My experience in the Ferrari F1 simulator

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    Profile photo of Tom_ec1

    Today I was fortunate enough to drive the Ferrari driver development simulator run by Anton Stipinovitch (former McLaren electronics chief and Red Bull head of driver development).

    You can see a video of how I got on here:


    A few thoughts worth sharing from my conversations and experience:

    *The simulator uses the graphics engine from rFactor Pro and a proprietary physics engine which was originally developed by Honda;

    *This is the same simulator used for driver development (Fernando Alonso apparently has one at home!) but the fixed model in Maranello for race simulation uses a more advanced physics engine;

    *The brake pedal was extremely hard and has very little travel, reason given by Anton is that drivers like to have the confidence to rest their foot on the brake pedal during the races, without fear that the braking will engage;

    *By contrast the accelerator pedal felt very similar to a road car, albeit with slightly less travel;

    *The KERS button was very hard to engage while concentrating on the driving (despite lots of practice on the Xbox at home!), there’s a lot more to concentrate in the sim compared to a video game;

    *The ‘beeps’ that tell you when to upshift/downshift make the gearing much easier (would like to see this simulated in the next F1 game), apparently Alonso uses these but Massa just uses the lights on the MES LED;

    *I took a picture of the initial car setup screen, the variables that could be changed on the car include: vehicle (set to 150 Italia), tyres (set to ‘Pirelli STD’), camber, gear ratios, traction limit springs, weight distribution, toe, ‘ARB’, surface grip level options, reference lap;

    *There were also additional menus for Aero, Mech, Tyres, Drivetrain, and Brakes although I didn’t see these open.

    Anton told me a few interesting stories from his time in F1:

    *At McLaren, he said that Coulthard gave tones of feedback to engineers which was significant in developing the cars, whereas Hakkinen “just got in and went fast”;

    *At Ferrari, Barrichello had a better feel for the tyres and so drove most of the tyre development, even if ultimately it was for Schumacher’s benefit. Schumacher apparently preferred the harder race tyres and wasn’t able to provide the same level of feeling and feedback when it came to the softer qualifying tyres;

    *On Adrian Newey, he said that he has great capacity to keep on innovating and without a budget cap (whether internal or external) he would never stop spending time and money.

    Profile photo of Fer no.65
    Fer no.65

    Very interesting, mate ! Jealous too !

    Profile photo of the_sigman

    I want one of these *looks in pocket* :(

    But you must have had an awesome time!

    Profile photo of Alfie

    Looks like you did very well. Well done!

    Profile photo of JamieFranklinF1

    Wow, I am very jealous right now! It’s great to hear about all of this too, so thanks :D

    Profile photo of Mathers

    Jealous doesn’t even cover it :P Wonderful experience for you, I hope it was good fun, and speaking to Anton.

    Profile photo of Victor.

    Are you Paul di Resta? :)

    Awesome stuff!

    Profile photo of Kingshark


    Is that simulator as outdated as a
    Pedro says it is? ;-)

    Profile photo of graham228221

    Very cool @Tom_ec1 !!!

    I see you’ve played Codemasters’ F1 series, can you tell us how the handling compares?

    They made a big departure in the handling model for 2012, I’d be curious to know if it is closer to reality or not. I’ve heard so many complaints about it but I doubt many people have been even close to driving an f1 car!

    Profile photo of Alex Field
    Alex Field

    Cool! Do you reckon the professionals go ‘full simulation’ when they get into one of these? I.e. They put on overalls, helmets and HANS devices? Not because there’s a risk of actual blunt force trauma of course (unless the simulator is REALLY realistic), but because wearing all that stuff is surely ‘distracting’ in itself?

    Profile photo of Tom_ec1


    I plugged in F1 2012 last night along with wheels/pedals and turned all assists off to see how it compares. Overall, I was very impressed by how similar the handling was (which, in fairness, people like Anthony Davidson has been saying for a while – although he’s on the payroll so I was initially suspicious). The main difference is the physicality, as my wheel doesn’t have force feedback or anything to replicate some of the g-forces – but that’s not something Codemasters have control over so I give them a lot more credit now for building a pretty realistic handling model.

    I also have rFactor which has a slightly looser handling model. rFactor F1 cars have noticeably less grip in the high speed corners compared to the Ferrari sim (and F1 2012). I know lots of hard work goes into rFactor and the mods, but I can’t help but feel that in their desire to be super-realistic they have gone too far and increased difficulty to the extent that grip levels are not representative.

    @Alex Field

    No idea, but it sure is a workout – so you can’t just play in jeans and expect to feel comfortable!

    Profile photo of graham228221

    Thanks for the info Tom, that’s really interesting :)

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