McLaren tech chief James Key here highlights the use of simulators which is helping faster learning for F1 rookies as opposed to the old times.
Historically, it’s been true that to learn how to develop a car, and become a consistently fast, and reliable driver, on-track experience is vital. However, with the inception of the new technologies in the sport, McLaren’s Key feels that this process has been fast-tracked.
Key pointed to the simulator specifically as something which has helped drivers learn faster in areas that would have taken years to master in the past, such as tyres. The Brit also mentioned how advancements has made it easier for them to advise a driver.
“I think they [F1 rookies] are, just because they’ve got so many more tools at their disposal to kind of practice,” said Key to media including FormulaRapida.net. “It’s a generation which has kind of grown up around simulators.
“So they’re better equipped. I think teams are better equipped to advise them as well, over the recent years the knowledge of tyres has become an increasingly important aspect of how you go racing, and tyres are often one of the most difficult things to get on top of.
“It used to be, but now kind of understanding how better to manage them, mechanically and from a driving perspective, we’re able to advise that sort of thing, and it shows. So I think they’re better prepared now and more technically aware than they were.
“One of the things as a new driver is often [driving at] circuits you’ve never been to. So that’s one thing for the simulator but it’s really one thing for the driver. When it comes to the team they clearly have time available to try set-ups, to experiment a little bit.
“But that [the simulator] gives them [the drivers] a sort of form of preparation which wasn’t there 20 years ago.” Simulators have been around for over a decade now, but its importance is gaining momentum, especially with lack of track time, as Key said.
Alongside the bigger F1 outfits, teams like Haas are also toying with the idea of live simulator sessions during the race weekend, which shows that they are becoming more and more prevalent as the management learns to better utilise them.
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The story was edited by Darshan Chokhani