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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. Equivalent pre-requisites to those listed must be approved by the Module Leader. Exchange Students must consult the Module Leader before registering for this module.

Aims and Objectives

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

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

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

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



MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: SESA2022 and SESA3033

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