This is something a little bit special, something I’ve wanted to bring you for a while. On a recent visit to Wirth Research in Bicester, technical HQ of the Virgin Racing team, I was allowed to film in the simulator, normally an area which is off limits for media and especially cameras.The graphics on screen are off limits, which is why we’ve shot this as we did. That’s where a lot of the IP is.
Wirth designs and builds the F1 cars for Virgin Racing, but the simulator is available for hire by others. Michelin use it a lot for tyre evaluation and drivers can hire it too. Fernando Alonso has done a spell on the Wirth simulator this season. In this video the operator, John Lammerton, says watching an F1 driver on the simulator you can really see where he gets his speed. And he says he can tell from the way a young driver gets up to speed on a simulator whether or not he’s going to make it.
Simulators are used to help drivers learn circuits but they are so sophisticated now that teams rely on them to help set their cars up for races and to test out whether new development parts will work. They have an astonishing degree of accuracy.
The Wirth simulator is a key component in Nick Wirth’s digital car philosophy and he says that the numbers he gets from testing a new component developed using CFD are remarkable similar to what they find at the race track. Devices like this are the reason why F1 teams can get away without in season testing.
With the next race being on a new track in Korea, teams have been using the simulators to try to evaluate what kind of set up they will require. Typically the drivers will do at least two Grand Prix distances on the simulator before going to the new circuit.
The on-board lap done by Karun Chandhok recently was useful to simulator engineers, but it revealed a very bumpy surface. Since then the final layer of tarmac has been laid, so we will see who has the most accurate simulator when the cars run in Korea for the first time next week.
I hope you enjoy the insight. Thanks to Wirth, Virgin Racing and their partner LG for this opportunity.