Volkswagen is tackling the Nürburgring-Nordschleife this year instead of Pikes Peak with its electric ID. R racer. Because of this change in course—a race track instead of a hill climb, full-throttle sections instead of hair-pins—Volkswagen is focusing on the development of the aerodynamics.
Volkswagen ID. R in the wind tunnel
Though almost identical in length at roughly 20 kilometers, the Nordschleife presents a completely different challenge for aerodynamics in comparison to the hill climb at Pikes Peak. In the USA it was all about maximum downforce, but because the speeds are a lot higher on the Nordschleife, the most efficient possible battery use is of much greater importance with regard to the aerodynamic configuration.—François-Xavier Demaison, Technical Director of Volkswagen Motorsport
On the Nordschleife, it is not primarily about downforce, but low drag as well. Furthermore, the air in the Eifel, which sits about 600 meters above sea level, is much denser in comparison to Pikes Peak, where the finish line is 4,302 meters high.
This results in completely different basic data for the measurements of the aerodynamic aids.—Hervé Dechipre, the engineer responsible for the ID. R’s aerodynamics
As well as an adapted floor and a new spoiler at the front of the vehicle, the ID. R will also sport a newly designed rear wing. It will be much lower than the variant used at Pikes Peak, in order to provide less surface resistance to the flow of air. The new multi-wing rear of the ID. R will nevertheless produce high downforce in the medium-fast turns of the 73-corner Nordschleife.
To further reduce the drag in certain sections, the rear wing will deploy technology known from its use in Formula 1—the Drag Reduction System (DRS). DRS is used in order to facilitate overtaking by allowing for higher speeds. During the ID. R’s solo-drive, however, the opening element of the rear wing will be used exclusively to preserve the remaining energy reserves.
Between when the rear wing is fully deployed and when it is flat, the difference in downforce is about 20%.—Hervé Dechipre
DRS will be particularly significant when the ID. R reaches the Döttinger Höhe, an almost three-kilometer-long straight at the end of the Nordschleife lap.
With an activated DRS, the car requires less energy to maintain its top speed over the entire Döttinger Höhe. The ID. R reaches its top speed quicker and with a lower use of energy.—Hervé Dechipre
With the ID. R as the racing spearhead of the future fully-electric production vehicles from the ID. family, the high potential of electric drive is combined with the emotion and fascination of motorsport. In this respect, there are not only technical, but aesthetic parallels as well. Similar to the future production vehicles from the ID. family, the ID. R also requires comparatively few openings in the bodywork to allow cooling air to flow.
The electric motors operate with little cooling. The ID. R therefore requires fewer air intakes than conventional race cars, which brings with it a great aerodynamic benefit.—Hervé Dechipre
As with the preparations for the record-breaking outing at Pikes Peak last year, Volkswagen has tested the ID. R’s aerodynamics in the wind tunnel, initially with a 1:2 model. The next step was to continue this detailed work with the original sized race car.
In order to be able to test as many variants as possible of the aerodynamic components that were also constructed using computer simulations, Volkswagen Motorsport once again took advantage of 3D printing. As a result, particularly complex designed plastic vehicle parts (that undergo only minimal loads) can be made in a short time and with high cost savings. A good example of this is the air deflectors in front of the rear wheel arch, which optimise the airflow around the rear wheel, said Dechipre.