The University of Southampton

SESA6072 Race Car Aerodynamics

Module Overview

The student will gain insight on major aerodynamic features associated with vehicle and race car aerodynamics, including aerodynamics of overall car, aerodynamics of major devices, test facilities and experimental methods, test setup, etc. The most important aspects of race car aerodynamics will be covered by the both module coordinator and industry lecturers.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Introduce vehicle and race car aerodynamics. • Introduce major types of aerodynamic test facilities and model set-up. • Introduce major component aerodynamics. • Race car wind tunnel test.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The role of aerodynamics in the behaviour of high-performance road vehicles such as Formula One racing cars. The course will focus on major components of racing car, such as wing, diffuser, wheel, their interactive aerodynamics such as wing-wheel interaction, and ground effect aerodynamics.
  • An overview of wind-tunnel testing of race vehicles
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand basic racing car aerodynamics and its design implications
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Study and learn, both independently
  • Perform aerodynamic analysis of race car aerodynamics tests
  • Effective communications through technical reports
  • Demonstrate study and time management skills
  • Solve problems
  • Highlight critical issues within a complex environment such as high-performance road-vehicle aerodynamic design
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Able to conduct performance analysis


Introduction (5 lectures) - Main aerodynamics features of race car. - Aerodynamics performance analysis of race car. - Aerodynamic terms and concepts. Wind tunnel operation (5 lectures) - Low speed wind tunnels and techniques for race car testing. - Operational considerations, model design. - Flow quality and repeatability. - Moving-ground simulation requirement. - Role of data sampling and analysis. - Force and pressure measurements (balance, pressure taps, etc.). Single element wings in ground effect (5 lectures) Multiple element wings in ground effect (3 lectures) Diffuser in ground effect (3 lectures) Oscillatory wing in ground effect (4 lectures) Gurney Flaps (2 lectures) Wheel aerodynamics (2 lectures) Applications of numerical modelling (3 lectures) Industrial perspective (4 guest lectures) - A summary of the main engineering sources of race car performance and a look at the future of race car aerodynamics and CFD. - Automotive wind tunnels and detailed race car wind tunnel research - Applied aerodynamics for automotive and race car design

Special Features


Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures • Wind tunnel Labs • Supporting material on Blackboard and Library webpage.

Preparation for scheduled sessions2
Practical classes and workshops3
Completion of assessment task30
Follow-up work
Wider reading or practice20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

P. Wright (2001). Formula 1 Technology. 

J. Katz (1995). Race Car Aerodynamics. 


Assessment Strategy



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 30%
Exam  (120 minutes) 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: Aerodynamics PII/Applied Aerodynamics PIII. Or equivalent plus approval by module co-ordinator (Dr Angland). Exchange Students must consult module co-ordinator (Dr Angland) before registering for this module.


To study this module, you will need to have studied the following module(s):

SESA3033Wing Aerodynamics
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