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2020 Portuguese Grand Prix - Preview

Toto Talks Portugal

Valtteri’s race, however, could not have gone much worse, going from pole position to a DNF and a significant points loss for him in the Drivers’ Championship. A DNF is always tough for a driver, but one of Valtteri’s biggest strengths is his resilience and his ability to bounce back, so I’m sure he’ll be eager to hit the track in Portugal. Portimão is the second completely new circuit of the season, which adds some variability to the potential performance picture. We had an exciting race at Mugello, the first new venue this year, and since then we have focused on preparing in the best way possible for the other new circuits and maximising the rate of learning when we go to a new track – something that will be especially important during the two-day weekend in Imola next week.

Featured This Week: How Does F1 Simulation Work?

F1 cars are the most sophisticated automotive machines in the world – and yet, testing them on track or in the wind tunnel is extremely limited. There are only six days of pre-season testing and each race weekend comes with only four hours of practice. This area has become even more crucial during the 2020 season, because of the many new tracks on the calendar.

What types of simulation do F1 teams use?

There are a few areas of simulation that F1 teams use to prepare for a Grand Prix weekend, but the two main ones are driver-in-loop and computer simulation. Driver-in-loop (DiL) is effectively our virtual test track, where our car and the tracks we race on are modelled in incredible detail, to enable us to develop the car, find the right set-up direction and help the drivers familiarise themselves with a track in a virtual environment. We use a bespoke simulator facility at the factory and the DiL is somewhat similar to a professional airplane simulator used for pilot training – with the obvious difference that our “cockpit” looks like an F1 car, not a flight deck. In a typical DiL session, our race and simulator drivers can easily complete more than a full race distance.

How accurate is the Driver in Loop simulator?

The track models that we use are highly detailed. F1 teams also work with external simulation software such as rFpro to make the track environment as realistic as possible, as visual cues are important for the drivers to determine braking points or the right moment to start turning the car. The market for these highly complex track models is fairly small, so multiple teams will often base their simulations on the same track data and information. A significant amount of time is spent correlating the virtual model of the car to the car in the real world, so that the car can handle in the simulator just like it does out on track.

Why is the Driver in Loop simulator so important and does our approach change for new tracks?

For a track that we’ve visited before, we’ll typically dedicate a two-day programme in the build-up to the event, equating to around 450 laps and roughly eight race distances. However, when it’s a new circuit, the amount of work is much higher, with two additional days in the run-up to the event plus another day dedicated to the race drivers learning the track layout. The bulk of the work is completed in the build-up to the race weekend, but the work doesn’t stop when the team arrives trackside. The simulator department also run a Friday programme for each Grand Prix, supporting the drivers and engineers at the track to really maximise the learnings from the first day of action. All of this crucial pre-event work is conducted to ensure the team arrives at the track with the car in a good enough place that the drivers can begin pushing hard from the very first laps.

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Oct 25, 2020 at 02:34

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