With the usual Sturm und Drang we expect from highly Bruce knights of Teuton, Bayerische Motoren Werke's wholly owned F1 race subsidiary, Sauber F1, just dropped a highly precise racing machine into the mix for the 2007 racing season. Featuring such innovative design elements as a more newish-looking nose, larger air ducts, a slimmer n' lower profile, and a huge-ass size increase in the rear crash-element. But what was most notable to us was the focus on precision so precise, they needed a press release talking about how BMW Sauber F1 needed a supercomputer named "Albert2" to monitor the air flow characteristics of the vehicle while in wind tunnel testing. According to the folks at BS F1, "Albert2" is "the most powerful of its kind in Formula One." We've got a gallery of this new precision instrument of racing and the press release on Albert2 after the jump.
Development work with state-of-the-art technology
During the development of the BMW Sauber F1.07, the aerodynamics department in Hinwil could rely on two strong partners: the modern wind tunnel and Albert2, the BMW Sauber F1 Team's new supercomputer.
The wind tunnel has been on stream since spring 2004. Measuring 65 metres long, 50 metres wide and 17 metres high, this building is particularly striking for its glass-clad fa ade. The technology there is state-of-the-art. When it comes to areas such as wind speed, testing area and models, rolling road dimensions, model motion system and data collection capability, the facility is at the highest technical level.
The tunnel has a closed-circuit design, measuring 141 metres in length and with a maximum tube diameter of 9.4 metres. The total weight of the steel elements, including the fan housing, is 480 tonnes. The single-stage axial fan with carbon rotor blades weighs 66 tonnes including the motor and housing. When operating at full load, the fan uses 3,000 kW of power, enabling wind speeds of up to 300 km/h.
The core element of any wind tunnel is the test section, where the models are exposed to air flow. The generous cross-section and length of the rolling road create optimum conditions for achieving precise results. The tests are mostly carried out with 60-percent models, but the aerodynamicists can also take measurements from 1:1 race cars. The entire measuring platform can be rotated in order to simulate not just frontal but also side-slip conditions at anangle of up to ten degrees.
"Albert2" has been installed on the ground floor. The team's new 21-tonne supercomputer was unveiled on 14th December 2006. Designed for CFD calculations, it is the most powerful of its kind in Formula One. In parallel with the measurements taken in the wind tunnel, the flow characteristics of the car are simulated on the computer. In other words, measurements are backed up by computational analysis.