• Here’s How the Bugatti Bolide’s Dimple Aero Device Works

Hint: like a golf ball

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Developed around Bugatti’s 8-liter quad-turbo W-16 engine, the Bolide ditches street credibility and wears track-only clothing. And not just any sort of clothing, but the latest and fanciest aero technology, with a big part being played by the dimple air scoop.

Here's How the Bugatti Bolide's Dimple Aero Device Works
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The dimple air scoop is the brainchild of Nils Ballerstein, an engineer who's been preparing his doctoral thesis project by working with Bugatti's New Technologies department on a "special morphable outer skin."

The term might sound vague, but it’s about active aerodynamics that go beyond an adjustable rear wing.

Ballerstein’s idea came in 2019, when he was trying to figure out how to cool 3D-printed titanium brake calipers using water. His solution was to use a pattern of round dimples inside the channels. Why? As fluid (in this case water) passes over the bumps, turbulences are created and the liquid mixes better in the channels, improving heat transfer. In other words, the temperature in the brake caliper dropped and cooling was more efficient.

Here's How the Bugatti Bolide's Dimple Aero Device Works
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Intrigued by the experiment's results, Ballerstein wanted to see if he can replicate the same effects with airflow.

Turns out, he could. The principle is identical to that of the dimpled golf ball, which can travel up to twice the distance of non-dimpled ball because those tiny bumps minimize air drag. And when Ballerstein needed to further test and advance his idea, Bugatti said yes, and gave him the chance to work on the Bolide.

This being Bugatti, though, the Bolide got an even more bonkers application of the dimple effect. The intake scoop can actually "morph" as in adjust the shape and distribution of the dimples. Here’s Bugatti’s explanation:

"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."

Here's How the Bugatti Bolide's Dimple Aero Device Works
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The carmaker also says that the car’s aerodynamic coefficient (Cd) value decreases and the dimples also reduce the scoop’s aero drag by 10-percent and are responsible for a 17-percent decrease in lift. What’s more, downforce on the rear wing at 320 km/h (199 mph) reaches 1,800 kilos (3,968 pounds) while on the front wing - the one connecting the rear wing to the roof - downforce is 800 kilos (1,764 pounds). So yeah, it looks like both the devil and the Bugatti Bolide are in the details.

Bugatti Bolide specifications
Engine W-16
Horsepower 1,824 HP
Torque 1,364 LB-FT
Weight 2,733 lbs
0 to 60 mph 2.2 seconds
Tudor Rus
Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert - tudor@topspeed.com
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read full bio
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