F1 deploys “overtaking simulation” system to improve circuits

A few months ago, there was talk of changing circuits to accommodate today’s Formula 1 car dynamics and unique performance characteristics. We suggested at the time that changing 21 circuits in order to improve passing would be an expensive option and require circuit owners to make those investments. We felt that solving F1’s over-reliance on downforce which creates much of the non-passing elements in F1 might be the lesser of the two options with regards to cost impact.

I am happy to report that F1 has taken the former option and is now spending resources on complex overtaking simulation systems to help them design the Hanoi circuit and evaluate potential changes to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina according to Pat Symonds.

“We’ve produced what I think is the world’s first overtaking simulation,” ex-Benetton, Renault and Williams technical chief Symonds claimed.

“It’s been extremely complex to do. To run a lap takes several hours.

“It’s a very, very complex simulation but it has a proper wake model of the cars, it looks at the surface and the tyre characteristics and all these sort of things.

“We’re now using that to design our new circuits and to look at some modifications.

“Vietnam, which is the first circuit we’ve really been involved with, I think that we have really been able to understand what it will take to make good racing there.

“I think Vietnam is going to be a superb circuit. It’s got some great features and it’s going to have some close racing at it.”

Toro Rosso’s Franz Tost said earlier this week that the real way to make the racing better is to reduce aerodynamic downforce by 50%. He pointed to the elephant in F1’s room and yet it is the one are everyone points to but no one is willing to change. When mentioned, it is glossed over and never directly addressed.

Instead, the series invests in overtaking simulation systems to help design circuits that lend themselves to more overtaking using current car models accommodating for current wake models. If the wakes were much less impactful, perhaps it wouldn’t require simulation software to determine if a car A can pass car B?

The element of grip and mechanical grip prompted Pat Symonds to say:

“I’ve heard so many theories [on] how to make cars overtake – everyone saying give them mechanical grip, you hear that one time and time again.

“The evidence is actually that in a wet race, where you’ve got less grip, you get much better racing.

“So, we’re putting the science into it now.”

I’m no engineer but here again, if a lack of grip—instead of more mechanical grip—is what he is advocating due to a slippery circuit, then surely less downforce would be a solution?

Hat Tip: Autosport

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The problem is always the balance of speed and racing. They could increase the speed and add more aero, reducing lap times but also reducing the ability for cars to race each other. Or they could swing it the other way, decrease aero, increase lap times and get closer racing. The few times that they have reduced aero significantly in recent times people have complained about the pace of the cars non-stop. The racing wasn’t necessarily as good, but that was for other reasons not on the aero (mainly the merc engine domination). No matter what you do, you will… Read more »

Ted Swaback

That would be just too simple. No one follows the golden rule of KISS anymore. Wow, Just wow.