The roLe oF simuLATors
e s very difficult to do at the track. It’s
extremely difficult to, say, successfully
change the wheelbase of a car in real terms
on a track and keep everything else the
same. It takes time to change; the weather
will change between runs; track conditions
change, and you’re unable to have a
properly linear comparison. That’s where a
simulator really comes into its own, because
you can have perfect control and perfect
repeatability in terms of the environment.”
In tandem with simulations, virtual testing
Coming on stream
in Spring 2013,
HPD and its teams
in IndyCar and
sports cars to
develop chassis and
aero setups and
engine maps in a
work, what kind of gains they’ll give, and so
on, just from trying them in the simulator.
It’s getting more realistic every day.”
Hartley’s last comment is revealing.
Teams can now test the efficacy of a new
part before it ever turns a lap in anger.
And if it doesn’t perform on the simulator,
it won’t reach the manufacturing stage.
“Whatever you can think of, whatever
part you can come up with in your mind
will be tested on a simulator first,” he adds.
“You can test it virtually before you ever
manufacture the part, which saves a lot
of money and is pretty incredible, really.
“As a driver, you’ll work on setups using
the simulator, too. They can run
simulations without the driver that gives
them a lot of information, but they’ve yet
to come up with a program that can
replace a driver’s feel and feedback, so
that’s why driver-in-the-loop tests are vital.”
Simulators also play a vital role in
getting young drivers up to speed in a new
chassis or at a track they’ve yet to race.
But, according to Hartley, there’s one
educational aspect they can’t replicate.
“The only thing that you don’t have is the
fear,” he says. “Simulators are one of those
development tools that will never stop
improving and getting more real, but there’s
no way to incorporate the danger and how
that makes a driver think and react.”
Porsche starting from scratch in LMP1-H,
the 24-year-old was a perfect fit.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work with
quite a few teams, and even with the F1
teams, the drivers aren’t in there training
very much,” says Hartley. “Instead, the
teams are using simulators to develop
their cars away from the track, and that
works out well if you’re in a series where
track testing is heavily restricted. You can
learn a lot about new parts, how they
can begin through driving simulators
before a chassis is even completed.
“The simulators used in F1 or the WEC
aren’t so much for training drivers; they’re
a simulation tool to develop racecars,
which I think is the most impressive part,”
says WEC Porsche 919 Hybrid driver and
former Mercedes F1 tester Brendon Hartley.
On top of his real-world race performances,
the Kiwi earned a reputation as an elite
development driver using simulators. With
(leFT) driver-in-the-loop (dil) simulators
aren’t just the domain
of racing. daimler AG’s
driving simulator in
opened in 2010 and
can be used to
simulate and research
such as high-speed
lane changing, with
at the wheel, as well
as more conventional
“they’ve yet to come up
with a simulation program
that can replace a driver’s
feel and feedback”