Team DUT’s aerodynamic challenge

Formula Student Team Delft has presented its design for the all-electric racing car DUT15 that is to be rolled-out in June.
A small white racing car whiffs over the tarmac in an amazing act of control.

You hardly hear any tire screeching as the car streaks along its curvy trail, glued to the abandoned airstrip. There’s just this high-pitched electronic whistle in the air as the DUT14 brakes, steers and accelerates at astonishing rates: from zero to hundred in 2.3 seconds. Welcome to Formula Student’s world of electronic racing.

Like its predecessor, the DUT15 will weigh about 150 kilograms and have a maximum power of 140-150 horsepower (108 kilowatt). The one-gear in-wheel drive train will also be maintained, albeit in a 60% thinner version.

The main difference between the two cars concerns the aerodynamics. DUT14 had a 1.5 meter wide back wing, often erroneously called a spoiler, to create the downforce to keep the car on the road in high-speed curves. New regulations however limit the width of the wings to the wheelbase. This made the new aerodynamic design a challenge.

The aerodynamics team, led by Daniel Muusers, had a cluster of 36 computers perform some serious computational fluid dynamics before they came up with the new aerodynamic package. This includes a front and rear wing, sidepods and an undertray which, taken together, create enough downforce to allow the car to drive upside down at speeds over 100 km/h. The wing package is directly mounted onto the wheels, and not to the sprung chassis as before.

The inevitable extra weight and drag of the wing package must be compensated by weight reductions elsewhere (hence the thinner drive-trains). At 7.2 kWh, the battery pack contains 10% more power at the same weight (40 kilograms). The car will need the extra energy because of the new wing set, explained technical and financial manager Patrick Jahn.

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