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Editor: Jaap Horst

Volume 26, Issue 1

Bugatti Bolide design

Actually, the article consists of 4 parts:

Insight: Designing the Bugatti Bolide


Take a look at the creative force that powers Bugatti, and it is immediately obvious that a team of exceptionally talented designers are committed to a legacy of design excellence. This ambition is built on the incredibly rich history of Bugatti’s acclaimed racing heritage of the glorious 1920s and 1930s, while looking ahead to experiments that push the boundaries of technical innovation. As the most extreme vehicle concept in the French luxury brand’s recent history, the design journey of the Bugatti Bolide – aligned with the company’s core values of excellence, courage, dedication – is an inspiration in its own right.

Bugatti’s design ethos ‘Form follows performance’ for the Bugatti Bolide, the new hyper sports car that answers one of the great ‘what if?’ questions. What if Bugatti built a radically light vehicle around its iconic 8.0-litre W16 engine without any limitation as regards the weight-to-power ratio. The result is the most extreme, uncompromising, fastest and lightest vehicle concept in Bugatti’s modern era, with Molsheim’s famed W16 engine producing 1,850PS (Using 110 octane racing fuel; Engine output with 98 octane fuel at 1,600 hp.) and delivering performance akin to a Formula 1 car. Its top speed is well above 500 km/h without any compromises in maximum handling and maximum agility.

As a binding force behind one of the most ambitious experiments of Bugatti, designer Nils Sajonz was an integral part to the creation of the French luxury brand’s newest hyper sports car. Already instrumental in the design of a number of limited-run models before working in the team that shaped the Bugatti Bolide, Sajonz helped bring to life phenomenal flagship models such as the Divo, revealed in 2018, the one-off La Voiture Noire, in March 2019 and the Centodieci, in August of the same year. It is the hard work, maturity and tenacity that Sajonz gave to the design of the Bolide, while working in a team of five, that rewarded him with the recent promotion to Head of Special Projects at Bugatti Design.

“Working to design the Bugatti Bolide was a phenomenal experience,” said Nils Sajonz, Head of Special Projects at Bugatti. “The Bolide is an outpouring of expression from our design team. We recognised that a trackfocused hyper sports car represents the best next step for Bugatti, and the Bolide embodies an outstanding example for our design guiding principles. It is extreme, it is radical and it is contemporary, everything that Bugatti stands for. Bugatti never stands still and we are always searching for the next rousing goals.”

Sajonz joined the Bugatti design team in 2015, starting as an intern, and even wrote his university thesis on a Bugatti design study for autonomous racing. The designer’s experience in developing limited-run, concept and creative experiments makes him perfectly suited for the position of Head of Special Projects, taking charge of forthcoming studies to continue Bugatti’s unrivalled take on hyper sports car design. Supporting projects such as the Centodieci, Divo and La Voiture Noire gave Sajonz a first-hand view of what it takes to design the world’s most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive hyper sports cars. Sajonz will report directly to Achim Anscheidt, Director of Design.

Committed to a Bugatti legacy of exceptional design
“It is important for Bugatti to have many individual talents contributing towards the ultra-luxury and uniqueness that our customers as well as Bugatti enthusiasts have always associated with our brand. The Bugatti design team is underpinned by a unified group of exceptionally talented car designers who all are committed to a rich brand legacy, living up to our brand values,” said Achim Anscheidt, Design Director at Bugatti. “The development of the Bolide signals the ongoing ambition of Bugatti to lead in innovation while linking to our past, and Nils was central to this. Nils is a supremely talented designer and has already proven to be an extremely valuable member of our creative team.”

On the heritage of Bugatti design, Sajonz said: “Ever since I was a young boy, design and the beauty of things have shaped my life. The heritage of the Bugatti brand is not lost on me and I take great inspiration from the history of the celebrated racing cars such as the Bugatti Type 35 and Type 57SC Atlantic. You can see the racing heritage of Bugatti with subtle hints in the design of all our cars and now in the Bolide. It is important that future special projects retain the design identity of the brand, which is simply unrivalled.”

The Bugatti Bolide – a track-oriented thoroughbred of modern times
The experimental study of the Bugatti Bolide is a track-oriented hyper sports car featuring a W16 engine derived from series production as powertrain combined with a minimal body for maximum downforce. The Bolide features an incredible weight-to-power ratio of 0.67 kg per PS, made possible by the combination of the W16 engine with 1,850 PS and a vehicle weight of just 1,240 kilograms (The weight specification is based on the theoretically possible dry weight).

The selection of materials and production processes used with the Bolide represent a bold step forward for what is currently feasible and what will be possible in the future in hyper sports car design. A worldwide innovation is the morphable outer skin of the intake scoop on the roof, which provides active airflow optimisation. If the vehicle is driven at a slow speed, the surface of the scoop remains smooth. In contrast, a field of bubbles bulges out when driven at fast speeds. This reduces the aerodynamic drag of the scoop by 10 percent and ensures a 17 percent reduction in lift forces. The dramatic effect of the overall proportions is made clear with an overall height of only 995 millimetres – the same as an historic Bugatti Type 35.

On the groundbreaking design of the Bolide, Sajonz added: “Many of the design features of the Bolide are as important as a central style point as much as they are functional. The appearance of the Bugatti Bolide invokes the so-called X-planes of aviation history and shows a clear X signature from every perspective. This also heralds back to Bugatti’s track-bred heritage, with the X signature present on the front of the Bolide representing the taped ‘X’ that historic racing cars would use to cover headlights, preventing the spread of glass in the event of an accident. But these themes are consistent and contribute towards the overall dynamics and performance of the Bolide, which is unrivalled.”

Nils Sajonz, Head of Special Projects at the hart of Bugatti Design.

