F1 creates overtaking sim to aid circuit design

Since buying the sport at the start of 2017, Liberty Media has created a number of working groups aimed at improving various aspects of the sport.

Speaking in Birmingham today, former Benetton, Renault and Williams technical boss Pat Symonds, who is now working as part of Ross Brawn’s technical group, whose remit is to improve the quality of the racing, in terms of the technical and sporting regulations, revealed that an overtaking simulation has been developed which will assist in the designing of circuits as the sport seeks to increase the opportunity for overtaking.

“We’ve produced what I think is the world’s first overtaking simulation,” revealed the Briton. “It’s been extremely complex to do,” he admitted.

“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 it to design our new circuits and to look at some modifications,” he continued. “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.”

Of course, one could argue that such overtaking simulations weren’t needed to create the likes of Spa, Suzuka or Interlagos, while if the sport’s powers-that-be focussed less on street tracks in “destination cities” and more on ‘natural’ tracks that haven’t been emasculated beyond belief, it wouldn’t be an issue.

Asked about Lucas di Grassi’s recent claim that circuit designs should offer an alternative to ‘traditional’ racing lines, Symonds said: “What he is saying is correct, there are many aspects to it, but we’ve got to have science behind it, we’ve got to have the evidence.

“I’ve heard so many theories how to make cars overtake,” he continued, “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.”