De la Rosa: McLaren simulator “a few years ahead”

2013 F1 season

Pedro de la Rosa, Ferrari, Jerez, 2013Pedro de la Rosa says he understands the scale of the challenge Ferrari face to get their simulator up to the level of that of McLaren.

De la Rosa had his first run as a Ferrari driver today to help Ferrari advance their simulator programme.

“We are not where we want to be but I’m very comfortable with the people we have around and their determination to make the next step as well in the simulation programme,” de la Rosa told media at Jerez.

Asked how long it will take Ferrari to get on terms with Mclaren’s simulator he said: “Let’s be realistic. The McLaren simulator started in 2003 so they are obviously a few years ahead compared to other teams. We’ll see.

“The whole point of having me here is to accelerate this process. We’re not sure if it will take six months, one year or two year but we need to start to work flat out in order to catch up because there’s no testing, unfortunately, and this is a big handicap for all the teams that don’t have a very developed simulator.”

He said Ferrari need to “develop both hardware and software” in their simulator “but the first step has to come from the hardware, otherwise you can’t catch up on the software needed”.

A problem on the car halted his first run in a Ferrari on his second lap: “I tell you, when I stepped out of the car on the installation lap after a gearbox problem I was not feeling very happy,” he said.

“Because we waiting for an opportunity like this all your life. And then suddenly after a few corners you have to step out of the car. It was not clear if we could continue or not because there was also some parts that caught fire so it was not looking that bright.”

“I must say it was mixed emotions: I was very excited but then I went on a low. But the mechanics did a fantastic job really to turn the car around and we had a sensible afternoon. Which is critical because how expensive is one day of testing nowadays? You have to make well use of it.”

De la Rosa added the car was a huge improvement over the HRT he drove in 2012:

“I realise now what a real car how it handles and what is the level of grip of these modern F1 cars compared to what I had last year which was very, very different.

“And this will give very good, very solid platform to work on the next few weeks in our simulator. It’s going to be very important what we did today even if it hasn’t been long runs or many laps.”

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47 comments on De la Rosa: McLaren simulator “a few years ahead”

  1. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 8th February 2013, 18:04

    For years now, Ferrari have based their car development on unlimited testing. Sadly now that’s gone, the cars’ only been going backwards.

    • robfff said on 8th February 2013, 18:09

      And it is all pointless. The money they would have spent on testing will now just be spent on the simulator. These teams are not interested in saving money. They exist to win and so when they stop spending in one area, they will just use the money else ware.

      • Antonio (@antoniocorleone) said on 8th February 2013, 22:56

        For a long time i have not agreed with someone as I do with you…

      • turbotoaster (@) said on 9th February 2013, 10:19

        For the record I agree with his point. The fact that testing has been banned has not stopped the teams from spending their testing budget on expensive simulators. The spending is still the same, because that is what they need to spend in order to win. The difference between now and then was that test drivers no longer have experience on the track.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 9th February 2013, 14:55

        @robff, Exactly this is a development series, all that happens when something like testing is banned is that even more money is spent to work around the restrictions. Formula 1s ban on developments in the traditional areas means that massive amounts of money have to be spent chasing smaller and smaller gains in nontraditional areas that are totally irrelevant to any other area of motoring.

  2. BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th February 2013, 18:08

    I love how you have been able to get some really interesting remarks from several people this week @keithcollantine. No wonder Ferrari were (are) pushing for more testing while McLaren (and Red Bull too) are far less keen on that.

  3. andae23 (@andae23) said on 8th February 2013, 18:42

    … but we need to start to work flat out in order to catch up [with McLaren's simulator] because there’s no testing, unfortunately, and this is a big handicap for all the teams that don’t have a very developed simulator.

    Funny how quickly De La Rosa starts quoting Di Montezemolo. On a more serious note, this must be the reason Ferrari hired De La Rosa: to explain to them exactly how that simulator works. I still think that putting him behind the wheel of the actual F138 was a good idea: if you want to develop the simulator, the men who work on that must know exactly what ‘feeling’ they are looking for. Apart from putting pressure on the FIA (in true Ferrari tradition), I have no idea why he says the lack of testing is a disadvantage for teams with a less sophisticated simulator. Sure, the only way teams can investigate whether new parts work (apart from Friday testing) is the simulator, but that’s the same for every team. McLaren at one point have decided to invest in their simulator and now that hard work pays off. Ferrari decided not to invest in a simulator (or a wind tunnel for that matter), and the problems they have experienced in the past years are just a consequence of this. It’s a nuisance for them, yes, but don’t blame others for it.

