A partnership between KAUST and McLaren to win the challenges of the Jeddah circuit

In a unique partnership with one of the most prestigious stables in the world, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) contributes all its technical expertise to bring McLaren to the winners’ podium at the Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit.

When McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris finished first and second respectively in the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix last September, the time difference between them was very small (1,747 seconds), even if they were only a few seconds slower. in competition. which is considered the fastest circuit in Formula One, he dropped from the top of the pack and was in the middle of the competitor list.

That’s why i team F1 drivers spend tens of millions of dollars a year tweaking theirs auto such as aerodynamics, fuel combustion and improving digital metrics, striving to win milliseconds every lap and corner of the race.

But when the ten teams line up today at the Jeddah Corniche for the inaugural Saudi F1 Grand Prix, which is the fastest F1 street circuit ever, with a speed media of 252 km / h, it will be the only one team McLaren with the ground advantage.

In 2018, McLaren Racing signed a five-year research partnership with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) to develop auto Formula 1 racing. McLaren races through the curves and tracks of the Jeddah Corniche circuit a few seconds faster than other teams.

Although the engine of the Formula 1 cars is powerful, it is not enough to win the race, e in this context Professor Matteo Barsani, Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics and Computational Sciences at KAUST, wonders why a Formula 1 car is faster in track of a motorcycle, which can also reach speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour ?. The answer is air aerodynamics, which reduces the impact of the air hitting theauto in so as not to affect its speed and gives it the necessary stability, which allows the drivers to overcome the corners at high speed, and this is very useful in the Jeddah Corniche circuit, which contains 27 laps.

When testing the aerodynamics of the auto, most racing teams use i test in wind tunnel, which are expensive and time consuming. More recently, Formula 1 has adopted the test Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), which relies on supercomputing to simulate and greatly improve surface airflow, and as F1 sporting regulations place strict limits on the number of CPU hours allowed by racing teams, all teams are looking for the best computational algorithms that require little processing. To this end, the professor Parsani and colleagues at the KAUST Supercomputing Research Center conceded in license in exclusive to McLaren their latest solution software for precision modeling of turbulent airflow.

ambitious journey

Aerodynamics research is part of an ambitious partnership agenda between KAUST and McLaren, which has broadened its reach since the development of auto performance, to help McLaren make its ten-year commitment to carbon neutral and support education in STEM, says Mark Barnett, Director of Research and Innovation at McLaren Racing: “KAUST communicates through its world-class research facilities, the faculty and a desire to combine emerging technologies with sustainability initiatives to help us along our ambitious journey.” .

But the main reason McLaren Racing first attracted KAUST was fuel research.

As part of this partnership, a group of KAUST students were sent to watch McLaren’s racing team during the 2019 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix, and among the students was Altinay Kaidarova, a PhD student. in electrical and computer engineering, where he assisted in first person to the enormous pressures, which they put in act the McLaren drivers on theirs auto, including extreme accelerations and high internal temperatures.

Upon his return to university, under the guidance of professor Jürgen Kosel, decided to develop custom sensors using KAUST’s advanced manufacturing techniques.

Kaidarova chose graphene – an atom-thick sheet of pure carbon that is 100 times stronger (and lighter) than steel – and was in able to design printed sensors in 3D in able to measure stress, airflow and inertia in the harsh environments that F1 faces, both indoors and outdoors.

Armed with the technologies that KAUST students and researchers helped develop, McLaren hopes to win at the Jeddah Corniche circuit.

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