Sauber unveil all-new wind tunnel facility 16 Dec 2003
Sauber presented their new state-of-the-art wind tunnel to the media at their Hinwil headquarters in Switzerland on Tuesday. Construction of the tunnel has taken almost two years and cost around $55 million, making it the biggest single investment in the Swiss team's history.
"Aerodynamics is the primary factor affecting a modern Formula One car. Consequently, the wind tunnel is the primary tool for creating a successful racing car," said Team Principal Peter Sauber, explaining his decision to build the complex facility. "With the top teams having made enormous progress particularly in this area in recent years, we have a lot to catch up on."
Sauber's plans for the tunnel date back to 1999. Construction started on January 14 2002, and the facility's technical equipment was completed last Friday. The tunnel's calibration phase is due to end in February, after which the team hope to have enough time to use it to improve the aerodynamics of their new C23 ahead of the first European races of the 2004 season.
The Sauber wind tunnel features the most advanced technology currently available. The team say it will compare favourably with existing Formula One tunnels in areas such as wind speeds, the size of the test section and the models, the dimensions of the "Rolling Road", and the "Model Motion System", as well as data acquisition technology.
The wind tunnel is of a closed-circuit design and features a total of 141 metres of steel tubing. Its fan has a maximum power of 3000 kW, allowing for wind speeds of up to 300 kph. The same velocity is achieved by the steel belt of the Rolling Road, simulating the relative motion between the car and the road. The entire rolling road platform can also be rotated to simulate cornering or side-slip conditions up to a maximum angle of ten degrees, while road cells underneath the steel belt enable constant measuring of wheel lift.
With a 15-square-metre cross-section and a particularly long Rolling Road, the tunnel's test section is unusually large, allowing even road cars up to the size of vans to be measured. In most cases, Sauber's engineers will be working with 60% scale models, though certain measurements will be made on full-size Formula One cars as well. The tunnel can even perform tandem tests of 60% scale models to simulate air turbulences and slipstreaming conditions.