    Also: I’m very interested to see whether De La Rosa will drive in a Friday practice for ‘correlation’. Maybe Alonso’s and Massa’s input is sufficient, but who knows.

    • Giuseppe (@giuseppe) said on 8th February 2013, 18:53

      Ferrari has a long standing tradition of lagging behind in certain technologies or refinements. I’m not at all surprised that the McLaren simulator is “a few years ahead” of the Ferrari one. Ferrari has always relied on financial power and political pressure, rather than on innovation, to make up for whatever technology they were missing.

    • troutcor said on 9th February 2013, 5:08

      This is supposed to be auto racing, Andae, not video-gaming.
      Can you picture the greats of REAL auto racing dealing with this nonsense? Jim Clark? James Hunt? Senna? Nuvolari?
      No wonder non-entities like Bieber, er, Vettel succeed today.
      Boring.

      • andae23 (@andae23) said on 9th February 2013, 10:21

        @troutcor Formula 1 today is about developing the car: if Clark, Hunt, Senna and Nuvolari would have had a tool as vital as a simulator, there is no doubt in my mind that they would have used it.

        • andae23 (@andae23) said on 9th February 2013, 11:54

          Maybe adding to that: drivers today are not favored by using the simulator at all. The teams use the simulator to find the best set-up. So to say that Vettel should be regarded less good because his team has a simulator, then that’s a bit ignorant.

      • I would like to add to andae’s comment by asking the question why have you said this:

        No wonder non-entities like Bieber, er, Vettel succeed today.
        Boring.

        Firstly, there is no way to draw a meaningful comparison between today’s drivers and those of past eras, we can only speculate. Going by titles won though Vettel’s as good as any of them. Also, of all the drivers you could have selected Hunt and someone who wasn’t technically even an F1 driver Nuvolari?

        As for the comparison between Beiber and Vettel, just no. Beiber is a pathetic singer who was no concept of what it takes to be a man and has cancelled concerts before because he had a sore throat, Vettel drives very fast and dangerous cars in a hostile environment as a profession. Where is the comparison?

        • Where is the comparison?

          Uhhh, he just made it.

          This is supposed to be auto racing, Andae, not video-gaming.
          Can you picture the greats of REAL auto racing dealing with this nonsense? Jim Clark? James Hunt? Senna? Nuvolari?
          No wonder non-entities like Bieber, er, Vettel succeed today.
          Boring.

          x2

          What true fan of motorsports – the sport of cars being driven around circuits/tracks/courses at high speed – can say that they would prefer to watch their hero-drivers 1) testing their cars around actual circuits in real-life or 2) being filmed “driving” in a simulator?

          IS there even a comparison?

  4. Hairs (@hairs) said on 8th February 2013, 18:47

    It’s interesting just how interested Ferrari are in McLaren’s setup and personnel. Over the past few years, the flow of staff and knowledge seems (to us the public) fairly one-way.

    Yet in 2007 it was very much the opposite. An indication of just how happy the teams are with their own organisations, and the ebb and flow of form/power.

  5. mashadag (@mashadag) said on 8th February 2013, 19:50

    De la Rosa added the car was a huge improvement over the HRT he drove in 2012:

    Thi by far is the dimmest statement of 2013 so far….

  6. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 8th February 2013, 20:23

    …but Ferrari are still “a few points ahead” of McLaren, and that’s where the prize money comes from.
    The simulator arms-race is fascinating, particularly in the light of Webber’s comments earlier in the week about starting this season with a “Brazil car” rather than a “Melbourne car” – how relevant will Pedro’s adventures today be by the end, or even mid-season? As you say @andae23, surely he will need another go in the real car, just to keep track of the updates.

    I wonder what Gutierrez’s thoughts on simulators are? And when he’ll get to use one?

  7. Fixy (@fixy) said on 8th February 2013, 20:29

    Nice interview, one of the first I’ve read from de la Rosa. I like his way of telling things.

    I realise now what a real car how it handles and what is the level of grip of these modern F1 cars compared to what I had last year

    I guess the Sauber C29 and C30 were more similar to the F138 than the F112 was, so it’s strange for me to read this: was the difference between 2011 and 2012 so significant?

