The preliminary design’s purpose is to determine the general layout of the car’s components. Designers must meet packing constraints and other standards such as CG position for weight distribution and handling balance requirements. Aerodynamics may define much of the package form, especially in the case of ground effect vehicles, depending on the aerodynamic levels permitted by laws.

Some data collection is required at this step to distribute components throughout the vehicle correctly. If no valid data is available, the design team should make an educated guess. The size and weight of the features are the most relevant details here. This is used to create a basic layout of component locations, from which an estimate of total weight and CG location may be calculated.

Detailed Planning

A lot of information from the preliminary design will be accessible at the start of this stage, and this data should be compared to the design objectives. The following are some examples of data from the preliminary design:

• Body form from preliminary CFD models and wind tunnel testing; • Overall dimensions, component locations, and packaging; • Power curve from engine manufacturer; • Tyre data from the supplier;
• Adjustment ranges for weight distribution and CG position.

Individual pieces will begin to be designed at this time. The component design should initially include a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA). Several failure modes for a part (or system) are provided in this analysis. The design team should arbitrate values to quantify the likelihood of a certain failure mode occurring, the possibility of detection, and the severity of that specific failure mode (failure consequences). These three factors will be represented in a score that indicates how important a particular way of failure is, allowing the design team to focus their efforts where they are most needed.


The most important part of a race car’s design is testing. If not enough testing is conducted, much design effort may be wasted. Off-season testing is restricted in some categories, such as Formula 1, to cut expenses. This leaves the engineers with only the pre-season testing and free practices to work on the vehicles.

Pre-season testing usually consists of a series of one-week-long activities. The purpose of pre-season testing is to ensure that the car’s mechanical and aerodynamic behavior is as intended during design. In addition, the components’ and structures’ dependability is evaluated, and potential system faults are recognized.

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