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F1 Team - Hydraulic Wind Tunnel upgrade project header image

F1 Team - Hydraulic Wind Tunnel upgrade project

Following the successful supply of 4 trackside hydraulic power packs designed and manufactured by Zeus Hydratech, our hydraulic design team were approached once again by Alpine F1 to help with another project.

This time, it was the Aero department that needed assistance to upgrade their wind tunnel actuation system. The wind tunnel models are 60% scale and have full working suspension. To allow the wind tunnel operators to change the ride height and attitude of the car in relation to the rolling conveyor in which is rides, they use a single wing that docks to the model body which in turn is moved by actuators.

The existing wing actuators were of electrical design, which although reliable, were not able to satisfy the demand for faster response times. After completing their research, the aero team concluded that hydraulic actuators were the only suitable solution to achieve the desired response time and pressure demands. A new hydraulic power pack and electrical control panel package was required. 


FIA regulations state that F1 teams must adhere to strict guidelines while developing their aero packages. All teams are only allowed to utilise one wind tunnel, and the time within the tunnel is also restricted. With these considerations in mind, reliability for the hydraulic actuation system was of paramount importance to avoid any wasted development time. As part of our design, it was requested that our hydraulic power pack had full redundancy in the event of a pump/motor failure. In addition, servo valves were specified for the control of the central wing actuator which calls for a high standard of fluid cleanliness. Due to the way in which the wind tunnel is configured, remote operation of the hydraulic power pack was also necessary. A full suite of sensors to provide feedback to the control room would be also be required to permit remote changes, but also receive critical performance feedback.   


As with all hydraulic power pack units designed by Zeus Hydratech, we start by reviewing the key elements required to ensure we produce a system that will give reliable performance. We wanted to make sure we gave the team a power pack that would allow them to switch over the standby system seamlessly. We also wanted to ensure we specified a class leading filtration plus a dedicated particle counter system. Once the working pressure and flow had been confirmed by the client, the relevant calculations were completed by our team. Further to this, a detailed hydraulic schematic and GA (General Arrangement) drawing was created using Solidworks software, which was then shared with the team to review and confirm it would fit in the available space.

Following drawing sign off, component selection was completed - For systems that require such high performance, correct component selection is critical. It is for this reason that we carefully handpick the components that only meet with our high standards.  

In addition to the HPU performance, we also wanted to consider site installation, so designed the power unit to have lifting eyes to ensure the overhead crane could lift the power pack into position on the upper floor above the wind tunnel. 

The steel structure was fabricated, laser cut components cut in accordance with our fabrication drawings, then the complete fabrication was 'first fixed' to ensure all components fitted before being stripped down and sent for paint. Following final assembly, the power pack and control panel was FAT (Factory Acceptance Tested) at Zeus Hydratech HQ (Bristol) to ensure all performance criteria was met.  

Below: Testing the SUN Hydraulics remote pressure adjustment mobile App system. 


Further to the initial design process, fabrication and assembly of the hydraulic power pack was completed within the quoted 11 weeks. Incorporating class leading components, the new power pack included the following functions:

  • SUN Hydraulics remote pressure adjustment valves (to permit remote pressure adjustment either from the operators PC or mobile app pictured above) 
  • Dedicated oil filtration kidney loop system with 6µ absolute filtration. 
  • Electrical blocking indicators on both return filter systems. 
  • MP Filtri IFM particle counter with Wi-Fi enabled remote feedback.
  • Dual pump sets with electrical switch over feedback. 
  • Digital pump temperature sensors. 

The new power pack features all the critical feedback requested by the client which gives total peace of mind while operating the HPU from their control room. In the event of a pump/motor failure, the standby unit can be utilised with nothing other than a simple lever move. 

Below: Completed power pack following successful FAT (Factory Acceptance Test) at Zeus HQ

Mark Gilmore | Principal Mechanical Engineer commented.

“Zeus provided a very well designed and executed bespoke power pack, Communication and support was excellent with everything delivered well within a very short time frame.
We continue to use and would recommend their services."

Vat Reg Number: 846644204 Company Registration Number: 5230249

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