Advantage on the Race Track: Virtually Simulate Racecar Performance


Racecar performance is measured by speed, lap times, and driver rankings. But the foundation of these metrics is the engineering of the car, including the engine, suspension, and body design.  Aerodynamics and airflow management plays a vital role in every aspect of vehicle engineering, and balance is required between aerodynamic drag, down force, lift balance, lateral force and moment, and cooling flow rates for the engine and brakes.

SIMULIA PowerFLOW fits into the rapidly changing environment of racing by providing a broad range of data and flow visualization, which can be used to tune the vehicle design for optimal performance. You can compute the dependence on ride heights, vehicle speed, wheel positions, and crosswind or slip angles by simulating key points on the track circuit and evaluate the effects of your aerodynamic tuning and design choices.

SIMULIA PowerFLOW aerodynamic simulation of Tatuus racecar.

A common factor among various race cars and high-performance vehicles is that aerodynamic devices such as wings, splitter plates, spoilers, and underbody ground effects are used to capture high pressure on the upper surfaces of the vehicle, and create suction on lower surfaces. These devices often produce highly transient flow features such as vortices and wakes, which must be well-understood in order to tune the vehicle shape. PowerFLOW’s inherently transient simulation approach provides accuracy and is a valuable tool for understanding the time-dependent flow structure. Insight into the aerodynamic behavior leads to ideas for improvement, and ultimately to reduce lap times.


Race vehicles offer a range of airflow management challenges.  Diverting flow to cool the high-performance engine and brakes has associated cost in vehicle drag and down force.  PowerFLOW’s thermal management capabilities provide a unified approach to optimizing shape, cooling paths, and heat exchanger or brake cooling performance.