Force India simulator driver James Rossiter says his tests for the team this week show the value of using a simulator for car development.
Rossiter, who was previously a test driver for BAR, said his run in the VJM06 on Wednesday and Thursday at Jerez was “massively useful”.
The test driver was struck by how much has changed since he last drove a real, rather than virtual, F1 car:
“Obviously the tyres are very different and I had to get used to the systems, working with DRS and KERS. Obviously I’ve been doing that in the simulator so that was relatively easy.
“Trying to understand the tyres has been the biggest thing we’ve been trying to do and just get me up to speed in a current Formula One car.”
“For me it was more about running on a sensible amount of fuel with new tyres and then running with an awful lot of fuel just so I can feel that difference,” he added. “I never got to experience super-high fuel levels they have at the start of a race.”
“Now I’ve got to experience that and see what that’s like, that’s certainly pretty interesting, it’s very different from what I remember about Formula One.
“So there wasn’t too much focus on performance, there was no need to push hard, make any mistakes or anything like that. It was all about me getting up to speed and just learning as much as I can to take back and correlate with the simulator.”
Pedro de la Rosa is running for Ferrari on the final day of the test, which Rossiter takes as further indication that simulator work is becoming more valuable for teams:
“I think it shows the importance the fact that Pedro’s driving at Ferrari as well, that I’ve been driving, it really is starting to highlight that you can get performance with the simulator and we hope to exploit that as much as possible. Whether that means I get to run later in the year we’ll have to wait and see.”
Force India is the only team left to confirm its driver line-up for 2013. Rossiter acknowledged that uncertainty had given him the chance to return to the cockpit:
“We discussed it even at the end of last year, if an opportunity would arise, and everyone sort of agreed it would be a good idea. I’ve been very fortunate in the situation that without the second driver being confirmed there was an opportunity for me to drive. I’m very appreciative of the team for the chance and it was nice to get back in there.”
The test hit a snag when Rossiter knocked over one of the team’s mechanics, who fortunately only suffered minor injuries.
“I hold my hands up that was totally my fault,” said Rossiter.
“I came in, we were doing some aero runs and everything was cold, brakes too cold, tyres too cold. And I came in too fast and thank God Marcus is OK and he’s just got a few bruises. I’m sure I’ll be buying him many beers and he won’t be forgetting it soon.”
“There’s no reset button in real life unlike the simulator – there’s no mechanics stood in front of the car in the simulator either. So it was quite unfortunate but luckily he’s OK.”
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