  8. Brace (@brace) said on 8th February 2013, 22:20

    I understand the point of saving money, but I don’t understand why Ferrari shouldn’t be allowed to use their own track in front of their doorstep, just because McLaren and Red Bull don’t have one. Testing on circuits like Jerez, Barcelona etc, are understandable exclusion since it takes quite a bit of money to get the team there, pay the owner and all of that, but running a car in your own backyard doesn’t really cost enough to justify the ban on testing.

    Ferrari should be allowed to use their track as they please, since McLaren and Red Bull can use their simulators and wind tunnels as they please. All things cost money, and it’s just a matter of which team feels what would be the best investment.

    Those are all investments made long ago, way before testing ban, so I don’t think they should be excluded from the rules, since they aren’t really piling additional costs on teams any more then some other allowed form of car development would.

    I can bet that work on simulator’s hardware and software will cost Ferrari as much money as running the car around the track would, since simulator requires constant upgrades, while track is kept operational either way, since they use it for their road cars too.

    It’s a bit unfair since every team made conscious decision to invest their money in what they thought would be the best for their car development.

    • skipgamer (@skipgamer) said on 9th February 2013, 5:32

      I can bet that work on simulator’s hardware and software will cost Ferrari as much money as running the car around the track would

      How can you even compare the cost of testing to having a simulator program. The cost of simulator hardware and even a full team of programmers working year round pales in significance to the cost of running a car for even a day!

      It’s a bit unfair since every team made conscious decision to invest their money in what they thought would be the best for their car development.

      If Ferrari chose not to develop a modern simulator it was not for a lack of funds, they simply thought it was not worth it, it is the fault of non other than themselves. I fail to see how the situation could be considered unfair at all.

    • skipgamer (@skipgamer) said on 9th February 2013, 5:34

      I can bet that work on simulator’s hardware and software will cost Ferrari as much money as running the car around the track would

      How can you even compare the cost of testing to having a simulator program. The cost of simulator hardware and even a full team of engineers and programmers working year round specifically on it pales in significance to the cost of running a car for even a day!

      It’s a bit unfair since every team made conscious decision to invest their money in what they thought would be the best for their car development.

      If Ferrari chose not to seriously develop a modern simulator it was not for a lack of funds, they simply thought it was not worth it, it is the fault of non other than themselves. I fail to see how the situation could be considered unfair at all.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 9th February 2013, 15:07

        Where on earth do you get the idea that running a car for a day costs more than running a simulator complete with a team of engineers and software developers for a year, that’s ludicrous.

        • nidzovski (@nidzovski) said on 9th February 2013, 20:28

          :))) it’s uncomparable for sure. I think that Ferrari (Luca) just don’t wont to admit that they are no longer the most important team in F1 and that every one should follow their game. I mean I know that they are the core of F1 but Luca seams to be stuck in the past. It’s a technology that plays the major role now, not just “engine”. I don’t like the idea that the situation is like it is but you can’t stop the technology. You can’t stop going “forward” and learning more and more.

          • I think that Ferrari (Luca) just don’t wont to admit that they are no longer the most important team in F1…

            But from a business or marketing perspective they might very well be the most important team – certainly moreso than Red Bull. It could be argued that, in terms of market credibility, Formula 1 needs Ferrari more than Ferrari needs Formula 1.

        • Baron (@baron) said on 10th February 2013, 1:09

          In season testing was banned for the reasons of excessive cost. You would have to use the same quota of engines again for testing and that is just one of the major costs – think about tyre costs too to say nothing of breakages crashes and the sheer logistics of a complete testing crew. You cannot even start an F1 car without at least a dozen personnel on hand. A simulator is not a substitute for live testing but it can help – and you need a good man to drive it such as Gary Paffet at McLaren. Ferrari also has a significant advantage as they could conduct their live tests in private as and when they liked. I do believe it gave them significant advantage during the Schumacher years.
          =
          Also, do you honestly think that if you have the personnel, in house, to design and build something as complex as an F1 car and all the monitoring software, plus the ability to change a cars operating parameters from a thousand miles away that they could not build their own simulators with existing resources?

    • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 9th February 2013, 22:41

      Ferrari were unable to see the way F1 was heading, whereas McLaren and Red Bull are.
      I think this also partially explains Ferraris wind tunnel problems as well.

  9. Paul A (@paul-a) said on 8th February 2013, 22:37

    OK, so “track testing” is banned for cost cutting reasons, but simulators are not in the budget? Marussia struggles to reach a minimum (say $50M) by getting rid of Glock, and Ferrari (say a $400M budget) can have de la Rosa saying “develop both hardware and software” to catch McLaren without any dollar figure attached.

