Computational and experimental investigation of the flow structure and vortex dynamics in the wake of a Formula 1 tire

John Axerio
Gianluca Iaccarino
Emin Issakhanian, Loyola Marymount University
Chris Elkins
John Eaton


The flowfield around a 60% scale stationary Formula 1 tire in contact with the ground in a closed wind tunnel was examined experimentally in order to assess the accuracy of different turbulence modeling techniques. The results of steady RANS and Large Eddy Simulation (LES) were compared with PIV data, which was obtained within the same project. The far wake structure behind the wheel was dominated by two strong counter-rotating vortices. The locations of the vortex cores, extracted from the LES and PIV data as well as computed using different RANS models, showed that the LES predictions are closest to the PIV vortex cores. All turbulence models were able to accurately predict the region of strong downward velocity between the vortex cores in the center-plane of the tire, but discrepancies arose when velocity profiles were compared close to the inboard and outboard edges of the tire. These discrepancies could be due to the sensitivity of the CFD solution to the tire shoulder profile, which may not exactly match the experimental profile. In the near wake region directly behind the contact patch of the tire, contour plots of in-plane velocity were compared for all three datasets. The LES simulation again matched well with the PIV data.