Sample Thermal Model: March 2007
This sample model demonstrates the use of RadTherm in predicting racetrack surface temperatures for use in Formula 1 racing. The use of simulation for strategic planning, based on forecasted weather and effects on track temperature, can be a powerful ally in an event where the winner is only seconds ahead of the competition.
Formula 1 racing is unique in the race world because high-power braking is as crucial a factor as acceleration and top speed. Tire safety and wear rates are strong functions of racetrack temperature. Formula 1 rules require that tire choices be made before qualifying runs—a full day before the actual race begins. Thus, race teams must strategize and plan their tire choices to optimize performance during both qualifying runs and race day.
Using RadTherm, we can predict track and terrain temperatures for the racecourse at Silverstone, England. Actual weather data from the 2006 race day and two days preceding were employed to generate track temperatures. To show how predicted weather can be used, additional runs were conducted using modified weather data—bounding the simulation based on high and low temperature ambient and cloud conditions.
RadTherm’s advanced natural environment model enables complete heat transfer analysis of the track, stadium, and surroundings. Wind effects, cloud cover effects, and cold sky radiation losses are all concurrently computed in RadTherm over time, resulting in the industry’s most comprehensive transient thermal analysis in realistic environments.
Areas where the intensive braking takes place, just before encountering curves, were treated with an imposed power curve to represent the effects of severe braking. Ten% of braking energy was assumed to be dissipated into the track, with 90% consumed in the brakes. This braking energy was uniformly imposed over the braking zone through the duration of the race.
Silverstone Track Asphalt Layers
The track was modeled with several layers—a wear course that is replaced periodically. Beneath this layer is a base asphalt course, followed by a compacted gravel base, and then sandy loam soil to a depth of one meter. The monthly average ambient temperature for June was used as the 1m-deep constant core temperature.
The results of this study illustrate the effects of braking and diurnal environmental loading. This task is similar to an ongoing program at Montana State University supporting the Dept. of Transportation on planning for ice control on mountain roadways. Learn more about this subject.
Shadows do not play a large role in track temperatures at Silverstone because the course was created around an airfield, with no tall buildings adjacent to the course. However, at other locations, such as Monaco, buildings surround the course and create significant shadows that would affect the track temperature distribution around the course.
The upper plot shows the track temperature spatial distribution around the track at start time, middle and end of the race. This represents the temperature envelope that teams would need to plan for in choosing tires.
The lower plot shows transient results for track average and critical max./min. braking zones (for curves three and six), run at measured, possible high and possible low weather conditions during race time.
Numerous “what-if” simulations can be examined, and Formula 1 teams using this approach can make the optimal choice of tires to match the predicted track temperatures. Because RadTherm’s transient analysis calculation is highly optimized, simulations can be made within an hour or so of the cut-off time for registering the choice of tires. Like many other thermal analysis applications, this analysis demonstrates RadTherm’s value in speed, accuracy, and flexibility for transient environmental analysis.
Silverstone Race Animation (.WMV)
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RadTherm can predict Formula 1 racetrack surface temperatures. Simulations based on weather and track temperature can be a powerful ally in an event where a racer can win by mere seconds.
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