Formula One Car Designers need Maths

February 1, 2012

In a recent article in The Guardian, UK Ian Wright, the chief engineer for vehicle dynamics with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team, said: “There’s definitely a shortage of the right people. What we’ve found is that somebody spot on in terms of the maths can’t do the software; if they’re spot on in terms of the software, they can’t do the maths.”

Mathspig looked up the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One website and found this ad:

Senior Mechanical Designer (or Design Engineer)

Knowledge of Catia V5, suspension systems, vehicle dynamics, hydraulic systems and composites would be an advantage. Flexibility in hours and approach is required, along with a positive ‘can do’ attitude and the skill to communicate effectively. The ability to work unsupervised and with a very high degree of drive and self-responsibility is essential.

Well, of course, mathspigs, you need a high level of drive to work in a Formula 1 team, but you also need maths. See Can a Formula 1 Car drive Upside Down?

There is a lot of maths in designing F1 racing cars.

Simple Maths

More @ racemath

to complex maths involving aerodynamics

More @ Build Your Own Racing Car

Formula One Design

The following video gives a very good insight into Formula One Car Design and Aerodynamics

Formula One Design Maths

Here is a grab of Formula One Design Maths from Formula1 Website:

The Bernoulli principle has a big role in the operation of the aerodynamic surfaces of an F1 car. The Bernoulli principle is expressed by an equation, which states that for a given volume of fluid, the total energy remains constant. This means that when a fluid is in relative motion, the energy is split into the ‘parts’. The sum of these parts will not exceed a certain value, which will remain constant as long as the external conditions do not change.

The three parts of the total energy are:

1)  The pressure energy within the fluid.

2)  The movement of the air (kinetic energy)

3)  The potential energy of the air (in this case, elevation)

This can be written as:

p + 1/2 r v2+ rgh = some constant

p = Pressure

r = Density of fluid

v = Velocity of fluid

g = Acceleration due to Gravity

h = Height of fluid above some reference point

Your average track is fairly level, so a race car will not have enough change in elevation to make the potential energy a variable, so we take this potential energy as a ‘constant’and therefore are able to remove it from the equation. This leaves us with:

p + 1/2 r v2 = some (other) constant

We can rewrite this as:

p + q = H

p = static Pressure

q = 1/2 rv2 = dynamic pressure

H = some (other) constant

This basically means that if the dynamic pressure increases, the static pressure has to decrease and if the dynamic pressure decreases, the static pressure will increase. This means that if we speed up a fluid, the pressure will fall.

CONCLUSION, mathspigs,

Formula 1 Car Designers need maths.



  1. this was really helpful for my school work

    • Woo Hoo! Mathspig

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