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.