Ferrari's aerodynamic ambitions

FERRARI's new windtunnel at Maranello, which is due to be opened next Spring, may take F1 by surprise. When he announced plans for the $15m facility last April Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo said that it would be a half-scale tunnel, but we hear that it has now been decided that Ferrari should leap ahead of the opposition with an eye for the future and is building a 66% facility with a high-speed rolling road.

If this is true it will be first of its kind in the world and the biggest rolling-road tunnel in use in F1. In the past teams have on occasion used 100% facilities without rolling roads but these are not much use to F1 aerodynamicists as they do not reveal much about the critical airflow between the car and the road surface.

F1 designers disagree on the best size for a windtunnel. Some feel that Grand Prix teams should aspire to full-sized facilities, while others consider that 40% is sufficient. A third school of thought argues that windtunnels will soon be redundant as electronic simulation techniques - computational fluid dynamics - develop.

The major drawback with a two-thirds scale tunnel is that building models becomes more complicated and expensive. The expense does not seem to matter at Ferrari at the moment. The $15m price tag is sure to go up with the size of the tunnel.

Indianapolis City Council recently did a study into establishing a 100% rolling road facility but gave up the project when estimates passed $25m.

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