Who is designing the new Toro Rosso?

Scuderia Toro Rosso will be designing and building its own cars in 2010 at the old Minardi factory in Faenza. The design work on the new car is being done by a team in Faenza led by the team’s technical director Giorgio Ascanelli. The team’s chief designer will be 35-year-old Ben Butler, who began his career with an apprenticeship at Lotus Engineering before joining Stewart Grand Prix in 1998. He remained with the team when it became Jaguar Racing and was then transformed into Red Bull Racing. In 2006 he was seconded to Scuderia Toro Rosso and has been working as the STR cars in recent years. He became the chief designer at the team on September 1. Among others who have been recruited to the team are Canadian James Blake, formerly of Bombardier and McLaren, and a number of aerodynamic staff including Niccolo Petrucci and Victor de Oliveira, both from Brawn, and Mitchell Russian from Renault. The STR aerodynamic and CFD group is based in Bicester, in the old Jaguar windtunnel which was built in the original Reynard Racing Cars building. Ironically, this is next to the Wirth Research facilities where the Manor F1 car is being constructed, although Nick Wirth is designing his F1 car without using any windtunnels, believing that the job can be done entirely with CFD these days. The F1 world will be watching with interest to see if Wirth is right. In theory CFD is much more efficient than windtunnel work as the computers can run automatic tests 24 hours a day and try out many more things without the need to create physical models.

The only question is whether the results equate to what happens on the race track.

18 thoughts on “Who is designing the new Toro Rosso?

  1. I am very interested in seeing what’s going to happen to Wirth’s design. I’m a professor whose main expertise is in CFD and I can assure you that there are just as many things that can go wrong with a simulation as in a wind tunnel. After all, what you’re trying to do is to replicate an experiment in a computer. CFD does have advantages over experiments, but there are many pitfalls, especially for blunt-body configurations like racing cars with massive flow separation. Contrary to what is widely believed, it is still not possible to have non-CFD-experts use commercial packages like Fluent and come up with accurate solutions/good designs – it probably never will be. Finally, no aerospace company – where the required accuracy is much higher than in F1 – will design an airplane without experiments to back up the simulations. Simulations by themselves are only done at the beginning to refine the conceptual design. Later in the design process, simulations are used together with experiments. It would be interesting to learn more about Wirth’s rationale (apart from cost).

  2. Well, as I understand it wind tunnel results haven’t always equated to what happens on the track either. It will be interesting to see how well Wirth can do.

    “All models are wrong. Some models are useful.” – George Box

  3. Wirth designed Acura’s LMP1 car completely with CFD, though it’s tough to see how effective of a design it turned out to be due to lack of a proper competitor to gauge the car’s performance against.

  4. @Kitchen Cynic
    One big difference between Wirth and Broadley.
    Wirth’s 95 Simtek did not spend a lot of time in a windtunnel, had no testing, missed the Friday training, easily qualified and was absolutely magic in Verstappen’s hands. Last year major teams used Wirth’s F1 simulator for track simulation….without a windtunnel…. Maybe he found the pot of gold everybody is looking for. Or not 🙂 Interesting.

  5. Will there be any collaboration with Red Bull Technology or will this be a 100% designed and built by Torro Rosso car??

  6. @nutsenf

    “Later in the design process, simulations are used together with experiments.”

    At this point do the simulations give the same results as the experiments? If so then Nick Wirth’s route with CFD may well be justified, barring any errors in the base variables.

  7. Actually the other person I heard say they didn’t need a wind tunnel was Craig Breedlove. Which worked right up until he flipped onto his side at 675mph…

  8. @Darren:

    For any realistic problem/configuration, you never match experiments perfectly. I would be very surprised if Wirth’s strategy is going to pay off over a whole season. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out. If they are lucky and get the design right, they will look like heroes, but I can’t imagine that this will happen. What are they going to do if what they predict with their simulations is not observed on the track? Without a tunnel, they have no way of diagnosing the source of the problem. Seems like a very risky strategy.

    Joe: Do you have any additional info on Wirth’s reasoning behind all this?

  9. Wirth may be right. I as alluded to earlier by someone, Wirth designed the Acura LMP1 car that was to go toe to toe with Audi in American LeMans, but Audi suddenly pulled out.

    About the Acura, according to Wirth, he put a lot of F1 design influences into the car. The car pulled insane G forces, so much so the drivers couldn’t really explore the limits of the car because they were not fit enough like an F1 driver. He incorporated rear sized tires at all four corners which helped mechanical grip, but he also sculpted the body, floor, wings, and winglets sort of like an F1 car, which also helped grip. The car was a real beast.

    http://www.racecar-engineering.com/articles/sportscar/398292/developing-the-acura-arx-02a.html

    Found the article…I basically summarized it but if you want the good details I’d read it. Don’t be surprised by the Wirth entry next year.

  10. Looking @ statistics: it would be a lot wiser putting money on Max Verstappen than ManorGP. Changin subject: Mosley left the office but/however was Paul “stay out of this mad kitchen if you cannot resist the heat” right?Joe, things happened, million words are published but what is your word about Stoddart?The streetfighter F1 ahead of it’s time? Or?

  11. Anyone remember the original Simtek design? Now there was a truly radical F1 car. I was seriously disappointed when the much more conservative S941 eventually hit the tarmac, but it seemed to do extremely well for a new team. I wonder what made Nick Wirth abandon the original, CDF-designed car. Real world testing, perhaps?

  12. Please excuse my ignorence but I did a little research to find out just what CFD is. So I found this description which seems to go with the flow as opposed to Contracts For Difference haha.

    Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is the process of modelling fluid flows by the numerical solution of the governing partial differential equations or other mathematical equations of motion.

    Is it fair to say that on-track testing is now so limited that both methods CFD and Wind Tunnel are limited to their true potential?

    Carlos Orue

    1. Carlos,

      The big question about CFD is whether there are a sufficient number of “cells” in the virtual map of a car and the air that flows around it to create a realistic picture of what is happening. Nowadays with cluster computing it is a lot easier than it used to be and so systems have improved. It has been a long process. In 1996 I went to Ford’s Advanced Engineering Center in Dearborn, Michigan and reported that “the computer simulation laboratories are constantly developing new forms of computer aided engineering, which will be of great advantage to F1 teams as research and development can be done faster – and therefore cheaper. This is particularly useful in areas such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and thermal and aerodynamic systems engineering (TASE).The systems are advancing at such speed that computational wind-tunneling will soon be so sophisticated that it will probably not need to be verified in windtunnels.”

      According to Moore’s Law, the power of computers has been doubling every two years and thus the best current computers should be 64 times more powerful than they were back then…

  13. Back in 2002 I knew someone working for a pump company which trusted their CFD models (Tascflow) enough to develop pump designs purely on computer. I can’t recall the company name but it was German, werner, weiller or something like that. Computing power has come a long way since 2002, let alone 1997.

    Having said that there must be a lot they test in a tunnel apart from just flow over static bodies, like dynamic interactions of the various moving parts etc. I imagine you would pretty quickly chew up the computational capacity if you had to introduce deforming bodies and rotating tyres and stuff. Speaking of which, I wish they were allowed to develop aero parts which could deform under load.

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