The Bugatti team developed a light monocoque made of carbon around the drive. The integral front end joined to it is also made of high-strength carbon fibres, as are the fully aerodynamically effective underbody and the monocoque itself. The single-fibre tensile strength of the fibres used is 6,750 newtons per square millimetre, the single-fibre stiffness is 350,000 newtons per square millimetre. These represent figures that are only reached in the aerospace industry.

Instead of water-to-air intercooling, the Bugatti Bolide has air-to-air intercooling with water pre-cooling for optimal performance on the racetrack. The two water coolers, which are arranged in front of the front axle, provide a more effective radiator system in terms of flow than is customary even in Formula 1. Newly developed and hybrid carbon titanium turbofan radial compressors ventilate and cool the high-performance ceramic racing brake system.

Bugatti Dimple Airscoop – a new invention for enhanced aerodynamics


The French luxury car manufacturer presented an extreme technological concept a few weeks ago – the Bugatti Bolide. The hyper sports car is a vehicle developed around the iconic 8.0 litre W16 engine, with 1,850 PS and weighing 1,240 kilograms. This ensures an incredible weight-to-power ratio of 0.67 kg/PS, a top speed of well over 500 km/h (Simulated figures), perfect handling and maximum agility.

The Bolide is packed full of technological innovations. Chief among which is the Dimple Airscoop – a new technology for which Ballerstein submitted a patent application a few weeks ago. Since the beginning of 2020, the engineer has been preparing a doctoral thesis project to develop a special morphable outer skin for the New Technologies department at Bugatti – and this has now been used for the first time in the Bugatti Bolide. The idea for the invention began in 2019, while Ballerstein was doing his master’s degree thesis. The young engineer was undertaking research for Bugatti, looking at new 3D-printed brake callipers made of titanium which cooled water as it flowed through. In order to improve the heat transfer and dissipate heat more selectively, he used a dimple pattern inside the channels. The rounded dents in the boundary layer produce turbulence – similar a golf ball. The result was that the fluid mixes better in the channels – and the temperature in the brake calliper drops. “I was positively surprised when I saw the results with the surface patterns. I then wondered whether the same effect couldn’t be achieved with air flow,” says Ballerstein.

Same advantages as golf ball design
For non-scientists, the effect of the aerodynamic design is similar to that of golf balls: the dimples on the surface minimise air drag to such an extent that the ball travels about twice as far with the same impact force compared to an identical golf ball without the dimples. The same principle applies: the dimples create turbulence on the surface of the golf ball so that air adheres better to the surface, thereby reducing the vortex flow in the slipstream of the ball and subsequently also the drag.

Ballerstein simulated test objects with dimple patterns in order to establish a factual basis to underpin his idea. After completing his master’s thesis, he stayed on with Bugatti while also starting his doctorate at the Institute of Aircraft Design and Lightweight Structures at the "Technische Universität" (Technical University) Braunschweig. He sees the Bolide project as a perfect way to advance his idea. “Everything about the Bolide is exceptional and extreme. The dimples further improve the car’s already excellent aerodynamics, thereby increasing agility and efficiency,” explains Frank Götzke, Head of New Technologies at Bugatti.

The morphable outer skin of the intake scoop on the roof is a world first: it ensures active airflow optimisation. When the vehicle is driven at a slow speed the surface of the scoop remains smooth, but at fast speeds a field of dimples bulges out. The 60 individual elements extend variably by up to 10 millimetres depending on the speed – if this benefits the driving state. From about 80 km/h upwards, air is the dominant resistance factor, and from about 120 km/h upwards the dimples significantly improve the car’s aerodynamics by reducing this resistance. As with the golf ball, the pattern causes a more turbulent boundary layer, which means that the air flowing around it adheres to the surface for longer and does not detach until later. As a result, the detachment and recirculation areas are reduced and the car’s cd value decreases. In order to respond swiftly to changes in speed, the dimples extend and retract very quickly, within tenths of a second, in the same way as the active rear wing on the Veyron and the Chiron2, for example.

Ten percent less drag
The overall result is that the dimples reduce the aerodynamic drag of the scoop by 10 per cent and cause a 17 percent decrease in lift (Simulated figure). Airflow to the rear wing is also optimised; at 320 km/h, the downforce on the rear wing is 1,800 kilograms while on the front wing it is 800 kilograms (Simulated figures). Another benefit is that the lower aerodynamic drag also reduces the vehicle’s fuel or energy consumption. “This is why the new technology is so crucial – not just for Bugatti,” explains Ballerstein. Optimised airflow can save energy on all vehicles, he says. “We’re still in the development phase, but tests so far show that dimples improve aerodynamics, thereby reducing drag and increasing efficiency,” adds Ballerstein.

“The Bugatti Bolide is indisputably the absolute culmination of automobile construction based around a combustion engine. In addition to the unique combination of 1,850 PS and 1,240 kilograms of dry weight, it is the multitude of technical innovations that define the concept of this racetrack-compatible hyper sports car – and it is precisely this consistently impressive level of innovation that Bugatti has proactively embraced for more than 110 years,” says Frank Götzke.

Frank Stephenson, Supercar Designer, Analyses The Bugatti Bolide.

The above Youtube link will usually disappear after months, or more.
In that case, download the movie from the
link for download ,
If the video does not start: store it and open it in an appropriate MP4 player, I use VLC media player.

Video by Bugatti, highlighting design features of the Bolide

Click on the above picture to start. Stefan Ellrott and Achim Anscheidt explain the concrept and details of the car to Le Mans winner Andy Wallace (test driver for Bugatti), who also drives the Bolide.
If the video does not start: store it and open it in an appropriate MP4 player, I use VLC media player.

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