Evolving cars: Oracle Red Bull F1 and load cells

Published On: May 28 2024

The upgrades to Red Bull’s F1 car for the 2024 season, the RB20, may have been contributed in a small way in their win in Japan earlier in the season. The reason is that the performance has already, to some extent, been predicted for this “more extreme version” of the 2023 cars during testing.

Theory and performance

According to Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey quoted in an article for Crash magazine

“We know what performance it theoretically gave. As far as we can see from the pressure sensors and load cells then it delivered what it said on the tin from the wind tunnel … It was a small step forward. I think (that) weekend we’d probably have been OK anyway. We all know it’s going to tighten up so we just keep pushing.”


Evolution of the RB20

It’s always interesting to see how teams evolve the design of their cars from season to season, always careful to stay within the rules. On the Oracle Red Bull racing website, you can view the RB20’s modifications from the previous season’s car simply by rolling your mouse over the rather lovely image. It reveals, for example that the floor has been made which will be “crucial to the RB20’s performance”, plus changes to the suspension of this 151kg car.


Automotive testing and wind tunnels

Wind tunnels testing have been used extensively in the automotive section to test almost any vehicle from an F1 car to performance bicycles.

In 2022, we wrote about the world’s most advance wind tunnel, the Honda HALO, and the eye-watering $124million price tag to build it.

“Honda’s new rolling road wind tunnel in Ohio uses a rig whereby vehicles have their brakes and suspension disconnected. The vehicle is them mounted on load cells to keep it at a constant ride height … The balance (scale) that measures aerodynamic load features a 3-axis load cell in the tower with a Drag Force Sensitivity = +/- 2.5 Newtons (2.5 N).)”

For the full story, see ur other blog.


Cycling in a wind tunnel

Most wind tunnels are constructed for vehicles, but the Silverstone Sports Engineering Hub’s (SSEH) wind tunnel operates at speeds suitable for testing in sports such as cycling. The wind tunnel has two unique features that probably involve some load cells!

“The Aero Cycling Simulator – As the rider increases their wheel speed the fan speed increases. Consequently, adopting a more aerodynamically favourable position causes a reduction in roller resistance thus reducing the power required to maintain a desired speed.

Power Absorption Resistance Rollers – The resistance rollers absorb power from the rider. Therefore, the rider feels different levels of cycling resistance controlled by the engineer, or this can be set to automatically adjust, to create realistic riding conditions in the Cycling Wind Tunnel.”


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