Red Bull Racing Heading for #1

Last week I had the opportunity to join a scrum of reporters on a tour of Red Bull Racing’s design facility outside of London, England. For our non-racing audience, Red Bull Racing is one of about a dozen Formula 1 racing teams that compete globally. Last year the Red Bull Racing Team came in 2nd overall, and this year they appear to be the team to beat. Their facility in England employs about 600 designers, engineers and other staff dedicated to building really fast cars. This year they will design, test and build three new Formula 1 cars to compete during in the 2010 season.

Platform Computing is one of Red Bull Racing’s Innovation Partners, and together our two organizations are developing ways to get more out of their computing environment, which they use to design their cars. The governing body of Formula 1 racing, the FIA, has put restrictions on how much compute horsepower teams can use; so getting the most out of their computer grid gives Red Bull Racing a huge competitive advantage.

One of the biggest uses of Red Bull’s grid is to run software simulations of fluid dynamics tests (called Computational Fluid Dynamics or CFD). Traditionally these tests would be performed in wind tunnels with scale models of the cars; done on computer grids, the cost of testing can be reduced dramatically and the number of designs and conditions tested can be increased vastly. This is the same technology that many of our other customers, including GM and Audi, use to design their cars to make them more streamlined and subsequently more energy efficient.

In the case of Red Bull Racing, CFD is used for very complex simulations. Besides reducing the profiles of their Formula 1 cars they are also trying to make the cars hug the ground more tightly for better traction. This is done by designing the car like an upside-down wing. Oh, and did I mention that companies like Airbus and Boeing use CFD software (also run on Platform grids) to design jets? Same deal only with the “lift” used in reverse.
I must admit I’m more of an NFL fan, but this year I will be watching Formula 1 racing and cheering for the Red Bull Racing – Platform Computing team, naturally.

Stephen Mounsey of Scientific Computing World admires the surreal design of one of Red Bull Racing’s famous Formula 1 cars.
(Photo Credit: Tom Zsolt)


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