SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Formula One technical heads have defended the use of expensive windtunnels after Force India deputy principal Bob Fernley suggested they were old-fashioned technology that should be banned to save money.
"I think it’s a clearly ridiculous provocative statement," Williams engineering head Pat Symonds told reporters at the Chinese Grand Prix on Friday.
"Our windtunnels are anything but dinosaurs. Just because a technology has been around for a while doesn’t mean that it joins those reptiles of old. Cars have been around for a long while. Are cars dinosaur technology?
"Maybe Bob ought to come and have a look at a decent windtunnel and just see how technically advanced they are," added the Briton.
Fernley, who has called for cost-cutting measures and a greater share of the revenues for teams struggling to survive, said last month that big savings could be made by replacing the tunnels with computer technology.
"Formula One is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport, we're supposed to be pushing the limits of technology," he told autosport.com. "But we're using a device in our aero departments which is archaic and is incredibly expensive to operate and to purchase.
"So why aren't we pushing the limits of CFD (computational fluid dynamics)? It does two things; it will make F1 more sustainable for all teams, particularly the independent teams, and it lowers the entry barrier for new teams coming in."
Force India, who struggled to get their 2015 car ready for the season due to cash flow problems, are using the Toyota windtunnel in Cologne, Germany.
Fernley estimated the annual cost of operating a windtunnel at $15-20 million compared to an investment of around $1 million on CFD with minimal running expenses.
Red Bull principal Christian Horner, whose team have been struggling on the track this season, has suggested a ban should be considered as a radical step but Ferrari technical head James Allison agreed with Symonds.
"The techniques we develop in both those spheres, in both windtunnel and CFD, are impressive by any measure," he said.
"We, as an industry, have caused the CFD tools for low speed aerodynamics to be pushed forward very nicely to the benefit of more than just Formula One so I don’t think there’s any need to worry about us using dinosaur technology."
(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis)