Postprint version. Published in The Aeronautical Journal, Volume 118, Issue 1210, December 1, 2014, pages 1409-1431.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author G. Doig was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
A numerical investigation has been conducted into the influence of flow compressibility effects around an open-wheeled racing car. A geometry was created to comply with 2012 F1 regulations. Incompressible and compressible CFD simulations were compared-firstly with models which maintained Reynolds number as Mach number increased, and secondly allowing Mach number and Reynolds number to increase together as they would on track. Results demonstrated significant changes to predicted aerodynamic performance even below Mach 0·15. While the full car coefficients differed by a few percent, individual components (particularly the rear wheels and the floor/ diffuser area) showed discrepancies of over 10% at higher Mach numbers when compressible and incompressible predictions were compared. Components in close ground proximity were most affected due to the ground effect. The additional computational expense required for the more physically-realistic compressible simulations would therefore be an additional consideration when seeking to obtain maximum accuracy even at low freestream Mach numbers.