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July 21, 2021

Ansys and Red Bull Racing Honda Pave the Way to Track Success

Formula 1, the most watched motorsport in the world, represents the pinnacle of motorsport, bringing together world class drivers and the best engineering talent to deliver innovations that push the boundaries on the track and often influence design and innovation in the automotive industry. Winning only happens when the driver and machine are in perfect harmony – neither can do it alone.

With such fine margins, Formula 1 engineers must balance a multitude of competing design objectives for various track conditions. They have to ask themselves these questions:

  • What is the balance of aerodynamic efficiency versus downforce to trade straight line speed for cornering ability?
  • What materials do we use to ensure reliability for the race duration while meeting weight targets?
  • How do we prevent the incredibly powerful engines and powertrains from overheating when they are constrained into the cramped environment of the car?
  • How do we keep the driver safe in the event of an accident?


To add to the complexity, every racetrack is different – for example, the temperature and track altitude varies dramatically between different race locations, changing the air density and drag characteristics. So, the engineers must perform their multidisciplinary design optimization studies not just once – but for every single race, which are often just seven days apart. Not only do they need highly accurate design tools that give them the ability to deliver a race-winning advantage within the rules, but they also need the speed to do this between races.

Long-time Innovation Partner, Red Bull Racing Honda based at the Red Bull Technology Campus in Milton Keynes, UK has been a leader in Formula 1 since their debut at the 2005 Australian Grand Prix. They have gone on to win four double World Championships, and this year they charge on into their 17th season in the sport.

Optimizing Tools & Technologies to Build Championship Winning Formula 1 Cars

Since 2008, as part of an Innovation Partnership with Ansys, Red Bull Racing Honda has been using Ansys simulation technology across a range of critical application areas. The focus of the partnership has grown from an initial focus on aerodynamics simulation to solving cooling problems, managing and optimizing materials usage and IP, and ensuring the vehicle is designed to protect the drive in the event of a crash.


Aerodynamics play a huge and vital role in the performance of the car. With limitations brought in by Formula 1 involving the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and wind tunnel testing, the team at Red Bull Racing Honda is constantly tasked with optimizing processes, tools and technologies to ensure they are putting the best possible cars on the track each week. Leveraging Ansys Fluent meshing for their pre-processor tool of choice, the team can accurately generate models and computational meshes, enabling more aero simulation efficiency. And the use of Fluent CFD as the core component in their virtual wind tunnel enables the team to get their results quicker and more efficiently compared to physical wind tunnel testing.

Ensuring the engines and powertrains don’t overheat during a race and keep optimum performance throughout, the Red Bull Racing Honda team uses Fluent to develop their cooling circuit and cooling capabilities of the car, related to the power unit (PU).

A Formula 1 car is made of many different materials, from metals to composites and more. Ensuring full traceability of each material, process and engineering data is vital to make certain all members of the engineering team are using the same data. Ansys Granta MI is used to keep a comprehensive, single source of truth for all material information across the engineering team.

Lastly, the Red Bull Racing Honda team leverage Ansys LS-DYNA to collect even more data than is available from costly physical crash testing. These simulations allow the engineers to test impacts using virtual models, saving time and investment.

Today, digital simulation is a fundamental and integral part of Formula 1, as every team strives to engineer a winning car for each track that keeps their driver safe. To achieve the miniscule margin of victory required, there can be no compromise on the accuracy of simulations. Ansys is proud to be an innovation partner to Red Bull Racing Honda and continue to drive engineering productivity and slash design cycle time by helping engineers create enhanced car designs faster.

Want to know more? Download the full white paper to discover the details on how Ansys and Red Bull Racing Honda are paving the way to track successes.

Short on time? Check out the bite-sized case study!

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