With cost cutting high on the agenda of Formula 1 team’s up and down the pit lane, the Infiniti Red Bull Racing and Williams Martini Racing team’s have disagreed with each other over the usage of windtunnels.
Christian Horner, the Team Boss of Red Bull, said one way of saving money would be to stop using windtunnels, but Williams Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams believes this is not the way to go.
“If you wanted to go really extreme and be really controversial, get rid of the windtunnel,” said Horner to Autosport. “It’s an expensive thing to run and to feed with components and parts. Get back to engineering ingenuity.
“Give everybody the same microchip for the CFD cluster and make it down to the brainpower within the team as opposed to computer or windtunnel power. Why not be radical? Why not make everybody have the same processes?
“If I was Bernie [Ecclestone] or Jean [Todt, FIA president], that’s the direction I would be looking at.”
Despite Red Bull Racing having their own windtunnel, Horner admits the team would be willing to stop using the facility if it was to benefit the long-term future of Formula 1.
“[A windtunnel ban] wouldn’t sit comfortably with us, but if we genuinely believed it was the right thing to do, we’d rent it commercially for another use,” added Horner.
“As a business – as Sauber has demonstrated – they’re subsidising a Formula 1 team by making their windtunnel available to third parties. There are always ways. Frank [Williams] has two windtunnels, and his team only uses one.”
However, in response to Horner’s opinion, Claire Williams believes the idea would be counter-productive, as it would increase costs in the short-term, and that the team would veto any plans to ban their use.
“As a team that has invested heavily in windtunnels – we have two, the second of which we put in at a cost of millions – we wouldn’t support a ban on them,” said Williams.
“I think there are things you can do from a cost-control perspective before you go down that route. Of course it would generate a big saving in the long-term, but in the short-term its going to drive costs because you have to counterbalance aero, you have to counterbalance using a windtunnel with other technologies.
“You have to invest more in CAD and CFD, get rid of a whole load of people and make them redundant, which we don’t want to do, and that costs you money anyway.”