    Cost cutting was introduced to try and prevent a “two-tier” paddock — but it seems to be failing quite miserably. Purely personal opinion: bring back publicly visible track testing; I’m sure there could be video/TV feeds for the fans. There are days that I fully agree with Domenicali and Montezemolo — we’re talking about motor racing, not computer games.

    • bring back publicly visible track testing; I’m sure there could be video/TV feeds for the fans.

      I agree w/ you 100%, but careful expressing such an opinion – testing is 100% against this site’s editorial policy and those who support it for whatever the reason will be made to feel intellectually inadequate – or at least disingenuous – for even suggesting it.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 9th February 2013, 15:14

        You may never get your point of view expressed in a COTD but Keith is usually straightforward in putting his contrary view, although I have had posts disappear when I have provided the proof that another long-winded correspondent has accused me of not having.

    • Candice said on 9th February 2013, 5:33

      “im not interested in simulator” (kimi raikkonen)

    • vincenzo (@vincenzo22) said on 11th February 2013, 16:06

      I agree with you 100%, we build motor racing car and NOT AIRPLANE!
      The FIA can add 3 more test during the championship year, (6 test, 3 before the championship start and another 3 during the championship year) and everybody happy!

  10. RobTsintas (@robtsintas) said on 8th February 2013, 22:56

    Hang on, is Pedro thinking of the simulator from the last Tooned episode?

  11. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 8th February 2013, 23:40

    De la Rosa added the car was a huge improvement over the HRT he drove in 2012:

    Well, forgive me for saying this but… you don’t say ! whatever Ferrari come up with, I can’t be worse than a HRT, can it?!

  12. F1Ray said on 9th February 2013, 0:19

    First, their Wind Tunnel was an antique, and giving false readings, now their simulator is years behind and no doubt isn’t simulating the real car properly. Alonso/Massa having to jump bigger hurdles than they should have to, in competing for a title, with this sort of support.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 9th February 2013, 7:18

      It really sounds depressing for Alonso fans as myself. He should have just stayed at Enstone. With Santander’s backing he would had a better chance of winning a title there

    • matt88 (@matt88) said on 9th February 2013, 10:20

      i agree that wind tunnel is a serious issue, but you forget that even with the most advanced simulator in the world, McLaren trashed a few races last year due to bad reliability, while the “handicapped” Ferrari was almost flawless in that area.

      • F1Ray said on 9th February 2013, 20:25

        @matt88. Whilst I don’t totally disagree with your comment, they unfortunately don’t award Championships for reliability. To have any chance of beating Red Bull, they need that reliability + a faster car.

  13. Just hire Kimi, it can save you simulator development big time..he won’t use it anyway lol

  14. sars (@sars) said on 9th February 2013, 9:24

    I use CFD to aid design, 10 years ago this technology existed but was prohibitively expensive for an SME, today this technology is relatively inexpensive, but is such a fabulous aid to design where fluid flow is involved. For any design manager the use of simulation as a tool is a no brainer, I want to see the flow characteristics through the valve and pressure bottle necks etcetera.

    As a race team, where aerodynamics is paramount, I find it staggering that any team has shown a complete lack of foresight and not invested heavily in this field, be it CFD or the driving simulator in the case of Ferrari.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 9th February 2013, 15:23

      @sars, you can besure they have invested but remember “garbage in-garbage out”, how precisely must the volume and velocity of the exhaust gas be calculated for a “coanda” development and when does the flow attach/detach when the driver modulates the accelerator, what about the effect of a cross wind etc? These I think are the sort of problems that require a lot more computation than standard static flow simulations.

      • sars (@sars) said on 9th February 2013, 22:26

        As any first year engineering student will advise, you should break down the rather large and difficult problem into smaller and easier to solve solutions. The nature of a cross wind is a random effect and therein lies a folly to try and simulate.

        In your topical example, employing exhaust gases, is probably not as difficult to model as one might first think, the volume of gas produced by each cylinder is a function of displacement and RPM, thus velocity by the cross sectional area of the exhaust outlet. Modelling this shouldn’t pose to difficult a task and as for the accuracy, well if you do comparative tests, that is the same methodology on two models you can, with a high degree of certainty determine which has the better desired effect. The same test can be completed at varying values of RPM, so even though they are steady state simulations, a picture can be formulated that is dynamic.

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