheels with low-profile tires for the first time, the next-generation car will feature wheel wake control devices, a brand-new bodywork design with a new front wing shape, simplified suspension, new rear-end layout and underfloor tunnels. The result is significantly reduced downforce loss when following another car closely, in turn creating more intense racing and excitement on the track.

The key goal of F1 in redesigning the car is to increase wheel-to-wheel racing between cars, which is currently restricted due to the loss of downforce. This car design change helps reduce the turbulent airflow from the car in front, in turn increasing the downforce and, therefore, the performance of the following car, allowing them to close the gap for a chance to overtake the leading car.

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