Secrets of the Formula 1 simulator

Secrets of the Formula 1 simulator

With in-season testing banned, virtual reality is playing a bigger-than-ever role in Formula 1

Designing and developing a Formula 1 car is a serious business but, paradoxically, the latest engineering tool to do it is based on a game. We've been driving F1 'sims' on PCs and consoles in our homes for years, yet only quite recently have teams taken them to the next level for practical use. We hear furtive stories of what they look like, but we've not been able to get a true handle on exactly how they work and what they can really do - until now.

Under condition of anonymity, AUTOSPORT sampled the simulator of a leading F1 squad, which we'll call Team X. The hardware is an imposing Cruden 'hexapod' platform with six degrees of freedom (it moves in all directions), plus a rack of PCs to numbercrunch the aerodynamic map (from windtunnel and CFD figures), engine and transmission data (from dynos), the vehicle dynamics (from CAD data and vehicle models), tyre model (ah, the tricky bit!) and circuit characteristics (GPS-ed by software developers).

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