Wolff weighs pros and cons of 2020 wind tunnel ban

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has warned that Formula 1's prospective ban on the use of wind tunnels from 2030 could lead to safety concerns, but the Austrian also recognizes the cost benefit for the sport of the idea.

A potential ban on wind tunnel usage was tabled at the F1 Commission meeting that took place after the Portuguese GP.

The plan is based on the assumption that CFD technology will evolve in the coming years enough for F1 teams to dispense with wind tunnel development.

Wolff agrees in principle with the idea, but warns that relying on theoretical numerical analysis and data structures alone for aerodynamics could lead to real life safety concerns.

"I think there was broad agreement that over the long term this will happen," said Wolff. "But it is such a massive regulatory change that also involves certain safety aspects.

"We must not forget that these cars are the fastest on the planet, with the most downforce, and we don't want to experiment live with drivers in the cars based on CFD."

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The Austrian nevertheless acknowledged the cost and sustainability benefits of the CFD-only approach.

"I think setting a target like 2030 for banning wind tunnels is a path that works for everybody, and it's going to help us make the sport more sustainable from the financial side," said Wolff.

McLaren is currently in the process of building a new state of the art wind tunnel facility at Woking. Team boss Andreas Seidl took note of the plan tabled at the F1 Commission but insisted discussion were in their early days.

"The discussion we had there in the F1 Commission which is still early days and is something for the long term," said the German.

"We definitely see there is a possibility in the long-term future to ban at some stage or to reduce massively the use of wind tunnels, with CFD progressing fast, but at the same time, if you look at what CFD can do nowadays, we are still far away from not using wind tunnels, for various reasons.

"And so the discussion we had there is not having any influence on any short and medium term decisions."

Renault F1 executive director Marcin Budkowski said the idea of banning wind tunnel development is nothing new, but insists the plan is achievable.

"F1 loves a challenge, and I think if you tell us that in 10 years' time we move away from something that is essential for development, because we're going to ramp up the simulation part of it, I think it's doable," he said.

"Every time this topic came up before it was let's ban them in two years, let's ban them in three years, which wasn't realistic.

"So as an objective for 10 years' time, which is in line with the sustainability message that we're building around F1, it's a realistic prospect."

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